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.