Does networking matter for bloggers?

I abandoned my blog last week. Well, technically I scheduled some posts and went away for a week, so I didn’t quite abandon it. But I did notice something interesting: the visitor stats for the last week were much lower than normal. We normally receive anywhere between 300 and 8000 visits per day (it does vary quite widely), but last week the average was a mere 30 daily visits. What happened?

Well, the posts came online as normal… so it can’t have been that. The feedback I received from people looking at the site didn’t indicate that the posts were substandard. The only other major difference is that I was unable to network with people in the way I normally would; unable to point people to articles that might interest them.

I normally “pimp” Geek-Speak through a few sites: Twitter, Plurk, Digg and Stumbleupon. To be honest, Twitter is largely automatic… new posts just appear in my Twitter feed. I’m wondering how effective that is, though, given the poor visitor numbers last week. Plurk is a manual thing – I only plurk about posts that I think people will be particularly interested in, and the one day there was a spike in visitor numbers last week was also the day I managed to get online briefly and plurk about one of the articles. The vast majority of traffic comes through Stumbleupon, though – and that’s where the majority of the drop in numbers can be attributed: I occasionally ask people to stumble an article if they enjoyed it – but without that initial prompt, it seems that people don’t think to do it (I should add that this is not a rant – I realise that people often require a call to action before anything will happen, and my absence means this has been missing).

So, what lessons have I learned in the last week?

  • Unless you have a large and dedicated readership, simply publishing posts doesn’t cut it.
  • Networking with others online is an important way to point readers to your site, especially if your site is relatively new.
  • Posts and sites must contain a call to action, otherwise readers will simply read and then click away.
  • However: my bounce-rate statistics have looked much more healthy… it seems that the people who are still visiting the blog are those who genuinely want to read it, rather than just dropping in and bouncing away again.

Isn’t networking just spam, though? Not if you follow these tips:

  1. Be picky about what you promote: if you tell people about the articles you are particularly proud of they will take more notice than if you tell them about everything you write regardless of their interests.
  2. Don’t try and game the system: by all means ask for stumbles and diggs, but always add the rider that you only expect people to do so if they genuinely find your writing useful and/or interesting.

And now… back to networking. And if you found this useful, please give it a stumble and/or digg! You never know, someone else might find it useful too :)

Thumbnail image by Stevegarfield

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Comments

  1. Fear and Parenting in Las Vegas says:

    You’re right. I was out of town for the weekend and had posts auto-load while I was away. I had one of my lowest traffic days ever. Pimping on plurk is the best thing that’s ever happened to my blog traffic.

  2. I’ve noticed a progressively increasing amount of traffic from plurk. It’s not massive yet, but it has overtaken Twitter. I think the conversational feel of Plurk is great for letting people know about good site content.

  3. Hi Chris, We missed you at Plurk! :-) I don’t Plurk for traffic, but what you say seems to be true for my website as well. I get double the traffic from Plurk than I get from Facebook or Twitter. I expect more traffic from Facebook, since they are “real” friends, i.e. people I’ve known personally for years.

    Yesterday, I shared what I had for lunch with a link to a recipe for hummus http://www.farho.net/lubi Someone made the hummus and posted photos at Plurk of themselves in their kitchen making it! So I see Plurk as friends networking to bless one another. We do experience more traffic at our websites from our good friends at Plurk.

  4. Thanks Mike – I absolutely agree that there’s more the Plurk than just advertising your blog: it’s about conversation. The increased traffic is pretty much a by-product of that conversation, I think.

  5. Funny thing, I even dugg the article before reading it, since the title was important and your material is always right on. I think many people will do that (comment, digg, stumble, etc) if they are already familiar with you and the request is simply stated. However, some tend to abuse this benefit of their followers…
    Thanks!

  6. Thanks ClassTax – I hadn’t really thought of that, but I think you’re right: building relationships on things like Digg most likely will yield people digging articles purely based on your recommendation. I guess that makes the responsibility to be sensible with your shouts even more important.

  7. Chris,
    At the outset, thanks for visiting my blog. I see that you have a multi-blogger blog and contents look promissing. I have subscribed to your feeds and will read more offline.

    Is networking a minimum requirement to run a blog successfully? Hmm…yes and no. Sadly, some times the success is measured by the number of diggs, comments etc. Most of my readers are RSS readers and they seldom comment as I offer full feed. However, since they are consuming my contents (as per feedburner) I reckon that I am partially successful despite low interaction levels. However, when monetization aspects come networking (social and otherwise) may play a bigger role I guess. The more you network/market/publicize, the better.

    Regards,
    Ajith

  8. Thanks for dropping in, Ajith.

    You’re quite right, many readers will never actually come near the site if they’re reading the RSS feed. Now that I think of it, there are many sites that I don’t actually visit, but I do read regularly.

    We’re still at the stage of building an audience here – the feed readers aren’t that numerous yet – so actual site visits are still important as a way of (hopefully) getting people to subscribe. Eventually, though, I’ll probably become a lot more relaxed about visitor numbers :)

  9. Thanks for the post Chris. At this stage I’m just enjoying the stats for my new WordPress.com sites and hits I get via Plurk (mainly). Thumbs up btw, and would appreciate thumbs up for johnager.co.uk and johnager.org from anyone reading this – but only if you like them and feel they have potential! See Chris, I’m paying attention! ;-)

  10. Well done, I’m glad someone is! I’ll edit the about page here to add your sites to the blurb.

  11. Funny thing, I even dugg the article before reading it, since the title was important and your material is always right on. I think many people will do that (comment, digg, stumble, etc) if they are already familiar with you and the request is simply stated. However, some tend to abuse this benefit of their followers…
    Thanks!

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