March 18, 2009

Reader Interaction With This Blog Is Changing

For those of you who provide services for B2C and B2B companies, you may be noticing significant shifts in how your blog interacts with the world.

Here's what I observed.
  • March 2006 = 25 Subscribers, 25 Daily Visitors (10 From Blogs, 10 From Google).
  • March 2007 = 300 Subscribers, 100 Daily Visitors (40 From Blogs, 50 From Google).
  • March 2008 = 1,000 Subscribers, 250 Daily Visitors (30 From Blogs, 175 From Google).
  • March 2009 = 1,700 Subscribers, 125 Daily Visitors (30 From Twitter, 7 From Facebook, 50 From Google, 20 From Blogs), 400 Twitter Followers. Major change in Google algorithm in February cuts search traffic by 65%.
For the individual/company trying to provide services for the B2C / B2B audience, this represents a big shift in how folks are consuming information. We keep telling the companies that we work with how the world is changing, how they must adapt to a changing world. Well, how about us? Are we adapting to the changing world?
  • Dependence on Twitter results in a lack of "link love" that fuels Google's view of your online presence. As a result, your Google "page rank" or modern equivalent if you will, doesn't grow at the same rate, and therefore, organic search becomes less effective, making it harder to develop an audience.
  • Twitter, at 140 characters, makes it harder for the marketer to explain topics with any level of depth, and hence, makes it harder to develop credibility on deep topics.
  • Twitter, adopted by 2 of every 100 folks in the United States, limits our ability to speak to the audience we wish to speak to. I'm lucky if 10 of my 400 Twitter followers would ever hire me for my consulting practice. At this time, Twitter is important for experimentation, but it is dangerous to depend upon it as a marketing channel.
  • Word of mouth becomes more and more important ... we'll all need folks talking about us online and offline to fuel growth.
Times are changing ... for everybody. I'm curious to see how those of us who advise clients are evolving and adapting? Care to share?

4 comments:

  1. Kevin

    As one with a number of Twitter identities, the DailyDM "hub" at www.DailyDM.com, a print and online newsletter (20 years), and an active international advisory practice for online and catalog companies, I will share with you why my advisory practice has never been busier. And, I will do so at the risk of being viewed as a fossil.

    Seeing the coming economic collapse a number of years ago, I shifted my 'consulting' work (which was going to dry up due to the coming economic constraints) to board of directors assignments.

    Recognizing that social media, blogs, newsletters, speaking, and seminars were all "out of synch" with board level advisory work, I shifted channels to the telephone.

    I began having one-on-one discussions about strategic and economic issues facing the online/catalog direct marketing industry, mostly with owners/CEOS I have known for many years.

    These one-on-one "tele-casts" were welcomed by CEOs; in fact, they became 'sounding board' sessions on a peer-to-peer basis. Most of the CEOs and owners asked how I might help them longer-term. For those having the right mix of attributes (stable finances, proper systems, multi-level talent, stable distribution model, margin, and a desire to listen to, accept, and follow the advice of a peer), I suggested that I would be able to assist with further growth and enhanced future corporate valuation by joining their board, thereby creating additional wealth for them at the time of their exit from the business.

    And here is the "fossil" part. This is really a marketing approach no different than it was when I began in 1989. It uses the "peer-to-peer" channel delivered by personal contact, in-depth discussion, understanding of needs and application of appropriate experience and track-record.

    While I experiement with ALL channels, including social media, I find 98 percent of my work is as a result of personal contact, reputation, integrity, and broad strategic knowledge and understanding.

    And so, within the changing nature of marketing, it appears to me that as we delve deeper into new channels and new approaches, we also revert as much or more to the personal trust that is so essential to the reputation of Trusted Advisor.

    I also note that, as the channels have proliferated, the number of truly successful consultants have dwindled until there are very, very few left practicing. It may be that they are spending all their time creating content, contacts, "followers" and "following", and very few are actually doing anything that makes an owner/CEO more money.

    Unless I missed something in the past 30 years, I have always believed that the only reason I do what I do is to make money by making money for others. Focusing on anything else tends to dilute this timeless truth.

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  2. I think there is an inverse relationship between the number of effective consultants who provide profitable advice and the amount of free, entry-level advice available on Google.

    I've worked on five big projects this year. One is the result of a thirteen year relationship with another individual. One is the result of a referral from a company I worked with since the early 1990s. One was sourced from the blog, though it took nearly a half-year of building a relationship before the project actually happened. One was directly sourced from the blog. One was sourced from a prior consulting relationship with another company.

    In other words, four of the five projects required a "human" element.

    Now, if you are new to this, like I am, you have to do something that creates the human relationships that will facilitate work twenty years from now that you do today. So for me, the blog is my prospecting channel, while the long-term success of the business is dependent upon the quality of work and the relationships that are built.

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  3. Anonymous10:01 AM

    It's a lot like talking to a home improvement contractor. If you can easily find verifiable evidence they do a good job (friends, relatives, etc.) you're less likely to require a long socialization period where they develop the relationship in order to sell you. If there is a tendency toward requiring significantly more socialization, that may imply that potential customers are having trouble identifying or verifying your portfolio of previous work. (Or that the people your content has targeted just enjoy the socializing part of business more than the numbers part of business.)

    There is a continuum between raw facts (catalogs, ads, portfolios) and face-to-face conversation. My impression is that twitter is somewhere to the "face-to-face" side of blogging on that continuum. That is, it's more of tool for building social relationships and not one where it's easy to pass concrete examples of the value you'll add to an organization.

    The approach you take definitely affects the kind of prospects you'll see. People who enjoy social interaction won't mind catalog items that say "call for price" because they enjoy the interaction. Others see that as too much effort.

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  4. I will say this, Anonymous, this audience (blog + twitter) is very different than the audience I thought I'd attract.

    My industry, the catalog industry, has not "followed" at the rate I thought it would.

    The vendor community and small business owner comprise a significant portion of the audience.

    So it is a challenge using these tools to market to an audience that ends up being disconnected from the audience that is likely to hire me. A fun challenge, though!

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