The Platform Battle for Attention

It’s almost unimaginable to think that seven years ago Facebook was barely around, Google was starting to gain traction and online gaming was just starting to make its way onto videogame consoles. Today, we’re sharing and producing an astounding rate of content and sharing pieces of information, and to top it all off, we have seemingly infinite avenues to do so.

How Long Can It Last?

An interesting question (or questions) is raised when you think about how much has changed and how quickly: Is this sustainable? Will people get burned out of Facebook? How many social networks is too many? Is there a saturation point at which people decide to cut themselves off with social media?

The bottom line is there isn’t a limit to social media usage. Humans are innately social creatures, and as long as there’s an outlet, they’ll use it to connect and share with others, but there is a limit to the social platforms people use.

Battle for Attention

As marketers we need to be aware of where consumer attention is focused. Facebook may have scale, but for some audiences, it doesn’t have attention. We need to identify where our consumers are spending their time and investing their attention.

That is, after all, what online platforms are after, attention. More time is spent on Facebook than any other platform, but that could change (and probably will eventually). For example, Spotify has launched an app platform that encourages developers to create experiences to build upon the Spotify platform. This may shift how users approach Spotify: moving it from being a music streaming program run in the background on a computer screen to being a user’s focus when on the computer. I’m not saying this will replace Facebook by any means, but it illustrates how platforms can continue to erode time, which isn’t unlimited, away from each other.

People will always share, but the platforms with which they choose to do so should always be something brands are paying attention to. User attention may shift for a variety of reasons. For example, Facebook overtook MySpace by revolutionizing social interactions online and making the experience straightforward.

Platforms that bring value to people’s lives and allow more effective ways to connect with others will win out. There is a saturation point, and users will prioritize the platforms that deliver the most value. The reward for platforms that succeed is user attention, which they can monetize. The battle will continue to wage on, but at the heart will always be humans’ desire to share and connect.

The Only Constant is Change

It’s easy to have predisposed ideas of where consumers are and how they’re behaving, but everyone prioritizes their attention differently. As marketers we need to know where our customers’ attention is now and where it might be in the future. That way we can anticipate change and understand where they’re connecting and where we can potentially connect with them, whether that’s Facebook, Google+, Twitter or another platform that already exists or doesn’t.