Of course my blog gets comments. And it also gets comment spam. Why the title of this post then?
Because it’s a post about what is known as “online participation inequality” (think Jakob Nielsen) and written by our contributors from Click Documents, based upon a Harvard Business Publishing article.
Now, it dates back from December, but I thought it was very interesting, so I decided to share it here. It provides insights as well as tips.
So read on below and please share your comments (but no comment spam please).
Whether we’re writing a blog post, article or ebook, we’re all hoping for the same thing. A reaction. A few dozen comments and a spirited discussion would be nice. Or at least a sign that someone is out there.
“Blogging is like having a conversation with a Botox user”
Blogging can be tough – especially in the beginning – because it’s a one-sided conversation. The risk is that, without the immediate affirmation we want, panic sets in, and we go off track and off topic, forgetting what our point was in the first place.
In a super article in Harvard Business Publishing, Alexandra Samuel writes about how blogging is like having a conversation with a Botox user. She recalls meeting a woman at a party and talking about their respective jobs. Her acquaintance, who had spoken animatedly about her own work, seemed to glaze over while listening to Samuel talk about hers.
“I found myself rambling through a perplexing conversation that produced sparkle when she talked, but nothing when I did. I left the party baffled.” Months later, she found out that the woman was a heavy Botox user – so the flat facial expression didn’t necessarily indicate disinterest.
Likewise, in blogging, it’s tough to gauge readers – the enthusiasm and interest may be there, but people rarely express it. Think about how often you pay someone a compliment, or recommend a restaurant or service that you love, or leave comments on others’ blogs.
Remember what usability expert Jakob Nielsen wrote about participation inequality?
Chances are that you just don’t think to take these actions, even though you’re a fan.
Jakob Nielsen reported in 2006 that 90 per cent of online users are lurkers, 9 per cent contribute occasionally, and 1 per cent actively contribute. Nielsen said “participation inequality” is a fact of online life, so the best strategy is to expect it and proceed accordingly.
Samuel offers five pointers for improving off- and online communication skills, so that you stay on track with your conversations, no matter how one-sided. One great suggestion for bloggers is that they picture their audience while writing:
“It’s easy to feel like you’re talking to yourself when you blog or tweet without getting a response. That leads to carelessness — or even to writing hurtful or counterproductive content. Picture a person that your message is aimed at, whether it’s someone you’re e-mailing or a single user among your 100,000 Twitter followers. Keep this person in mind, perhaps by literally looking at their picture or avatar as you type. It will make your message more personal, authentic and compelling.”
Great advice. How do you deal with “participation inequality”?
PS: read more tips on Jakob Nielsen’s useit.com. Yes, they date back from 2006, but they’re still very relevant.
Ambal Balakrishnan is the co-founder of US-based Click Documents. Ambal’s book “Content Marketing Tweet: 140 Bite-sized Ideas to Create and Market Compelling Content” will be published in Spring 2010. She is specialized in content marketing, social media marketing, B2B marketing and much more. You can connect with Ambal on Twitter here.
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