The Currency of Attention

Let’s do a little bit of basic mathematics. Bear in mind my numbers are just assumptions based on my own life – I am sure there are large numbers of variations.

There are 24 hours in a day. The average person sleeps for 8 of them. That leaves 16.

Put in eating, getting ready for work, commuting, drinking coffee and generally faffing, I would say that probably makes up at least 2 hours. We’re down to 14. For those of us who need to combat the eating and drinking with exercise, take out another couple of hours. For those of us who prefer to watch TV than go for a run – same. So we have 12 left.

Then there is spending time with the family, husband, wife, partner, friends, chatting, interacting with your work colleagues, people in the street, your Mum on the phone, the guy in the newsagent etc. Another couple of hours. Let’s say 10 are left.

In that 10 hours (and this is being pretty optimistic I have to admit), our attention is being demanded by so many different things that even if we had 100 hours we still wouldn’t be able to attend to them all. But the one thing you can guarantee is that for most people, that 10 hours is well and truly full.

So the question is, when you start out on social media, how do you claim a few minutes of the attention which has already been claimed? How do you usurp one of your attention competitors?

The simple answer is, you have to offer something which isn’t just engaging, interesting and compelling for the person whose attention you want, but it has to be regular, trustworthy and, above all, BETTER than what they are already spending their attention on.

There are so many dead Facebook groups and pages, empty, abandoned blogs, ghost town-like LinkedIn groups and abandoned websites on the internet that if there could just be a damn good clean up, the whole internet would be a far more interesting place. The reason that all of these things are dead though is that despite the best intentions in the launch, the creator failed to offer something better than what was already out there, and as a result, failed to win the attention of their audience.

Attention is also incredibly fickle. You don’t just need to gain it – you also need to keep it. You need to keep being better, keep being interesting, keep being different, otherwise a competitor will come along and steal your prize. You need to constantly be on your toes, constantly thinking about what it is that your desired audience is going to want, constantly listening, improving and conversing.

In reality, attention is one of the most precious commodities in existence because there is a finite amount of it and it is actually reducing as more and more information is made available to us. The old rules of supply and demand are if the demand goes up and the supply stays the same (or reduces, which arguably it is as we are faced with more and more demands in our already over-busy lives) then the value of the commodity is going to increase.

Don’t dismiss attention. Don’t forget it and don’t ignore it. You might have 50,000 followers or friends, but are they actually paying attention to you, or do you just think they are because they haven’t blocked you or unfriended you yet, when in reality their attention is somewhere else, with someone more interesting who is listening, and doing things that little bit better.

Thanks to sciondriver for the image

Author: admin