The internet is a nameless, faceless place if you want it to be. But all the same, it’s populated with people. Just like you or me. It’s like being on the road. Those cars seem to be trucks or sedans or tiny Beetles hurtling down the road but they’re really not.
There are people behind those big machines and just like people, they have natures of their own.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some people read my blogs recently. As I’ve interacted with some of them, explicitly through comments, or implicitly by observing their “likes,” or sensing their lack of interest through absence, I’ve been thinking of them as people (as I did in My Blog Audience).
But I have also been thinking of them more specifically as readers.
I’ve been pondering a couple of questions. Is there a way to figure out how people read my blogs? Once I do that, is there a way to determine what aspects of my blog appeal to what kind of readers? Once I answer these two questions, is there a way to retain the interest of each kind of reader more effectively?
Now, of course, the content or subject matter of one’s blog is the most important aspect here. If I’m only interested in dating and relationships, I probably won’t check out your technology blog. And if I’m looking for funny blogs at the end of the day to unwind, I probably will go for the humour section. If I’m especially tired, perhaps only those blogs with more pictures and less text will appeal to me.
But then, we’re people, not cars. In the case of a car, a Beetle is a Beetle and an SUV is an SUV. But people can be a little of this, a little of that, and something else too.
We may be wanting to read sad blogs when we’re sad and happy blogs when we’re happy. But we’re unpredictable. When we’re sad we might go for happy blogs and when we’re happy we might go for sad blogs . As if this isn’t enough, to complicate things, the poet seems to have been right: “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” Go figure!
So I don’t know what to think!
The number of hits could be an indicator of what people like but then, this is not always accurate. It would have been a good indicator had blogging been synonymous with advertising but thankfully, it’s not. It could just be the time of day that made people load your page or the title, but once you’ve had them do that, you may not retain them as readers.
And “like” could mean anything from “look at me” (usually within a few seconds of posting), “I’m a bot” (why can’t there be more intelligent bots that wait out the reading time?), “I read you,” “I read the first few lines” to “Thanks for the effort of writing,” “Liking you because so many people did,” “I really like you.”
In my experience, I’ve had the following kinds of readers. Again, most people are a bit of this and a bit of that.
The browsers. I say hello. You sometimes say goodbye.
The picture seekers. I say, look at my writing too. Please!
The likers. What did you mean by like? Please explain sometimes.
The self promoters. Be subtle and read me too. We’re all a symbiotic community here.
The self reflectors. You only like me when I echo you. Fine. I’m happy with that.
The nice folks. You always have nice things to say. Thanks. What didn’t you like? I want to improve.
The engaged critics. Thanks. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Let me know how I’m doing!