The Battle for the Context of Your Content

Today Snapchat introduced Context Cards which allow you additional information about snaps but more importantly will integrate relevant resources and information the platform and their vendors find important. Here is the introduction video from Snapchat:

There are many points here that are interesting and stories under the story (which I have considered doing a news analysis and commentary show on tech and marketing but have put it off because it seems it would be a time suck and I’m not sure how to monetize it to make it make sense). Damn that was a long parenthesis thought. Anyhoo, the point being that there is more relevance than just the surface story and often people may not see it. For example, this move by Snapchat is likely tied to monetization with a splash of relevance because they can then serve up resources and ads from advertisers wanting to be part of your snap. In the worst scenario, your content starts to become bait to advertise to your friends, but at least it is something they have to swipe up for and I don’t think it will just be ads.

Lets dig into the more interesting things happening here because we know if they are doing it, there is a business purpose and the other platforms will copy it, thus it will be something we need to pay attention to.

The Drive for Relevance

In a noisy world, you may as well get used to it because I say it all the time, relevance is going to be king. This is why personalization is emerging so strong as well as customer experience, chatbots (in the form of personal assistants), and many other converging technologies focused around the consumer. One of the companies I work with does exactly this, AI powered, real-time, right time, personalized marketing. What is driving the need for this is competition and fragmented markets along with a huge lack of attention. We are ignoring more marketing and paying attention more to our friends and only information that is relevant to us. Brands are yelling into the noise but nobody is listening. This shows up in our metrics for engagement.

Know what is realistic and what is unrealistic

A great example is Gary Vaynerchuk. He has a very engaged audience that may even fit into the fanboys category. He has about 1.5mil followers on Twitter, but his average tweet gets about 326 engagements. Though a lot of people would love that amount of engagement, that is not a huge number coming from 1.5mil people who followed him wanting his information. See, people even ignore friends and family on social media and they have relationships with them. They don’t like every post in their Facebook feed or engage with every post on any platform, so what shot do brands have to be relevant if people aren’t even paying attention consistently to things and people they actually like.

It is a serious battle for attention, and that is why brands are seeking to capitalize on your ability to get the attention of your friends and family through your content. Social media is a great training tool to see if people can get other people’s attention, (lightbulb goes off) and this is also why content marketing and inbound marketing is so huge. Individuals and businesses are all being tested and trained to get attention. (and now you know that isn’t air your breathing)(and second parenthesis if you don’t know that is a reference to the movie The Matrix)(OK I can’t… do another inner note, if you don’t get the reference or joke by two sets of parenthesis we have to move on)(I’m pretty sure I’m using these wrong, but there is nothing you can do to stop me).

How have you not seen this movie

Everyone Follows the Eyeballs

Your content of whatever value is written with the intent of finding an audience. Google built a business on the attention highway in order to sell directions to people’s content. Social media relies on your relationships and the content generated for you to get attention so they can interject in that attention by selling ads or other services to that generated attention. The point being that the context of your content is another marketplace and that is what the context cards are doing. In a way, it is very innovative in the sense that they are selling the attention created by your content but then diverting attention from your content to something else they find relevant which opens your content up to a variety of possible revenues which you don’t own. But maybe you should and maybe you will.

Is Social Media the Multi-level Marketing of the Future?

When you think of it, multi-level marketing attempts to let you make a profit off your friends and family because you can get their attention and then sell them things they would have bought somewhere else and given the profits to a stranger. Social media is currently doing the same where a bad upline is stealing your sales because your relationship (followers) are generating attention that they are then using to sell things and you don’t get a cut. We have seen social media startups like Ello that have tried to give a share of that back to the individuals, though getting a new social network to take off is a very difficult thing to do. There may be a sharing economy that gets it right in the future.

Should you monetize your Attention?

The rise of influencer Marketing holds promise for those savvy enough to understand the value of the attention they gain. If a company was smart they would move this from influencers to everyone and pay the attention gatekeepers oven for micro-audiences. We all have relationships and influence attention a select group and each individual’s attention is valuable to certain businesses. So one of my goals is to monetize many of my projects and brands more this year. Your personal brand has value, it is a matter of whether you will capture that value or let someone else benefit from your attention generation.

So all of that backstory on attention leads us to the real estate surrounding your attention which is the context. There are huge opportunities for individuals to own the real estate around their own attention and to create contextual value, and for startups to see this emerging playspace (yes I makeup words because I rock). Context can both create deeper relevance for attention or attention can create connections and opportunities for context. It is a double-sided value proposition and that is what I find intriguing about this simple move by Snapchat to add context cards. Boom!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject and anything I may have stimulated in understanding these models. Once again I find myself in this crazy pattern of writing this (almost said crap, but I don’t believe that at all) at 3:55am in the mernin. Who thinks this stuff at such a time… Something to stretch the mind for the day. Also let me know if you like these posts on Medium I am doing. They are in some ways informal off the hip posts I have enjoyed writing when the kids are all asleep. Let me know!

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