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LinkedIn & Attention Economy


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A look at LinkedIn and applications of "attention economy" and working memory as they apply to this and other social and professional networking sites.

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LinkedIn & Attention Economy

  1. 1. There is something else that moves through the Net, flowing in the opposite direction from information, namely attention. So seeking attention could be the very incentive we are looking for. <br />Week 3: Attention Economy & Working Memory<br />LinkedIn<br />There is something else that moves through the Net, flowing in the opposite direction from information, namely attention. So seeking attention could be the very incentive we are looking for. <br />- Michael H. Goldhaber in The Attention Economy and the Net, 1997<br />
  2. 2. Attention Economy & Working Memory<br />Economists and strategists alike acknowledge a changing economic model. One that acknowledges open access to information and with that, the challenge to create and provide content that sticks. Whether new content emerges out of the desire for attention (to be noticed), or to crowdsource ideas, we cannot ignore the fact that our attention is being pulled in more directions than we can manage—and companies are fighting for it (Leary, 2010). In fact, our attention has been monetized and accepted as currency in today’s economy. We have control of what videos go viral, what restaurants get yelped, what establishments get checked in to via foursquare. Our attention is really worth gold in today’s user-driven economy.Iskold (2007) notes that it is important to realize that the key ingredient in the attention game is relevancy. As long as a consumer sees relevant content, he/she will stick around (Iskold, 2007). So what makes content relevant? What makes it stick?<br />Digital Culture expert, Kevin Kelly identifies intangibles that suppliers (companies via their websites, etc.) must offer as a value ad (Wikipedia, 2010) in this attention economy:<br />Immediacy - priority access, immediate delivery<br />Personalization - tailored just for you<br />Interpretation - support and guidance<br />Authenticity - how can you be sure it is the real thing?<br />Accessibility - wherever, whenever<br />Embodiment - books, live music<br />Patronage - "paying simply because it feels good", e.g. Radiohead<br />Findability - "When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention — and most of it free — being found is valuable."<br />Understanding working memory has a lot to do with the stickiness of a website. If working memory can be likened to a computer’s RAM (Wikipedia, 2010), then the principles of an attention economy may be applied to website design. If an attention economy is defined as focused mental engagement on a particular item of information, where items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item, and then we decide whether to act (Davenport & Beck, 2001), then how are websites cashing in on this or modifying their strategies and customer service teams to tap in? <br />What are companies providing that make it worth the customer’s time to provide personal information—email addresses, phone numbers, date of birth? What’s the value added?<br />
  3. 3. Attention at Play: LinkedIn<br />Immediacy: Status update feed. Information is immediately accessible and delivered to users.<br />Accessibility: If you don’t have an iPhone App, you’re not accessible.<br />Personalization. This includes a “Welcome, user”, but should also be about knowing the tendencies of the user.<br />Findability. Based on networks, affiliations and recommendations, users are able to be found.<br />
  4. 4. Application: Attention Economy + LinkedIn<br />LinkedIn has established itself as a leader in professional networking, with over 70 million members in 200 countries, and execs from all Fortune 500 companies LinkedIn members. In their “About Us” page, they outline several intangibles outlined by Kelley:<br /><ul><li>Authenticity: “Manage the information that’s publicly available about you as a professional.”
  5. 5. Accessibility: access through smartphones and any computer.
  6. 6. Patronage: Recommend others because you believe in the work they do
  7. 7. Findability: “Be found for business opportunities and find potential partners.”</li></ul>LinkedIn uses one of Iskold’s (2007) principles that define the rules of the attention economy well in the design of the site and offerings: consumers have the right to:<br /><ul><li>Property: You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish. You have CONTROL. LinkedIn sections their pages in clearly defined areas that attract users to stay on the site and look around: Who’s Viewed My Profile, People You May Know, Networked Activity, and stats about one’s network.</li></li></ul><li>Recommendations<br /> Following YouTube’s example, randomize recommendations of “people you may know.”<br /> Add a game. Based on the networks/groups a person is affiliated with, offer an iPhone app or a slot machine/roulette type of game that allows users to help select new people to add to their networks.<br /> LinkedIn already has a Twitter share button for status updates. Consider adding additional share buttons like Facebook.<br />
  8. 8. References<br />Duct tape photo:<br />Goldhaber, M.H. (1997). The Attention Economy and the Net. First Monday, Volume 2, Number 4 - 7 April 1997.<br />Iskold, Alex. Edited by MacManus, Richard. (March 1, 2007). “The Attention Economy: An Overview.” ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved on July 10, 2010 from<br />Wikipedia. (2010). Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Working Memory. Retrieved July 9, 2010 from <br />