Last Monday night’s storm and ensuing blackout gave me an excuse to disconnect from the digital world we’re all hard-lined into. I was forced to think about a few things when I plugged back in the next morning.
I spend most of my days connecting people with messages and getting people to react to those messages. In my case, the exchange usually occurs on a digital device. So, when all those devices simultaneously went blank Monday night, I came to a few realizations.
1. It’s scary how little attention we give digital content
When I spend an evening on the couch, I’m tethered to a few devices. I have the TV on, computer on my lap and cellphone on the arm of the couch so any new notifications can be seen immediately through my peripherals. Not to mention my Web browser has two social networks, a handful of news sites and a jubilee of miscellaneous webpages open.
How is anyone supposed to pay attention to anything in that mess? When I send messages into the wild, what am I doing to make sure they hack through plush thickets of distractions on a quest for some eyeball time.
2. Calls to action have to be memorable – really memorable
Once I adjusted to the eerie silence and low, jittering candlelight, the blackout wasn’t so bad. I read a few magazines and did some crosswords. Based on those activities, there were a lot of things I meant to research. One problem – even with my full attention, I don’t remember any of those things.
If your audience doesn’t convert right away, you better have a good plan for bringing them back later. There’s a lot of noise that stands in between you and the next point of contact – noise that goes beyond media. Whether it’s screaming kids, a phone call or even a blackout, there are a lot of ways you can be forgotten.
3. Influencers can be a lot of things
When it comes to influencers, I would normally mention industry bloggers, people with a lot of followers on Twitter and trade journalists. But when the sun set on my digital landscape, I had but one person to influence my decision – my girlfriend sitting on the couch next to me. Whether my dilemma involved the breakfast cereal or a new car purchase, no one else could influence the decision.
Now, I’m not saying you can create a vacuum when delivering a message, but you can think more about how – and WHICH – influencers are affecting a decision. Where are people when they see your content? Who is around? Just because it’s not in your social media report doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
None of this is really new. You already know we have short attention spans, forget things easily and ask other people to help make decisions. But a light bulb turned on when the power went out. If you can anticipate and understand distractions, memory loss, and outside influence, you’re more prepared for the fight. There’s no simple recipe for getting messages read, just think of these revelations as guiding lights.