Scarcity of Attention

Nowadays, as individuals and organizations have been establishing their presence online, attention has grown more scarce. We’re all too glad that resources are abundant and easily accessible online. Sharing information and connecting with people are inexpensive and convenient as well. But for organizations, these aren’t always desirable as they have to prepare themselves for a competition in which people’s attention is at stake.

An abundance of competitors
Organizations have to compete against one another and against people. This challenges them to double their effort in ‘crafting’ their messages. They have to be attractive enough for people to pay attention to them. It seems that everyone’s delighted with the availability of free online platforms. Surely, going online is easy. But getting people’s attention is not, especially when everything is just a few clicks away.

It’s not what you say but what people say about you
Organizations’ presence online is not limited to their websites. It seems that they also want to be in the most popular and most frequently used online platforms. Thus, those FB pages and advertisements and twitter accounts. But then, people have this natural interest to know more about other individuals than companies. They would, however, notice a particular company upon learning an acquaintance’s experience with its product or service. For the nth time, offline and online, the co-creation of content has to be mentioned and emphasized.
In Facebook, for example, people are more likely to notice what’s at the center than what’s on the right side of their screen. Meaning, they pay more attention to photos uploaded and commented and pages liked by friends than those advertisements at the right. Lucky for organizations if 1) something about them or their brands is at the center and 2) it’s something positive. People seem to be more wary of advertisements nowadays. They pay more attention to recommendations from those who they know.

‘You are now online’
Organizations must realize that their offline activities may go online. Thus, the need for them perform well and provide the optimal experience to their clients or customers offline. The messages that organizations craft are not limited to what they write or say. Their performance and their audience’s perception of them also count.

People may not always catch an organization at its best. But it shouldn’t be also caught at its worst. An organization can after all, never know when or if an individual will ever click on that link to its page or set his eyes on its photo again.

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith noted that attention is now scarce in their book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust . After reading it, I realized that there’s so much more to learn about something that we are already familiar with. You might want to check it out, too. 🙂


About Alyssa B
The Composer, Alyssa Batu, is a senior Organizational Communication student at the University of the Philippines Manila. “What is OrCom all about?” has been the most frequently asked [and answered] question for her since 2008. Three years have passed and she continues to discover answers to that question. Alyssa occasionally procrastinates (‘occasionally’ here is relative, btw :p ) because she either spent too much time with Detective Conan or baking.

6 Responses to Scarcity of Attention

  1. Arlet says:

    I agree with everything you said, I think this is another challenge for us to get and keep attention via good content.

    I also read Trust Agents a year ago, it was actually the reason why I try not to be so negative to online networking/keeping in touch. Actually, before reading it, I felt that I should not “befriend/connect” with people I don’t really know personally (or people who doesn’t know me) I was happy with bringing my offline world online, but now I know that it can hinder potential opportunities for us. Online might just be the way for us to connect to that important person, we don’t really know for sure.

  2. Mae says:

    I totally agree that attention online (actually even offline) has become more scarce. That’s why organizations should really work hard in earning people’s attention and work harder in keeping that attention. If I’m not mistaken, Brogan and Smith also mentioned it in their book that one way of doing so is by earning the trust of “evangelists” or people who will most likely become ambassadors of your brand to others. This is where our knowledge of defining the target audience and influencing the influential comes into play. We don’t target to get everyone’s attention, only the attention of those who matter, right?

    • Arlet says:

      Hi Mae! I remember you were the one who suggested that I read this book (you influenced me GYAHAHAHA) Some brand ambassadors (unless paid) don’t wanna be called evangelist because it feels like they’re one with the brand when in fact they aren’t. They’re just there to say their “honest” opinions. Somehow, being called evangelist makes them lose this credibility but in the Philippines, nobody calls them evangelist anyway (I guess?)

      • Mae says:

        Wow, Arlet! I feel honored to know that you actually value my opinion (so I’m one of your influencers, huh?! ) :p I didn’t know ambassadors do not want to be called evangelists, did Brogan and Smith mentioned that in their book too? So, choice of “labeling” is an issue? Well, “evangelists” is what Brogan and Smith used in their book, so that’s what I used. But I’ll keep what you said in mind 😉 And yeah, evangelist doesn’t seem to be very common here perhaps because the term is used more in the context of spirituality rather than brands.

  3. jaypeesan says:

    You might say that attention is a limited and companies are competing for it. It has a good side to it though. Companies try to outdo each other just to get a more attention than their competition. The future will be filled with better and bigger promos and events. The bad side is we’ll be the ones doing all the planning and execution of these better and bigger promos and events. More work for us. Yey!

    Kidding aside, I think grabbing attention is one thing but sustaining their attention is what matters as well. They could make with the little attention they have right now and focus on improving the relationship they have with their smaller audience. At least they could have a sure captured share of the audience and prevent them from shifting thier eyes to other brands.

    In the meantime, can I borrow your copy of that book? It sounds interesting 😀

  4. arraayes says:

    Upon reading your entry, I remember the 3:33:3 rule (if I’m not mistaken) that was taught in our audiovisual class. This implies that any promotional material must run from 3 seconds, 33 seconds, or at the most 3 minutes to be able to capture fully the attention of the people so that your brand or your organization will register in their mind.

    This maybe an example of what organizations must consider but the process of grabbing the attention of the people is far more complex which is what I think is the main point of this entry.

    I agree that people at present, take all things for granted. They are bombarded with millions of advertisements everyday online or offline but only few stick to their minds. This is the challenge that millions of organizations experience at present. They have to find a way to stand out among the rest. They have to forget the notion of the passive audience and realize that people can be able to help them solve this problem.

    My main point is that – organizations must treat people as people and build relationships with them that will last. I think this is the secret to most of the success of people (offline or online) which makes accepting the challenge worth the while.

    Another thing, can I also borrow the book?! I agree that it sounds interesting. 🙂

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