This post argues that audience is king, not content or relationships. Read on to learn more and then let me know what you think.
Content is King
Chances are pretty good that if you’re a blogger and/or involved in the promotion of online content, you have heard the phrase, content is king. Bill Gates used the phrase and explained the concept in a 1996 essay. Here is an excerpt:
“But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate…
“One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience…
“I expect societies will see intense competition-and ample failure as well as success-in all categories of popular content-not just software and news, but also games, entertainment, sports programming, directories, classified advertising, and on-line communities devoted to major interests.”
Since that time, a bajillion articles have been written about how quality content will win the day, particularly when it comes to blog traffic. Social media evangelists have frequently outlined formulas for successful blogging. They recommend writing helpful posts, how-to posts and posts that solve problems.
Relationship is King
There is something to be said for this. My most popular posts have been along these lines. Lately, however, the tide has been turning. I am reading more and more all the time about how content is not king, but rather, relationships.
In 1999, I started blogging on the Open Diary. I blogged anonymously, but still managed to develop rich and meaningful relationships with two bloggers. I never once considered them in terms of engagement. Monetized sites were a foreign concept and the diarists were naturally not mercenary. I was contented with my five loyal readers, and overwhelmingly delighted with the laboratory that was the Open Diary.
I blogged on the Open Diary until 2006. In 2007, I started blogging publicly on Blogger. Every day, I visited a few dozen blogs. I left comments on sites and developed cyber friendships.
By late 2009, my work commitments increased and I had less time to keep up with all my favorite bloggers. I stopped visiting and commenting on so many sites. Within a month, almost all the bloggers I was keeping up with stopped visiting my blog and stopped commenting on my site.
This made me realize a few things. When I stopped engaging with all those bloggers, they stopped engaging with me. While I know much of our interaction was authentic, it still bore the burden of dry obligation.
The other thing I realized was that my content alone was not enough to sustain their interest. This was humbling to say the least. Most of the people who had been reading my site were not that interested in what I had to say. My blog — my writing — could not hold their attention.
Is Reciprocity King?
I realized at that point, that neither content nor relationships were king. In this paradigm, reciprocity was king and it occurred via links and comments. Reciprocity was the engine propelling sites through the Blogosphere. That is, sites that were built and promoted using a two-way communication model.
For me, this type of model is not sustainable. There are not enough hours in a day to be in genuine relationship with everyone who reads my blog. And, I’m personally uncomfortable with relationships that exist solely based on reciprocity.
All of this has made me evaluate what might actually be king when it comes to blogging. If content and relationships aren’t king, and reciprocity is not sustainable over the long haul, what holds the preeminent power position for blogs?
I think the answer to this question is audience. Audience is king.
Who Needs To Hear What You Have To Say?
Identifying your blog’s audience is one of the most difficult tasks any blogger will ever undertake. It is also one of the most critical. Unfortunately, most of us avoid doing it all together. We lazily define our audience as “the general public” and then proceed to market posts to everyone in our social networks. This hardly constitutes a targeted effort.
I think there is a better way and paramount to it is clearly defining your audience. Once you have done this you can begin implementing tactics and strategies to build it.
Two things that are important to keep in mind:
- Building an audience is not the same as driving traffic
- An audience is not the same as a community
So, what do think? Do you think audience is king?