I like to be fully aware of how effective my blog is. I want to know what content is popular, what isn't, where my traffic is coming from, how long they stay at the site, the path people take, where they enter, and where they leave. There's much more to look at besides the number of unique visitors there are. I make adjustments all the time (regarding both content and design) to make the experience as pleasant for my community as possible. I routinely look at Google Analytics to check out what content is popular and try to do my best to figure out why. Was it a picture that people found particularly interesting? Was it, perhaps, a certain phrase or comment? I often find that the stuff I think will be the least popular turns out to be the most popular. For example, I don’t often share much about my emotional self. I typically write about media, marketing, and business. By providing tools, analyses, and news, I hope to provide value to the people who visit my website. However, many of most popular pieces are there ones where I share a little insight into my inner workings.
Analytics is not just science
I also find it important to know what browsers people are using to access my website. Are they on mobile devices? If so, which ones? Is the content optimized for the platform my visitors are using? The list goes on, but the key here is to be intentional with your KPI's (key performance indicators). Try to figure out what you're actually trying to measure. People are people, not numbers, so try to go beyond the typical metrics that measure simple things. Instead, use these numbers to build a story. Don't think, "How can I increase time on my site by 20%?" Think, "How can I make the content more engaging, more interesting so that people are compelled to spend more time here?" Think, "Perhaps the time is short because they're reading from their cell phones and the average person switches where they focus their attention constantly. How can I optimize this portion of the experience?"
I don’t base my writing off of keywords. I’m not concerned with growing a huge "audience" based on manipulating trends. However, what is interesting about keywords and terms, is that they provide me with insight about how people find my page and helps me understand my connection with the outside world. I get a lot of traffic from people wanting to learn about socially responsible marketing, communications, and leadership. But I also get much of my traffic from people searching for the names of the people I interview, services I provide, and even me. This lets me know that I engage with a varied community. There are those who consume the content I create. And there are those who engage with the content I create, and in doing so, with me.
Inner and Outer Circles
There are people who know me and people who know of me. The people who know me consist of friends, family, classmates, and colleagues. This inner circle, are the people who respond to my more reflective posts. When I write about how I’m feelings and what I’m doing, they’re the ones that provide congratulations, condolences, encouragement, advice, or pick up the phone and give me a call. The people who know of me are those who download the ebooks and other resources I post. They are the ones who often forward and share my posts. Recently I a spoke with a sculptor/artist/activist who emailed me from Spokane, Washington. We had a good conversation about the inspiration behind her work, how she chose that specific medium, and what her goals are with her various projects. When I asked how she found me, she said, “I don’t know, I think a friend forwarded me your Facebook link and said that you were forward thinking.”
The decision to create just one blog
This distinction between inner circles and outer circles, weak links and strong links caused me much stress when I first started blogging. How should I break up my writing? Should I have two blogs—one for my “professional” topics and one for my “personal” topics? At the end of the day, I decided to maintain just one. The way I see it, I’m am who I am. Several years ago, it might have been much easier to maintain multiple personas—multiple identities. However, with the adoption social media and digital technologies, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate one’s various lives. For example, it’s much more difficult to have one identity at work, a completely different identity among friends, and yet another completely different identity at home without losing authenticity and credibility. Sure your behavior will change based on context, but your essence more or less remains the same. I decided that I would write, record, draw, etc., the things that are relevant at the time, whether the topic is internal or external. When I made this decision, I declared that you would be getting me. Like it or love it, love it or hate it, what you see is what you get.
This was liberating for me. No longer did I have to think, “Where does this blog post belong,” but rather, how can I put my most authentic self into this work? How can I provide the absolute most value for the time and effort the community puts into consuming and engaging with my (and our) work. For me, it’s not enough to tell you I like an application. I want you to have the information you need to make an informed decision. I don’t want to just broadcast news and events. I want you to know how you too can become involved. In a sense, it doesn’t matter to me if you know me or know of me. For whatever reason, you found your way here. And while you’re here, I want your stay to be as pleasant as possible. Thank you for your time.
Until next time…Peace.