In the past few years the concept of “speed dating” has taken off. The idea is that a dozen women are assembled in a hotel room, each sitting at a separate table. Several dozen men are then paraded in front of these women. Each man gets three minutes with each woman and by the end of the evening the women have to choose one man who they will date. So just how can these women select an appropriate date if all they get is three minutes with a chap? That’s an interesting conundrum which psychologists have tried to work out. In one study they looked at the conversation that took place between the men and women. The psychologists discovered an interesting fact: the women always selected the men who asked questions, rather than provided answers. In fact, the most popular men were those who never revealed much about themselves at all. They spent almost all their three minutes talking about the woman. In other words, the women selected the men who demonstrated clearly they were interested in the woman they were speaking to. The men who spent the three minutes talking about themselves never got a look in. So, what does this tell us about blogging? It suggests that listening to your audience is more important than speaking at them through the medium of your blog. This is a point taken up by The Blog Herald. You can see blog listening in action at the BBC News site. This site uses two measurement tools which help form editorial policy. There’s a list of “most read” stories and a list of “most emailed” stories. Clearly this helps the BBC understand more about its readers – the data helps them listen to the readers and therefore assists in building a web site that is responsive to listener needs and requirements. So what do you do to listen to your web site or blog readers? How much do you know what they want you to write about? Here, I use several methods – data on which postings get most readers, the comments and – importantly – actually going out and meeting my readers and asking them what they like. I know as a former journalist that the most important aspect of forming editorial policy was actually meeting readers. So how often do you meet your blog readers and listen to what they say?
If you are a “big change” business, then you are like my garden fence. Leaving it unpainted for so long has created much more work, at a higher cost, than if it had been tended to every year. Ignoring reviews of your online activity for long periods also means you make more work for yourself and raise your costs.