Attention assets

There is an emerging form of wealth called attention. If people are willing to listen and be influenced by what you say or do then you have an attention asset. The value of your attention asset depends on the number and kind of people you can influence. For example if you can influence millions of people to behave in a certain way then you have a very valuable asset. You may also be able to influence a small number of very powerful people. For instance if you have the ear of the president you’re indeed very powerful.

The ability to influence people comes from your credibility and reach. Your credibility is a function of experience and knowledge. Reach depends on how effectively you can connect with people. Reach can be amplified by the platform you choose to use. For example if you want to reach professionals then LinkedIn is a good option. If you want to engage teenagers Tik-Tok maybe better. The bottom line is you need to present a message which resonates with the target audience and you need to be able to do it consistently. You can present your message through audio, writing, video and something  experiential like a live event.

Attention in and of itself is meaningless. What matters is why you want the attention in the first place. Is it for selfish reasons or to self promote? Is there a change you seek to make? Are you trying to solve a problem? Would people miss you if you didn’t show up? Are you willing to stick with this for the long time? Attention should be sought as a means to create a positive change in society. This way it brings meaning and fulfillment for both your audience and yourself.
Attention is a scarce commodity. There are many people fighting to get people’s attention. You have friends, family, advertisers, etc. This means you really need to consistently bring something valuable, passionate and unique to your audience. Focus on the long term and build a relationship with the people you seek to serve. You don’t have to reach millions of people. Find the smallest valuable audience which can benefit from your message and then serve them to the best of your ability. It could be only a couple of friends or family to begin with.

There are different levels of influence depending on credibility and reach. We can draw an attention matrix to define this relationship. When you have low credibility and low reach then you really have no influence and no attention asset to speak of. You may have high credibility but low reach. In this case you have hidden potential you’re sitting on. What you need to do is figure out to reach the right audience with your message. You may also need to present your message in a more engaging format and on the right platform. There are people with a huge following but with very low credibility. These people are not offering anything valuable and often spread rumours and misinformation and a lot of negativity. Finally there are people with very high credibility and a large following. These are people with valuable influence and have a valuable attention asset. These people create positive change in their audiences and society at large.

There are many ways to make money from an attention asset. You can charge a fee for some exclusive services you offer. For instance if you’re a food blogger you can charge some money for exclusive reviews of restaurants. The second way to make money is by leasing your attention assets to someone who is willing to pay for it. For example if you’ve built an online fitness brand you can endorse certain fitness products. The third way to make money is through donations and gifts. You can ask your audience to support you to continue providing them with valuable content. You can also use your attention assets to gain access to capital, connections and opportunities. Ultimately you can simply have fun doing and sharing what you love.

Anyone can participate in the attention market. It’s no longer exclusive to celebrities and artists. We are now seeing a new form of celebrities of all sorts on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. I have seen dentists, lawyers, accountants, house wives, grand mothers, chefs, carpenters, etc. on YouTube. You can also choose to simply build an attention asset at your work place or in your community. 

It’s difficult to create any meaningful change without attention. Once you get attention you can then begin to create meaningful change in your environment.

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