Sunday, November 14, 2010

Don't Give Up On Your Blog (or Your e-Newsletter) Just Yet.

Tracking your readership is the easy part. Tracking your impact? Not so easy.

Your blog seems to get decent viewership, but has almost no followers and the only comments seem to come from SEO firms and spammers promoting E.D. pills or Russian brides. Your e-newsletter gets good opens and acceptable click-throughs, but, to outsiders looking in, it looks very much like a one-way street.

Should you give up? No. Not based on a lack of comments, anyway. At least not a lack of public comments.

Take heart from the following unsolicited comments from readers of two separate clients' efforts:
"Nice job David, I appreciated your insights and content this month especially."
(Not edited since I had permission to post. In fact, the "David" here, David Spitulnik, Managing Director of Blackman Kallick's Strategic Services Group, specifically asked me to create this blog post.)

If you looked at the Strategic Service's blog, you might wonder if anyone was actually reading it. But instead of judging its value by the number of comments you see, simply ask the author if he is getting any reaction or seeing any value. Actually, no need for you to pester him. David sent me a message after his most recent post: "Not sure what it is, but I have received more direct feedback this month than usual. One of them being a 'saw this note and passed it and your name along to a friend who needs help with succession planning.'"

And here's another unsolicited comment, in response to a different client's e-newsletter.
"Enjoyed your newsletter. Very interesting. I wasn’t aware of the _____ deal. We regularly have clients who are preparing their _____ but need to improve _____. I will be happy to send these folks your way."
Sounds just like the type of impact anyone would want from their efforts!

And, wait a second... let's go back to David's note. Did he say "direct feedback?" Let's consider that comment for a minute.

I'm frequently the voice of reason (against type, I know) when it comes to blogs and e-newsletters. My advice is often: Be patient. Build it slowly. Trust in your voice, your message and your readers. They'll come around.

Oh, and don't expect that you'll receive a Huffington Post-level comments. What makes you think you should receive that number of comments to your posts? More to the point: Why do you even want that?

Of course interaction is nice (like a pat on the back or the sound of a tree falling in the proverbial forest), but that's not how you should judge your blog or e-newsletter.

So, how should you judge it?

Don't ask me. Take a look back at your marketing plan and see why you created the blog or built the e-newsletter. If you are not realizing those specific goals, then do turn it off. If you don't know why you created it, then either turn it off or, quickly, come up with some goals. And then measure your success by those goals.

All that being said, if your goals included a specific number of comments to your every post, then you should change your goals and better manage the expectations of those judging the time (and money) you sink into these efforts.

But wait a second... am I really saying that you should simply trust that the blog is working?

No. Not at all.

If you are seeing no engagement (readership, click-throughs, etc.) then you can't be having any impact … and you need to charge course, since there is no there there. But if you are seeing decent engagement levels, and feel discouraged by a lack of public comments, then stay the course for a while longer.

What I am saying, simply (and admittedly not very succinctly), is not to judge your efforts solely by comments, but to look for other proof of engagement and impact. Such as direct feedback. Or people starting conversations with you based on what you wrote.

And I am also telling you not to judge other people's blogs by the number of comments. Judge them by the value of the content.

To end: Take heart and take your time. Building thought leadership takes patience and persistence.

Happy blogging.

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