Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Does your blog need more traffic, or community?

Every week I do the Top 25 Advertising Blogs countdown for BMA, and every week I check to see if Ernie Schenck Calls This Advertising? has a high enough Alexa score to make the cut. This week it was the same as every other week for Ernie.

He wasn't even close.

And I guess that means that his blog doesn't get much traffic, and I guess that's because he only posts a few times a month. And according to many of the 'blogging experts', I guess that adds up to a blog that isn't very good.

But that's just it, Ernie's blog IS good....VERY good.

Ernie's posted 9 times since the start of last month, and just twice this month. But here's the money stat: He's gotten a total of 86 comments on those 9 posts. And many of these comments are coming from the same community of bloggers. From his Alexa scores, it's pretty safe to say that it wouldn't be too hard to have more traffic than Ernie gets to his blog. But you'll be hard pressed to get 9 comments per blog post like he does.

Once a week or so, I will hear a blogger ask 'How do I get more traffic to my blog?'. Are you sure that's what you want?

David said I was obsessed with community. One of the highest compliments I've been paid in the last year(Although I also like CK's observation that healthy obsession is also known as 'passion'). But I think in order to truly get the most you can out of blogging, you HAVE to put community at a priority over traffic. Traffic consists of numbers on SiteMeter. Community consists of people. I like traffic, but I am passionate about community.

Always go with your passion.


Anonymous said...

What an inspired, passionate post (my favorite kind :-). You're right; it's about the community. I've met a group of advancing people that have made me a better marketer.

While I'm nowhere near the top 25, I have increased my biz by 20% because of my blog. Why? Because I increased my sphere of community.

Thanks for cultivating the community and always pointing us to great bloggers we might not yet know of.

Anonymous said...

Very important post. I think that due to our human nature a huge "rational-competitive" (yet somewhat blown up)industry of ranking has developed. It is partly becasue we have that urge to competitively differentiate ourself from others but mainly becasue we're still deeply entrenched in the broadcast mentality. Even though we preach about the end of the blockbuster era we still percieve the world with these lens - technorati 100, A-lister bloggers, sitemeters, Top 25 Advertising Blogs...and all these "my schlong is bigger than yours" tools...
we are so used to define value in terms of rating and volume that we, as you brilliantly illumunated fail to remember that indeed... its the community stupid!

Anonymous said...

Fuckin-A Mack, the level of engagement and conversation that Ernie generates on his blog is wonderful. He is in a meaningful conversation with his community of peers, and that probably does him alot more good than arbitary traffic.

Great post, great point.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the same thing you told me when I was worried about traffic a couple months ago. Very good example of this point...

Today on David's blog, he put up a PDF that made mention of the A-Listers. I used to read the A-List blogs (I used to be obsessed with Adrants, and thought it was the holy grail of ideas), but the more focused, more passionate blogs have made them irrelevant. For me, at least.

The fast response of the blogosphere, generally, has made print an also-ran option for me. I still love picking up a magazine, leafing through it and actually touching the paper, but many of the stories have already been digested and reinvented by the blog community by the time the magazine arrives in the mail.

Seems to me that it's moving the same way with the A-Listers. The smaller, more engaging blogs are where it's at.

Mack Collier said...

And my point was, traffic certainly isn't the only barometer of a successful blog. If a blog like AdRants is generating ad revenue, then yeah, traffic matters to Steve, and he does very well there. But to me, I see Ernie and his 900,000 Alexa ranking as one of the more successful ad/marketing blogs out there. All because of his vibrant community.

I guess my point was, very few blogs are going to get a ton of traffic, and those that do, either have to post 20 times a day, or have been around since 2001 or so. But if you have the community in place, and have readers that will comment and that you can learn from, to me that's far more valuable than 500 visitors that come and go and never become readers.

Anonymous said...

And yet you perpetuate and give credence to traffic numbers INSTEAD of community with your lists on BMA and here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this reaffirmation. I sometimes get discouraged with my traffic stats.

The bad news is that building community is a function of time and effort. There are no quick fixes here. You must participate and engage in conversations in the blogosphere and you must wait for relationsips and community to form. All the while the lure of the sitemeter beckons, mezmerizes and distracts you with seemingly tangible evidence of your success.

Mack Collier said...

JZ I've said from Day One that both the Top 25 Marketing Blogs and Top 25 Advertising Blogs are to be used as a guide. If you can value from them, great. If you think it's total BS, your call as well. My posting about Ernie's blog was my way of pointing out that traffic does NOT tell the entire tale, and that community is just as, if not MORE important than traffic.

Carol you're exactly right, it IS work and does take a lot of time and effort. In the end I think the rewards are worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

Mack, I read you every day and I'm continually impressed with the excitement and passion you bring to your community. I'm hooked, and I've tried to spread it throughout my own little sphere of influence.

Problem is, I comment regularly and solicit comments regularly, but I can't seem to get the comments back! The comments come irregularly, so I become obsessed with traffic. The traffic trickles in so I become obsessed with begging for comments!

It's a tricky circle and the reason a lot of bloggers become obsessive, I think.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mack. As you pointed out in the comments, traffic isn't the only yardstick by which you should measure your blog's success. Its "success" has more to do with your goal, in fact: Is it ad revenue? Product sales? Visibility for you? PR or visibility for your company, products or services? The answer isn't the same for everybody -- not even those blogs on your Top 25 list.

Anonymous said...

David, this blog is one that should top the list of every blogger out there. We attach ad dollars to "traffic" and that gives it a high priority among successful blogs. But traffic often lacks community -- and we miss the value of exchanges with thoughtful people -- full of great ideas -- the kind we read at your blog and many others like those you mention. Thanks for saying it like a pro! Makes me value my own community of bloggers and to enjoy the growth that allows new ideas and people to keep their positions far above the "traffic numbers we chase."

Tim Jackson said...

As I type these comments, I think it makes me comment number 13, so you're doing ok on the comment counter yourself brother.

You are 100% correct. When I got started, the numbers were very important to me. Then once the numbers started growing, the types of numbers became even more important. How long were they staying? How many pages were they reading? Where did they get to me from?

I'll never be an A-Lister, probably never ever an Y-Lister, but I can honestly say that I have great community (here in the marketing world with folks like you and with my more specific target audience). I might only get 200 readers in a day, but those 200 read 300 pages and 100-125 are return visitors. Those are the numbers that mean something to me; people coming back.

Your insights are always a great read and I'm very glad that you've developed a community that I've become so attached to.

Kim Klaver said...

Thought you'd enjoy this, Mack, from Warner Music's Alex Zubillaga, in signing a deal with YouTube to let them use their artists' music (one of whom is Madonna) on the You Tube site....

"We're trying to lead through innovation as opposed to litigation."

Good way to build on their community...Novel, huh?

Link here.

Chris Brown said...

Great post. I find that the "quality" blogs keep me coming back. However it's much harder to measure "quality" over "quantity" so I end up taking a look at all the top ten/top 25 etc.

It's sites like yours the feature "marketers of note" that really help us to hone our skills.

Thanks for your efforts.