If you’ve been reading my blog you know that a couple of weeks back I got involved with the Technorati Favorites Exchange meme. I thought it would be an interesting experiment in networking and traffic building. And getting into the Technorati Favorites Top 100 seemed possible.
So I did it. I spent a good part of a couple of days adding blogs to my Technorati Faves and then visiting their blogs and commenting so that they would know I added them and then would add me. Soon, I was faved by almost 200 bloggers and climbed to number 87 on the Top 100 list. A little more effort and I could have climbed another 20-30 slots (I’m about to drop off the list).
Overall, I’ve made the statement that I thought the meme was a waste of time – my time and the time of the people who read my blog. To you who read my blog regularly, once more, I’m sorry to have wasted your time. Please keep reading because I hope to turn this into a positive.
Did I gain from the meme? Sure I did – a bit of traffic and some readers. I’m happy about gaining the readers. Am I disgruntled at the results, as Richard Cunningham suggests? No. Not at all, actually. Do I think bloggers should meme-link? Yes, I do actually. First, however, I feel it’s important to be clear what we’re aiming for.
This is the point I feel is being missed…participating in memes should be something you do to serve your core blogging goal.
Let’s face it, memes are going to increase your reach, land you more traffic and potentially grow your readership. No question about it. And if constantly increasing reach, traffic and readership is the core goal of your blog, great – do every meme that comes your way. Personally, I have no problem with it, if that’s your goal.
But what if your goal is great content, engaging conversation and building relationships with your readers? Then does meme-linking serve your existing readers? Maybe, but maybe not. That’s what’s being missed by some of the comments I’ve seen around the Technorati Faves Exchange.
For instance, Gary Lee suggested, “I think it would be fair to mention how many backlinks you have also received from this meme just to show that their have been some benefits.” Likewise, Maki’s take was, “The fact that you've received 69 comments in the previous post is also not a waste of time.”
Both great points. But, they’re missing my point – the meme doesn’t serve my blogging goal – which is to create great content, engaging conversation and build relationships. Sure, it increases my traffic which may allow me some new readers. But it does so at the expense of my current readers. And since no where in my blogging goals do I mention getting new readers and increasing my traffic, I simply don’t feel that these types of meme-links are valuable for my blog. It seems, instead that I’m sacrificing my current readers to reach new ones. And I don’t think that’s necessary.
Of course, Maki’s point is a bit off in that only 1 of those 69 comments was to engage me in a conversation. The rest were just link hunters. That’s fine, I participated in the meme and expected that. But it isn’t the type of commenting I’m looking for. I’m looking for commenting that lead to rich conversation – such as in these three posts.
Mark Goodyear gets it with his comments, “Memes are fun, but typically they distract a blog from its thematic purpose” and “the best inbound links come from a carefully targeted market.” As does thepaperbull with his comment, “I wanted to know how many people favorited me because they valued my site / content.” And Ruhuel added in his comments, “I too prefer consistent traffic over superficial traffic.”
All of them speak closer to what I feel is being missed in all this – The most useful memes are those that benefit everyone involved and your readers first. Memes aimed at just increasing links and traffic simply don’t add value to my readers. So I’m not going to participate in them any longer. Memes, however, that do add value by being content focused – such as Ben Yoskovitz's Ultimate Guide to Productivity and Mohit Singhania's Be Original Project – I will continue to participate in – and have (respectively).
So Doris, gilda*su, and Ari, when you asked me about gaining new readers – of course I’m grateful. Not for the traffic nor the favorite links. What I’m grateful for is you – you as a reader and a commenter. As you can see from this post, I care deeply for the people who take the time to read my blog. And for those who comment and engage in the conversation. That’s why I put so much of time and all of myself into it.
And that’s why I don’t want to waste your time with writing about memes that are just about building my traffic. You deserve quality content from me, instead. And I trust in you that if you find value in my blog, you’ll not only continue to read, but you’ll get my feed, you’ll link to me from your blog and you’ll share my blog with others. That’s how I’ve built my traffic so far. No tricks. And I love the results.
Are there faster ways? Sure. I could do a lot to grow my traffic in ways that aren’t about my readers and my content. But I won’t do that – at least not any more. My blog goal is about creating conversation and building relationship and that’s what I’ll focus on.