Markets for interesting ideas
I knew about ChangeThis, but was curious to see what they are up to, so I browsed around a bit. Not only have they got some impressive design work happening here, but some impressive stats as well.
We know that 30,000 of you subscribe via email and RSS feed, and that you download around 500,000 to 700,000 manifestos a month
The site publishes four to six manifestos each month, based on reader voting on proposals. Submit a good proposal, get it voted up, and then you will be invited to submit the 2,000 to 4,000 word document. Manifestos remain up indefinitely, so can reach very high download numbers if popular.The ChangeThis site is now managed by 800-CEO-Read, a site that sells and reviews business books. Many of the manifestos posted on ChangeThis are actually extracts or themes related to business books, so there's a bit of a fit there.
Their submission criteria are interesting, too:
Passion. Conviction. Knowledge. Education.
Thought. Persuasion. Freedom. Appeal. Change.
Point of View. Self-Betterment. Inspiration.
I believe one reason their e-books are so successful is that they control the presentation, and the e-book format they use is gorgeous and highly readable.
A point of view is the price of admission
Although ChangeThis is about disseminating ideas, those in the idea business find it a useful place to support their brand building efforts. For example, Tom Peters has seven manifestos published.
You can only get your manifesto published when you can take a point of view in a highly engaging way, and offer thoughtful and useful information to readers. This is a tough thing for a larger organization to do, and there isn't a lot there published by a large organization. Notable exception: Amnesty International has something called Stop Child Executions.
This kind of point of view is very difficult for corporations to take, but is pretty much essential if you are going to attract readers. And not just on this site, but in most social media.To win attention you must be interesting
In our information-laden world, if you want people to pay attention to your message, you must be interesting.
- You can be interesting by having a point of view on an important topic. e.g. ChangeThis
- You can be interesting by being funny. e.g.YouTube
- You can be interesting by being informative. e.g.Instructables
I personally believe corporate messaging -- aka advertising -- can be interesting. But most of it simply is not.
When you hear/see/read a lot of hand-wringing about the challenge of winning eyeballs, this is what it really comes down to. You win eyeballs by being interesting.Boring only works in the interruption model
Last night I was watching 24 on tape. I confess, I fast-forwarded through most of the advertising. Not because I hate advertising. Just because nothing caught my attention. And boring only works if you are forced to watch.
Social media takes the attention stakes up -- way, way up. Even though a lot of social media is drivel, it is often funny drivel. Which beats boring.