Six Ways To Earn Attention For Your Creations

Based on 12 examples of people who have done so.

Attention isn’t free.

It requires time, effort, resources and a strategic approach.

Following are six strategies you can employ to earn an audience’s attention based on examples of some people who have done so…

  1. Give value (for free).

Attention is an investment that people expect a return on.

If you don’t provide value up front — often for free — or if you fail to clearly articulate that value, you’ll never attract an audience.

Here are a couple examples of how others have used this strategy to earn attention:

  1. Show you care.

If you don’t care about your audience, they won’t care about you.

People can sense whether you’re genuinely interested in them or simply interested in what they can do for you and they can feel the difference between those who want to engage and those who just want engagement to help them with a social media algorithm.

Be the former.

Go out of your way to show you care, do things that don’t scale, and people will happily give you their attention.

A couple examples:

  • American Airlines replies to 100 percent of the people who mention them in a tweet — they replied to 3,200 tweets in one month alone. That’s what it looks like when you care about your audience and work to earn their attention (and business).
  • In 2014, Taylor Swift studied the social media timelines of many of her fans to understand what they were interested in, bought them gifts based on those interests, and surprised fans with them as Christmas gifts. Here’s what happened next:

  1. Reveal yourself.

People are more interesting than brands.

Even powerful brands like Apple couldn’t compete with the aura of the individuals behind them like Steve Jobs.

If you want attention for your work, allow people to get to know the person (or people) who created it.

Doing so creates context, humanizes the work, and builds trust.

A couple examples:

  • Hiut Denim makes jeans, but they’re not just a jeans company. By sharing the story of founder David Hieatt, the people who work for the company, and the town where it’s made, Hiut Denim earns attention the average clothing company never could. Here’s their story:
  • Austin Kleon is an author who suggests one of the best ways to reveal yourself is to show your work (and he even wrote a book about it). As he writes, “Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”
  1. Enable connections.

One of the best ways to attract attention to your creations is to use them to build a community.

Make things that enable you to connect with your audience and your audience to connect with each other.

A major reason people become fans is to connect with other fans and have a sense of belonging, so figure out how you can help enable that.

A couple examples:

  • Harley Davidson’s success has as much to do with the community its built as its products — the Harley Owners Group is also the world’s largest motorcycle club.
  • Seth Godin touches on this in his excellent book Tribes. He points out the role of artists isn’t just to attract new fans, but to create ways for an existing audience to connect with each other. “The Beatles did not invent teenagers. They just decided to lead them,” he said.
  1. Do something unique.

Attention is a competitive sport.

To earn it, you must figure out how your to stand out from the rest of the pack and you don’t get noticed by trying to fit in.

The more you amplify what’s unique about your work and present it in an unexpected way, the easier it becomes to attract an audience to it.

A couple examples:

  • In 2018, lots of car companies did lots of things to get attention, but only Tesla sent a car into space.
  • In 2013, Beyonce shocked the world and released an entire album as a surprise with no pre-promotion. It was such a unique move it attracted a ton of attention. Several other major artists have pulled the same stunt in the years that followed, but none got as much attention because it was no longer unique.
  1. Give people something worth talking about.

People share things that give them an opportunity to say something about themselves.

If your creation represents an idea, belief, or message people genuinely want to spread, they’ll be much more likely to do so and you’ll earn more attention.

A couple examples:

  • In 2015, the promotional campaign for the movie Straight Outta Comptonwent viral with the help of a meme generator that allowed people to upload images representing and showing pride in their own hometowns.
  • Billie Eilish recently got a ton of attention after addressing the issue of body shaming at her concert — the moment went viral because it gave fans an opportunity to express their own feelings on the subject.