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

Questions From My Email Inbox: Paid Advertising Strategy

Yesterday Jennifer emailed me and asked how I promote my website outside of organic methods.  For those who might be unfamiliar, organic refers to traffic to your site that doesn’t cost money.  The organic tactics I use involve Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and good SEO practices.

Jennifer was interested to know if I pay to gain exposure for my page.  And the answer is yes.  I use 4 basic methods to drive traffic from the web to Dream Big: Google search, banner ads, Stumbleupon ads and Facebook ads.  This is a new strategy I implemented a few months back after doing extensive research and developing an organized advertising strategy.

I am utilizing the promote your page option in Facebook ads where I am encouraging people to like my Facebook page.  So far I average 40-50 new followers each month and the strategy for getting new followers is to target people who live in and around the Charlotte area who also show interest in multiple sclerosis, self-improvement, personal development, blogs, inspirational quotes, National MS Society, etc.  The targeting is important and no other platform allows for more specific targeting than does Facebook.  How you might ask?  Great question.

My company is a partner of Facebook as we do a ton of advertising with them each month.  When the general public describes Facebook they do so in terms of social media. But inside the walls of Facebook they think of themselves in terms of data curation; a fancy way of saying they collect data.  They know what kind of car you drive, where you like to eat, what you like to eat, where your kids go to school, what roads you travel, where you vacation, what web pages you visit most often, where you shop, etc.  The amount of information Facebook collects is insane.  Facebook’s success comes by leveraging that data to advertisers through laser-like targeting.

What this type of targeting allows is for me to advertise to those who might engage with my page more actively; we call this high conversion.   So instead of simply targeting anyone with a pulse, I am able to only target those specific types of people who will most likely be interested in my type of Facebook page and who will enjoy reading my posts.

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Then getting to those followers requires another step.  I’m not sure that most people are aware but Facebook limits your organic reach on business/fan pages to approximately 2% of your total followers.  For instance, if you have 1000 followers on your business/fan page and you generate a post, only 20 people are going to see that post.  In order to reach the remainder you must use the Boost button and pay FB.  Amazingly enough this is how they make FB profitable.

Google search has also been a productive tool.  You may not realize this, but Google does not view themselves as a search engine.  What??!!  That’s right, Google views themselves as a referral business.  They index pages based on specific search criteria to put relevant results in front of potential customers, readers, researchers, etc.  (With that said they still only index about 35 trillion webpages or 4% of the pages on the internet!)  Ultimately Google wants you to visit a business, have a great experience and then return to Google for another referral opportunity.   In short, Google helps websites and businesses generate leads.  And the primary way they help is to use paid Google search.

Interesting Factoid…

Seeing is believing!  Google is the primary method of browsing the internet for most people (64% market share).  Do you know the #1 search site for millennials?  If you guessed YouTube you would be correct!

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Google search ad copy

What you do is register an account with Google and then go through the process of setting up a campaign on Google Adwords.  Now search is a pay-per-click product which means every time someone clicks on your ad Google charges you for generating that lead.  I set my campaign to deliver ads in the United States and Canada based on keywords like MS blog, multiple sclerosis blog, inspirational blogs, inspiring bloggers, dealing with MS symptoms blog, etc.  I want to reach people who are specifically looking to find blogs or bloggers who are writing about specific topics.  I don’t want to deliver my ad to people looking for blogs.  Why?  Because the search criteria is way too broad and I’ll get charged for those clicks and they probably will have a low conversion rate.  (conversion rate is the % chance of them becoming a reader of my page)

I am also using banner ads which display on websites which allow for AdChoices delivery.  AdChoices is the program Google uses to sell advertising on a variety of websites including all the WordPress blogs.  I am targeting other big websites whose readers might also enjoy and engage on my page.

Dream Big blog will inspire and challenge you!

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And then there is Stumbleupon which drives views but isn’t something I focus a lot of energy.  My weekly budget is minimal ($10-$20) and I don’t always run ads on this platform.  What I do like about Stumble is it has huge upside in that a post can go mini-viral driving huge views in a short period of time.  I’ve had posts get as much as 5,000 views in an afternoon!  The downside is these views have low conversion meaning not a lot of people follow my page and become engaged readers.  And for this reason I don’t use Stumble that much.

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Stumble ad set

Jennifer was also curious as to why I do all this advertising; which I view as a great inquiry.  The truth is that most blogs are followed by other bloggers and this is a great thing.  My mission, however, is to reach all types of people and I don’t want to be limited just to those who use WordPress.org or .com.  So for me to reach non-bloggers my website must be present in the places they live in the digital world.  Thus I advertise.

I know this is a lot to digest, but I thought it might be interesting to see behind the curtain of what I do on a daily basis.  There’s a little more to getting a lot of followers than just sitting back and waiting for growth to happen!

My motto: you can spend your whole life waiting or you can get busy doing.

Do you have a marketing strategy for your page?  If so, I’d love to read about.  Be sure to drop me a line in the comments or shoot me an email!  Have a great week folks!

Danny’s World: Social Media & One of My Favorite Quotes

Danny's iphone 022Any time I scan Facebook I can’t help but think of a quote from Steven Furtick.  But first here’s what makes me think of the quote.

I see so many smiling faces.  Pictures of parties.  Posing. Smiling.  Family pics.  More smiling.  More posing. Everyone is doing it.  Vacations.  Exotic locations. Amusement parks.

Furtick said, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  Boy, what a powerful statement and so true about modern day society.

I am curious to see the psychological effect social media has on kids over the next 20 years.  Constantly seeing everyone else’s highlight reel compared to your behind-the-scenes.  The impact could be devastating.

Danny’s World: Off To a Wedding!

My friend Nathan is getting married today and we are off to celebrate with him and his new bride, Heather.  The reception is at a neat place on the water on Lake Wylie and we are excited to be included in their special day!  How do we look??

Danny’s World: I Think It’s All Coming To An End

I’m not sure what is going on, but there is this huge fire thing in the sky.  I keep seeing it peek through the clouds and I am concerned for all of humanity.  I believe the end of the world is at hand and this giant fire is here to purge the world.   Now I’m sad.

My Social Media Links

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If you currently do not utilize the free social media services I would encourage you to rethink your strategy.  It’s not only a great way to connect, but search engines give your page more credibility-SEO.  So here are mine, just click on the link in red and it will take you straight off to my pages:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danny’s World: My Current Situation

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Lunch – check

Meds – check

Stats update – check

I appreciate the kind well-wishes.  I’m feeling a bit better than this morning thank goodness.  I have learned the valuable lesson of listening to my body.  When it says it’s time to rest, then it’s time to rest!

Danny’s World: I’m Considering Micro-Posts…What Do You Think?

Danny's iphone 022In the world of blogging there are many types of posts: lengthy, informative articles, videos, weekly updates, photos and the micro-post.  I like the micro-post because I can devour it quickly, engage and move along.

I have kicked the idea around of using my WP site more for short posts resembling Facebook; the idea is to utilize Dream Big as my social media outlet.  I’m not exactly sure I’m sold on the idea although I’m leaning in that direction.

What do you think?  How would you respond if I added Facebook-like posts to my page?  Short thoughts, ideas, musings, etc.?

Headed To the Park!

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Evelina and I are headed to the lake at the park soon with Bentley.  He loves the ducks and turtles!  Plus it’s nice to get outside and walk a bit.

 

MEET TOM BENSON

lucinda E Clarke

This week’s writer is one I am really happy to introduce. Firstly, he helped me set up my web page (no, not true, he set it up for me – I’m clueless) and we read each other’s books way, way back when I was still new to social media. He held my hand every step of the way.

tom bensonThe book Tom’s chosen to showcase in this guest blog is one I’ve read and I liked it so much that I bought the second in the series as well. Having been married twice to men who have also served in the forces, it was like getting a peep into what really goes on behind the scenes ‘among the boys’. Girls get curious about these things you know.

A Life of Choice   West Germany   April 1992

“Thanks, mate,” I said, accepting a bottle of beer from one of my soldiers.

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