Influence and Thought Leadership

How to Get Attention Without Toxic Attention Seeking 150 150 admin

How to Get Attention Without Toxic Attention Seeking

In the past, social media and business were dominated by attention-seeking behaviors. Behaviors like shock value, trolling, click baiting, drama seeking, and virtue signaling, etc.

I am starting to see a shift in this trend. Now, social media channels are gaining popularity by sharing things that are true. Truth, authenticity, genuineness, honesty, trust, educational value, and substance are all becoming more important.

This shift is likely due to a number of factors. First, people are becoming more desensitized to shock value. They are no longer as easily entertained by outrageous or offensive content. Second, people are becoming more discerning about the information they consume. They are looking for content that is authentic and trustworthy. Third, people are becoming more aware of the negative consequences of attention-seeking behaviors. They are realizing that these behaviors can damage reputations, lose customers, and attract negative publicity.

As a result of this shift, social media channels that want to be more successful, especially in the long term, need to focus on creating content that is true, authentic, educational, and respectful of their audience’s time. They need to build trust with their audience and provide them with value. If they can do this, they will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

It’s important that creators respect the time of their consumers and customers. In today’s world, people are bombarded with information from all sides. They have limited time and attention, so they are more likely to engage with content that is concise, informative, and relevant to their interests.

Attention-Seeking Behaviors: What Are They?

Let’s get into the attention seeking behaviors we’re talking about.

Click baiting: This is the use of eye-catching headlines or titles that are designed to get people to click on a link. Clickbait headlines are often misleading or sensationalized, and they may not accurately reflect the content of the article.
Shock value: This is the use of shocking or controversial content to get attention. Shock value can be used in a variety of ways, such as by making offensive or provocative statements, or by sharing graphic or disturbing images.
Clout chasing: This is the act of seeking attention or popularity by associating with famous or influential people. Clout chasers may try to get attention by tagging celebrities in their social media posts, or by trying to get invited to events that are attended by celebrities.
Fishing for compliments: This is the act of seeking compliments or validation from others. People who fish for compliments may constantly talk about their accomplishments, or they may ask for feedback on their appearance or their work.
Exaggerating or embellishing stories: This is the act of exaggerating or embellishing stories in order to make them more interesting or attention-grabbing. People who exaggerate or embellish stories may do so in order to make themselves look good, or to make their lives seem more exciting than they actually are.
Starting drama or conflict: This is the act of starting drama or conflict in order to get attention. People who start drama or conflict may do so because they enjoy the attention, or because they want to feel powerful or in control.
Self-promotion: This is the act of promoting oneself or one’s work in a way that is seen as excessive or boastful. Self-promoters often talk about their accomplishments, their talents, or their possessions in order to draw attention to themselves.
Self-harm or suicidal threats: This is the act of threatening self-harm or suicide in order to get attention. People who make self-harm or suicidal threats may do so because they are feeling desperate for attention, or because they are trying to manipulate others.
Outrage porn: Deliberately trying to evoke anger or shock for attention. Using inflammatory headlines or images to amplify people’s anger, fear, or outrage, to drive engagement and viewership.
Drama baiting: Purposefully stirring up arguments, feuds or controversy online to get more attention and engagement.
Reaction baiting: Posting things meant to provoke strong reactions from people in order to drive more comments, shares, etc.
Performative wokeness: Pretending to care deeply about social issues for appearances and to gain praise, without taking meaningful action.
Virtue signaling: Conspicuously expressing views intended to demonstrate good character or moral correctness, but sometimes comes off as insincere.
Hot takes: Having extreme, exaggerated opinions just to stand out and get noticed. Not sincerely held views.
Trolling: Intentionally annoying people online by posting inflammatory, offensive or provocative content to get attention and reactions.
Cyberbullying: Harassing or attacking others online for amusement, controversy or social status.
Bandwagoning: Jumping on viral trends, memes or hashtag campaigns cynically just to increase one’s visibility.
Follower farming: Using bots or shady services to artificially inflate one’s follower count to appear more influential.

What are the Opposites?

Click baiting

  • Accurate headlines – Using headlines that truthfully convey the content of the article.
  • Informative headlines – Headlines that are clear, concise, and highlight the value of the content.
  • Transparent content

Shock value

  • Thoughtful commentary – Offering measured, nuanced perspectives on issues.
  • Uplifting content – Sharing positive, inspiring messages and images.

Clout chasing

  • Genuine connections – Developing relationships without ulterior motives for fame or attention.
  • Humble collaborations – Working with others in a respectful, egalitarian way.

Fishing for compliments

  • Giving praise – Offering genuine compliments and praise to others.
  • Self-confidence – Having inner security not dependent on external validation.


  • Honesty – Being truthful and straightforward in sharing stories and experiences.
  • Accuracy – Providing information and accounts factually without embellishment.

Outrage porn

  • Thoughtful and balanced perspectives
  • nuanced discourse aimed at building bridges and understanding.

Drama baiting

  • Conflict resolution – Resolving conflicts through open communication and compromise.
  • Issue focused – Avoiding controversy by focusing on substantive issues.

Reaction baiting

  • Thoughtful content – Creating thoughtful content focused on quality over reactions.
  • Good faith – Engaging in discussions in good faith.

Performative wokeness

  • Authentic advocacy – Advocating causes out of authentic motivation rather than appearances.
  • Consistency – Maintaining consistency between public stances and private actions.

Virtue signaling

  • Humble actions – Demonstrating values through humble actions rather than empty words.
  • Lead by example – Leading by example rather than overt displays.

Hot takes

  • Nuanced – Considering issues with nuance rather than reactionary stances.
  • Open-minded – Maintaining open-mindedness and ideological flexibility.


  • Ignore provocation – Ignoring provocative bait rather than taking it.
  • Constructive dialogue – Favoring constructive dialogue over petty arguments.


  • Be kind – Treating others with kindness and empathy.
  • Stand up – Standing up for those targeted by harassment.


  • Critical thinking – Evaluating trends critically rather than blindly following.
  • Avoid hype – Avoiding hype and making independent judgments.

Follower farming

  • Organic growth – Focusing on organic growth and quality engagement.
  • Trust audiences – Trusting audiences to value authenticity over inflated numbers.

The opposites generally involve avoiding sensationalism, engaging sincerely with issues, adding value through commentary, and building platforms organically through strong relationships.

Quit Chasing Clout:  a Guide to Gaining Influence Through Purpose

Here are some practical tips for getting attention in a genuine, positive way:

  • Create truly helpful, educational content that solves people’s problems or satisfies their curiosity. Provide value that improves lives.
  • Tell compelling stories that connect emotionally with audiences. Share your authentic experiences and perspectives.
  • Build thought leadership and expertise around topics you’re passionate about. Offer unique insights through commentary.
  • Foster engaged communities and discussions around shared interests. Facilitate meaningful conversations.
  • Collaborate with influential people and organizations in mutually beneficial ways, not just for clout.
  • Mentor and lift up others. Help amplify voices that need to be heard.
  • Stand for issues and values you sincerely care about. Advocate and contribute beyond social media.
  • Be creative and innovative. Offer new perspectives, formats or mediums that captivate audiences.
  • Leverage moments of cultural relevance, but do so in a substantive way that adds value. Don’t just bandwagon.
  • Use humor skillfully and tastefully. Make people laugh and reflect simultaneously.
  • Adopt early and thoughtfully on new platforms and technologies with genuine potential.
  • Be unexpectedly generous. Surprise and delight audiences in positive ways.
  • Respond to all feedback and interactions, not just the loud voices. Build community inclusively.

Forget Going Viral – How Substance and Authenticity Builds Lasting Influence in 2023

The key is ultimately providing value, building trust, and connecting with audiences in an authentic way. That will get attention organically and lead to purpose-driven growth over time.  Creating this substantive, value-driven content requires more effort than attention-grabbing gimmicks, but here are the benefits of doing so:

  • Long-term loyalty and trust. An audience earned through authenticity and value is much more loyal than one earned through tricks and shock value. They become true fans.
  • Thought leadership. Genuine expertise and authority can be built over time by consistently providing unique insights. This leads to influential voice.
  • Positive associations. A brand known for substance develops strong positive associations versus fleeting hype.
  • Quality opportunities. Value-driven content and engaged communities open more doors to collaborations, partnerships, and growth opportunities with aligned brands/organizations.
  • Lasting impact. Providing value can create a meaningful, lasting positive impact on people’s lives on an individual level. This gives a profound sense of purpose.
  • Rising above the noise. As more creators chase clout through increasingly absurd tactics, those focused on nuance and meaning stand out.
  • Future-proofing. Attention-seeking behaviors become stale over time as people become desensitized. But valuable insights remain relevant.

The path of creating substantive content that connects with people’s needs may be more challenging, but doing so builds real credibility and influence that pays dividends long-term. It’s a powerful strategy for those focused on purpose over passing hype.