I can’t remember the first time I heard the phrase, Attention Economy, but it stuck in my head like a fishhook.
You didn’t need to be a genius to see where things were going.
And here we are.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok and the rest.
A world ruled by algorithms that are optimised for attention.
Whatever you do, don’t look away. Keep feeding in the beast, keep optimising for views, likes, shares, claps, hearts, or whatever.
After all, they’re easy to measure.
It reminds me of the mug we gave our son when he turned 18.
Do you know what I mean?
Attention is a trap.
Of course, not everyone agrees. Plenty of people are keen to sell me their ‘exclusive’ method/plan/scheme/hack/secret way to get it.
And by the way, if you’re interested … they are also probably offering a one-time, never-to-be-repeated discount WITH bonuses!!! – but only if you BUY RIGHT NOW!
Here’s what I see.
Attention is an arms race. I shout. You shout. Everyone shouts.
Then, I shout louder, and on we go. Pretty soon, all we have is a headache and the desperate need for the next shiny tactic. (And it’s a junkie’s need if we’re honest. Another fix from the siren hamster wheel of hope.)
Let’s be clear. I’m not saying that attention doesn’t matter.
It’s necessary, but not sufficient.
And the louder we shout, the more we risk losing the one thing we really need to build the kind of businesses we want.
When we spam people, or manipulate them, or feed their fear, or exploit a (temporary) weakness on Google … it may work … at least for a while. But in the end, they are burned and so are we.
Our brand. Our business. Our reputation.
I say “we”, but when I founded my first agency, I had no interest in any of those short-term tactics. That wasn’t the kind of business that I wanted to build.
And I’m guessing you are the same.
Which is why we are both here.
So let’s circle around and come at this from a different angle…