It’s easy to buy attention but can you earn it?

By Srinivas Rao, Contributing {grow} Columnist

As the social web gets flooded with content creators, the supply of attention is decreasing while the demand is increasing. If you’ve ever taken an economics class, then you know that this causes the price of attention to rise. Attention isn’t available at bargain basement prices. Even if you manage to get it cheap,  it won’t last long. There’s a big difference between building a tribe and getting an audience.

Attention is a form a of currency on the social web.

I’ve always said that attention is a form of currency on the social web. When people choose to spend theirs with you, treat them accordingly.  Embrace the nature of social conversations.

And the attention of an audience can be bought!

Anybody can get the attention of an audience. You can buy ads, and drive tons of traffic to your blog or company web site.  But it’s one thing to get somebody’s attention and something entirely different to keep it.

Characteristics of a Tribe 

1. The Attention of a tribe must be earned

The attention of a tribe is something that grows over time. It’s created through a combination of great content, relationships and trust. It must be earned.

2. Members of a Tribe Will Defend Their Leader

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that really hit a nerve with one of my readers. He went so far as to say that I should be ashamed of my content and was doing a disservice to humanity (not exactly a light criticism). This was after my reply to his original comment. Rather than engage him, I decided to direct my energy towards something more positive. A few days later I went back to check on the comment thread ou`t of curiosity and noticed that a number of my readers had come to my defense. When you’ve truly built a tribe they’ll become loyal, they’ll sing your praises and defend you.

3. A Tribe is There by Choice

Unlike an audience who you can force to end up at your blog through ads, or a blog post that went viral, a tribe is there by choice.  A tribe keeps coming back every single day.  A tribe looks forward to your insights, products,ideas, and content.

4. Members of a Tribe Recruit Other Members

If you talk to anybody who has built a sizable audience, they will tell you to get really clear on who your audience is. It may seem counterintuitive. But once you figure who your message is not for, you’ll attract the people who it is for in droves.  Existing readers and tribe members will recruit the others.  You don’t need millions of people following your work, just the ones who really care.

5.The Ultimate Sign That You’ve Built a Tribe

If you want the ultimate test for your whether or not you’ve built a tribe, disappear for a week without telling anybody. A tribe will notice if their leader is missing. If nobody notices that you’re gone, you’ve probably got some work to do.

So, now you have to ask yourself: Are you building an audience or a tribe? There’s a big difference. It takes time, effort and a genuine desire to make a difference in order to build a tribe.

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did and his the host-co founder of BlogcastFM.  You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife

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