11 January 2010

Content, Relevance and just being a mensch

If you follow me on Twitter you know I used that platform over the holidays to conduct an experiment: What would happen if I signaled blog posts exclusively on Twitter, not using LinkedIn, Facebook, e-mail or any other means? It seemed like a good question since LinkedIn was driving most of my blog traffic even though I was consistently posting links on Twitter.

What did I learn?


As previously posted, content matters most and it only matters if it matters to the recipient. Reviewing the Twitter generated traffic of the past two weeks, a reflective, end-of-year holiday time period, it seemed clear the post about goal-setting mattered more than the post about Twitter vs. LinkedIn. In the same way, a post about writing attracted new readers who saw #writing as the signal of a mutual interest. In other words, it was relevant to them.


To say content matters also means the content is relevant. Relevance is a function not only of content but of placement. In other words, content may matter to you but it will only be relevant if you get the content at a moment when you are willing and predisposed to digest it.

Here was my own lesson in relevance. During the holidays I read an AdAge.com article about hiring and firing at ad agencies. One of the article comments suggested a link to some advice about finding a new job. I added a comment suggesting a link to my own advice about how to keep your job in 2010.

Boom goes the dynamite. The next day I had my highest-ever traffic for a single page, simply because people predisposed to the topic of job survival saw some additional helpful content. I wasn’t selling anything; I was just trying to be helpful.

The high traffic number was kind of fun for a moment, but it was illusory because many of the people stayed for less than a minute. The much more meaningful statistic was the number of new followers to the blog. In Ye Olde Marketing gross impressions mattered; in modern times it’s more about the relationships we start.

Just being a mensch

The cartoon above is Tom Fishburne’s tribute to a piece by Guy Kawasaki. These six types of Twitter users rang true for me based on almost three years experience. There was also a personal lesson, however. I realized that the perspective of my original experiment was type #1, The Brand trying to sell you a product. No harm done in this case since it’s just Steve’s blog but I will apply the lesson to my clients’ businesses. I’d rather be The Maven, but frankly that's not me; I’ve been blessed with many Mavens here at my agency (@scubachris, @chi_media_guy, @menocal, @lilmissjen, and of course the maven of them all). Instead my new year’s resolution on Twitter is to be The Mensch – someone who has some experience to offer for the benefit of those to whom the content matters and is relevant.

To most of you reading this post, the principles I espouse are not new – we’ve all read them in various online and offline business publications. Still, it’s much more meaningful for me to experience them for myself.

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