A Sideways View · Mind The Gap!

A Sideways Look At WordPress Followers.

I’ve been wondering about followers for a while now, especially since there’s a possibility that I will be setting up some professional websites using a local provider. You see, if I transfer this site to a non-Wordpress format, I will lose all my treasured followers!

Many bloggers write post after post and knows they will be read. What’s more, they expect them to be read because they have 6,000 WordPress followers. Yet, if you look at the sidebar, the site has only had a little over 6,000 views in its lifetime. That’s roughly one per follower – not a good track record by any means. I’ll leave aside the issue of javascript as that is for a future post; suffice it to say that his views will be higher, the question is by how much.

There’s another blogger who has around 3,000 followers and can reckon on around a quarter of them reading each and every post he writes. Last year he had over a hundred thousand of his posts read. Some of them will be return views, some of them will leave a comment. On his average post, he’ll get thirty comments. In the above case, the average post has none.

When Followers Aren’t Followers.

It’s obvious that not all followers are the kind of followers you want. The problem here is that you simply can’t know this from the metrics, the data that WordPress gives you.

How can you can tell if your visitor is interested… or not? In many cases, people with a WordPress blog will follow others just so that they will be followed in return, simply out of politeness. But one has to ask what this actually achieves! There’s a blogger who has 13,000 followers and gets no comments on his posts.

The point of this post is to look at the disconnect between many people’s expectations and reality. WordPress followers are the same as the ‘likes’ on Facebook or the visitors to a page on your website: this data doesn’t really tell you much. They’re a “nice to have” but if you want to make money – for example, I’ll be wanting to sell my book – I’ll not need likes. I’ll not need views and I’ll not need followers. I’ll need buyers. Having 6000 Facebook likes is like having 6,000 followers or 6000 page views. It all depends on what they do: the page view has little meaning in the world of the website. What I am looking at here is what we should be looking for in a world that is overwhelmed by useless data.

Mind The Gap!

There are still some people who believe in telephone sales, the so-called “cold calling.” They can make a living by annoying people – but it’s not the kind of action that makes a person want to engage with you. But then, if all you’ve got is a long list of telephone numbers and a computer that can tick through them and dial them up… only for the person at the receiving end to hear the chatter of a call centre? This system of selling is eye-poppingly inefficient. The problem lies in the subconscious, though: if the person knows no better, how can they know any better? The answer will always lie outside them, and this is always seen as a threat. The fear of meeting this threat will keep them annoying people with their good news…

Even in the case of cold calling, those who will buy from you will want to buy from you – and calling them at an inopportune moment is not exactly the best way do get them to do this. How many good leads are lost simply because the person at the other end has pressing work to do?

The secret to cold calling is to get the people to phone you… but that’s what this post is all about.

The disconnect between metrics – data – and reality has never been greater. People want information, they know why they want it, they don’t know how to manage it.

If a person doesn’t understand that it is the quality of data that counts, their only recourse is to gather more data. Gathering it is cheap and getting cheaper. Hence the Americans gather information about the searches you do on your own computer – which only makes it the harder for them to find the genuine information that they really do need. The problem is they’d not know it if they saw it, and even if they did see it, they’d gloss over it only to realize twenty searches later… and going back, all those searches look the same. That is the problem with banal information, that is to say, low quality data like the searches on a computer. Or a Facebook like – or a WordPress follower. All it tells you is that they’re there. It doesn’t tell you anything more than that. As such, it’s not telling you anything.

The Other Side Of The Coin.

This may seem an odd thing to say, but when you look at the facts, it makes sense. You aren’t cold calling to engage with them, you’re cold calling to sell something to them. But then, cold callers don’t understand advertising in the way most businessmen don’t understand business: they only want to sell. TV advertising is all about selling.

In this respect, followers are a metric devised by people who don’t understand engagement. They see followers, likes and page views on a website as genuinely effective metrics. Well, it’s the only metric they can comprehend… these aren’t people who understand conversation and what that implies for the business. If you walk into any business, you can tell how profitable it is just by listening to the people talking.

The cold halls of the bank should tell you something about a bank’s ability to make money… that they are silent only means that their ways of making money are decidedly dubious. Go into your local Greek restaurant and listen. For all their small turnover, they have a more secure business than the bank!

Followers and page views are like the people walking by in the street but never open the doors of your business. It’s nice to be on a busy street, but it’s not much good if your computer shop looks like a newsagents to those who glance at it. It’s not much good if your super-expensive TV advert is speaking to an empty living room. It’s not much good if your blog has 6000 followers and nobody comments. That’s what data is: it doesn’t do anything.

The Greek restaurant has people who like the atmosphere, and come back for more.

So What Do You Need?

So, what about the other blog that has 3,000 followers, a few of whom do actually do anything? In my case, I have 50 followers. Half a dozen of whom make comments – and not all of those who make comments are actually followers.

None of which is relevant: what I will actually need for my website is people who want to read my book. That is to say, they want to buy it. Not followers, not visitors, not likes. Buyers.

What’s more, the people who will want to read my book will want to because they enjoy my style of writing, be engaged by it. They’ll demonstrate this by leaving a comment. Now to be fair, not all of them will; but it will be true of the better class of reader. Nevertheless, those who will buy my book but don’t comment, will do so because they share some of the values that the commenters do. The point here is that if I want to sell my book, and do so through advertising, the best way to do it is to find those people who want to buy it. The people who do something. It’s the secret to any system: it’s not the things that go through the tube, it’s the things that bump the walls that you should be looking for.

And if I change my website, I’ll lose all my followers. But what of my readers?

How many of my regular readers are followers? How many of my followers have even read my blog? Most of them weren’t really following my blog at all. They followed my blog so that I would follow theirs, so that I could ignore it in the way they do mine.

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15 thoughts on “A Sideways Look At WordPress Followers.

  1. May I ask what prompted you to start these WordPress blog’s in the first place ,curiosity has got the better of me , was it somewhere to air your points of view or hone your writting skills as a prelude to writing your book , because the first I enjoy and I do read , I like your writting as I’ve said before I belive ! As to the latter may I ask what is the book about is there a synopsis would it be on audio .If you transfer to a new web site I assume you will continue your blog’s , will there be a transition period between the two sites with a notification on wordpress )and I hope it will not be a subscription type . As some people who are on benefits may not be able to follow/ subscibe even if they wished . As for myself I started WordPress just because it was some where to put my thoughts and feelings being able to share them without hurting anyone or myself not thinking about followers or comments , but find some comments interesting to read and to answer . In the end it’s about getting it out of me to some where else that might help someone else by my mistakes by seeing how life can be up and down

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    1. I first started blogging a good ten years ago on the old ‘Punt.nl’ platform. I posted a few stories, such as the tale about my fox stole and one about how Sir Henry lost the colours. There was a series of tales about some Dutch mountaineers, who in their first outing were run over by a milk float.

      Then it got more serious as I realized the nature of business – at the time it became a marketing blog in that I was trying to do this for businessmen. They weren’t interested, mainly for the reasons discussed in the post – they see visitors as important and have no interest in selling anything. Quite how they expect to make a living that way is anyone’s guess, but by sheer chance, there are still a few of them standing.

      When I shut that blog down, I turned to the free WordPress blog. I did try Blogger, but Google made it so hard to post a comment on my own website that I thought it better to switch the thing off. That then became what is now my private blog – private on account of its content not because there’s anything worth paying for. It’s for people who genuinely understand what striving for goodness truly means. And demands of them, personally.

      My book is – as yet – only available in .pdf form (or .mobi if I can resuscitate my new computer). I am looking for critics, by the way, but cannot offer it in audio form (save that which might read a pdf?). I was intending to publish it this summer, it looks like late autumn at the earliest now.

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      1. Weather you stay at WordPress or go elsewhere , carry on Blogging ! I would be interested to give the pdf format a look if you do not require a quick return about it as it will take time to go through

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      2. The first part (heavily revised*) would be ready now, if I’d not been down with a cold. I’ll give it a look over during the next few days. I don’t really mind how long someone takes to read it, because it’s going to take a long time to finish anyway.

        (*I took a hatchet to it, and there was a lot of blood. It was a decision I should have taken in December 2015… but that’s what being a newbie author’s all about, isn’t it?)

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  2. It’s a learning curve , just as I may draw or paint something not like it, cannot put it right to my satisfaction so , I cut mine up for the bin , but I understand your meaning. I would be honored to read and comment truthfully on your book if you would allow me .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d be happy for you to give it the once over – and I’ll hold you to your statement where you say you’ll be honest… because negative criticism is best received from those who mean well. So don’t worry if you think you’re going to hurt me, it’s better than being hurt later, when you think it all went so well 😉

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  3. “The secret to cold calling is to get the people to phone you… but that’s what this post is all about.”

    Well, how DO YOU get them to call you?! I’m not sure you actually said. 😉

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    1. Tell me, why would I need someone to phone me when they can buy my book from a website?

      Phoning takes effort, and it amazes me that people use this method to annoy try and sell things to people. It’s all part of the illusion that the comfort zone embraces.

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