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Non-Blogging Folks Ain’t Gonna Budge

Posted by on Jul 28, 2011

Often I talk on this blog about this concept of influence. I talk about how important it is to try to attain influence because influence ends up helping you achieve many goals you can’t attain without it. Influence is money; influence is power. Influence makes you a player in the game; that is, if you want to be a player in the game.

I have worked on trying to bridge the gap between my perceived online influence and the lack thereof of any type of offline influence. I’ve tried in some ways to merge the two because I’m of a mind that they can and possibly should be merged in some way. I mean, I know the power of social media and have experienced some of it first hand; I also know that social media means nothing to certain people, even if they’re somewhat in it themselves, unless you bring it to them in a way they just can’t ignore.

Okay, I’ve set up the premise; now on with some details.

I have talked about a few local tweetups and other local events that have taken place locally. Whenever I write those stories, I’ve also highlighted many of the people who participated; at least as many as I can remember, which most of the time is almost everyone. I’ve done that for a few reasons.

One, most people love seeing their names as part of a story. Two, those folks have something to offer, so it’s a way to promote them in some fashion as well. And three, because one would think that if people saw their names in a story they might actually comment, give thanks, share their piece of the story I wrote about in some fashion… participate.

Folks, that just doesn’t happen. Pretty much like writing about your spouse in a blog post, if people aren’t predisposed to read and comment on blogs you just can’t do anything to get them to do it.

For instance, I wrote a recent story on my local blog about a kickball tweetup we had at one of our local lakes. I mentioned a lot of people in that post. I made sure everyone that played saw it because I posted the link on Twitter and sent some of them the story directly. There’s only one comment other than my response on that post, and it was from my friend Scott, who wasn’t even at the game. No one cared that they were in a story; no one wanted to contribute at all. Sure, on Twitter some of them said “thanks”, but that’s it.

In January I wrote about a different tweetup, one that turned out badly in my opinion, and I named names on that one as well. On that post, one person did respond to the gripe, while a couple others decided to write me direct messages on Twitter instead of open themselves up on the blog; in that case I better understood, but that post at least got comments.

However, another post I wrote some weeks back did garner a lot of attention. That was the one on 21 Top Black Social Media Influencers. That one got a lot of pop, and most of the people mentioned in that one commented here. Thing is, most of the people that commented were true social media people, which means bloggers for the most part, true bloggers. These were people who understood that it’s not just enough to say you write a blog, but that you also have to participate in the process in order to be, well, a top social media influencer. And a lot of other people also got into the game; that was nice.

To me, I think a major point has been proven, but one is still out there in a fashion. One, you’re just not going to get people who aren’t really bloggers, or “true” social media people, to contribute to the process of a blog, no matter what you do. Two, you may still be able to at least reach them and get them to see what you’ve done, even if you get no real feedback from it.

Which one is more important? I’m not sure there’s an easy or single answer for that one. I’m going to say “it depends”, kind of a wishy-washy response, then ask you what you think about it all. I mean, is it worth trying to bring those folks into the fray, or just forgetting about them and sticking to the community in general, maybe every once in awhile causing an itch in someone not really into the blogging game and garnering a momentary interest in what you have to say before going back to whatever they deem more important?

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31 Comments »

Mitch:

great post. I’ve been fretting about how the “lower-barrier-to-entry” social media platforms (Twitter/Facebook) have reduced the participation on blogs–but this post gives me hope–put your stuff out there, focus on its quality–the word will get out.

July 28th, 2011 | 9:56 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Definitely Phil. It just seems to have its own little group to get out to. For all the issues I seem to have locally, I have a nice thriving online group of folks I can interact with often. Who knows, maybe that’s the real power of doing online webinars and such.

July 28th, 2011 | 3:20 PM

I have wrote as well about the real reasons behind comments, and why people leave them in first place. For most, it’s simply the will of leaving a link back to their affairs. Sometimes it’s genuine interest, other times a simple “thank you” for being mentioned, as you suggest (not that it works much, ok). Personally I think I would at least reply on Twitter or leave the comment, but it’s just me of course. I think it’d be kind of rude not to take any action at all, I know I wouldn’t like it and I can imagine how it makes you feel.
And in social media, well, influence is hard to get, and even when you get it, you find out it doesn’t matter much in most situations. My take.

July 28th, 2011 | 10:14 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Gabriele, I agree with you on the first point, not so much on the second. Every time I’ve learned that someone has written about me, I’ve commented and thanked those people; luckily so far, no one has said nasty stuff about me. lol

On the second part, though I think a little influence online helps a great deal, if you know what to do with it. Some people have learned what to do with it and I applaud those folks. Others kind of flounder and wonder why they’re not more successful; I think I’m in the category. There seems to be enough people that have learned how to make a living online, even if they’re not rich, and that’s not such a bad thing from where I sit; that wouldn’t depress me one bit.

July 28th, 2011 | 3:27 PM

Combination isn’t easy and you gave the answer, it depends. In the past I have tried to combine online and offline presence and the results were not impressive, however it was about blog. Right now I am trying to do it for my new project and I think the system there is working better.

July 28th, 2011 | 9:12 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, I guess that’s the thing; I need to think of a new project that could possibly tie both groups together and generate income at the same time; decisions, decisions…

July 28th, 2011 | 11:33 PM
Carl:

You will never know before you try, sometimes it is out of logic. Just to clear things a bit more, offline promotion failed for matchmaking website which was surprise for me.

July 31st, 2011 | 1:52 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, those matchmaking websites seem like a tough push across the board. There’s only a couple of successful ones that I know of and I think that’s because they advertise on TV.

July 31st, 2011 | 9:28 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

As Gabriele noted, I think most bloggers comment on other blogs in order to get backlinks to their own blogs. It is, without doubt, the primary reason I read so many blogs and commented on them for several years.

While I tried to leave a comment that I thought added to the conversation or which brought up an alternative viewpoint, most of the time I would not have read the blog post in the first place, nor would I have commented, if I didn’t want a link back to what I wrote.

Although I no longer make the rounds of several dozen blogs every day, I still consider getting a backlink from a good blog to be a good thing. Right now, I’m noticing that CommentLuv is linking to the blog post I wrote yesterday. I thought about unchecking the box, but decided not to. That’s in my own self-interest and I freely acknowledge it.

These days, however, my focus is not on blogging and commenting. Now, I only comment if I think my words will add to the conversation. I hope they will this time.

I just don’t get the concept of “influence.” What is it? What’s in it for me?

I don’t feel any need nor desire to have influence. What I really want is to have the ability to present my thoughts as clearly as I can and then persuade a small minority of my readers who agree with me to purchase the products I recommend. That, in a nutshell, is the main reason I write on the web.

Sometimes, on the other hand, I write just because I’m a writer and I have to put the words down. If I didn’t have blogs and websites, I’d write in a notebook, just for myself. It is a real reason for some of the things I write, but it trails in importance to earning a living.

So, the whole “influence” thing just eludes me. I’m not a guru. I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who studies a lot, shares what I learn, and hope it helps someone along the way. And, as I already said, I want some of the people who read my scribblings to buy something. The more, the better. (grin)

I don’t keep up with all the RSS feeds and email subscriptions. I spot check them and read what most applies to my interests at the moment. It is entirely possible that someone has written about me on a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere and I never saw it. Not that so many people write about me or mention me, but because I’m too busy doing other things to keep up with all of it.

Another important factor, in my case, is that I’ve gone from working 14-16 hours a day to less than 8. Some days, I don’t work at all. After last year’s experiences, friends and family are more important than totally immersing myself in working. So, since I’ve basically cut my work day in half, I can’t do all the things I used to do, so I have to be more focused on tasks that are central to running my business. Reading a lot of blogs and commenting on them is not part of the central focus these days.

When I see that someone has mentioned me, I do my best to respond. I enjoy thanking people for linking to my sites or retweeting something.

As much as I like you and your blog, I no longer read it every day. At the moment, there are 11 unread posts in my RSS reader. I’ll get to them when I can, but now I do it irregularly, where I used to read it every day. That doesn’t mean I like it less or you’ve loss any “influence” on my behavior. It’s just a reflection of how my priorities have changed over the last couple of years.

Of the several dozen blogs I once read every day, I only subscribe to about a dozen now. Yours is one of them.

I was raised to say please and thank you, to write “bread and butter” notes to thank people when they invited me to eat with them, and to write thank you letters and cards when someone sent me a gift or did business with me. I still try to thank people for gifts and I send a snail mail card to clients to thank them for working with me. However, I can’t remember the last time I sent a simple “bread and butter” note to thank someone for a delicious meal and good company. It’s something I’m going to start doing, again.

It boils down to our personal concept of manners and how we show gratitude.

I know some people who go out of their way to thank people and I know some people who never make the effort. I’d rather be in the former group.

As to your question, I think it’s important to let people know that they are welcome to respond and comment on what we write, but I think it’s going to be a frustrating experience if we expect most people to do so.

In every group I’ve been involved with, less than 10% take an active roll in leadership and communications. The others may be as invested and interested, but they don’t speak up nor participate in any visible way. I think that ratio (or something close to it) applies to readers of what we write, too.

The great majority will read, but never comment. It doesn’t mean they’re not interested or even that they aren’t thankful. It just means that it isn’t a priority for them to respond. And, of course, there is the percentage of the readers who don’t feel thankful when they are mentioned. They don’t consider that we could just as well have chosen to write about something else or not mention them.

Another small percentage don’t want to be noticed. They don’t like it when someone talks or writes about them. They want to fly under the radar and avoid the spotlight. They actually resent it when they are mentioned.

Finally, there have been times when people have trolled to try to lure me to respond. I never take that bait. Those folks aren’t worth my time and energy. Unless their actions rise to the level of being malicious and harmful to me and my business, I just ignore them. I don’t know if that really applies to what you were saying, but it is an instance when I deliberately choose not to respond.

At least that’s the way I see it.

As usual, I’ve rambled on long enough — and then some. (grin)

Act on your dream!

JD

July 29th, 2011 | 1:11 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hi John,

Once again a masterful comment; you’re the champ! lol

Okay, let’s talk about this thing called “influence” quickly. I hate to tell you this but you get it, and before you took sick it was something you were kind of trying to do. You were trying to pull your offline community together and build up their prominence in business in some fashion where you live. Murphy, if I remember it well. As soon as you undertook that you were working on spreading your influence, maybe not for your own good per se but for the common good. Higher influence and you’d have been way more successful at it, yet you were building influence. So, you got the concept; you kind of chose not to see it but you knew what you were doing.

Anyway, that’s influence. The more you have the more you can do, whether for yourself or others. It becomes easier and more fulfilling, and of course it comes with responsibility, whether one chooses to be responsible or not.

As to the rest, you’re right again; in most organizations few people actually participate in the process, preferring to gripe from a distance. I think that’s why you end up with certain people that will look towards a group of followers that are giving them what they want and start to only cater to that group. One can be successful that way, and a lot of internet marketers actually try to teach us that. It’s something I started thinking about here; trying to cull my offline local folks into participating online and on my blogs or other venues is pretty much a waste of time, so I’m not going to concentrate on that anymore. I will still work on increasing influence, but in other ways.

Heck, it might be time for another video. 🙂

July 29th, 2011 | 2:18 AM
John Dilbeck:

First, let me say that I look forward to another video.

Second, and to the point, maybe it’s just semantics, but I really don’t understand influence as you use the term. Sometimes my mind just doesn’t click the way others do.

I’ve spent a few minutes reading the dictionary definition, looked at the thesaurus, and remain confused.

It seems (to me) that influence is a kind of power or dominance over another, and I’m not interested in gaining that. To me, that seems like a form or manipulation.

My main goal, these days, is to rebuild what I started and to do more in promoting a few, select, local business owners. You’re right; it’s Murphy, NC.

I want to help them spread the word about what they do and what they offer. I enjoy recommending quality business owners. It also pays pretty well.

I don’t think of that as building influence, or trying to dominate anyone to accede to my desires. I think of it as playing my part in helping them to be found and to accelerate the word of mouth referrals they get. I’m not trying to have any power to force someone to think or act differently, I just want to play my part in helping them become aware of the choices that have been good for me, my family, and my friends over the years.

So, maybe we’re saying the same thing and I’m just stuck on the semantic differences.

If what I’m doing helps persuade people to try what I recommend, I’m all for it.

If what I’m doing causes anyone to do something they don’t want to do or manipulates them into doing something that isn’t best for them, then I want no part of it.

I’m going to think more about this. Maybe I’ll be able to grok it, eventually. 🙂

July 29th, 2011 | 4:00 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

John, the problem is this concept of influence being a negative thing. Hitler’s influence was a bad thing; would you say the same about Jesus Christ? If I have influence I can choose to manifest it in different ways. I can ask people to boycott a company because I don’t like them; that’s bad. Or I can ask people to donate to a cause to help feed children around the world; that’s a good thing. However, the main point is that the more influence you have, the more you can generate in either direction.

Truthfully, I relate influence to the main topic of my business blog, that being leadership. Leaders have influence; some use it for good, some use it for bad. Overall, there’s nothing wrong with influence, and there’s nothing wrong with influence if one happens to end up monetarily successful with it. Don’t you think Oprah has done a lot of good with her money and influence? For that matter what about Bill Gates and his foundation? Could you or I have ever raised the kind of money those folks have done as we are now? Not on your life.

Are you maybe seeing it a little differently now?

July 29th, 2011 | 10:16 AM
John Dilbeck:

Hi, Mitch.

Yes, I’m seeing it differently. I can see how influence can be useful and positive, but I’ve never recognized that connotation, before. I don’t totally agree with you, but I disagree less. 😉

I might disagree with some of your examples, but that would not be germane to the discussion.

JD

July 31st, 2011 | 5:16 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Guess I’ll take what I can get. lol

July 31st, 2011 | 5:27 PM

All I can say is a comment/ thank you was in order from all of them…it’s only polite 🙂

Doesn’t matter if they usually participate in blogs or not!

July 29th, 2011 | 10:42 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

You’d think so Carolee but obviously it just doesn’t work that way. Oh well…

July 29th, 2011 | 10:52 AM
Val:

Mitch, when I decided to take my artwork down from one of the online art sites, I invited the people there who were fans of my work, to visit my blog instead and that they should feel free to comment on any post there. One of the replies I had – on the art site itself – was from a person who said that she didn’t feel comfortable commenting on a site she didn’t know. And therein, I think, lies part of the problem: every site, including twitter, facebook, and our blogs, has its own users and many of them are loathe to step outside their perceived areas of safety, even though really it’s just a few clicks of the mouse away! They don’t even have to leave their seats to go to the ‘new’ site!

There are also the perceptions that John Dilbeck mentions above, of how various people respond to seeing their names mentioned. Myself, if someone mentions my name in a post – providing I’ve actually seen the post (and providing it’s a pleasant mention rather than a negative one) I will always say thank you in that person’s comments. Always. But then again, in the past when I was more sensitive – hypersensitive, really, to people mentioning me, I’d often get upset if I got a mention in a blog. I’ve changed – maybe some of those people need to change to, but the problem is how to change them? And the answer is, really, you can’t: only they can change themselves and they need to want to change.

People who don’t blog… yeah, well, I know about that. People who don’t blog find blogging a very strange behaviour! (Some probably think of it as some kind of aberration, lol!)

I hope you find your answer, Mitch. I really do. And for what it’s worth – this is a very good post.

July 29th, 2011 | 9:11 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Val. You know, I think I kind of wrote the post to get it into my head that when one blogs, they really blog for other bloggers and not the folks who don’t blog and don’t get blogging. Sometimes those people may find you through a search engine, but in general they’re not looking for blogs but information in general.

That I get. Still, one hopes that at times when you go out of your way to do something a bit special that people might at least say something here and there. As a for instance, take a look at this special post I wrote on my business blog back in 2008, look briefly because it’s super long, then look at how few comments it got. All the people mentioned on this particular post got an email from me thanking them and asking them to check out the post, so they all knew they were on it: http://www.ttmitchellconsulting.com/Mitchblog/mitchs-list-a-very-long-post/

July 30th, 2011 | 1:02 AM
Val:

Yeah, that’s extraordinary, Mitch, that so few commented. People are odd, aren’t they!

July 30th, 2011 | 8:45 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I think so Val. However, after all this time it just seems that’s how things are.

July 30th, 2011 | 10:28 PM

Hi Mitch. You know, i’ve got a friend who was asking me, why I do blogging, he didn’t see any benefits from it. but it looks like someone’s got addicted to it too now. LOL!

August 2nd, 2011 | 12:34 AM

I have found that people will comment in facebook instead of blog if a blog post is shared in facebook. I think it has something to do with thing that they feel that a blog is not their own property and they like to comment on their own platform like Facebook.

Your little experiment really shows that you have to interact people like they like and not force them to interact they way you like. Really good example how people are social in the net this was.

August 4th, 2011 | 4:57 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Mary, it’s just funny how people think overall. Actually, I’m not necessarily sure they share more on Facebook either but that’s an experiment I’m not willing to try.

August 4th, 2011 | 9:55 PM

Hey Mitch, on your first point about non bloggers not contributing to a post I think that all depends on the post itself. Whilst the majority of people who comment on Wassupblog are either bloggers or people trying to get a link to their sites there are certain posts on a couple of my other blogs that have heaps of comments whose owners have nothing to do with the Internet.

As to the second point I think it’s any effort to get these people to join in is never wasted.

August 12th, 2011 | 5:51 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

It’s an interesting thought Sire. If folks have nothing to do with the internet how are they finding your posts?

As to the other, I’m thinking about it more along the 80/20 principle. You go for your core audience, which are those people you know actually care about what you do, and hope that maybe someone new who’s just passing by stops long enough to check you out and join in the fun.

August 12th, 2011 | 11:02 AM

I meant that they don’t own blogs or websites not that they don’t use the Internet 😀

August 12th, 2011 | 10:47 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Ah, but see how language can be so imprecise. lol Still, same question; how are they finding you, especially since you don’t do SEO, if they’re not used to reading blogs?

August 13th, 2011 | 11:09 AM

Mitch,

I will answer your question to Sire. People find my blog by searching for real estate investing information. They aren’t necessarily looking for blogs or bouncing from blog to blog.

Just because they are not bloggers does not mean they won’t be looking for the type of information my blog provides.

I suspect one reason I do not get a lot of comments is for the very reason you mention. Most people who come to my blog are not bloggers and are not used to commenting.

Me I have been active on bulletin boards and e-mail lists for years before I ever created a blog so it is natural for me to comment.

August 21st, 2011 | 12:58 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Same here Ned. I played in the old dial-up bulletin board system and participated on Usenet as well for awhile until it was overrun with spammers and lots of hate speech. Blog commenting was just an extension of that. Still, it does highlight my main point, which is that if people aren’t used to it then they’re just not going to comment.

August 21st, 2011 | 3:04 PM

Hi Mitch, great question.

I get the majority of my comments from people like you, and I accept that totally. The reason being is we understand about the etiquette of returning the compliment of gracing a page with a quality comment. I am not dismayed about the lack of interest from other people – I know they read it and like it, as they tell me, but they don’t comment.

Bottom line, we need to accept that this is just the way commenting works. Unless there is some incentive to comment, people won’t. We have an incentive as we want comments on our own blogs, that’s the quid pro quo, regular folks don’t. I don’t think it’s a big deal, we just need to realise that if we want good comments the majority will come from those with a vested interest of some sort.

September 6th, 2011 | 6:25 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for your comment Roz. I have gotten used to it, but I still find it incredible when someone will say something nice about a post through either email or Twitter yet not write anything on the blog. I do it for certain types of blogs, but in general I will leave my comments. But as you said, I’m a blogger, and it’s just part of what we do.

September 6th, 2011 | 7:14 PM