I just had an interesting conversation with Gene Kim talking about why some topics, be they blog posts or books, attract a lot of attention, while others seem to languish.

It seems that there is an equation that looks something like this:

Attention = f(“Number of people interested in topic”, “Uniqueness of relevant search terms”, “Uniqueness of content offered”, “Value of content”)

That is, there are four factors that dictate the amount of attention a blog post or book gets:

  1. Number of people interested: When I wrote several blog posts about the 4-Hour Body in the beginning of 2011, many people were highly interested. The book had just come out, and Tim Ferriss had a massive marketing/promotion machine. Similarly, I recently had a very popular post on rapid scaling of web applications – another important topic that many people are interested in.
  2. Uniqueness of relevant search terms: “4-Hour Body” is a unique name that didn’t have any search engine conflicts. 
  3. Uniqueness of content: When I wrote my 4-Hour Body content, the book had just come out, and there were almost no other blog posts on the topic. The posts I wrote were unique – content that wasn’t in the book or anywhere else.
  4. Value of content: The content must be valuable enough that people make a decision to share through social media, blog posts, and aggregators.