I was not a star student in my Economics classes at Drexel. I got through those three classes with slightly above a B average. Even though I struggled, I found the concepts fascinating and to this day I still believe that my economics classes were the most valuable of my entire MBA.
When people hear “economics” they often think “economy” which makes them think “money.” While money is absolutely a large piece of a nation’s economy and therefore covered in the study of economics, money is not synonymous with economics.
Economics is a social science that studies the creation, production, distribution and flow of resources, goods and services throughout societies. Within this broad category there is a notion that resources tend to be finite, thus scarce. Much of the study and practice of economics deals with understanding, and creating data models to create the best scenarios in light of this scarcity of resources. These theories help to shape policies for nations, towns and businesses based upon comparative advantage and numerous other economic concepts.
Examples in my Economics classes would be how world governments engage in trade agreements, how tariffs (taxes) affect overall welfare and the principles of supply and demand.
How Economics relates to Social Media
I’ve been reading Brian Solis‘ book Engage and it has been fascinating on so many levels. Today I came across a concept in the book that struck me as being truly profound.
In Chapter 13 I saw two words that blew my mind: “Attention Economics.”
What an amazing concept! I’d never even considered it. Within the concept of finite resources, I’d never considered that our attention is a resource, and it is scarce.
Universal Human Examples of Scarcity
With the pull of everyday life, your career, your family, the need to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom, there is only so much time and attention that WE have.
No matter how fast you read or how good your filters are, there is more information than you can consume. So we focus on the most important..our own personal “hotlists.” This is a scarcity of attention and time.
Even if you eat 3 meals a day at a restaurant, you probably still won’t ever eat at every restaurant in your town, or city. Even if you happen to eat at every single restaurant, what are the chances that you’ve tried every single dish. So we focus on the restaurants that we’ve been to, that we know we like, where people know our name. This is a scarcity of attention, time and money.
Even if you watch 24 hours of television a day, you can’t possibly consume the amount of content that is out there. So we pick the shows that we like, we DVR them and we talk about them with friends. This is a scarcity of attention and time.
The river of content and experiences continually rushes faster than we could ever keep up with. Content in today’s world is being created at unprecedented levels, and the rate is constantly increasing.
If we accept that attention is scarce…
…then it is of the utmost importance that you find a way to capture a piece of that attention before someone/something else does. If you are a company trying to utilize Twitter as part of your communications strategy and you are posting one tweet everyday then you look like a drop of water…
in a rushing river…
My Twitter stream shows hundreds of people and even more when we add in lists and multiple accounts. My Facebook wall is full. My YouTube subscriptions are overflowing. I am NOT alone.
If we accept that attention is scarce then we have a better sense of how we must operate to capture that attention. If we treat each fan or follower as if the attention that they pay us is a gift, we will behave differently and share accordingly.
It is our job if we are going to devote time and resources to it to not just push more noise out into the internet ether, but instead provide good reasons for people to take notice of what we’re doing.
Are you filtered in or filtered out?
Blacklists and Whitelists are becoming two of the more important concepts in our digital lives. This is how I manage my email, my Twitter, my Facebook. As the volume of information increases, we do as we have always done, we revert to those sources that are most important or most connected and engaged.
When your Facebook network gets too big you create a friend list for your best friends and family so that you don’t miss their updates.
When your RSS reader begins to burst at the seams, you create a folder of your favorite sources.
This happens on Twitter, YouTube and in the physical world, if you have one night to go out with another couple, you go with the couple whose company you enjoy the most.
When you crafted your strategy for this new digital world, did you think of it as a place where your generic marketing messages went to float around? Did you see it as a place to be ignored like so many other pushy and impersonal “marketers?”
Or were you one of the minority that saw the true opportunity to connect with real people, provide real value and have real conversations? Were you one of the few that saw the real opportunity in being able to cut through the noise and deliver value worthy of being put “on the list?”
Do you even know what your customers want?
Don’t miss your opportunity
You often only get one chance to make a first impression. This is true in life, online or offline.
Take the time to formulate a strategy for social media. Take the time to listen to what your customers would find valuable. Don’t just treat this as “just another channel” and disregard the naysayers.
Consider your customers’ time and attention as scarce and appreciate it if they give it to you.