Capturing People’s Internet Attention1
Tricks of the trade
July 6th, 2015
As a practicing clinical Psychiatrist, I have had the benefit of intensely studying how people think, feel, and behave.
I have watched how people live, love, and work; over my 16 years of University education, and 10 year career.
The concepts that I have learned, apply not only to single persons; within their individual psychological and physiological frameworks, but also to how we relate in larger ecosystems, and social environments.
The purpose of this essay, is to outline some strategies, applicable to capturing people’s attention, in the Internet Medium.
The reason I am focusing on this, is twofold.
The internet is here to stay, and for the rest of our lifetimes, will become even more intimately woven into the fabric of everything.
And even more importantly, because it is my belief that our attention is our most precious commodity.
It is our personal, real-time investment in existence, at any given moment.
Because of these indisputable facts, it is imperative that we understand which forces more strongly grab our eyes, minds, and hearts, so we can make better decisions.
These types of strategies, may allow one to reflect on whether we are in charge of our own attention, or whether our minds are being driven by outside forces.
Attention is the most important currency; that anyone can loan you.
It has become especially important, in today’s wired world, as companies and advertisers use it to calculate power.
It is worth more than money, things, or awesome hair; and we all have an equal amount of this disposable income.
Many who are reading this work in careers; where grabbing people’s attention, and holding it long enough to impart your message, are of vital importance.
I would like to spend the rest of this article, outlining 14 ways, to improve your ability to capture people’s attention.
These concepts, were outlined scientifically, by Ben Parr, in his second book;
The strategies that I have learned, and wish to share with you, will cover the following:
Establishing Your Credibility
Understanding Your Audience
Getting The Message Out
Being A Kind And Gentle Teacher
Timing Is Everything
Repeating Your Message Without Being Redundant
Messages To Avoid Sending
Repeating Your Message Without Being Redundant
Hiring A Helper
Pay Attention To Comments
Establishing Your Credibility– One of the first ways to separate your message from the herd; is to establish yourself as an expert of sorts. This usual requires a Degree, Certificate, or Title of some kind, letters before or after your name, or sometimes merely a professional looking photo with a glowing reference.
If that is not possible, or you feel it is not ethical to use the title ‘expert’, it is important to at least communicate you are someone with significant credibility.
Credibility can easily be gained in various ways, such as direct experience, research, or endorsements from other ‘credible’ people; such as other ‘experts’, or people who are rich, political, or have attained some kind of celebrity status.
(It is my hope that you are ensuring that your message is essentially pro-social at its core. I would not want to be accused of giving advice on how to sell the next ‘miracle cure’, by teaching ways to establish potentially false trust in your audience)
In this essay, I began by establishing that I have ‘expert’ knowledge in human behavior, and reinforcing this by signing my name with 2 important credibility letters, ‘MD’.
Use the titles you have earned, as one of the most important reasons you took the time to earn them, was to make it easier for other people to pay attention to your point of view about your chosen area of expertise.
When people accept that you likely know more than they do about something, their brains actually power down, in some areas involved in decision making; causing the passive absorption of your ideas.
This neural phenomenon allows people to more easily learn your idea, or way of thinking; or follow your advice.
Understanding Your Audience– It is important to have a clear idea in your mind, as to whom you hope your message will reach.
If you are advertising for condoms, yet much of your efforts are viewed by Polygamists, it is likely you will gain little traction.
And if your message is too specific; the more likely it is, that you are casting your line in smaller ponds.
On the other hand, if your idea is too generic, fewer still may choose to wade into your shallows.
It is important to pick a theme, and then find the balancing point between your advice becoming too specific, boring, or abstract; or so dilute, it seems like mundane common sense, or lacking depth or hooks.
We all learn in various combinations of different learning styles. These can vary from person to person, so I invite you to look at the link below, to learn about ways your viewers might consume your project.
It is important that you understand what your audience’s preferred styles are.
We all build associative bridges, within our subjective reality, using our strongest mental suit. Your hand may be trumped, if someone plays a better virtual card, and engages your potential partners.
One example, of the necessity of understanding your demographics, is illustrated comparing teenagers to adults.
Every day, people’s brains are being trained, by the Internet’s style of Instant Surf Gratification, via: Blogs, Tweets, Facebook updates, homepages, Snapchats, Instagrams, and videos.
Neuroscience has proven that we become better, at what we practice, and lose skills we don’t use.
There is evidence that the teenage brain has become inferior to the adult model, due to the internet’s style of presentation.
Teens are no longer able to maintain their attention on one thing, for as long as adults.
However, the teenage brain also seems to have evolved in beneficial ways too, as their brains now have superiority over adults, when it comes to shifting attention from one thing to another.
While multitasking has been shown to be less efficient overall, when measuring productivity; teenagers can do it more effectively than adults.
You may wish to consider smaller byte size messages, frequent binary breadcrumbs, if you wish to maintain teenager internet attention.
Save your longer, text only passages, for loyal adults only.
Getting The Message Out– Right off the hop, it is vital to be clear in your message. Try to make it as compact as possible, and then start to plan your routes of distribution.
Do your research, and ensure to use as many technological platforms as possible, to flood the virtual world with your memes.
There are many mutually compatible ways to attempt to reach as many people as possible. Linking your LinkedIn, or Facebook account, to any utilitarian combination of Twitter, Tumblr, InstaGram, MySpace, Soundcloud, Gravatar, WordPress, YouTube, and many others, may be helpful.
This has the added advantage of saving you time, as one post is instantly published on all of your virtual platforms.
It is important to recall that Rome was not built in a day, so please maintain patience, as you stroke any ego fires in your audience. If you keep the embers at the right glow, there is a point where enough sparks are generated, for spontaneous 15 minute wildfires.
Networking with other similar parties, also helps immensely. There are many formal and informal ‘tweet networks’, where people exist in cooperative groups, sharing and disseminating as much information as possible, not only within the group, but throughout each member’s extended social network.
On an unrelated note, you should check out my colleague’s Blog, called ‘All Things Neonatal’, at the following site:
I hope you enjoyed the first half of Capturing People’s Internet Attention, and please tune in later this week, for Part 2, Start Out Like Gandhi.
Simon Trepel, MD
Note– to read the original article, please see:
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. He was not referring to coffee that tastes like an Italian person.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff