Wednesday, October 20

Blogging Tips: Not All Posts Do The Same Thing

blog postsA friend of mine recently asked why some posts on his blog attract attention and others do not. And, he wanted to know if he should skew his posts to the most visited. Absolutely not, I replied. Not all posts are created equal or behave the same way.

It's one of the pitfalls of relying too much on analytics. If you skew toward the most popular arrangements, people will become bored. The truth. You never know how much traction a post might have or when.

Ten Common Variations In Posts.

• Conversations. Probably the most popular among social media pros nowadays, the writers claim that they either don't know or hold back that they do know. Doing so opens the door for readers to leave opinions, suggestions, whatever. They tend to receive comments whether or not they are controversial.

• Dialogues. They're easily recognizable as an exchange, with two or more bloggers toggling back and forth between ideas and building upon the content. These used to be the most popular posts among communicators, with various people contributing their thoughts to a central theme. Unfortunately, they lost some luster when they became memes.

• Thinkers. These are posts that make people think. In fact, they make people think so much that they don't comment, respond, or add any contribution whatsoever. Sure, some people might bookmark them, but the content is rich enough that no one has anything to add, or at least, not without significant thought in composing a reply. Bloggers who write these posts tend to have discipline because there isn't much reward in terms of attention. It's just good information.

• Satisfiers. Another popular intent, lately. They are posts where the blogger already has a pretty good idea of how the audience will respond. Simply put, they are preaching to the choir and the choir offers up resounding applause, sometimes in the comments but more often across various social networks.

• SEOs Not always, but sometimes, they lead with "10 Tips …" and then ramble on about a certain subject. These tend to be popular, especially among publications and businesses looking for search engine traffic. Some people only write SEO posts. It has nothing much to do about anything other than catching some search engine juice.

• Giggles. I know several bloggers that beat this path to death. There is nothing wrong with it, but they don't always lend much value and often take advantage of multimedia. They either create something cool (or funny) or find something cool (or funny) and then offer up the briefest of descriptions. When people stumble onto it, they can't help but to say "that's cool" and then share with other people they know. It's the epitome of Does It Blend.

• Bookmarks. Not many bloggers use them (I do from time to time). They compile and curate research that might be used for another time or as benchmarks of where we are in terms of the economy or sustainability of various ideas. The downside for these bloggers is they might be the only people who care no matter how relevant the topic might be.

• Linkbaits. More often than not, they are designed to be controversial and aim at attracting attention and rebuttals. This is the reason so many ideas have been declared dead online. Some people take it even further by declaring something dead in the headline, but then leading with a sentence that says "not really." It's a trick, pure and simple.

• Circulators. Not all posts are shared publicly and, very likely, the only person who knows they're being read is the blogger. I've written dozens of these over the years. The posts won't attract visible attention in terms of page rank or comments, but they fly around emails being passed around or pop up on a closed forum for discussion.

• Sleepers. These are my favorite, but only because they tend to be so utterly unpredictable. And it's also why I advised my friend to ignore analytics (other than getting a sense of trends). Sleeper posts are those that are virtually written before their time. They won't be popular today or even this week. But then one day, out of the blue, they become your most popular posts for weeks or longer because something happened that made them relevant or a new group of people stumbled upon them.

Naturally, not all posts have to be limited to these arrangements, and different styles can be blended together. There are even a few more here that I didn't mention, including curators that compile other people's posts (often used to attract the attention of anyone included, but are sometimes employed for other purposes like an experiment). And, of course, cheerleader posts, which offer nothing much more than mindless praise to the original author.

In general, the best blogs mix and match these variations, which keeps their content fresh (or perhaps the author). People who only subscribe to one style tend to lose their passion or push content too aggressively.

However, I have noticed (and some others have too) that more seasoned bloggers abandon certain styles, but not always for the right reasons. They avoid anything that involves sourcing, linking, or attributing so they can stand alone as originators of the idea. I just read one of them yesterday, suggesting that social media is more than a campaign.

That idea popped up around 2008. But it was later popularized by Jeffrey Hayzlett, former Kodak CMO, and is sometimes attributed to Dan Blank (after his marketing firm credited the quote to him, earlier this year). Ho hum. Social media. Hope the above helps.
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