If you have a Blog, it's hard not to pay attention to lists that rank Blogs. It's hard not to look at your own web analytics, and it's hard not to wonder why it's not more popular than it is.
Most people who Blog with the purpose of trying to grow their business (which can be as a thought leadership platform or with the intent to sell directly from the content), do care about how big, vibrant and caring their community is. Those same Bloggers also focus on how they're going to grow that audience and push the content out further to a growing audience. On a recent flight with Julien Smith (co-author with Chris Brogan of the New York Times best-selling business book, Trust Agents, and one of the co-hosts of the Media Hacks podcast), I asked for his candid feedback/thoughts as to why Six Pixels of Separation is not a more popular Blog, and his thoughts on what it would take to reach an audience the size of Chris Brogan's (currently, Brogan's Blog is the #1 Blog on the Ad Age Power 150 list of the top Marketing Blogs in the world, while Six Pixels of Separation sits at #22 as of this writing).
Here are Julien's 5 reasons why Six Pixels of Separation is not more popular:
- Elitism. The Blog does not speak to the everyday person. Because it has been going on for so many years and has evolved over time, the main content is really geared to a more senior-level Marketer, which is limited in size. The opportunity here is to "dumb it down," as Julien says. He also senses that because I do not, personally, spend as much time as I used to at events like unconferences, meet-ups, etc... there may be a sense "on the street" that I'm above this (which is not the case - but my family life situation has changed and that's where the focus has turned).
- Entry Point. If there is going to be a heady piece of content, always balance it out with a post above or below it that is more accessible, so that whichever piece of content gets more traction in the retweet or Facebook posting world, it acts as an "entry point" to keep those readers engaged (and hopefully subscribed).
- Simplify the content. The content is both long (usually about 500 - 800 words per post) and sometimes looks at too many various perspectives leaving little room for the content to be questioned or interpreted differently. Bloggers like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan make one, sharp and short point. As a business colleague always says: "be brief, be brilliant and be gone."
- Be controversial. Content that is controversial or edgy gets spread more. Think more like People Magazine. Be intriguing and get people saying, "I can't believe he just posted that!" Create content that will turn heads, get attention and get people talking, perked up and interested.
- Don't be too far ahead. Spending your time in the far future versus the near future can be too fictional/impractical for many people following along at home. It's important to be forward-thinking but not too much into the future.
"This Blog will fail."
That was my immediate reaction to Julien's candid feedback. Personally, Blogging is my white canvas of random Digital Marketing thoughts as they come to me. I love my Blog. I love writing. I love sharing. I love the differing perspectives offered in the comments below (of which I read and appreciate each and every one). I'm not interested in "marketing" this marketing Blog. I don't hold Blog posts for days when there might be more traffic. I publish Blog posts as they're written (and don't schedule them). Julien retorted that the above is the "five fingers of death" and that is, probably, what would be required to "Kill Bill," but doing any (or a few) of the above changes would probably generate more popularity. I'm quite certain that a lot of Julien's thoughts are not just about this Blog, but can be applied to any other Blog, Social Media strategy, additional platforms and well beyond just this way of publishing content.
What do you think?