Rise and Shine

Socialize your Blog: Return on Traffic

Photo of author Holly JahangiriWhat sets blogs apart from traditional print or broadcast media is their real-time interactivity. Blogs are, in a sense, the topic statement in what once would have been a forum post.

 

The conversation has moved out of traditional forums and into a new realm that uniquely reflects the blogger’s personality and interests–an open salon where likeminded Internet travelers can discuss and debate the blogger’s topic du jour.

 

Beating your Blog to Death

Today, it seems that the salon has become focused on the room itself, rather than on lively conversation. Many small bloggers take “write what you know” to heart; they write about the same tired “rules,” “tricks,” and “tips” of blogging and SEO, having spent their time in front of a PC monitor trying to figure out how to squeeze a living from it. They gamely write as if they actually have figured it all out.

 

If spam blogs – “splogs” – are the tacky billboards littering the Information Superhighway, these small niche blogs are the Internet’s tourist traps, where validation is measured in Facebook “Likes” and social media shares. The traffic keeps rolling by as drivers search for ways to cram more cars on the highway and still drive faster. But getting them to stick around for conversation, long enough that they might want to buy a cup of coffee and a slice of pie, is getting harder and harder, as this niche cannibalizes itself.

 

Of Blogs and Day-Glo Dinosaurs

When all the focus is on traffic metrics, it’s easy to overlook the fact that clicks can be bought – and traffic can race by at 90 miles an hour without ever stopping at the tourist trap to see the 60-foot, Day-Glo dinosaur built out of polystyrene coffee cups. They don’t stop in at the salon for coffee, a slice of pie, and a lively chat about tacky, pop-culture icons like Day-Glo dinosaurs. They don’t buy the eBook on The Hidden Secrets of Day-Glo Dinos.

 

Before long, the Day-Glo dinosaur and its coffee-shop salon – the blog, itself – is irrelevant, unloved, and falls into disrepair. And those folks whizzing by at 90 miles per hour? They’re not doing a thing to pay for its upkeep. The more we remove genuine social interaction from social media, the easier it is to drive faster and ignore the ads that help to sponsor the creation of the interesting, offbeat, original content we crave.

 

I can see this leading us back to a 1990s model of “commercial online services,” where for a monthly fee, users of the Internet get a slicker but limited experience in exchange for fewer ads. Something like cable TV, where paying customers and a small handful of sponsors control the conversation. Can we afford the value we’ve come to expect from a “free” Internet, if it goes back to a subscription model or pay-per-view?

 

I think small bloggers can make a difference – and can help keep the Internet free, or at least low cost – but they will need to hold up their end of the bargain, offering original, conversation-sparking content that real readers want to read and treating visitors like potential friends and customers instead of “traffic.” Let’s keep the “social” in social media.

 

Holly Jahangiri is Running a Race: Relay for Life

I know from experience that one of the most deserving charities in existence is the American Cancer Society. They are indispensable to cancer patients and their families, and you won’t find a cause more charitable. Every spring ACS has their annual Relay for Life. As a cancer survivor, Holly has taken it upon herself to help others beat cancer too. Social Media Sun supports Holly and her race against cancer, and you can too. Donate to Holly’s Campaign, and help others get better. You never know, this could be a donation to yourself or your family.

 

 

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is versatile writer whose published works include poems, short stories, one trunk novel, a slew of technical manuals, and 2 popular children's books. You can find Holly on her blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective. She is a cancer survivor, and is currently fundraising for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

Latest posts by Holly Jahangiri (see all)

My Blog Guest

13 comments

  1. I believe subscription based services are becoming more prevalent, the concept is once again becoming popular. iTunes and Amazon have showed that people will pay for digital content. After all, if people will pay 5$ for a rainbow colored pig on Farmville, is an online subscription to the New York Times a bad deal?

    Most people don’t appreciate good writing, and drive by traffic is a reality for everyone. Time on site for content websites has dropped significantly in the last 3 years, and it’s a by-product of social media. He have many more ways to be alerted to new content. Social Media just isn’t as social as they’d have you think. 

    • Holly Jahangiri /

      If paying for my content would get more readers to READ it (which according to my mom’s theory of free puppies, it probably would), I guess I could charge money for my blog… :)

      • haha the free puppy theory. I’ve never heard it put that way, but I understand the concept, and I’ve saw free puppies sit for days, but when someone is selling puppies they’re promised out to buyers before the dog even goes into labor!

        Just like Soap: The same bar of soap, 3 different boxes, 3 different customers, none of them will buy the other’s bar of soap :p. People are a weird bunch.

        • Holly Jahangiri /

          Actually, her theory was that people would actually take care of the puppies, if they perceived them as having monetary value. (Yes, it’s a little cynical, but it does seem to hold true – at least with puppies.) Try telling people that all shampoos are basically the same chemicals and that dishwashing liquid works every bit as well as baby shampoo (great for cleaning, but you’ll probably need a little conditioner). They look horrified. 

  2. It’s the Field Of Dreams thought process. If you build it they will come. Provide quality, relevant, original content and people will find you.

    • Holly Jahangiri /

      Unfortunately, we know that’s not quite true – SEO is actually quite important, because no matter how good your content is, if people can’t find it (often thanks to all the “SEO tricks” out there) they won’t share it and it will wither unnoticed. But what happens when people FIND your content and it doesn’t live up to the promise? They get jaded, I think. They won’t just ignore the stuff that doesn’t live up – they’ll focus only on the tried and true. They’ll only pay for the sure thing. And we’ll be back to the subscription model – where something will be gained, but much will be lost, also, I think.

  3. I completely agree with the need to keep “social” media social. Typically, social media does fine until the invasion of the online marketing mass.  It has been fascinating to see the IM’ers swarm on twitter, facebook, tumblr, posterous, and every other site and to watch the sociality of these sites be affected as a result.  It is happening right now to Pinterest. Somehow, after IM’ers (including myself) invade, social media becomes more like the shouting match like the floor of the NYSE instead of a social media lounge it was.

    I love how fun it is to actually connect and enjoy conversations in social media and on blogs.

    • Holly Jahangiri /

      Well said, Mindy. Forgive me – I’m up, but still suffering a dearth of caffeine – I wonder if it isn’t a bit similar to, oh, a large chemical company that promises bigger crops, fewer weeds, and fewer pests – but ends up producing frankenfood, superweeds, and killing the bee population? (Just a thought – my brain likes to play with odd metaphors before I’ve had coffee and digested all my emails.) Someone in Marketing thinks, “Oh, this is where the playground is!” and then takes over the playground, being loud and bossy, till all the kids stalk off in disgust to go climb trees. Then IM’ers (I honestly thought you meant folks on GTalk, at first) move in, cut down the trees, and order everyone back to the playground. They go, but they’re smart – eventually, they change the game and keep the new kids so confused they don’t know what to do next. The only thing everyone’s sure of it, it’s not as much fun as it was yesterday.

      • Absolutely :) Also, I forget that IM’ers is “instant messengers”! The tunnel vision of living in the internet marketing corner of the net!

        I loved the chemical company analogy.  It is exactly how it is!

      • Absolutely :) Also, I forget that IM’ers is “instant messengers”! The tunnel vision of living in the internet marketing corner of the net!

        I loved the chemical company analogy.  It is exactly how it is!

        • Holly Jahangiri /

          So the question is, what are we going to do about it? :) Return the Internet to a conversation and a fun place to be – with “sponsorship” and the occasional helpful reminder that we have products and services that can provide needed solutions and make life easier, or turn it into a place littered with billboards until all the customers take their marbles and find another place to play? They always do, you know.

  4. I think subscription services work for blogs and sites that educate, train and otherwise offer information that can lead to a way to monetize or earn from the information garnered.  This means unique and original content must be offered that can’t be found elsewhere on free sites, content regurgitators have little chance with a subscription model.  I have seen very successful blogs offer video courses as their subscription while still having the occasional free blog article to help keep interest up and stay relevant to non paying subscribers.  

    That being said, I personally would never pay to read news, I know some news websites charge subscriptions but I would just seek free news alternatives than pay a subscription.  However, I would pay for information that could benefit me at my job or skill set.  Even magazines, I don’t subscribe to as much anymore and just leverage Google News or Google Currents for the most part now.

    • Holly Jahangiri /

      I might pay for news – MIGHT. But I think it would definitely narrow the playing field back down to fairly mainstream, homogeneous news sources – the ones with a proven track record for being “popular,” not necessarily insightful or correct. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

YouTube

Read previous post:
Photo of Adam Justice
Online Voice: Consistency and Personality

One of the more confusing aspects of quality content production is finding your online voice. Having a specific and consistent...

Close