Assigment: Create a list of specific goals you have for your social media presence, tailored to your needs and what you have learned so far about what works and doesn’t work with your topic area. Decide what metrics you will be collecting about your blog/social media presence that will measure progress toward those views, using the readings for guidance. Make a specific list or spreadsheet.
And here’s the one part of this course I’ve been dreading. Something about this metrics business scares me a little. Maybe it’s because it’s foreign, or maybe because I still have recurring nightmares about my attempt to compose my first-ever and only-ever public relations dashboard last semester whilst flying almost totally blind about all the concepts and procedures involved. But I did successfully create that dashboard, with numbers I either sought or devised myself and through learning to manipulate Powerpoint for the second time I’ve ever even used it. I’ve been a brave man for the grad school endeavor. Very brave, indeed. 😉 Nonetheless and for whatever reason, I still feel ill-equipped to really wrangle any sort of metrics with any kind of accurate sensibility.
Actually, I should re-phrase.
I can interpret and synthesize metrics information as derived from any number of analytics sources. I’m smart enough to evaluate results.
Where I feel a bit challenged is in how to achieve those results.
Take, for example, my prior blogging experience on Myspace back in the day when that was the main social media platform. I gained my first exposure to metrics therein, as the blogging component of that platform had what amounted to a ‘counter’ for hits. I watched that closely, and found trends in those numbers that pertained to content. For example, any time I wrote about politics, I saw major spikes in readership. And on those nights when I might’ve had a few too many beers and might’ve tossed out a general ‘woe is me and my life sucks’ type of blog, well, the hits plummeted. But throughout my whole blogging endeavor on Myspace, all I did was create content. It was a personal blog (sometimes too personal). While I was edified by the 34,000+ hits I had by the time Myspace gave way to Facebook, I didn’t have a desire or perhaps even the capability to consider how I could further promote it or amplify my statistics. Many people encouraged me to do so, and to even consider bigger writing projects like a book. Some of my readers even did some research on how to publish my blog into a book. I truly had some devoted and appreciative fans.
But I was not a fan enough of my own blog (or of myself, even) at that point to even try to understand how much more significant it could’ve been. That’s too bad.
But now, armed with new educational spirit and insight and with a multitude of tools at my fingers to do precisely what I once couldn’t be bothered with where metrics are concerned, I find myself in a newly challenging situation. Now I’m up to speed on willingness and know-how on the metrics end, even when sometimes it can seem like the blogger in me is apparently asleep. But I fear that I have made a mistake where my topic is concerned.
I have speculated and articulated concerns about this previously, considering that my tendency for the bulk of my life has been not to make my sexuality an issue. Unfortunately, that has become an issue. I’ve found it too overbearing to heartily promote or even composing content for my topic blog for fear of the personal ramifications in doing so. It’s a subject I’m passionate about. And I perceive the value in what might be accomplished by developing this blog on the topic of gay male stereotyping on television. But to make it a noticeable endeavor has just been a personal hurdle I haven’t been able to surmount.
I have been able to make some strides. Fortunately, I had a very limited audience on Twitter when this semester and all of our challenges started. I have been able to control that audience, and even keep that audience limited. Therefore, I’ve been freer about what gay-oriented content and activity I have tweeted. But even in that setting, there has been fallout. A long-time friend who was on the ground floor of my Twitter activity actually commented to me the other day, in a concerned and almost shocked observation, that my Twitter was ‘really gay.’ She spoke to me about it from a stance of “why” and “it’s really ‘in your face'” and are you sure you want to do that.” She’s been accustomed to me keeping my sexuality largely quiet. And she didn’t hesitate to acknowledge how jarring it was to see me doing something different in the online realm in that aspect. And that just felt really familiar and discouraging, even in an arena where I had created what I thought was a safe haven for being open.
Sigh. I guess I just needed to air all that out. It doesn’t change the fact that I have assignments and expectations for this course that pertain to that blog where goals and accomplishing numbers are concerned. And I am working to meet the assignments. I will do my best to work through what is expected. But I can honestly say that the results will probably be minor because I should’ve probably chosen a different topic for these kinds of exercises–one that I could more enthusiastically and boldly promote.
As to that promotion and in the reality of this precarious situation, I can say that I DID have some goals for this blog. Indeed I still do. And in fact, the whole idea of peeling my face and name off of it and assuming a pseudonym might actually still be the best route. But because I haven’t done that at this point, it’s all a bit late for the purposes of this class.
For all these obvious reasons and because, for some reason, I have achieved a bit of a following on my class blog, I’ll primarily turn my attentions to its existence and the related metrics for the duration. Indeed, #Bones is becoming a bit of a celebrity on there and on Facebook as a result of the #photoaday challenge. A piece I posted a while back for the entrepreneurial journalism course was actually re-blogged by a tech blogger. And I have constantly seen a decent amount of traffic to that blog. So it makes sense to consider it for these exercises–to some extent as a means of personal branding–as opposed to what I intended to do with the “beat blog.”
So. Concerning thevoiceofbarry.wordpress.com. What would I ideally like to see happen with my blogging and/or my social media presence in general? I can easily say that to increase page views and comments on any of my outlets is a number one priority. I’ve previously discussed how I view Facebook as a sort of ‘stage’ and all the folks on my friends list are my virtual audience. I feel similarly with our class blog and with my accounts on Instagram and Twitter. In this perception and as I post content and pictures, etc., in the form of “performance,” pageviews and comments are like the applause. And as Lady Gaga sings, I live for the applause. 🙂
Specifically and beyond increased pageviews and engagement in the form of increased commenting, I perceive that with the momentum I have established through various forms of posting on this class bog that I might could almost re-create the reality of my former blog presence on Myspace–just for general writing posts. I still maintain relationships with 90% of my readers from my old blog on Facebook. (Although there is gay content on this blog, it is fairly buried. I could effectively probably even remove most of it and have no damning hard evidence about which to worry. I’m also changing the entire design of the blog so it will even take on a new identity visually.) Through cross-promotion on Facebook and a firmer branding of this blog as a place where I post the type of musings that were wildly popular in my past, I see that I could likely ramp up my visits on this blog in pretty short order. Cross promotion on Twitter is also an easy and needful opportunity here. I already have 28 followers and 408 views without even promoting this blog at all and with only random posting so far. Now that I have redefined a direction and can more actively draw attention to content on this blog, I will definitely be paying attention to page views and comments.
As to specific metrics, Wordpress provides some decent basic numbers as to general activity. For the purposes of my personal, observational writing and whom has typically been a fan, I will find it compelling to learn geographical locality of visitors to determine if they’re largely people from my native southeastern area or if my writing can appeal to folks from other geographical or cultural regions. I’ve plugged my URL into Google’s Webmaster Tools to start generating some analytics results. Also, average viewers per day or per post will be pivotal to this personal writing blog. Because I have seen previously that my readership spikes with certain topics like political blogging and wanes with too much personal melodrama, I will need to pay attention to what specific blog post content engages the most readers.
Lastly, as a personal challenge related to this blog, I’ve committed to myself to write a blog post per day for 30 days. Content production is the primary key to engagement. And since the particular content is my own writing, I have to require myself to post plenty of it. This is not an easy challenge while enrolled in graduate school, considering the amount of writing already required for classes. And I have seen this discipline of this daily writing endeavor already to be a challenge in times past when I wasn’t in school and was merely holding down jobs waiting tables. This will indeed be a challenge under the circumstances, but a personally worthwhile one if what I experienced with my prior personal writing blog was any indication.
And who knows, maybe my readers will start championing for book again and the right person will engage with me to make that happen…