I have several bird feeders outside my window. My cats pass much of their day sprawled across my desk watching the birds feed. The window is covered with paw prints. I have a hummingbird feeder for the Anna’s hummers that pass through on their migration north and south, as well as the rare rufous hummingbirds which hang around year round. I have tiny seeds for the small birds, wrens, finches, chickadees, junkos, and sparrows, and larger black oil sunflower seeds and other goodies in another feeder for the spotted towhees, nuthatches, and northern flickers. On a fence, I have mounted a wooden box with a lid filled with dried corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds for the squirrels and chipmunks to dig into with glee.
Each feeder is designed to service specific birds. A flat screen feeder that attaches to my office window allows ground feeders to land and feed. The hanging feeders have branch-like posts for the birds to land on and pull seeds from the holes in the side of the feeder. For small birds, I keep some feeders stuffed with thistle and niger, restrained with a smaller hole through which they can insert their beaks like breaking into a tree crevice or nut and extracting the seeds.
One spring day I was looking out past the cat in the window at all the birds that zoom in and out of the various feeders and thought of how my blog is like a bird feeder – a multi-seed bird feeder that attracts birds of all kinds.
I thought about the different types of seeds, or content, I serve up to the birds that flock to my blog. Is it appropriate to their specific needs? Do they need to consume it differently than other readers? Am I serving them the food on my blog in the best way possible to meet their needs?
Some people learn visually, others by reading the words. Some learn audibly. And most people learn best by experiential trial and error. I offer most of my content with words, though technical articles have instructional graphics to accompany them, but maybe it’s time to add some audio. I start thinking about how I serve my content a little differently as I think of my blog as a bird feeder.
I took the metaphor even farther and thought about all the seeds I leave around the web as breadcrumbs which lead to my bird feeder. We travel a lot and when we stop for an extended time period, I put out my feeders. It takes a while for the birds to find them, so I throw out seed on the ground to invite them into the area. In time, they spot the bird feeders and slip the lures and go right for the full dining experience. We do the same with our social networking on the web.
Every time you comment on a blog, each tweet you twitter, each site you recommend, these all say something about you and send a message to those watching. If you leave a good breadcrumb by saying something witty, profound, or at least educational, the odds are you’ve left a good impression, possibly one worth following to your bird feeder.
There are a lot of ways this metaphor could go, but I’ll leave it up to you. If your blog is a bird feeder, what type of seeds are you offering, and how are you luring the birds to your blog?