Each morning I get an email from Twurly, a great tool I use to curate and share content online. Twurly sends you an email of only the links that have been shared by people you follow during the previous day. It is a useful filter.
This morning, one link stood out for the number of times it had been shared by the people I follow.
In the article, Williams explains the context for his piece and then goes on to look at success metrics for content businesses. It is a great read and goes way beyond notions of what constitutes success for digital content.
He raises a particularly important point – the role of attention. As he points out, he is not the first to write on this but his site does measure for it by measuring the time readers spend on articles.
We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content — where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly — it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time. After all, for a currency to be valuable, it has to be scarce. And while the amount of attention people are willing to give to media and the Internet in general has skyrocketed — largely due to having a screen and connection with them everywhere — it eventually is finite.
Williams acknowledges that time spent reading content cannot be a measure of the value of the content. What he says next is really important.
At Medium, we don’t really want anyone’s time. We want to create a platform that enables people to make an impression on others. To make them think. To change their minds. To teach them something or connect emotionally. It’s hard to measure any of that.
That’s why Medium measures time because if you are spending time reading something it might follow you are taking it in, thinking on it and you might pass that thinking on.
This is a wonderful aspiration for the words we write, the images we create, the sounds and video we record. The only problem is that it is hard to measure . . . and in business (especially marketing) there is one thing that no one likes and that’s anything that is difficult to measure.