iperceptions’ offering has drastically expanded over the past year, covering an ever-increasing range of devices, platforms and points of contact. Along with this technological expansion, iperceptions’ research team has been busy developing a wider offering of theoretical frameworks to encompass newer terrains for digital research.
While there are different types of blogs (corporate, institutional, celebrity, personal), we tried to identify common performance indicators that could fit into an audience-building framework irrespective of a blog’s wider context. We even took into consideration the fact that a blog’s followers are by no means necessarily a loyal fan club! Oftentimes, it is your most dogged competition or your political rival or your partner’s ex who is infallibly following your blog entries! And while a range of useful metrics is already available via quantitative analytics tools, the iperceptions qualitative framework is intended to tap into indicators and predictors of audience loyalty and engagement.
Taking into consideration the fact that engagement with blogs tends to be a lot more personal than with corporate websites and that audiences’ motivations often derive from a more personal interest, the iperceptions blog engagement framework is an attempt to integrate corporate or personal brand loyalty with real-life propensity to engage with the blog publisher. Thus some of the questions you may want to pose to your blog’s readership can be directed at outright probing the personal relevance of your blog to your followers.
Taking the example of personal blogging, here are a few questions that could be the building block of your audience generation and retention strategy:
What is the value of your blog to your audience?
What is it about your blog (be it your brilliant writing style or the charisma of your online personality or the first-hand account of how you are evading the attempts of the NSA to track you down) that keeps them coming back for more? Do they notice a lengthier stretch of silence? Do well-wishers inundate you with heartfelt comments as you document your battle with a sudden relapse of a devastating disease? In short, the engagement of your audience with all that this implies (number of followers, advertising revenue and other types monetisation of your block, or simple a personal kick), swings on the value that you provide to your readers. It is important to get to the core of your blog’s value in order to get a realistic idea of who you are addressing and how.
Would your audience follow up with a real-life interaction?
Arguably, this is a big next step in any blog’s lifecycle. Would your biggest fan agree to a real-world encounter? Would they make the leap from a virtual follower to a flesh-and-blood advocate of your brand or cause, and take part in the GMO-awareness rally you are organizing? Of course, while a person-to-person interaction could under many circumstances be logistically impracticable, real-life engagement need not necessarily involve a face-to-face invitation to your interior design show. It could take the shape of trying out the latest recipe you posted or going to see the art-house film you raved about. The bottom line is that nothing is a truer measure of your audience’s engagement with your blog than putting your words into practice.
How actively does your reader spread the word about your blog?
Have they ever shared individual entries or your entire blog’s URL, do they follow your blog across different platforms, for example on your blog’s Facebook page or Twitter account? Are they willing to let the world know about the treasure-trove that is your antique furniture restoration blog, or on the contrary, it is merely a guilty pleasure that they sneak occasional peeks at? In the end, the easiest way for your audience to grow is through word-of-mouth and gauging the willingness of your audience to share your blog is a very telling indicator of their engagement.
Finally, how sticky is your blog?
With what frequency does your audience interact with your blog? Do they tune in as soon as you post the next entry or did they accidentally drop by without any intention to come back? Have they been tuning in from the inception of your investment-tips-for-homemakers gig or did they recently find out about it and read the entire archive going back to 2003 in one go? The stickiness of your blog is one determinant the frequency with which readers will come back and thus a factor influencing audience engagement.