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!
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.