Welcome to the Friday Fives series. This week’s question:
What makes you decide to follow a blog regularly?
This week’s answers come from:
- Erica Allison is the owner of Allison Development group, a public relations and marketing firm. She’s @ericamallison on Twitter and http://gplus.to/ericaallison on Google+. You can read her blog at Spot-On.
- Jon Buscall Jon Buscall is head of Jontus Media, a digital marketing and content creation agency in Stockholm, Sweden. He blogs at JontusMedia.com/blog and is @jonbuscall on Twitter.
- Allen Mireles Allen is a social media strategist, trainer and speaker, and frequent guest lecturer at the University of Toledo College of Business Administration’s Interactive Marketing school. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter at @allenmireles.
- Lisa Gerber is the Chief Content Officer for Spin Sucks and Spin Sucks Pro, a blog directed at PR and marketing professionals and business leaders. You can find her on Twitter as @lisagerber.
- Myself, Neicole Crepeau I’m the Online Strategist at Coherent Interactive, and the creator of CurateXpress. I specialize in social media and website and mobile application design. I’m @neicolec on Twitter.
Here are these expert’s answers:
Lately, I don’t have as much time as I did early on to read multiple blogs on a daily basis. So, I’m very selective when it comes to which blogs to follow, particularly those I read on a daily basis. I typically have 5-7 that I will read daily and then an extra 5 or so that I read on a weekly basis. I also try to find at least one new blog each week to read, just to keep my perspective fresh. I wish I could say that I comment on them all, but I don’t. I’m happy to read and think about it, share a post as often as I can, with a comment attached to the share, but unfortunately, in my time crunch, commenting has dwindled to 2-3 posts/day.
For me to follow your blog and keep you in the loop on a regular basis, here is what has to happen:
- Your content has to be compelling. It has to be written in such a way as to engage me right away. Too “out there” and I’m likely not going to stick around. Too “echo-y” and like everyone else, I’ll tune out.
- If you’re funny and make me laugh, you’re in.
- If you offer a different voice or perspective that is valuable to me in my business and profession (marketing, PR, blogging, social media, analytics) then I’m all in and will routinely read you.
- If you can educate me about business (ahem, Carol Roth), that tends to be important for me as well.
- And, lastly, if you make me think and get outside my comfort zone, you can bet I’ll be back.
It’s all about the content. It has to be well written, tightly niched, and updated at least three times a week. I’m also more likely to follow if there’s a variety of video, audio and text, as I like my media varied.
I don’t need a blog to be validated as a top blog by bazillions of commentators as long as it speaks to me. Often I get the impression that some blogs get followed just because they’re popular, and then after a while folks drift away.
A great blog, and by that I mean one that I decide to follow regularly, religiously, has to stand out in my RSS reader too. I cut down on my subscriptions about 6 months ago because I wasn’t getting time to read everything and even now I tend to zip through the feeds in search of those gems or two. So outstanding titles and descriptions are an essential part of getting me to follow a blog in the first place because otherwise I just won’t see the blog.
I also subscribe to a blog if it regularly presents things I haven’t come across before or thinks in a slightly different way. The blogosphere can be an echo chamber but sometimes a different take on a topic, even a different way of rephrasing or expressing something can hit the nail on the head and then I hit subscribe.
The blogs I read regularly relate to my business interests, which means I am reading to learn, better understand, or to find a new angle on something I already know. Most of the reading I do that is unrelated to work takes place offline and is relegated to old school technology like books and print magazines.
I look for content first and then credibility. Is the blogger writing about topics I need to know more about? Is that person a credible source? We all know bloggers who spew out great amounts of industry-related information but are not considered credible for various reasons.
I value creativity. In the topics that the bloggers choose to write about and in the insights they apply to those topics. All of us can gobble up other people’s ideas and spit them back out in short order. I’m drawn in by the original thought, the new insight into an old problem, the unexpected view.
I also evaluate how frequently the blogger posts new material. It doesn’t need to be daily (who can keep up?) but I do tend to revisit the blogs that are updated regularly. If a blogger posts only sporadically, it’s easy for me to forget or overlook them in the chaos of my daily schedule.
The tone of the writing is important. I’m not a fan of overuse of exclamation points and the too-cozy-and-cute style of writing. Makes my teeth itch. And, I don’t employ the patience to wade through a piece that feels like advanced course work. So I look for a tone that resonates with me on some level. I appreciate humor and value compassion. Once I have found a blog that meets this criteria I tend to be a faithful reader and to recommend that blog to others.
My Dad used to tell me he followed football just so he could be involved in the conversation that took place around the sport at work meetings and events. Likewise, there are certain blogs we follow because they keep us informed; and because they help us to be a good member of the blogging community. Then there are the discoveries; the blogs we follow for no other reason than they give us pleasure. Those are the blogs I want to address here.
Here are their inherent characteristics:
- Tell me a story that fits into a bigger story: Some of my favorite blogs are a lot like fall TV. (Molli Megasko made me say that) Each post tells a story that is part of a bigger story. For that reason, it keeps me from missing any episodes. I love to learn lessons tied into stories that move me. This, primarily, is a blog that gets me to come back.
- Make me Think: The story should give me something to think about. It’s not content I’m reading everywhere. It’s about stuff that is important; that matters in my every day work or personal life.
- Finally, if the blog fits the first two, don’t make me work too hard: I rarely go to an actual blog, so the design isn’t a big factor. I’m either reading it in my Google Reader or in my Flipboard. But the blog style is important. It should be easy to read, broken into smaller paragraphs, and structured into bullet points when appropriate.
For me, it’s the content that matters. It’s true that I read some of my friends blogs regularly, because they are my friends. If you’re not a friend, though, your content has to be useful, unique, and understandable. I’ve got a limited amount of time to spend each day, so to get on my short list, you’ve gotta be good!
Useful–I want to read blogs that actually provide information I can use. Entertaining or personal posts are nice, but I’m not going to read your blog regularly for that. I’m looking for business or technical information of value. For example, of late, I’ve started regularly reading Robert Dempsey’s blog because he consistently provides really useful information.
Unique–The echos are growing more numerous. I don’t need to hear more of the same. I want new information, new techniques, and, particularly, new insights. I know that’s hard. My recommendation: only blog when you have something unique to say. Don’t feel compelled to put out content regularly when it’s not really different or valuable.
Understandable–I’m a writer. So I appreciate good writing. I honestly can’t stand to read blogs that have grammatical errors or are unnecessarily long-winded. It may be a prejudice, but I rapidly click away from a blog post that is clearly written by a non-English speaker.
What about you? What makes a blog “sticky” for you? Tell us in the comments.
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