Your Blogging Success is Based on Conversions, not Page Views

If you listen to the masses, you can only enjoy success in your blogging if you’ve got pageviews. The establishment has been setup this way and the theory is shoved down our throats from the very first day we start blogging. This theory is peddled by advertisers looking for impressions, the elbowing that occurs among bloggers trying to display their endowment and networks who build their businesses on such (Disclaimer: I work for a blog network).

I wonder if the whole establishment is backwards though.

I think the real value for bloggers, particularly business bloggers but also personal bloggers on a different level, is in the ability to “convert” readers and make them “buy in”. The old adage that “content is king” is usually used in the debate over the importance of aesthetics over the importance of hard, quality content. I think, however, that “content is king” really counteracts the establishmentarian mindset that the real value in having a blog is in the traffic that it sees.

As time goes on, it is becoming increasingly difficult to follow the breadcrumbs to where and how your content is being used. On the nefarious side, content scrapers are lifting RSS feeds and blatantly repurposing them into splogs, or spam blogs. On the completely legitimate side, content is being consumed into applications sitting behind corporate firewalls or used in industry newsletters (I can think of one such case where my content is being used in a low-tech email distribution to lawyers trying to understand social media).

This stuff can’t be tracked, and you can bet that a large portion of those eyeballs never lay their eyes on my site. Does my content be become devalued to advertisers and readers if those eyeballs never rest on my site? I think not.

Businesses have to understand that ideas are, by nature, open source and that the content they write will represent them, no matter where or how it is being used. I’ve come to a point where I don’t care if spammers use my content, because at the end of the day, I remain the authority on the topic and my reach is increased. My content is all distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 so, while spammers are not explicitly permitted to take my content and repurpose it, I am overtly encouraging the use of my content to extend my reach.

And that’s where the value comes in. Reach allows you to influence and shape the minds of others outside of what you would normally reach. If you insist on stipulating the use of your content from within the comfort of the four walls of your blog, you will reach your target audience, but you’ll never influence anyone outside of your target market.

Reach gives you the chance to develop new business, become a thought leader outside of your market, and extend your influence. The internet is increasingly becoming more open, despite the best efforts of over-reaching government. Just as newspapers have to deal with more people getting their news online than ever before, you have to deal with the the fact that more and more people are reading your content and engaging your ideas in unknown centers of the globe. To the winner go the spoils.

Social Media Is Only As Valuable as What You Put Into It

As a company, your job is to make money. Trust me, I get it. Launching into social media is a scary place to be, if you’re a company that has not historically embraced transparency and customer facing transparency. Again, I get it.

However, in todays age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to simply not engage in the conversation happening around you. It’s going to happen. The feedback will occur. My friends in PR have taught me the idea of “getting out in front of a problem”. This concept says that if there is a potential for bad press, you do what you can to try to avert the nightmare by proactively engaging the customers.

There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. It happens all the time and any company who thinks they are immune to mistakes should not be in business. More importantly, any company who thinks they are immune to the weight of social media also is deceiving themselves.

Recently, on Twitter, Comcast showed up on the scene when Mike Arrington had a most unfortunate situation involving many hours of downtime. While the talking heads have talked extensively about the fact that Comcast called Arrington up after seeing his tweet, I’d like to look at the aftermath.

Frank Eliason, presumable a customer relations manager at Comcast, registered Twitter username ComcastCares. Some folks have complained about the nuance of the name and that Comcast really doesn’t care, but putting all that aside, the outreach has been simply amazing.

It is unclear if ComcastCares is officially sanctioned by the company, however it is obvious that Frank is in a position of some power and influence and is able to get things done at Comcast. On Sunday night, Frank was seen engaging many customers about problems they had and services the company offered. Some of the conversations got heated and were handled as ably as possible.

As a company looking to dive into social media, you can take two routes. You can setup a blog and use it as a one way communication tool, posting blurbs about your company and not engaging in a whole lot of conversation (maybe comments are turned off). On the other side of the spectrum, you can jump into Twitter and Facebook and blogging, etc fully prepared for and engaged in the exchange of ideas with your customers.

Direct2Dell is a great example of a company who has done the latter. At the end of the day, your company will get as much out of social media as you put into it.