—written by Carolyn C. Holland
I’m computer/electronics challenged. Thus, when I suggested setting up an Internet site to the Beanery Writers Group, I was actually pushing myself into a learning-mode with accountability. The mode I chose was the blog, because after surfing I-net sites, it seemed it was the easiest to manage.
I struggled, set it up and held a group lesson on blogging, using my home computer. We were on our way, with a couple of members in our small writers group taking hold. And we were well pleased to watch our “hit” count rise each month, ending up with almost 50,000 hits.
However, an ugly little question kept cropping up. What did the “hit” count really mean? Were people actually reading our posts, or just clicking on by? To wit, I answered that question with an “I do not know, but if we have visitors, a certain percentage of them must be reading the posts.” I likened it to my photojournalism work: I wrote an article (with photos), it was published, but who read it? My only evidence came during the times I wrote little—when people would approach me and ask me if I’d quit writing for the newspaper. Through this, I learned I had an audience “out there,” but it only spoke when I was missing. I also compared it to magazine circulation, where the number of magazines sold does not equal the number of its readers, but the higher the circulation, the more assurance there is that articles are being read.
We changed our I-net site to www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com when the original host site was sold, and the new owner’s re-design no longer met our needs. Suddenly, the count was different. Many “hits” were not being counted: the “spider” searches, the visits to the front page (where ten articles can be read without being counted), and others.
However, we started receiving more comments.
I felt appeased about the lack of comments on our former site when I read a post that stated bloggers shouldn’t expect many comments until they were receiving a thousand hits a day. Since we were far under that number, comments shouldn’t be expected.
Then the Yaro article, Engagement: The Magic Ingredient You Need For Success Online Today, came in my E-mail. It presented me with a major perspective shift: perhaps it’s not the numbers that really count—watch for reader “engagement.”
In her article she stated she knew she would make it in blogging the day she received an E-mail that “began by saying that they had read my blog from start to finish (or close to it). They came across my blog via a link to one article and were compelled to keep reading. They dug through my archives and loved everything so much that they had to email me…Not only did they spend a few hours just at my blog (how’s that for a bounce rate!) they also asked me a question. A serious question, not just “how do I make money” or “how do I set up a blog”. They spent the time to tell me a bit about themselves, explain what they were trying to do and felt that I was someone they could trust, that I knew how to do something they wanted to do and wanted my help.
That was all I needed to know that my blog would make it.”
The “magic bullet” she discovered is what she believes is the number one ingredient for a successful blog: engagement—readers entertained, informed and actually benefiting from a blog. And they want more!
“This is about more than just attention. This is prolonged focus leading to action. It’s not easy to cut through all the information on the web and grab attention and it’s even rarer for people to be so compelled that they take an action just as a result of reading your words.”
NOTE: The Beanery Online Literary Magazine (BOLM—www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com} has generated nineteen comments per 115 posts, occurring on thirteen different posts—close to 10%! Of 57 posts on my personal site (www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com), there are five comments on three different articles—about 6%.
“But it goes even further than that,” she continued. “Not only do you elicit an action, but that action is a cry for more. You’ve managed to convince this person through the content on your blog, that you are someone they can respect, who has authority about a topic and has done something that they want to emulate.”
This is key, because it tells you that you have something of significant value.”
NOTE: It is my opinion that engagement is also an indication of readership in print media, or, for a matter of fact, in any mode of communication.
There was an interesting dynamic at the Beanery Writers Group March 28th meeting. A young man, Michael, came to our meeting and introduced us to a new genre: graphic comics. He was just beginning, and sought advice from us. We listened to him with rapt attention, examined his book-length product, and offered what we could in terms of resources.
Almost immediately, two Beanery Writers contacted me. Pat had been to the bookstore and discovered there are books out there, and web sites. Jean had found a newspaper article featuring a graphic artist in Pittsburgh. Both were excited to share this information with Michael. THAT is engagement. That is what our writers group is about, and that is what our online magazine is attempting to do.
“While traffic is obviously an important metric, I would suggest looking at the level of engagement you have with your audience as a better assessment of success,” Yaro stated. “This is especially true for people just getting started because your traffic numbers won’t be that impressive, however if you have just 10 people who have thoroughly engaged with your work, then you know the key ingredient is there – you just need more exposure to engage a larger audience.
The great thing about engagement is that it is a powerful force for viral events and word of mouth. People who are engaged with your work remember you, they talk about you and refer others to you if the subject matter comes up in day-to-day life. You become part of their consciousness in relation to a certain topic and when that topic arises, you are a common reference point.”
“As bloggers and Internet marketers we do have some practical signs to look out for that indicate engagement, such as –
1. The number and quality of comments left to a blog post, video, podcast or any content.
2. Any emails sent in response to a blog post or email newsletter broadcast.
3. People trackbacking your blog posts, referencing you in forums or any publication.
4. Responses to a survey request.
5. Testimonials sent to you without asking for them.
6. People asking you very specific questions that are more than one-line long (this can be in person).
7. Purchases made upon recommendation of an affiliate product or the sale of your own product.
The Beanery Writers Group would like your opinion. Do you measure your blogging success by the number of hits your site receives, or by the number of comments?
Check out Yaro’s article by clicking on http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/892/engagement-the-magic-ingredient-you-need-for-success-online-today/
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