One thing I notice in my work with websites and the people who get stuff published on websites is a whole load of vanity.
This vanity displays itself in a number of ways: a request from an author for “my stuff to go on the website home page”; an insistence that a photo of the author features somewhere prominent; a structure chart showing how many people report to the author; or perhaps a request that “this needs to be emailed to everyone in the organisation/country/world”.
If you recognise yourself in more than one of the above descriptions, then it’s perhaps time to consider a little digital humility. Here’s a story to illustrate how you can get it.
The CEO who learned how to write even better blog posts
The CEO of the organisation I work for writes a blog on our corporate intranet. He’s been doing this for years, and he writes a really good blog post, I can tell you. (Some of his blog posts are available on the website I manage).
Up until a couple of years ago, he’d always assumed that almost everyone in the entire organisation read his blog posts. Then we upgraded our intranet and were able to get readership figures for the first time. I met the CEO shortly after he got the first set of readership figures for his blog. I can remember how disappointed he was when he discovered that only about 50% of staff read his latest blog post. The truth hurts, sometimes.
But, the CEO didn’t despair. He upped his game. He watched the stats for each blog post that he wrote. He learned what worked. He learned what didn’t work so well. He learnt that writing about some things can encourage people to respond with comments.
He learnt that sometimes it’s not about how many people read your stuff, it’s about how people engage with what you’ve written and whether you can bring about some change, somewhere.
Listening is part of a good conversation
Connecting with people online is about having a conversation with a group of people. To have a really good conversation, you need to be in tune with the group of people you’re talking to, and talk about things that interest them.
You’ll know when people are listening to you when they talk about what you write and respond to your ideas (maybe that could be on Twitter, or maybe it could be at the office water cooler). And don’t worry if you don’t have a large audience just yet – if you write stuff that people respond to, you will find your audience. Social media influence measurers at Klout put it like this:
“We believe it’s better to have a small and engaged audience than a large network that doesn’t respond to your content.”
Learning about the things that interest your audience takes time, trial and error. But one thing I have learned is that the route to successful online influence lies in listening and responding to your audience.
Happy ever after
By the way, the CEO’s blog posts now regularly have well over 70% of the organisation reading them.
Today’s tune and a tip of the hat
Now the obvious choice for this blog post would be the song by Carly Simon. But it isn’t in my record collection, and it’s therefore against the rules. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard the song.
So instead, we have this from Adem in 2004, who wisely advises: “These are your friends, let them come guide you on”.
And a hat tip to Gerry McGovern, who wrote this inspirational post on organisational ego.