Friday, March 27, 2015

Why blog? Reason #1: To connect

This is the seventh and final post in a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each day's post in this series, I have examined one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

Yesterday's post looked at Reasons #3 and #2: To sell books, or to mobilize people for a noble cause. But in answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #1: To connect.

If God created spiders to spin webs, and birds to sing, and bees to fertilize flowers and make honey, I believe He created people to communicate. In this, we are a reflection of Himself, for according to the Gospel of John He calls Himself "The Word."

While humans are not unique as communicators in the animal kingdom, for better or for worse we certainly do the most of it, and we do it the most intently. While communication can be holistically considered both sharing our thoughts, as well as listening to and seeking to understand the thoughts of others, most of us do remarkably better at the former than we do at the latter.

But, the beauty of blogging is that it encompasses both, at least to a certain extent. It provides us with a platform for sharing our thoughts with a potentially global audience, and also provides our readers with a mechanism for responding, through the comment functionality that most blogs incorporate.

When I first started my blogger liaison assignment with World Vision, I started by seeking out bloggers whom I felt would care about our cause and who might be open (if I provided the resources) to talking about it. The challenge, of course, was narrowing the field. With millions of blogs out there, many of them blogging at least weekly or even daily, how with a limited amount of time could I go about weeding out the chaff and finding and focusing on the ones with the best potential?

I was excited when, early on, I felt that I had found some good candidates. I read their blogs, enjoyed what I read, interacted with them, and contacted them asking if they might be interested in working with me. One gentleman in particular seemed amenable and I considered him an early win, as he posted some great World Vision content. So he was definitely "on my list."

A number of months later I was pitching him again, and this time he replied with a rather stinging rebuke, basically saying, "You don't read my blog. I'm not your friend. Leave me alone." (My paraphrase.) Naturally, he went off my list. I was taken aback, but as I reflected, I realized I probably deserved his rebuke. With zillions of blogs to sift through and read, I had stopped reading (and interacting with) his on a regular basis. Nonetheless I still treated him as if we had a relationship.

The reality is, those of us who blog want most to be read, and to interact with those who read us. My once-upon-a-time blogging friend was right: I no longer read him, interacted with his blogs, so I had no right to call myself a friend. No real relationship there.

At this point I started questioning myself: How on earth am I going to do this job? I had been told by consultants that it was reasonable to expect that only 1 in 50 blogs I pitched would actually "bite." If I wanted 10 or 20 bloggers to be posting my material each week, I couldn't, of course, be reading and interacting with 500 or 1,000 blogs each week. I'm too slow a reader, this is just one part of my job, and the math just didn't work. (1,000 blogs per week equals 200 blogs per day equals 40 blogs per hour, assuming I'm giving 5 hours per day to the task. I don't think I could read and interact with a tenth that number, let alone 40 per hour.)

Anyway, I haven't yet found the answer to my dilemma. I guess the goal should be to find and focus my efforts on the blogs that have the greatest potential for payback, slowly weeding out all the others. Better a high quality relationship with a smaller group of bloggers than a low quality relationship with a larger group.

I think the largest majority of bloggers out there don't really do it primarily for the pay. They don't do it to get famous, or to establish their expertise in a specific topic, or write and sell books, or to influence and mobilize a large number of people in some noble cause. They may not even do it to gripe, or to inspire. They do it for the most human of reasons: To be read, and to find, interact with, and hopefully connect with other humans during this very short time we are sharing together on this planet!

Thank you for reading through this series on blogging! Please comment and let me know your own reason(s) for blogging, and if they differ from what I've presented. List your blog and I may add it to my list (in the right nav) of blogs I follow. Thanks!


KC Bob said...

"I guess the goal should be to find and focus my efforts on the blogs that have the greatest potential for payback, slowly weeding out all the others."

I agree with that from a "business" POV Larry. Do you feel that the bloggers that help you should, in turn, expect you to reciprocate and help them?

Larry Short said...

Yes. The "business" (or in this case, "ministry") POV is important here because World Vision is paying my salary to spend my time cultivating bloggers.

I know there are some bloggers who will carry World Vision content for cause-related reasons (because they care about kids who are suffering, for instance, and simply want to help promote the cause. They may or may not therefore have an expectation of return from me. But I would certainly understand if they did.

Do you have any ideas about how I could reciprocate and help these bloggers?

I know that we do pay or at least provide perks to some high-traffic bloggers for promoting specific marketing content (such as our gift catalog). But right now that's not within the range of possibility for the specific program I'm trying to develop, which is much more cause-related. But I am certainly open to other ideas about how I can help.

Thanks for interacting, I do appreciate it!

KC Bob said...

You make a good point Larry. The rules and goals are different when blogging is a part of your job.

Regarding reciprocation, you could post a "Ministry Partners" section on your sidebar that would list blogs that have helped you by posting World Vision content.

Larry Short said...

I think that's a great idea, Bob. Thanks!