by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
Like many of those who write online, I find it a bit too easy to become obsessed with stats. The same is true of other content creators such as photographers, video producers, and others. Yes, stats are important. They are a barometer by which we can gauge how effectively our content is reaching people. While there are many stats to consider, the three that I follow the most closely are views, followers (or subscribers), and interactions (like/reactions, comments, reshares, etc.)
These are my feelings on what each of these stats means to me and some insight on how I go about improving on them.
The most deflating thing for any content creator is labouring over a piece for hours, days, weeks or even longer, only to get only a handful of views. You share it to all your social networks, link to it wherever you can, and still, you can count the views of it on one hand. What happened?
Most likely, it’s not you. Unfortunately, you can push something out on every social media network there is and get next to nothing. Since views are the lifeblood of every content creator, you want to make sure you’re getting eyeballs on it. Sure, some are from automated bots crawling the internet, especially those random views from foreign countries. But for the most part, your views will come from real people like yourself.
The best way I’ve found to increase views is to use hashtags. This is a tried and true tactic on Instagram and Twitter, but they work on Facebook and even Linkedin and Pinterest, too! The beauty of hashtags is that they put your content in front of a completely different audience. You also sometimes get the benefit of resharing bots, which may or may not do much, but it’s something. Also, sharing posts multiple times during a week or a day is fine, especially on Twitter, as long as you share other stuff in between, especially other creators’ content.
There’s also Stumbleupon, which is extremely hit or miss, but I’ve gotten some traffic explosions from it in the past. Probably 2 out of every 100 posts you put on there actually get stumbled, but depending on your topic, you could get an amazing new avenue of traffic. Unfortunately, many views from StumbleUpon bounce immediately. Still, it’s an amazing way to get your content exposure - just be sure to submit plenty of other links besides your own.
Of course, there’s also SEO. Visitors that come to my content with really long keyword phrases are great because it means people actually look for what I wrote about. Organic traffic is awesome and it’s the cheapest way to attract a new audience, although far from the easiest. I’ll get into my personal views on SEO at another time.
What Views Really Mean to Me
Many of us want views for grinding pennies on CPM and video ads. But for those of us who rely on in-text links, pay-per-clicks, or no ad income at all, views are more of a source of pride for us. It’s good to know people have actually seen your content. However, I actually believe that the raw number of views something gets is less important than the other two stats which I feel are most important. However, obviously the more you get the better!
Followers / Subscribers
To me, the only followers I personally care about are Twitter follows, Bloglovin’ follows, Wordpress follows, and Feedburner email subscribers. But there are plenty of places to gain a following or subscribers. Anywhere else I get them is gravy to me. However, the most important place for you to focus on is wherever you find the most success.
Not every network works for everyone. Google Plus, for example, does nothing for me, at least right now. My advice is to focus where you do best and stick with it. You can share your links elsewhere, but don’t get burnt out trying to be a rockstar on every platform. There are only so many hours in a day, so spend them wisely where you actually get new followers or subscribers. These are the growth opportunities to invest in.
What Followers Really Mean to Me
I do follow back everyone who follows me on Wordpress (unless it’s a clear spam account, that is.) However, I don’t follow back everyone on Twitter, and that’s because I end up following too many people and get overwhelmed. Yes, there are Twitter lists and I utilize those. But I don’t follow back everyone and it’s OK not to, especially on Twitter.
Why don’t I, though, when so many do? It’s because many people follow only to unfollow once you’ve followed them. Follow for follow isn’t always genuine. I follow back those who I feel deserve it and that I’m genuinely interested in offering my support to… if I get a feeling it’s to simply “growth hack” then I usually don’t follow back.
However, many followers and subscribers are genuine and actually are lending their support. To me, followers are a lot more important than views, especially when I notice my views going up as I gain followers. Views that come from actual followers mean a lot more to me than random pageviews from who knows where.
Interactions (like/reactions, comments, reshares, etc.)
Yes, likes do matter. They are a key part of many algorithms that figure out what content to show people. As do comments. As do reshares or reblogs. But you don’t need comments to be successful. Still, it’s nice that someone has something to say - even when it’s not so nice… Likes and reshares, on the other hand, that’s how you know you’re doing something right!
Yes a lot of likes and shares are made with the intention that you’ll return the favor. And most of the time, I will return the favor as a common courtesy. There are plenty of like and reshare trains, as well as follow trains out there. And they’re great. People that are kind enough to reshare your boost with a simple tag are great, too!
But at the end of the day, it’s the likes, comments, and reshares that simply happen organically. These are the kind I cherish most because it means people are at least aware of my content that weren’t before. Because of the way social media works these days, even simple likes broadcast my post to brand new audiences all the time. Comments, too. But reshares are the absolute best, even when they are from people with small followings.
What Interactions Really Mean to Me
There’s a silent majority out there that probably love your content. But likes, comments, and reshares are the most important to me. They’re like your brand ambassadors-in-training. They are the ones to cultivate relationships with. They are the ones who will help you grow. Focus on them, and your silent majority will grow, too. Some of them won’t remain silent anymore, either.
Content should be about building a community. Not simply posting a piece, sharing it everywhere, and doing endless hours of SEO research to grind pennies. Let the penny grinding happen as a bonus, not the primary goal. Interactions are the most important thing and are what build your audience up in the long run. And yes, search engines care more about them more than ever! But your goal should always be about building real connections, just as with any other thing you do in life.
I’d love to chat with my fellow lovely content creators about what stats mean to you and which ones are more important to you than others!
~ Phoenix <3
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Often known by her nickname "Ami," Ms. Phoenix Amelia Desertsong has written for many online publications, often under pen names.