What Passes For Good Information Might Not Be
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 21, 2014
By now those of you who are using WordPress as your blogging platform of choice know that there’s an update, 3.9. It’s definitely changed some things, including overriding some of my settings for how I have my admin area colorized, but I’m going to let that go… for now…
Instead, I want to key on something you might not have noticed yet. If you look at the comment section of your admin area, underneath the names of people who comment on your blog you’ll now see this number. It shows how many times someone has commented on your blog; cool eh?
I thought that this would be cool to use because maybe I’d want to write a post showing how many people have commented often and how often they’ve done so. Then I looked deeper at it.
As an example I’m showing a strip of my admin panel (so, my colors are funky lol) highlighting our friend Peter Pellicia when he was calling himself Sire. You’ll notice that had made 3 separate comments; you’ll also notice that the number of approved comments WordPress is showing aren’t the same. Heck, they’re all drastically different.
I looked at a bunch of comments from Pete just to see if I could find a pattern. Turns out that answer is no. It’s not based on link, topic, email address, name… You can look at it yourself; there’s nothing defining what it’s looking at.
Thus, I’m forced to conclude that, even though it initially seemed cool, it’s really worthless information. There’s nothing legitimate I can do with it, and if you look at your information, at some point you might realize the same thing.
Sometimes that’s just how it goes. Some of us hold onto certain numbers as if they’re the Holy Grail while others look at those numbers and scoff. Let’s see… Klout score, page rank, Alexa rank, Compete rank, number of followers on Twitter, number of friends on Facebook… over and over we see numbers that are supposed to mean something that probably mean less than what we think. Some are good as a visceral reference (for instance, I tend to use Alexa as a broad based number to determine how well a website’s traffic might be, realizing that a site in the 100,000’s is working better than a site in the 3 millions while recognizing that a site in the 3 millions might be making more money if it’s targeted to its audience properly), but not much else.
For that matter, even the number of blog comments might not tell you what’s going on with your blog. The difference between a blog post with 300 comments and a blog post with 2 might be the popularity of the writer and not the content. If Sergey Brin writes a blog post and takes comments, how many people do you think will comment hoping that either he’ll see it and want to hire them to work for Google (ain’t happening kids lol) as opposed to commenting on this blog hoping I can help make them famous (that’s not happening either… for now…)?
Even Google Analytics, for all the press and publicity we’ve all given it, can’t really help us out. Most of the data about keywords is hidden in a collective area, so we don’t even know why or how people are finding us via search engines. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the data they’re giving us really means in the long run; that’s not helpful is it?
Bummer right? If there are so many reports and such that we can’t trust, what can we trust to help us figure things out?
First, you know what your engagement is like, so trust your instincts. I love using Adrienne Smith as an example of someone who truly gets the engagement piece. Her blog posts always get a lot of comments, and not nickel and dime stuff. She puts things on Facebook and Google Plus and you see a lot of people responding to it, even if it’s just questions like what color is your dog (I don’t think that’s specifically one she’s asked but… lol).
Me? Most of the things I put on Google Plus are ignored, and sometimes I wish more of the stuff I share on Facebook was. lol Still, I know where I stand and have an opportunity to figure out what I need to do to improve. I don’t need any of the rankings to tell me what’s going on; I can see which posts people are commenting on and I know which of my tweets get shared on Twitter.
If you didn’t sit back and look at the numbers, are you comfortable trusting your own instincts to know where you stand on social media? For that matter, do you trust your instincts to help you get through life? Let me know; I’m interested in this topic and hope you are also.