In my last post here I said with feed counts, size isn’t everything. What I was saying is it is better to have a smaller, more engaged audience, than a larger and disinterested subscriber base.
How do you know if you have an engaged audience?
Checking for Signs of Life in Your Audience
When you are talking to someone in real life, how do you know they are interested in what you are saying?
Many of the signals that we have an interested audience in real life are non-verbal:
- Eye contact
- Leaning towards you rather than away
The online equivalent of passive signals of interest are things like page views, click-throughs, and other metrics that show up in your analytics package.
These small signals on their own are quite a potent sign of interest. I was talking to a guy the other day who was looking at a blog with a huge number of subscribers (we are talking massive), but when a new post was published the page count hardly moved at all. Now, obviously, when you publish full feeds the percentage of readers that view online will be fewer than your total subscriber count but you do expect some page views. At the very least from interlinking your posts.
A lack of page views when you publish new articles is a sign your audience is not engaged.
Generating Feedback … or Not
As in real life, again, if you are having good, lively conversation then you would hope for a reaction. This could range from a muttered “uh-huh”, through to more expressive feedback like “wow! really?”.
Online our feedback will be in the form of:
- Feedback form submissions
- Send to Friend
- Competition Entries
Interactions are your best sign your audience is engaged. Encourage them!
What about subscriptions? Well you could say they are signs of engagement, and yes they are probably one of your most hoped for conversions, but they only hint at a snapshot in time, not ongoing engagement.
The key is to look for trends over time. Is your audience growing along with a growing interaction, or are interactions decreasing while your audience grows?
Do not dispair right away if you don’t get many comments, etc. It could be your readers just don’t know you want them to interact with you. Start putting out invitations for feedback, ask for comments, put up a voting form.
Are your readers holding up the other side of the conversation? How do you encourage more interaction? Share in the comments …