Monthly Archives: February 2010

What’s the currency to purchase attention?

Recently, there was a debate about whether I was using Twitter wrongly. I have around 1,600 followers, but I only follow about 30 people.

Some people said I should be following many more people, probably as many as followed me.

I think this kind of depends on where you fit on the Rogers Technology Adoption bell-curve.

Let’s assume we accept the basic premise of the bell curve: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.

There’s a thin wedge at the front end called Innovators. These are the real uber-geeks, silicone valley types.

We don’t meet a lot of these out on the street in daylight hours. But, what we do meet a lot of is Planners who are Early Adopters.

These are people who love to be first into any new technology.

They will experiment and try it out. They want to get in first and be trailblazers. They become evangelists. Next comes the Early Majority.

This is a much bigger amount of people who have been persuaded that this technology is an improvement. They will get it eventually.

Not just because it’s new, but if it’s proved to outperform the existing technology.

Then comes a similarly large amount called the Late Majority. These are people who are resistant to change for the sake of change. They are happy with what they have, and don’t see any reason to upgrade.

Eventually they switch as it becomes obvious it isn’t a fad, it’s the way everything’s going. Finally a small wedge shape called Laggards.

These people distrust change for whatever reason. They expect everything they buy to last forever and fight a rearguard action against change.

The real debate about Twitter seemed to be about the different attitudes between Early Adopters and The Early Majority.

It seems to me that, with all new technology, Early Adopters are evangelists for change.

They’ve joined a small club of people who forge the revolution. They see themselves as the revolutionary-elite.

Consequently, as the people who discovered it and proselytized about it first, they obviously believe they know more about it.

I think this is the nub of the debate. As the new technology moves from Early Adopters to The Early Majority it moves beyond their control.

It assumes new possibilities that didn’t exist for them. Because the people coming into the market aren’t like them. So they use things in different ways to them.

For instance, one of the people I follow on Twitter is Amelia Torode from VCCP.

It’s not follow like stalking. I just like people who sometimes say funny or interesting things. Things I can use.

Amelia retweeted something from a friend of hers, when it was snowing.

“If I can get to Putney Train station why can’t the train? It’s bigger. And faster.”

I thought this was funny, so I clicked on the person who
said it: Tracey Follows.

To see if there was anything else funny there. Anything else I could use. While I was there I noticed another of Tracey’s tweets.

“Oh bugger, Dave Trott’s book is out of stock on Amazon. Huff….was looking forward to reading that this weekend….”

I thought that was a shame. So I put a copy in an envelope and sent it to her.

Then I thought, that’s Twitter working just like advertising. If you’re amusing, people are more likely to pay attention to what you say.

Then something is more likely to happen. For me, this is how Twitter works.

Just like advertising. I can get 1,600 people to visit my blog by telling the people who follow me that I’ve written a new one.

So that’s what I do. But how do I get 1,600 people to follow me in the first place?

I figure I have to be either funny or informative. Either way, like advertising, I have to be useful in their lives or why would they follow me?

I’m not interested in what anyone had for breakfast.And I don’t think anyone else is interested in what I had.

I think people who are like me, the Early Majority or Late Majority, want stuff we can use. So I try to be either entertaining or informative. If I want to buy your attention I figure that’s the currency of purchase. Just like advertising.

However much the technology changes, people don’t change.

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