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How fast do you grow your blog? 10% 20%?

Oh, oh, oh,  it is New Year and it is time to transfer some stats helpfully supplied by WordPress onto an Excel spreadsheet.  Oh, what fun!

First the obvious

Month-on-month growth

When I first launched my blog, month-on-month growth was over 100%, that is, each month my readership doubled. Progressively, my growth has dropped to about 8% month-on-month.    The number of additional readers per month is more than it was at the start, but the % gain is now around 8%.  Imagine if that growth translated into revenue!

Good and bad months; good and bad days

People do stop reading blogs when they have something better to do!  Yes, that’s right.  Readership drops during Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We also stop writing blogs when we are busy.  There were two months when I was busy on other projects.  The first time, my page hits plateaued.  The second, hits dropped horribly.

Readership also goes up when we write about something topical.  Experts talk a lot about key words.  The key to a killer post is writing about what people are looking for today: current events!

The best days are supposed to be Tuesdays and Thursdays.  What I can say, is traffic at weekends is less (we have something better to do) and traffic is very slow during the morning, British time!

Then a little deeper

The next thing I did was to model the exponential growth.  Allowing for the good times and bad, on average how fast has my blog grown?

What I did (for anyone who has forgotten their maths) was convert my page hits for each month into a log (using Log10) and then used the “slope” function to regress the logs (Y) onto another column in which months were labelled 1-14 (X).  The slope was 0.11 meaning that my page hits increased 11% each month.

To check I had the maths correct, I recalculated the monthly amounts by talking the first month and multiplying it by 1.11, and then did that again for the next month, and the next, until I got to December 2008.  The model estimated my December total within 3% of the actual number.

So 11% growth per month.  Is that good or bad for a first time blogger?  Does anyone know?  A quick Google search didn’t throw up any figures.  An odd omission I would have thought.

Then forward

If I can maintain this growth, then what readership can I expect this time next year?

This time I took my actual figure for December 2008 and multiplied it by 1.11 and then again by 1.11, twelve times.

Hmm, the total figure would make me happy.  I had set myself a target of exceeding the number of student hours in my classroom in my last university job : 50 000 per year (staggering isn’t).  I did this again using 8% or 1.08, and I still exceed 50K.  Fine!

But several of my friends in the Social Media Mafia have readers of 500 per day.  That is three times the total I expect!  Hmm.  That made me feel dissatisfied.

What is possible?

There is plenty of advice out there on blogging.  So far I could say that I have mastered writing regularly.  I have some loyal readers who even comment sometimes (thank you).  And I comment happily on other people’s sites.

I know the search terms that bring people to my site and I know that responding to world events will bring more.

I imagine if I were in a less specialised field and wasn’t addressing professionals, largely, I would have greater readership.  Those characteristics I’ll accept as constraints.

My questions

With my specialised field, tendency to long posts designed to solve professional issues that I am grappling with now,

  • What is a realistic rate of growth to aspire to?
  • What attributes of blogging should I attend to.

Until I answer those questions, I think I need to aspire to growing my blog 8% to 11% a month by posting regularly and about topics that have some link to world events.  I would like to do more though.  And advice would be welcome.

Thanks to my readers

Thanks so much to the people who do read my blog and spur me on.  You mean a lot to me.  I believe writing clarifies my thoughts about my professional work and with an average of 70 page hits per post, I am encouraged to put in more effort!  Requests taken!

A very good 2009 to you.  May it be happy, joyful, and despite all odds, prosperous!


5 step heuristic for advising SME’s on social media

Private investment, freedom to buy, sell, and ...

What would you do if you were not a social media guru and “got social media” for the first time?

When I was growing up, we didn’t have electricity. We cooked on a “wood stove” (a Dover for connoisseurs). Our water was heated in wood-fired boiler. Our lights were gas. Our fridge used paraffin. The generator at the office used diesel. In winter, we had a wood fire. Our irons for pressing our clothes were heated with coals.

Our house was built for electricity though. The plugs, switches and wiring were all in place.

It was a pretty low key affair the day we were connected to the national grid. My mother received a telephone call (remember the mechanical models weren’t powered with electricity) and we calmly switched on the lights. I must have been about 10 and for some reason I got up that night. I wandered through to the living room and mother was ironing clothes with the electric iron. I might add that we employed someone to do the ironing (with the heavy wrought iron “irons” and their coals). So this was a thrill – using an electric iron was a thrill!

The number of appliances that work so much more conveniently with electricity are numerous – lights, irons, stoves, fridge, the kettle, the toaster, the radio. And we have added more – the TV, the blender, the shower. What else?

What do we already take for granted about social media?

Not many of us are volunteering to going back to houses fueled and heated with wood, coal, bottled gas, candles and paraffin and those that are, probably never lived without the national grid. Social media and its immediate antecedents are now so much part of our life, we aren’t going to volunteer to live without them.

Email is not really social media – but lets start there. If you live apart from your family, email is a boon allowing daily messages in almost real time. My supermarket, who sends me illegible emails, somehow misses the entire point.

Txting is not just a youth thing. How on earth did we find each other in the shopping mall or the railway station without our mobile phones? What a boon it is to arrive on a long distance flight and to txt “we are down” to someone who is coming to pick you up.

Skype has been described as a “life saver”. Imagine being apart from your loved ones. Then think of speaking to them daily over Skype with a cam.

Google search is now so common, we forget it is less than 10 years old.

Internet banking is also a given, I couldn’t believe that my British bank issued a cheque book when I arrived here. I had to be reminded how to use one (and I only use it to transfer money from one part of the bank to another – but we are in UK now – when in Rome and all that.)

Wikipedia and online dictionaries clear the desk next to us as do online yellow and white pages. I use wikis unconventionally. I just like them for organizing long documents and I become quite irritated by long word documents. Nothing over one page on Word, please!

Blogs are not just convenient soapboxes. The conversational format also encourage people to write. No one mentions the increase in literacy and fluency likely to develop from the ease of content generation.

RSS feeds and aggregators are marvellous. I follow a story like the Obama campaign by setting up an alert and feeding it into a folder. Then once I day I can scan 50 or so stories and get the formal news and the citizen commentary. I do the same for new professional areas where I am still getting oriented.

StumbleUpon is the opposite of Google. It finds new sites for me on the basis of their similarity to sites I found interesting previously.

Yahoo Upcoming! is one of my favorite sites. In a place as large as the UK, it is so useful for finding the niche events that interest you.

Twitter is as much fun as passing through the neighborhood cafe or pub.

What are the obvious uses of social media in small business?

The challenge that was thrown out by small business owners at the NLabNetworks conference was to spell out the benefits.

Somehow it is easy to think about moving from gas light to electric light; or coal-fired iron to electric irons. But only because we have already made the transition.

What we need to do is to list the infrastructural benefits of social media so our clients can see quickly and easily what it offers them.

Maybe a session at Media Camp London on July 5 2008?

When we first got electricity, we had to invest a little in the change. What should we get first? A kettle? A new stove? A new boiler? For the record, my mother was quite keen to get a cake mixer (we ate a lot of cake) but we continued to heat the water with a wood burner and had log fires in winter for another 10 years. If we are introducing social media, what should we do first, second, third?

A heuristic for advising clients curious about social media

The speakers at NLabNetworks suggested a concept that we can use to think about the social media that would be most useful for our clients. Think constraints. What constraints can we release with social media?

I suggest these simple questions for understanding a business.

1. What does the business sell?

2. Who does it sell to? Who are its customers?

3. What would the business like to do if it could do anything it wanted? What does it want to be? Bigger, busier, more influential?

4. What is stopping it? This is the constraint. Go gently here. Your client is likely to display a lot of frustration – this is often gets deep, down and personal.

5. What types of social media would release that constraint? That is the value you deliver – your imagination. And then a little know-how as icing on the cake. Can you show your client how to use that media and if not, which of your social media colleagues could you co-opt quickly to the cause?

Looking forward to working with you on this. Being able to work quickly and easily with each other illustrates the benefits of social media for small businesses. See you at Media Camp London on July 5, I hope.

PS Paul Imre has posted today linking to his clients who have running blogs. I think this is a good step that we could all take.

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Managing multiple and inter-dependent goals

For years, I’ve been looking for a way to lay out a set of goals that are inter-dependent and possibly conflicting. Yesterday, I stumbled a text to mindmap online program.

It’s great. You type in a list of topics and sub-topics and it generates a simple mind map for you. You can have a springy free-from map. Or, you can “fix” it and move the topics and sub-topics to where you want them. And you can download the map as a jpg file.

How do I use it for defining my goals?

1. I made the title and central concept “A great 2008”.

2. I added in my various projects, including planning 2009, and grouped them – in the text list. When I was done, I had it generate the mindmap (yeah, no fiddly graphics).

3. Then I fixed my map. I thought I would fix the map to show the progress of the projects bringing projects going well closer to the middle. But I decided rather to reflect their importance or priority.

4. And I can come back to the site whenever I want. It’s free. I am going to do this periodically to review how I am doing.

5. As events unfold, I can take note of what has surged ahead unexpectedly and what is lagging and needs more effort. I can also expand sections if that is what I need at the time.

Unfortunately, we can’t edit the goals except on the text list and we can’t save. So we have to retype each time.

What I really love is that there is no messing around with graphics.

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Tribal IQ and Social Media

Paul Imre has thrown out the challenge: what is Tribal IQ?

Metrics gurus will ultimately want a set of numbers. This is a take influenced by corporate anthropology. I have lifted it almost entirely from a one-pager written by Dr Phil Baird, Vice President of United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota. With slight modifications, Phil Baird’s vision for his college fits almost exactly what we have been talking about:

What does it mean to provide communication infrastructure for a community, which is, in its barebones, exactly what social media does?

Mirror who we are

#1 Tribal IQ defines who we are: our past, our present and our future. We define our IQ ourselves and we recreate it everyday in what do, with each other, and people around us.

Support the everyday re-creation of our community

#2 A community manager is keenly aware of the way we recreate our culture on a daily basis. Our mission is to support our members as they regenerate our group through everyday activities

Recognize the competing definitions and internal dynamism of the community

#3 Sometimes our groups are complicated. Within one community, we may have multiple groups who have competing demands and between them add an invigorating tension.

Range of our challenge

Our groups might have a narrow or broad focus, be superficial or deep, and be short or long-lasting. The issues defining the group might be concrete and specific, such as supporting Obama for President, or they might be helping diffuse and long-standing such as communicating with local government through FixMyStreet.

Expansion of the role of IT & Geeks

In this year of 2008, the question many of us are asking is how we are using social media to support the needs of our community. IT experts are being drawn directly into the discussion of who is our community and what are its needs. We are drawn into the discussion about how our community functions, how it expresses itself, and how it recreates itself on a daily basis. And not least, how we facilitate our community’s activities, how we affect its internal functioning, and how we make it easier to fulfill its needs, including, the need to reflect on its needs and change the way members interact with each other and the outside world.

Moral challenges of community managers

As resources are always limited, we have to prioritize and help our members prioritize. We have to map out clearly what we will do and align our map with the wider map of the community’s needs. In this way we are drawn into the debates on management and governance within our community, our tribe.

Strategic work of community managers

We also need to address the challenges appearing on the 10, 5, 3 and 1 year horizons. One of the challenges of community regeneration is the arrival of ‘digital natives’. Every generation brings with it the challenge of incorporating new members and new ways. The generation joining the adult ranks of voters, workers and managers are digitally savvy and bring with them new skills, different attitudes and higher expectations. They will refresh our communities and highlight they way we interact, on-line and off-line, and the way construct our past, create our present and co-create our future. As Dr Phil Baird said in 2007, “What will their Tribal IQ bring to our Tribal College?”

The challenge is no longer for the community to understand IT. It is for IT to understand community

Social media is here, and IT has become communal. The challenge is no longer for the community to understand IT. It is for IT to understand community. I believe we will see joint careers in managing IT and sociology, anthropology, political science and psychology.

I like the 21st century! Comments?

Next social media camp is on July 5 2008 in London – follow the link for immediate registration, presentations, details, and so on.


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Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . social media as a mirror?

Are we thinking about viral campaigns back-to-front?

At Bucks08, Toby Moores made the point, as did others, that social media amplifies what is already there.

Perhaps another important point is that social media allows us to measure what is already there.

Here is a report on the US Presidential candidates. What is noticeable is that our use of social media changes after a significant event.

Widget-capture goes up when a candidate has just won a major primary, and falls when they have consolidated their position – meaning, I think, that social media is not a result, but an action we take to make something happen. We are a sensible lot, so if McCain has won, there is no need to capture widgets! If we want to push our candidate on and they are winning, we join in.

Also note that 80-90% of Obama’s widgets are not captured from official sites. Hence my deduction that social media acts as a trace that allows us to understand our community better.

The value to someone investing in social media is increased clarity, rather than increased sales. They still need to get out there and do their thing – write good policy, give good speeches, recover from errors, build alliances, court super-delegates etc.

And if this theory is correct

Widget-capture should fall, when one of the Democratic candidates concedes, and widget-capture should fall for both of them unless at that point the competition with McCain hots up.



Just so I don’t lose it: after I posted this I commented on an HR blog on the Ron Paul effect – whatever that is!

“I think the return is like any group conversation. You have to be in it to influence it and you have to be willing to be influenced in turn. People trying to ‘use it’, ‘lose it’ at this juncture.

I don’t think the web is an echo chamber as much as a “broken telephone”. News goes out, it is picked up days later, it is repeated without checking, etc. etc. The onus is on the individual to verify information. The danger is in treating it like an authoritative source – we become the journalist – we have to check and double check.

So what do we get? We observe what people are willing to repeat?? That in itself is instructive and tells us a lot about a source. So we can tell three things a) competence b) popularity/fashion and c) network.”


New wordpress is vertiginous

There is about a 30 second delay before a post shows up – that is after you have bit publish and the screen clears.  And you have hit View Site.

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Everything 2.0

Look here for a very, very comprehensive listing of 2.0 sites. There isn’t a category for coaching, spirituality, personal development, etc. but sites like Inpowr are listed. An excellent place to find what you have missed!

UPDATE:  I’ve been around Web2.0 for a while now and I rely on information coming to me.  On looking at this site again, it was a surprise to find many applications I hadn’t seen before and that some favorites had gone out of business.

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