Earning Attention


When I post something new to this blog, I make the effort to go onto Twitter and ask a question that leads back to the post. I also do some things to get people’s attention via Google+. It’s become part of what every media maker does. Most people who run blogs say something to the effect of “I don’t know what I did to get more traffic before Twitter came along.”

I try my best to create useful information that helps business professionals and those seeking to grow their own capabilities. When I post this information to those outposts, it’s with the intent of being useful and catching someone’s attention. But I also don’t do a lot to try and shove any posts hard into anyone’s face. I just push it out, see if it has legs, and let it go from there. Even if I’m trying to sell something, I’m never about the hard sell. I just hope.

I see more and more people asking for attention. More and more people ask me for retweets and reposts and shares. More and more people ask me to amplify their media. Not their “very important” stuff, not their “trying to cure cancer” stuff. Just their “post that I really want people to read” stuff.

Asking for Retweets Isn’t Marketing

These requests for retweets and reshares fall into two categories: desperation and nice-to-have. I’ve just started to outright ignore the desperate. If you’re counting on me to save you with retweets, you’re not quite marketing, are you? If it’s nice-to-have, I’ve taken to thinking about whether you’ve talked to me socially in any capacity except to ask me for something in the last several months. That lets me ignore another whole swath of requests.

But There’s Just More to This

This feels a bit like a whining/complaining post. It is, a little bit. I’m really sick of “friends” seeing me as a force amplifier and not someone you want to actually interact with. But that’s not the bigger point.

What makes any of this sustainable marketing and business generating if it all relies on this hand-sharing effort? If the media isn’t finding its way to the right eyes just on its own, then how is anyone selling this as really effective and important marketing? Wouldn’t effective marketing be the kind of marketing that doesn’t require you to leg-hump people for shares and retweets?

Thank the sweet zombie that I’m not in tech blogging. I get the pitches, because people somehow don’t really read my blog, but instead send form letters about how they really love what I write, and could I cover their amazing start-up that is going to really turn the Klout/Kred thing on its head? But dear lordy, every time I see that pitch, I’ll see a story that’s almost a copy and paste of the junk that came with the pitch show up as a blog post somewhere else. Hint: I stopped reading the major tech blogs months and months ago. Hint2: I get the best stories from you, so I don’t have to read them to stay up.

Media isn’t sustainable marketing material if it requires begging to keep it fed.

Is This Worth It?

Some of you have noticed that I stopped blogging daily. Know why? Because Julien Smith asked me if it was worth it. He asked me what would change if I blogged once a week or so. Answer: absolutely nothing. Subscribers stay. You comment on the ones you like. You share the ones you think are useful to you. Business comes sometimes. It doesn’t other times. It’s just what it is.

Do I fuss over everything? No. Not even a little.

But What If You’re Starting Out?

If you’re starting out, you need a little more traction. You have to try and find more eyes. Sure, I get that. But do you get them by leg humping and begging, or do you get them by writing really great stuff, by showing up and participating where really great communities exist, by writing really useful guest posts on sites that are brethren to your own material? It’s B, not A.

If we want to earn people’s attention, it’s not through begging for tweets and retweets and shares. It’s through creating information that’s useful, that others can benefit from, and that will grow the space beyond just our own needs. That’s what will earn attention.

How I Earned My Attention, and Keep Earning It

People pay attention to me for the following reasons:

  • I write useful things you can use for your own purposes.
  • I share mostly positive opinions about what might help in the future. (Sorry this post isn’t as positive.)
  • I seek to do something more than talk about what everyone else is talking about.
  • I intend for small and large businesses to use this information for their own needs.
  • I write like I care about you (because I do).

Nowhere in there do I say that I earn attention by begging. Nowhere in there do I say I earn attention by pestering people beyond a few quick posts to the outposts. It’s all the basics: write useful stuff. Share useful stuff. Care about the people you hope to reach. Repeat.

It took me 8 years to get my first 100 readers.

Earn it.

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