Is a blog successful with only a handful of readers?

Last week I posted a template for defending the success of a blog and I still have some thoughts on this. There is a prevailing attitude in some circles I've been in recently that a blog for business uses must establish success metrics before the blog is started. As I stated last week, the only reason I can imagine this number is even important is that the organization wants to know how and when to determine that the blog is unsuccessful. That being said, let's look at a scenario that shows why an arbitrary blog success metric just doesn't make sense.

Let's say our example company, Slug Works Incorporated, is interested in a corporate blog but wants to establish metrics of success before they get started. As with any good company, Slug Works Inc. measures all new projects from the outset to determine whether the goals are met in the end. Slug Works management creates a quarterly SWEAR (Slug Works Evaluation of Attainment Report) which is distributed throughout the silos departments to review progress.

Slug Works has decided not to put too much pressure on their blog so they have determined that there must be at least 25 readers from outside the company who are reading the blog regularly. They know they can track this through RSS feed subscriptions and some other services like Blog Flux.

After six months of blogging they decide it's time for a significant evaluation. The marketing Sluggers and performance analysis Sluggers prepare a SWEAR and conclude that the blog is unsuccessful because it hasn't achieved its goal of 25 regular readers. They see that only 12 people actually seem to be interested in the Slug Works blog regularly. They decide to shut the blog down and conclude that blogging is useless because it couldn't even reach half of their moderate goal.

What the Sluggers didn't realize, however, was that they never determined the quality of the readers. They didn't consider that reaching a quantity of readers (in this case an arbitrary quantity of 25) means less than the quality of readers (people who would add to the discussion about their company and extend positive exposure for the company.) In their case, 6 of the 12 regular readers of the Slug Works blog were bloggers themselves who would post about the company from time to time and link back to blog posts on the now defunct blog. Each of those 6 bloggers had relatively few readers of only 12 readers themselves. Though that doesn't seem like much exposure at first glance, the cumulative view reveals that the Slug Works blog had an indirect influence over an additional 72 regular readers by virtue of these other bloggers. When added to the 12 readers the Slug Works blog already had (including those 6 bloggers), the total direct and indirect regular readership is 84 people which is more than three times their original goal. Where the Sluggers saw failure they actually achieved success. Had the Sluggers realized this they might have a different perspective when they look back at the blog and SWEAR.

1 comment:

Jon Haarstad said...

Great article and wonderful insight. I've been doing some selling of late to clients on the advantages of a corporate blog. It's difficult to explain the positive PR it generates that can justify the added expense. A great example of this in action is my favorite ski-resort here in Oregon. Through their blog - they were able to avert would could have been a disastrous season by blogging daily about the efforts to clean-up a mud slide that wiped out both access roads to the resort right before last year's season was to start. Understandably, a LOT of pass holders (myself included) were nervous after shelling out the bucks for our rights to the white slopes. However, through a simple blog, the mountain manager was able to relieve most of us by simply keeping us informed from "the inside' on an almost daily basis. There's no doubt in my mind that his efforts went a long way to retaining what would normally have been the loss of a LOT of faithful customers. www.skihood.com