Saturday, March 8, 2014

Investing Your Attention for Fun and Profit

What is the best way to manage your attention? This is a complex topic. Yet this field map is a good starting point. 

Audience AwareAudience Unaware

Let's break it down:
  • Things/People You Like
    • Unaware - Introduce your audience to what you are sharing. Give background. Share context. 
    • Aware - Amplify the message with your audience. Likes, RTs, and +1s are fast. Building on the message with your own is powerful. 
  • Things/People You Don't
    • Unaware - Ignore it. Telling people about something you don't like is like giving someone crumpled dollar bills. They all spend the same!
    • Aware - Refute the message. 
Things we like are pretty easy. After all, it's what we do with TV shows and popular movies. We introduce people to new things (Breaking Bad!) and amplify the things others know about (omigoddidyouwatchBreakingBadlastnight?)

Where we tend to fall down is on things we don't like. Here's the problem: negative attention is more valuable than no attention. If you introduce someone to something you don't like, they might like it anyway!

Say you have 100 followers on Twitter. You go on a rant about something horrible. Half your followers know about it and you convince 5 of them that it is indeed lousy. The other half don't know about it, yet they check it out and 10 of them find they like it. Congratulations, you just increased the popularity of something terrible by 5 people!

The more people in your audience, the worse the problem gets. This is one reason why ideas spread. The more exposure an idea gets, the more people will adopt it. Refuting an idea effectively requires highly targeted messages or it makes things worse!

Here is how to harness this :

  • Focus on sharing things you like and want to spread.  There's no downside!
  • If you must talk about something negative, limit your audience to those already aware of the idea. Posting a negative book review on your blog is a bad idea. Putting it on an Amazon page is much more effective.
  • If you can get someone with a following to denounce you, you win. Getting the Pope to call you evil is a good career move.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homo Socialus in the Age of Distraction - key takeaways

As I discussed in my TFT14 talk, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the activities from social media. Multitasking won't help. Ignoring or demonizing the tools is a disease worse than the cure. Don't despair - we can take control by being more deliberate in how we use social tools.  Here are some simple ways that can help.

Determine what success means to you

You have more options in how to live than any of your ancestors. Choose to live a meaningful life. Ask yourself:
  • What do you want to be? (NOT "What do you want to have?" - we are human beings, not human havings!)
  • What do you want to experience?
  • What relationships do you want to build?
Write them down and look at them every day. These items are where you want to focus your attention.

Shape your environment for success

Your attention is your most valuable resource. Treat it as such. Turn off alerts, notifications, etc by default. Limit who can interrupt you to the people and ideas that matter. 

Set smart boundaries around social tool usage. Put distracters away when you need to focus. Set aside time each day to review your feeds.

You will fall behind on occasion. Don't panic! Let go instead. You do not have to keep up with everything. 

If you start to get overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Then start pruning your feeds. What no longer helps you be successful? Don't apologize for unfollowing, hiding and ignoring what no longer works for you. 

Build relationships

Success is not a solo sport. Connect with others. Instead of posting what you had for lunch, reach out. We feel closer to people we communicate with regularly. Don't mistake this for following someone, though. Communication is a two-way street!

When you are connecting with others, be there and be authentic. Use technology to support the conversation, not instead of conversation. If the other person starts to tune out, shift the discussion to something they are interested in. Or end the chat - respecting their attention is important too!

Use the attention you get

Learn from everything you share. Every response is useful, even no response. 
  • Positive response - keep it up!
  • Negative response - refine and adjust
  • Trolling/hate - don't respond, but don't stop because you are doing something that is attracting attention
  • No response - reassess and ask for feedback from people you trust
Lastyly, be a venture attentionalist - invest your attention in resharing and encouraging others that create great content but don't have a lot of attention. This helps them and helps you too!

This is a rich topic and I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Reach out to me here, on Google+, or on Twitter. Best wishes on your journeys!