The more I think about it, about blog audiences and blog sponsors alike, it seems like the act of paying attention has become currency in its own right.
But from a more audience-based perspective, I started thinking blogs owed me something about the time most blogs evolved out of navel-gazing online journals. Probably around the time that it was changing from a fun hobby to a possible career for a lot of people.
And as I straddle both sides, I tell you that from a marketing perspective, we try to measure that attention so we can figure out how to translate that to sales. Your attention IS currency.
Five thousand Facebook Likes measure attention in a way that we couldn’t before with a billboard or a poster. Nearly 100,000 unique pageviews every month means a specific amount of attention leaked over onto the brand, means a possible increase in sales.
Sales off the backs of the readers!
Readers like you!
As that space, the jostling for my attention, got more crowded, I started to expect something in return for my time. (Or maybe that’s from being part of a blog audience.) I woke up to the fact that I was being used, that my attention was being taken advantage of so the author could make some money.
And that started feeling unfair.
So I started expecting something in return.
I think that’s why so many sites use the 5 ways to or 10 reasons for model for content. That kind of content provides some kind of value for the audience’s attention.
That’s a good thing and a bad thing.
I guess it’s just a thing.
A thing that made the content different.
Anyway, I expect some value for my attention.
I want inspiration.
I want to look better to my friends or feel better about myself.
And if I don’t get that return on my attention investment, I either grumble about it, go elsewhere, or continue to visit and feel unsatisfied.
But sometimes I continue to demand the same value for their attention I got before, as I bang on the van windows wondering why it’s not a rockin’.
“We don’t have an information shortage, we have an attention shortage.”
As a blog writer, I can tell you that publishers aren’t always clued into that fact.
Audiences get used to a level of disclosure, storytelling, imagery.
Audiences want intimacy, creativity.
I know I sure do.
But publishers don’t always know that. And when their real life is too real, not engaging enough, not audience-based enough, they can lose the audience they may once have had such a connection with. Our expectations about what our attention is worth might not match up to what that blogger does.
But just like with any boyfriend that can’t figure out what I was thinking, I get annoyed with the authors I read, for not knowing what I want. But there’s no good mechanism, really for telling them about what I want.
A comment section? Good luck posting actionable feedback there.
There’s no real precedent for this exchange of ideas and wants and attentional currency.
YOU HAVE CHANGED IN A WAY THAT DOESN’T FIT ME NOW.
I HAVE CHANGED IN A WAY THAT DOESN’T FIT YOU.
And just like in real life, people move on, move ahead, move away.
But unlike in real life, there is this strange currency involved.
It’s almost like bloggers are the shop owners, with all the power.
I show up, 10 spot in hand to buy a box of wine.
The seller gives me a box of wine in exchange and all is well.
But I show up tomorrow, wanting more wine with my Hamilton, and the seller brings me a signed photo of himself.
I show up the next day, and he’s not there.
But he always takes my money.
No wonder I’m angry!
I showed up with my currency (attention) and the experience was inconsistent and unpredictable!
But just like with money, sometimes I want to spend it on a spatula, sometimes, I want to split it between some Cheezeits and a Diet Dr. Pepper. But that’s all me.
The seller doesn’t know this.
There’s no way for the seller to know this.
It’s on me to budget for the experience I want to have.
Sigh, just like with money, I need to become more discriminating and knowledgable about where I spend my attention.
(Damnit life! Why can’t I just gorge and fritter?!)
Am I in the mood for some creative inspiration (box of wine)? Or will reading about all of this free furniture just piss me off (giant autographed photo)?
It’s time I get a little pickier about the blogs I visit.
What are my bad mood blogs?
My bored but satisfied blogs?
My “get inspired” blogs?
How can planning ahead help me not be so careless with my attention?