Political bloggers are a happy bunch of people. At long last the Internet gives them a means of venting their spleen. Beforehand, they could only moan to their mates down the pub. Now, thanks to blogging software, they can get their ideas to a wider audience. Some, like Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale’s Diary and Business & Politics have become widely read and influential. Others are just the rants of the disaffected.
New research has discovered what happens to political bloggers though. The study from the University of Wisconsin shows that political bloggers initially start their online writings because they have “something to say” and a passion to get off their chest their political viewpoint. Importantly, though, that all changes once they get a readership.
The research shows that the motivation for political bloggers is altered by the presence of an audience. The bloggers who get an audience begin to feel the impact they are making in terms of how that audience reacts. The result is that the bloggers start writing for the audience instead of writing for themselves. And once they do that, it seems, they get a bigger audience, providing a positive feedback loop that encourages them to blog even more.
This study has important implications for business. Most business bloggers give up in less than a month. They start a blog, write a few posts and then simply fade away. They have said what they have come to say, they’ve got off their chest their important stuff and then the motivation simply dries up. What the study on political bloggers shows is that your motivation will change once you get an audience. Suddenly you want to write for them, rather than just write for your business – or because some SEO expert or blogging consultant has told you that writing a blog is a good idea.
Take a look at the world’s most successful blogs; all of them are “old”. They are well established, have lasted for several years and keep going, day in, day out. Many of these blogs are businesses in their own right. According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere almost one in five successful bloggers now describe themselves as “professional” bloggers – earning their income from blogging. And when you look at these people, such as ProBlogger or MarketingPilgrim you can see that what they do is write for their audience, not themselves.
The Wisconsin study of political bloggers reveals why that works. It shows that it changes your motivation. Once you write for an audience you want to continue writing for them. When you are writing for yourself, you give up.
So, if you start a blog and make sure you get an audience – do whatever it takes – you will find that your desire to write will increase. You will be more motivated to continue with your blog, you will become more audience or reader focused and you will be spurred on to do even more blogging. But importantly you will no longer be writing about your business, you will be providing material that is for your audience. That will then raise you up the ladder of business blogs, perhaps even getting into that Top 100 league table.
Getting an audience for your business blog will clearly change the way you think and will alter your motivation. You will become much more reader-centric and much less self-obsessed. And as anyone who knows anything about business will tell you, that’s fundamental. So to achieve that, persevering with blogging is a good start because it will alter your thinking – once you get your audience.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+