Persistence + Passion + Quality = The Formula For Success

The social web encourages a constant churn of news, videos, articles, events and all types of content to be produced each second of every day.  Users thirst for streams of fresh content at a pace never before seen in society.  We are a culture of information and news junkies.

Content on the Internet has always moved quickly, but lately it feels as if the pace has accelerated even faster.

Why is this?  Because we have created a culture in healthy competition with each other to churn out new material, and fast.  Concurrently, we have created avenues and networks to distribute that content even faster directly to the reader.

Several elements have helped this acceleration:

  • The popularity of social bookmarking/content sharing sites
  • The rise of microblogging/lifestreaming
  • Monolithic social networks like Facebook and MySpace, plus niche social networks like Ning that cover all interests
  • A cutthroat daily battle for readers and subscribers in the blogosphere (and all online media)
  • Competition for eyeballs and attention for businesses
  • Many people simultaneously pursuing long tail of search success

Signal to noise ratio

But what percentage of fresh content to the web is actually useful, and what percentage is noise?  I would argue we are producing far more noise than signal, something that becomes abundantly clear if you remove the filters you’ve set up to navigate your way to useful content.

Most of you reading this use the tools created to block out the noise, the junk and focus in just on what matters to you.

This actually speaks to your opportunity as a blogger, business or anyone producing content – if you can slow down, take your time, and not necessarily try and keep pace with the fast moving areas, you will quickly discover that is a big secret to success.

Recall Jacob Neilsen’s article on Participation Inequality from 2006, which outlines the 90-9-1 rule:

  • 90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
  • 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.
  • 1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions.

Flash forward to 2008:  Technorati has indexed 133 million blogs since 2002, yet only around 76,000 blogs have a Technorati Authority of 50 or higher (source).  In other words, less than .06% of the blogosphere garners all the attention and authority when stacked up against the rest.

So if you want attention, interest and links, you absolutely must be in the 1%.  Better yet, you must be in the .06%.

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Your site needs to be updated, but a focus on quality is vital

The 90% of lurkers in the graph above have been pulled from their slumber.  Many of them are now social content creators.  Don’t believe me?  Go look at the Facebook newsfeed.  They don’t realize they are consistently creating content and garnering attention, but they are, and are part of an ever-increasing long tail of attention.

No question you too need to be consistently adding fresh material to your site, people crave a stream of fresh content.

But, if you are a business or a blogger not focused on breaking news, your opportunity lies not in being a heavy contributor purely to pad your site, but being a contributor in the sense of consistently contributing content at a pace no faster than you are able without sacrificing quality.

New tools have created an incredible influx of people creating content – you can never keep pace with the speed of social media now that so many are contributing.  And unfortunately, the signal to noise ratio keeps getting worse.  But if your site is known for an ultra-high level of signal, you will become a trusted resource.

As both the web and its users get better at filtering out the noise, those who are relentless in their quality will reap the benefits over those focused on volume for the sake of volume.

Related posts from The Future Buzz

How To Stand Out In A World Of Infinite Choice

A Secret Of The Social Web:  Passion

Breaking Through The Clutter

Related posts from around the web

What You Don’t Publish Defines Your Site (Dosh Dosh)

25 Paths To An Insanely Popular Blog (SkellieWag)

The Power Of Blogging With A Long Term View (ProBlogger)