I just had my 10,000th visit. Way cool – my first post was nearly 17 weeks ago, and for the first couple of weeks not much was happening. It was important to me that I generate content and find readers; I was a newly independent analyst and consultant, and I began with the belief that this social media thing was going to be a key vehicle. So I asked a lot of friends and mentors what to do, and I got some great advice. The list would be very long if I named everyone, but there are a few I simply can’t fail to thank: Charlene Li, Shawn Rogers, Ray Wang, Curt Monash, Jeremiah Owyang, and Carter Lusher. There are so many others, but these folks got me going with the key ideas I needed to get straight.
And there some suggestions I didn’t take, mostly about “tricks” for Search Engine Optimization (SEO- now I know what that stands for! ) Some of those ideas didn’t feel to me like they had anything to do with content. I wanted to spend my time on making the content good, not invisible buttons that made me show up better. Not that it isn’t important to do those things, but it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time.
So, with the deep wisdom of a four-monther, I figured I should share what little I’ve learned. I can hardly call myself an expert, but I’m happy to offer my thoughts on what has been useful in building this blog enough to have hit a milestone I never dreamed I would get to this fast. This is not SEO tips, it’s my social media content and behavior principles. A few key ones:
- It’s the content, stupid. That was my belief from day one, and it sustains me still. I’ve posted 66 entries in those 17 weeks, and mostly I hope they were substantive. Yeah, there’s a rant in there about the French Open, and a little story about being happy to find wireless at a Marriott, but mostly, it’s non-trivial. At least I hope so.
- Have an opinion, and be clear about it. I’m not out to get anyone, and I’m not chasing headlines, but nobody cares about happy talk pieces – unless you have a good reason to be positive and can back it up. I’m fine with that, but I won’t hesitate to criticize substantive issues about the companies and products I discuss.
- There’s nothing valuable about embarrassing people. If somebody needs to be told they personally screwed up, the right place to do it is in private. If positioning is bad, or a feature doesn’t work, or something is missing from the plan – I’m content to say so – in the 3rd person – and say why it matters. But it’s rare that I will make it about a person – unless they have made it so, in which case I may be critical of that.
- Respect the work of others – and reference it. Other people cover what I do, and sometimes their work is the place to point people who want to learn. I’m happy to do so, and much of my traffic has come from others who do the same. I’ve said it many times: social media are the most concrete expression of karma you’ll be likely to encounter in this world.
- Always answer comments. Politely. Substantively. Even if only to say “thank you for being here.”
- Visit blogs you respect and comment there too. And if you have something worth pointing back to, go ahead. Don’t be a jerk about it, and say why it’s worth clicking on, but do it.
- Twitter is a great traffic builder.Tweet about your posts and watch the spike. It’s amazing. With 1100 followers (pretty happy about that too!), I get a nice bump from twitter.
- Keept it short. As much as possible. Let me explain that in more detail. What I mean is that….