Cultivating Emotion on the Internet

I’ve been tinkering with how to effectively develop a “hook” for my rapid digital prototype and it has forced me to further distill my objectives. It doesn’t seem possible to effectively draw an engaged person to a media platform without cultivating strong emotional content. I am discovering that although there are certainly best practices to follow, when establishing a test to provide proof of concept, its a faulty assumption to believe that the hook will work as intended on the first attempt. Instead success will require significant iteration and a refining or cultivating approach, whereby the hook strategy is optimized to appeal directly to the emotions of a continuously refined target audience. Ie: The ideal audience should be viewed as a moving target.

This in practice requires that a process is developed to track and ultimately associate strategies used with desired outcomes. Further, it means defining an audience as a starting point and then tracking which strategies provide surprising or unintended consequences.

But like building a garden, the rapid digital prototype requires a strategy of cultivation, an approach of watchful care. It is not correct to build a strategy at the start and implement it blindly or set it and forget it. Rather, building a strategy and carefully watching for the outcomes and determining if the consequences were as intended. Tracking the why or why not and allowing for the fact that perhaps the successful outcomes indicate that the true audience of the product has different features than originally expected.

Cultivating a prototype requires the observation of the Pareto Power Law of Distribution, the 80/20 principle. Tracking effort and correlating that effort to results will create an opportunity to iterate and alter the prototype to best cater to the 20% of the audience that accounts for 80% of the successful results.

Circling my thoughts back to the hook, its important that the Pareto Principle is kept at the front of mind when trying to emotionally appeal to the target audience. A set it and forget it mentality will only lead to beating an audience over the head with content they aren’t drawn to. Ultimately this has the opposite effect and will lead to projecting content into an empty space. Instead, using the Pareto Principle, its possible to adapt the messaging to more strongly appeal to the 20% of listeners that are most engaged with the prototype. By focusing on the successful outcomes and what initiates them, it provides valuable information on how to replicate and find new potential customers.

So, some final thoughts. Building a rapid digital prototype requires patience and awareness to understand that it takes time and attention to detail to develop a message that will attract an audience. The mindset should be to cultivate an audience, eliminating messaging that is ineffective and doubling down on messaging that attracts value. This requires active listening, engaging with the audience when possible to optimize the message and continuously cultivating a growing community.

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