Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 25, 2010 2:02 PM

The Pulse Of Content

How often should you tweet? How often should you Blog? How long should a Podcast be? How many friends should you have on Facebook?

Businesses and individuals ask this question all of the time as if there is some sort of real/true answer. As if the success of an initiative is relative to the quantity of content being published. It should come as no surprise that there is no silver bullet. The truth is, there is no right answer to this question (or, more appropriately, the answer is: "it depends" - which also happens to be the running inside joke answer for every question ever asked to both Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on their amazing audio podcast, For Immediate Release). Should a Blog post be long or short? Should you tweet every thought that enters your cranium?

It is one of the trickiest things to figure out.

My term for this is, The Pulse, of your publishing. It is in incumbent on all of us as content producers and publishers to be so inline with our community that we can figure out the right amount, flow, quantity and quality balance that we're pulsing out. Understanding how often to pulse out your thoughts have two intertwined components to it:

  1. The appetite of your community. Namely, how much they are willing to take and engage with from you.
  2. Staying true to yourself. Your ability to not focus on how many people are coming or going, but rather the quality of the content and those who are inline with your values and decisions.

This Blog should be a lot more popular.

It's a comment I often hear from those who are connected within this community. It's also one I tend to ignore. I'm not interested in shorter posts that say nothing. I'm not interested in spending my time trolling through creative commons photos because Blog postings with pictures gets more attention. I try not to create a provocative headline with the sole intent of linkbaiting or tweetbaiting. I have a pulse and flow to what feels right (to me) and I'm hopeful that it connects with enough smart people that will pass this content around, add to it and help it to mature (by adding their own perspective in the comment section below or by starting their own conversation about this content on their own Blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc...).

Anything else would be fake.

Avinash Kaushik is a busy guy. Along with being the Analytics Evangelist for Google, he's also the author of two best-selling business books (Web Analytics - An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0) and he has his own start-up (Market Motive). Kaushik also has one of the best Blogs on the intertubes called, Occam's Razor. His post are long and well thought-out, and he only posts once a week. That's his pulse. It works for him and it works for his community. Layer that against a similar busy person like Chris Brogan, who has one of the most popular Blogs out there, has authored two books (Trust Agents along with Julien Smith and his recently published, Social Media 101), has his own company (New Marketing Labs), and still manages to both Blog and tweet at an amazingly frenetic and frequent daily pace, and you'll soon begin to realize that the quantity of the content that these two individuals are producing has little to do with their overall success.

It's all about how they pulse out their content and tweak it as the community evolves and engages.

The only way to really figure out what the right pulse is for your content and commentary will be through trial and error. You can't be afraid that people will no longer follow you or stop caring as you experiment. You must have faith in the quality of your content, and you must recognize that your community and audience will evolve and flourish as your pulse develops to it's optimal pace and speed. Then again, your mileage may vary.

What's your pulse like? 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Hi

    I think one should blog or tweet as often as one has something to say that's relevant to one's audience. Anything more than that is spam. Anything less is neglecting the market.

    Blue skies...

  • Posted by Josh Braaten
    Mitch Joel

    I think the once per week approach works best for me (although I think Avinash posts bi-weekly). Like you, I'd much rather spend more time creating one great post that folks will find helpful than creating a bunch of unconnected thoughts for the sake of content.

  • Posted by Ron De Giusti
    Mitch Joel

    I found a neat little app out there called Tweet O'Clock (http://tweetoclock.com/).

    You can enter one of your followers usernames and find out when the best time is to tweet to them.

    What I found is what your blog post talks about (i.e., there is no exact time to tweet or blog) that all my followers, as well as me, have different rhythms.

    What would be interested would be an app similar to Tweet O'Clock that would scan all your followers or subscribers in one pass and tell you the best time that works for 90% of your followers, or 80% of your followers ...

  • Posted by Nick B
    Mitch Joel

    Seems like, "It Depends," is the de facto response to most open-ended social media questions. After going from the tech/electronics industry to the insurance industry, there's was a HUGE drop-off in the amount of quality content being shared via social networking by communications or other professionals (mostly because the industry hasn't hired them yet). On one hand, with less noise, it presents the opportunity to be a content and idea driver. On the other hand, it limits the size of the community so no matter how frequently you post or tweet, there's fewer passionate communicators to share with and be inspired by. Fortunately, there's more joining the fray every day.

    What's my pulse like? It depends.

  • Posted by Matt
    Mitch Joel

    I agree with the pulse. Blog when you have something valuable to say. Like a conversation really - don't talk just for the sake of talking or people will soon stop listening.

    However --> that big block of tags at the end of the post is not for me or you. It's for search engines and I guess on the off-chance that someone is navigating your site through tags, though I doubt it.

    But I don't mind it - in fact I like it, because I know it helps your community / readers find your post when they're looking for it - and it tells others when to skip it. I feel the same way about SEO-driven post titles. If they unite author and reader - great.

    On my blogs, my text and titles are not an expression of my personality - my illustrations are.

    • Posted by Chris Herbert
      Mitch Joel

      Matt, I find tags useful. They are great to use if you are blogging about a specific topic. They act as an content organizer which makes it easier for your readers because all the posts on that topic are listed one after another.

      It works well when you want to send a link to a series of your blog posts on a specific topic too.

  • Posted by Chris Herbert
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, this is very timely and thanks for writing this post. My comments are for marketing and business development professionals, of which I'm proud to consider myself one.

    It's a bit ironic, yet refreshing, that we are having these conversations with businesses and professionals. I say this because we respect peoples screen time and don't want to over communicate. We want to be thoughtful and helpful to those who follow us on Twitter, read our blog posts and listen to our podcasts. This is cool!

    However, this is in contrast to traditional interruption based marketing still being practiced such as direct e/mail, telemarketing and television advertising to name a few.

    I think you've started an interesting conversation. One that asks what should the pulse of our communication and conversations be with our customers (online and offline)? What meaningful content and interactions should we create and share with them?

    Through experimentation, dialogue, feedback and measurement we can figure out what the pulse should/could be.

  • Posted by Jim Raffel
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch - Great post. Heard you interview for Captured Mind and during that you mentioned your pulse is 7 pieces a week. Sometimes 3-4 get done on Saturday but you shoot for 7. I like that approach as well. I have too much going through my brain for long detailed posts once a week. And there in lies the very truth of the post above. You have to post at the speed of your own brain. (in my case it's a very ADD brain ;) ).

  • I was looking for a definitive answer :(

    I aim for a steady, sustainable pulse:
    - tweet: once a day (on average)
    - blog post: once a week
    - podcast: once a week
    - eNewsletter: once a month

  • Posted by Rinaldi Syahran
    Mitch Joel


    I think your question can be answered with the above maximum results when a person can maximize the time management.

  • Posted by Phil Simon
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch

    I really like this post. It underscores the "one size doesn't fit all" mentality of social media.

    It's funny... I don't have one pulse. I recently launched a comic series on my site because I wanted to poke fun at myself a little bit once a week in a very short manner.

    http://www.philsimonsystems.com/category/content/travails/

    I also started a podcast series (as you know) because I wanted to diversify a bit.

    Long story short: I'm evolving (I hope, at least). I find that sometimes I have less to actually "say" so I'd rather do something else while keeping ostensibly interesting content flowing.

  • Posted by Marjie
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I have been reading your blog for a year this past month! This is not a suck up comment... but your blog says the most of any I read. I share your blog more than any other I read. Sometimes I think people think I'm invested. I don't blog, probably never will, but that's fine....everyone needs an audience. The goal should be a loyal audience, that would be proof of success.

  • Thank you for reminding me that it depends. I'm flabbergasted at the Pulse others have and often realize that I can't keep up. Once again, I'm drawn back to being who I am authentically and go from there.

  • Posted by Steve Ince
    Mitch Joel

    Questioning the measurement of a length of string springs to mind.

  • Posted by Nathan Hangen
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Just want to say that I appreciate your honesty and for doing what you're doing.

    It's about content, not about short snappy posts that make the readers do all of the work. Good stuff.

  • Posted by Alan Takushi
    Mitch Joel

    It's all too easy to get consumed and devoured by all the content that's out there. Without realizing it, you lose your voice, your pulse as it were. It's tough to figure out who you are. I know it comes easier for others but someone like myself, it's a daily struggle. Sometimes you have to sit back, cut the chatter and go inward. Think I'll hit the yoga mat and stretch out.

  • Posted by Ramsey Mohsen
    Mitch Joel

    One thing I've learned in the school of "Avinash" is that tn the interest of consistency, the number of words we use per post is also a metric of interest.

    While there is no best practice for the “best” word count, the key here is to keep a generally consistency in terms of the length of your blog posts.

    Another dimension to keep in mind in regards to the pulse of your publishing.

  • Posted by James Dalman
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    First of all I have to say that I love your book! I've been reading your thoughts for a while and it seems at times you read what's on my mind.

    On this topic, I like the way that you have decided to pick the best way that works for YOU. So many people want to follow another person and this just doesn't work. I personally prefer to read your posts because they are well thought out and informative, and the length of them doesn't matter as long as they are good...and they are!

    Just keep up the great work and staying true to self. Advice I would pass on to others as well.

  • Posted by Todd Skinner
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,
    Wondering what your thoughts are about understanding the pulse of an industry. How do you feel about a specific audience being generalized as long as they share the similar interests/motives?

    Not to be coy about my question; my agency produces and delivers content for the staffing industry. Do you feel that across our clients we can accurately gauge the Pulse of their audiences?

  • Posted by Jamie
    Mitch Joel

    I like idea of a 'Pulse'. I found myself thinking recently about how bloggers, tweeters etc can actually find the time to post so much and so often ( a high pulse?) and that if they spent all their time talking about this stuff, how do they find the time to DO it??

    Maybe they just drink a lot of coffee...

  • Posted by potenta
    Mitch Joel

    good thing with the PuLsE ideea :) very helpfull

    like the solution Jamie regarding the coffee drinking jajaja :D

  • Funny Pictures Pro

    I'm trying to figure out how often I should tweet out my pictures from my blog. I had it set to every 6 hours, but that was only because I was using Twitterfeed and it was sending Tweets as well as Facebook updates. I have changed it so that Facebook updates through the "Notes" App (specifically, I import my blog feed, so the pictures show up), and so all that's left on Twitterfeed is for it to feed Twitter. So I am changing it, because I believe you can update more often on Twitter than on Facebook. I am equally divided on tweeting every 2 and 3 hours, but I think I will try 2 for now.

  • Posted by Nupur Maskara
    Mitch Joel

    Good post, but I feel that if I had a target, or know what works for others of a similar profile, I could push myself to achieve more on Twitter. Your thoughts?

  • Posted by Karen Patrick
    Mitch Joel

    It really depend. If there are new interesting events within your business then that's the right time for you to post something on your twitter or on your facebook. As for the followers and your facebook friends, it also depends on how you handle and promote your twitter or your facebook.

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