Everyone uses cognitive biases to speed up their decision making process. They are as old as decision making itself. The most common bias is "confirmation bias." It's a great description for the tendency of people to blindly accept evidence that supports their theory, but hold in great skepticism anything that undermines their theory. If you've ever read something in order to prove your point in an argument, then you're most likely guilty of confirmation bias.
Why does this matter to you? After all you're a marketer, an entrepreneur or a web guy, not a researcher. It's important because everyone is a decision maker at some point in their work and if you're not aware of the biases that effect you, then you can't be proactive in overcoming them.
A while back I hacked together a script to scrape Reddit users in order to see what the top submitters were doing. I took three top Reddit submitters: maxwellhill, qgyh2, and MndVirus and started compiling data from my scraper. Some of the things I looked at were:
- root domain
- time of day
I was expecting to find more commonalities than I did, which is why I am publishing this post, but some of the common denominators of their submissions are:
Because Disqus makes it easy for bloggers to setup Facebook Connect and other social media login systems on their sites, if Disqus or it's competitors start to see a large amount of new users, it's likely that Facebook Connect will also begin to see a very large increase in adoption. Therefore, the adoption of centralized commenting is likely to be one of many cornerstones for what Jeremiah Owyang calls the Era of Social Colonization, the period in which all sites become social.
There is a great article written by Naomi Dunford at Copyblogger titled "7 Ways You're Screwing Up Relationship Marketing". Naomi makes some excellent points about a common misconception people have regarding social media. Many people seem to think social media is the same thing as relationship marketing, or that brands need to follow the same rules as people to be successful in this medium. Well, it's not, and they don't. So, if social media isn't relationship marketing, what is it?
Marketing is the ability to tell your story in a compelling and memorable way. Journalists do this every day, and there's something every marketer can learn from their journalistic brethren. It's a simple piece of advice given to every budding young reporter. That advice is: "don't bury your lede."
What's a lede? The lede is the most important part of the story. It's the gem that makes the story worth reading. Great journalists can spot a good lede in the midst of the most muddled story. And good marketers need to be able to do the same.
Here's an example of a great lede from a recent wall street journal article (hattip: Brandon Ducher)
Like most San Franciscans, Charles Pitts is wired. Mr. Pitts, who is 37 years old, has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online and keeps in touch with friends via email. The tough part is managing this digital lifestyle from his residence under a highway bridge.
Notice the lede isn't the fact he uses social networks, nor the fact he's homeless. It's the juxtaposition of the two. The idea that a homeless person has a digital identity is the heart of this story, and the author does a great job engaging you in the narrative with this unexpected angle.
To find the lede you have to sift through the chafe, the details that don't matter, and figure out what is actually worth talking about when it comes to your brand or product. You should grab the lede by it's collar and make it stand up front and center. The lede should lead.
The most common mistake is trying to say too much. You can't have multiple ledes, or you end up with a muddled, un-focused story that loses the reader. A good lede should be simple, concrete and memorable. It should hook the audience and keep the reader going.
Next time you're working on crafting a marketing message, pretend you're an outsider writing a news story. What aspect of the story is worth talking about? What's the most interesting angle? Try to identify the lede, and then give it the spotlight it deserves.