A Basic Understanding of Online Behavior That Might Help Your Blog

DannyThe single most common question I get from other bloggers is “how do I get people to read my stuff?”.  And it is not an easy question to answer.  I feel as though I have an advantage in some ways because this is what I do for a living.  For those of you who do not know I study human behavior in the online world to determine and analyze consumption patterns and behaviors in order to help companies and corporations develop effective marketing messages.

This means it is important for me to understand all age groups and exactly how they interact when they go online to read, gather information, find news, go shopping, watch videos, etc.

In the blogging world it is incredibly important to understand these dynamics in order to produce the types of content that achieve 2 basics objectives: 1. add value to a reader’s life, and 2. be worthy of consuming.

In a general sense, the general public does not read; or at least they do not read lengthy posts online in mass quantities.  The only general exception to this rule pertains to industry/topic specific articles/posts or articles that the reader finds incredibly interesting for one reason or another.  And this is a discussion I have with business owners every day.

People will produce these epic, lengthy posts, especially or Facebook Business pages, and virtually no one interacts or engages and they wonder why.  cats.pngThen they post a picture of a kitty cat lying on its back and 500,000+ people like, comment and share.  The reason is people’s basic online personality is one of laziness and apathy; people simply don’t care.   And that is difficult for people to accept, especially when someone has an incredible level of passion for their cause, but others don’t seem to care.  But once I give a deeper explanation of how the virtual world operates they begin to understand.

Here is that explanation…the general public has been programmed in an incredibly specific way in which we operate online and the pattern crosses all generations and all demographics.  We jump online and we scan.  We watch a tremendous amount of video content.  We read bits and pieces of articles then we move on.  We only look at images that catch our eye then we move on.  We jump from website-to-website scanning for information and follow interesting things until we end up in a place online that is so far removed from our original intent that we aren’t exactly sure how we ended up where we did.  That’s why you might begin a journey on Facebook and 30 minutes and 15 websites later you are reading information about why the northern Penguin migration is being affected by the decrease in polar bear populations.

We also know this because of average time spent on websites and bounce rate.  The average bounce rate online is 50%, meaning half the people who land on a site do not click on another page on that site, but leave to go somewhere else.  Also, about 55% of people online spend less than 15 seconds on any given website at any given time.  So this tells us that people are bouncing around and they bounce around a lot.  Some data curation sites estimate that the average American spends upwards of 10 hours per day online and visits an average of around 90 websites per month, or 3 per day.   I believe that number to be much higher than 90, but do not have data to support my belief.

How many times have you been online and asked yourself “How in the world did I end up on this site reading this?”  The other day I spent 5 minutes watching a video of a goat jumping on a trampoline and still have no idea how I found the video!  I’m actually laughing as I type this because the video was hilarious and I watched it over and over.

The point is that you must take today’s online behavior patterns into consideration when marketing your blog AND in what types of content you produce.  You’ve heard me say it before, but here it goes again…

YOU MUST GIVE PEOPLE SOMETHING WORTH READING AND YOU MUST GIVE IT TO THEM IN A FORMAT THAT IS EASY TO DIGEST!

And this isn’t my opinion, it is simply based on data and facts.

This fact is why I changed my blogging style a year and a half ago.  I was producing 1500-2500 word posts that were well thought out and guess what?  No one was reading them.  My bounce rate was super high.  So I introduced a segment called “Quote of the Day” which was a “micro” post.  Short, simple, to the point and easy to consume.  My visits increased a bit and my bounce rate improved.

I then incorporated a bullet-point “Blog Tips” post which listed a few strategies I use to gain followers for my page.   I used bullet-points to make it easy to read and quick.  Once again my views grew and bounce rate improved.

In this day-and-age the masses of people simply don’t want to read epic posts unless they are super-specific about something for which they have passion.   On this topic you need to read up on Seth Godin’s concept of building a tribe.

My point is that it is important to understand all of these factors IF your mission is to speak to a larger group of people.  You must find the right target market and then you must deliver a powerful message and you must deliver that message with the proper tools.  If any one of these factors is weak, then the entire campaign fails and fails miserably.  I know because I watch it happen every single day in marketing.

Just ask TiVo how things are going.  There was a time when no other company made a better DVR than TiVo, yet TiVo was never profitable.  At one point “TiVo” was a standard word people used when referring to any TV recording,  regardless of the actual hardware being used; much like we refer to Kleenex instead of tissue.  I “TiVo’d” that show even if I was using a Comcast DVR.  TiVo had/has an incredibly weak message to the general public and they did and are failing miserably although they manufactured the best DVR on the market.

For your blog you must fully understand your message.  You must then understand how people are searching and finding information online.  You must produce incredibly, powerful, easy-to-consume content.   And then you have to use the proper tools to get that powerful, easy-to-consume content delivered to your target audience where they live online.

Here’s the kicker: it isn’t easy.  It takes time, effort, diligence, failing, patience, failing and more patience.  Oh, did I mention failing and patience?

Danny

39 thoughts on “A Basic Understanding of Online Behavior That Might Help Your Blog

  1. Pingback: A Basic Understanding of Online Behavior That Might Help Your Blog | Matthews' Blog

  2. Great post! I seem to know all this (avid psychology + marketing geek), but it does not mean that I like/ accept it. I’m working on it, though. Tweaking and adjusting as I go, in order to find a balance between what I want to write and what/ how people want to read. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a big believer in writing long, epic posts because those kinds of posts bring the most constant traffic to my blog and have improved my SEO. However, it’s impossible to write only long posts. Short posts also serve their purpose in attracting readers and getting the most shares on social media. But I do agree value is the most important thing to consider when writing any blog post. A post can be as short or as long as a blogger wants, but it should provide value for the reader.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great advice. I didn’t realize (but totally makes sense) that there is data being collected on trafficking patterns online. I can easily understand starting out online looking up how to cook pork roast and end up watching Dude Perfect. I know I’m more likely to read an article that has bullets or is separated into sections by large, bold print. The only people who read long blogs are bloggers. I find I try to keep my posts to 500 words not because that’s all I want to write, but it keeps attention better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It all depends. More words can easily get more traffic IF they are interesting enough. There is no set way to do this thing. But understanding your tribes’ behavior is critical.

      Like

  5. Apparently I can check the fail box as of the last two months. I looked this morning, at my stats and I had over 6 thousand views in october and november. December, just 3 thousand. So I’ve dropped the ball somewhere I just don’t know where exactly

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do the same. I’ve been averaging around 1200-
      1500 views each day for a couple of months and I took 2 day “off”, meaning I wasn’t as active and my views went to 600 on both those days. It’s funny how that works.

      Liked by 1 person

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