The value in unpopular blogs

Have you ever published a blog that no one paid attention to?

I have.

It's one of the most disheartening experiences, especially when I feel like I'm really putting my soul and guts on the line. Two likes and one share from my aunt in Michigan later, this blogging thing can really get a gal down.

Despite being a cheerleader of content marketing for the past four years, it has seemed like my own personal blogging efforts have been quite useless. Some of the people I admire most online have thousands (if not a few million) followers. If their simple two-sentence share gets 45 comments in a three-hour timeframe, why can't my bleeding-heart blog get me anywhere?

The hidden value in unpopular blogs

Like most of us, I worry about content saturation. And for the past few months, I've been putting content marketing and blogging through the proverbial wringer in my head, asking myself questions like:

  • Do people even read blogs anymore?
  • Are there too many talking heads in my industry for me to make a difference?
  • What's the point in posting a blog if no one comments on or reads it?

(These are, incidentally, the same questions many friends and clients ask.) When I took a step back, I realized that I'd been overlooking a critical fact in my analysis:

Every single client (without exception) said my blogs were the reason they chose to work with me.

My blogs?

You mean the ones that no one commented on and no one shared?

Yeah, those blogs.

It turns out that measuring success by likes and shares isn't necessarily wrong, but maybe it's giving blogs (and good communication, in general) a really narrow definition of success. Obviously, I'd like it if people were sharing and clamoring over anything I posted. But for whatever reason, my crowd just isn't the commenting type. And that's OK. What matters more is how I try to reach the silent masses.

Think of blogs as validation points

This week in a search for a statistically valid social media survey, I ran across this gem from the Pew Research Center. The participants were asked a flurry of questions in 2015, including one about whether or not they ever "comment in a discussion forum like reddit or Digg or Slashdot." Fifteen percent of internet-using adults said they did. This percentage seemed low to me.

What? NO ONE IS COMMENTING ON ANYTHING ANYMORE?! Sort of, but not really. What this says to me is that the Internet is more full of lurkers than commenters.

If less than a quarter of the population is ready and willing to jump feet first into an online discussion forum, what does this say about how we approach marketing or measuring the success of marketing? How (un)willing are they to like, share or comment on a nice blog?

For me, this piece of information drives a few key points home: first, blogging consistently is the truest testimony to who we claim to be in the murky waters of the internet. Second, having carefully selected "validation points" for you or your business is the cornerstone to good marketing. We can craft great email campaigns and Google AdWords, but perhaps it's the silence of an unpopular blog that does the most good.