Is It Yours or Theirs?

by Jay Deragon on 07/21/2008

Everybody seems to like attention. Getting attention comes from many different activities, some good and some bad. Sales, Marketing and PR for businesses is all about getting and keeping your markets attention. After all if you don’t have the attention of your market it means someone else does.

Traffic to your web site, social network, blog etc. reflects to some degree your ability to get peoples attention. Once you have people’s attention then the challenge becomes one of keeping the attention so the people will come back, again, again and again. In the world of social technologies everyone is vying for everyone else’s attention. The competitive factor for business is the how, why, what, where and when of getting and keeping their markets attention, the people.

How difficult is it to Get and Keep Attention?

In the world of “human connections” the dynamics of getting and keeping peoples attention are centric to knowing and understanding human nature and the fabrics of healthy relations. Everyone wants our attention. The proliferation of information overloads our brains ability to pay attention to the valuable and important matters, whether personal or professional. The social web has accelerated this overload with everyone everywhere wanting to connect with anyone anywhere. Connecting via a social network and becoming “virtual friends” or connecting with our stories and message whether it be our blog, twitter or the host of other “social media” proliferating throughout hundreds of communities vying again for more of our attention. Then we go home for dinner with our family and wonder why we can’t get each others attention. Getting and keeping ones attention can be but shouldn’t be this difficult.

Attention Comes at the Point of Need

As we watch the activities of online communities the successful ones have “created an art and science” of filling the needs of its members. The art is centric to facilitating conversations and the sharing of relative information that helps community members fill a need “when” and “where” it becomes the thread of conversations. The science is centric to “how” technological tools are used to organize the conversations so they fill known and unknown needs of the community. Knowing “why” people would be attracted to your community and “what” would keep their attention in your community is about possessing the knowledge and skills relative to the art and science behind the “when, where and how” of human attention.

How Good is Your Business or You at Fulfilling Peoples Needs?

The irony of watching major brands jump into all this “social stuff” is they seem to focus on the value an online community can provide to themselves, not the community which is nothing more than a swarm of people with needs. Most corporate-sponsored online communities are virtual ghost towns according to Ed Moran, a Deloitte consultant who just completed a study of more than 100 businesses with online communities.

Not surprisingly, these sites failed to gain traction with customers. Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects. “A disturbingly high number of these sites fail, says Ed Moran”

In other words they failed because they didn’t know how to fulfill the needs by paying attention to and understanding “why” people would be attracted to their community and “what” would keep the attention. Just maybe they should have first gained the knowledge and skills relative to the art and science behind the “when, where and how” of human attention. Oh yeah, one last thing, gaining the knowledge and skills first would have not only saved them $1 million but enabled them to gain the markets attention and avoid the embarrassment of building a ghost town.

If this article gets your attention and you need anything just ask. What say you?


AlexM August 12, 2008 at 4:21 pm

I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

Jay Deragon July 26, 2008 at 5:43 am


Very well said and thanks for taking the time to raise the bar 🙂

Can’t wait to see your site fill out. Would love to collaborate.


Dan July 25, 2008 at 9:39 pm

People always behave in what they consider to be their own best interest. Even in helping someone else out, we get a sense of closeness to a community. This provides us with a natural feeling of inclusion and a social safety net – again, our own best interest. That’s the most important force in the world and the reason why there will always be more good people than bad people.

The hard side in money – show me the money. Show how you will increase the amount of money I can accumulate. These are the entrepreneurs and their goal is simple – they are looking for a way to elevate assets from a low level of productivity to a higher level of productivity. I read the relationship economy blog because I can add Jay’s knowledge to my own from which I can create new knowledge.

I sit and write this response because I want to share some of my knowledge with another person who will combine it with their own and provide me with a new insight – which I add to my knowledge, etc. That’s all. Here I find a surplus of knowledge and I combine that with my deficit of knowledge then my new idea is added to the surplus to fulfill the deficit else where. This is an economy, this is the same dynamic that drives the trade and exchange of currency. Knowledge is tangible and therefore responds to forces of supply and demand.

In my research, I define “innovation” as the rate of change of knowledge with respect to time. By extension, anywhere that exhibits a rate of change of knowledge is a place where innovation happens. Money represents human productivity. The best way to make more money is to increase productivity. The best way to increase productivity is to innovate. There is simply no better way of doing this then by talking to people who think differently than I do. This is where corporate blogs fall flat.

The relationship economy and the innovation economy are joined at the hip. I hope that gets people’s attention.

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