Figuring out your Blogging goals and target audience?

We recently initiated “small talk” and questioned 60+ top Bloggers via Twitter, regarding their short-term / long-term Blogging goals and target audience. We were happy to receive a lot of interesting feedback. We would like to mention that It wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of @B2Community where we got a head start with “The 40 Most approachable social media A-listers on Twitter”, where about 50% of the listed responded to our questions! Thanks to all who actually took the time out of their day to respond, with special thanks going to @PamMktgNut for her inspirational Blog post where we got the quote “People love to answer simple questions in social media” and special thanks to @dgupta5150 for the quote “Relationships are the new currency in the marketing world”. Our goals are obvious, build relations with great Bloggers, develop effective/efficient goals and target audience, practice writing and conducting research. We learned several great lessons while putting this Blog post together:

Lessons learned when conducting research

Your mother always told you, never learn on your own mistakes! It would be wise to take notice of our hardships in putting this Blog post together, and avoid making similar mistakes in your journey of shaping your Blog.

  1. It was NOT easy to question 60+ Twitter users without flooding our Twitter time-line and looking like Spammers, but with a couple of tips from friendly twitter followers we were able to maximize our response rate, and minimize unfollows by doing the following:
    • Before initiating contact we read several Blog posts from the soon to be contacted Twitter user.
    • Made a comment or two about specific Blog posts and/or re-tweeted quotes from their posts. This would ensure that you are still tweeting useful content to your Twitter followers
    • Asked our question preferably during hours the user was most likely to still be awake:
      “I’m doing research for a Blog post. was curious what are your short/long-term Blogging goals & target audience?”

    • After asking several questions, I would post 3 content-rich tweets to “cleanse” our Twitter time-line and ensure nobody would make the mistake of assuming we were spammers / robot!
  2. We learned conducting any kind of social media research requires a lot more than 60 test subjects in the sample group. Not everybody will respond to your questions, depending on the approach. Also not everybody will respond with useful feedback. In order to get a variety of content our hypothesis is that 500+ test subjects would have been enough for our research to have been “more complete”.
  3. The method of questioning was very important, we used Twitter, but we bet Emails would have probably gave us more content per respondent. Thus requiring less test subjects

Our favorite responses

Without any more delays or “fluff” here are our picks from all the responses we received:

  • Short-term Blogging goals: “Provide quality content”, “Gain exposure”, “Self-expression”, “Build”
  • Long-term Blogging goals: “Build like-minded online community”, “Branding”, “Nurture prospects”, “Thought leadership”, “Become a resource”
  • Blogging Target Audience: “Let content define audience”, “Google is my target audience, a lot of traffic comes from people searching for content I write about”, “Most people don’t even know what a Blog is”, “Audience is determined by topics”

Long-term goals

Short-term goal responses were pretty obvious, but the long-term goal responses were a bit more interesting. “Build like-minded online community” a response given by coretrainingsolutions.net told us that we should focus on a specific niche/subject. @Jchernov VP of Content Marketing for Eloqua and Co-chair of WOMMA stated that “nurturing prospects” should be one of our long-term Blogging goals. That definitely makes a lot of sense, if you want to see some return on investment from your Blog. Our opinion is nurturing your prospects is probably one of the most important Blogging goals you can have. Being active on Facebook, Twitter, and writing a Blog is taking steps in the right direction. Tons of daily visitors at your Blog, thousands of Twitter followers and re-tweets, likes and comments on your Facebook wall those are all just KPI’s (Key performance indicators) meaning they let you know you are going in the right direction, but there is no guaranteed evidence suggesting you will gain profit from any of this. Your Blog should “nurture” your prospects, and get them ready to buy your products/services. @MargieClayman stated “Becoming a resource” was her long-term Blogging goal, with 35,000+ tweets in her time-line at the time of this writing, she couldn’t be more on point. If you are a resource your Blog readers will become your advocates, refer you to others and assist your growth efforts!

Blogging target audience

The first 2 questions were fairly easy to figure out, but the 3rd question “whats your Blogging target audience?” made things a bit more complicated. Starting from a response written by HubSpot Partner @dgupta5150 of MarketingByDeepak.com

“Im going to take it down later this year (the Blog). Most people don’t even know what a blog is”

This response was very bold. After going through all the respondents Klout scores, Twitter followers, and RSS Blog subscription numbers. We realized that many of the top Twitter users who responded had few RSS subscribers when compared to Twitter followers, and most had declining Blog traffic. SocialMediaExplorer.com which we want to give a big shout out to, is one of our favorite socialmedia Blogs / resources had 2,716 RSS subscribers (which is way more than us, we’re somewhere around 0), the Blog author @jasonFalls with 42,591 Twitter followers had only 1 out of 20 twitter followers subscribing to his RSS feed. Growmap.com our favorite local marketing Blog only had 330 subscribers while on twitter @growmap had 21,200 Twitter followers. Its no secret that RSS success = “not so much” (in Borat accent). But after conducting in-depth traffic analysis via compete.com, we learned that 19 of the 27 Blogs in our research had declining traffic. The Blogs who’s traffic rose, were mostly launched less than a year ago. Here are some good questions to ask ourselves: Is our research sample size too small or biased? Is there more interaction going off the Blog? If Blog RSS subscription is so “unsuccessful” should we switch platforms? Google Plus? Facebook? Tumblr? Does your target audience actually read Blogs? On our journey to figuring out our target audience we first need to learn where they actually hang out. Not everybody reads Blogs, but there are over 700 million active users on Facebook!

Besides @dgupta5150′s bold response that took us a little off topic, we liked 3 other responses: “Audience is determined by topics.” via @Tompick from webbiquity.com, “Google is my target audience, a lot of traffic comes from people searching for content I write about.” via @Britopian works at Edelman Digital and writes Blog at Britopian.com, “Let content define audience.” via @Glengilmore who has over 100,000 Twitter followers. These 3 responses all appear to be stating pretty much the same thing: content first, audience second. I guess you better write content that attracts an audience that you wish to attract. What kind of audience did we attract with this Blog post, lets find out!?

What were you searching for when you read this Blog post?

Still need more inspiration? Check out the full list of responses below, there are definitely some golden nuggets of wisdom. Thank you all!

@corepro http://Coretrainingsolutions.net (Klout score: 33 | 2829 Twitter followers)

“Short term, provide quality content. Long term build like minded online comunity.”

@victorAntonio http://VictorAntonio.com (Klout score: 42 | 10,929 Twitter followers)

“Purely exposure – moving from a B2C crowd to a B2B crowd over the next year.”

@funnelholic http://Funnelholic.com (Klout score: 62 | 4,049 Twitter followers)

“Goal: make a difference Target audience: sales, marketing, and business leaders”

@EyesOnSales http://Eyesonsales.com (Klout score: 52 | 2,805 Twitter followers)

“Short and long term goals are the same, bring valuable tips/advice to those in the B2B sales industry”

@DanielSharkov http://reviewzntips.blogspot.com (Klout score: 68 | 38,320 Twitter followers)

“As for target audience – bloggers, newbie bloggers to be more specific, writers and social media enthusiasts. Well my main purposes are two – to keep articles’ quality at it’s highest and to keep increasing traffic numbers and quality.”

@Pagelever http://Pagelever.com (Klout score: 49 | 1,788 Twitter followers)

“Target Audience: Facebook marketers | Goal: Write blog posts that make them more effective. About as far as we’ve gotten :-)”

@dgupta5150 http://MarketingByDeepak.com (Klout score: 56 | 38,825 Twitter followers)

“I’m going to take it down later this year. Most ppl don’t even know what a blog is”

@NealSchaffer http://windmillnetworking.com/blog/ (Klout score: 74 | 43,390 Twitter followers)

“Already have an answer for you: Why I Blog and Why Your Business Should Too http://wind.mn/pUQ8tC

@ChrisAbraham http://Chrisabraham.com (Klout score: 66 | 38,904 Twitter Followers)

“On CA, it is just general expression. on MC it is branding. I write about cars, politics, health, blogging, etc on my blog. But personal blogging allows people to know you so it is worthwhile to do.”

@JasonYormark http://Jasonyormark.com (Klout score: 70 | 70,380 Twitter Followers)

“Build reach/audience, establish myself as an influencer, create consultant opps. Target audience is biz owners & marketing pros”

@JFouts (Klout score: 63 | 12,643 Twitter Followers)

“It’s mainly directed to entrepreneurs, small biz, non profits. Goal is coaching existing and new clients”

@Simasays http://Simasays.com (Klout score: 72 | 17,151 Twitter Followers)

“I’ve been thinking about that myself lately – been sidelined with other serious projects but hope to get back to it asap!”

@Uncollege http://Uncollege.org (Klout score: 50 | 842 Twitter Followers)

“UnCollege is more than a blog. We have some really awesome stuff in the works including a wiki. Stay tuned!”

@PublicityHound http://PublicityHound.com (Klout score: 64 | 20,607 Twitter Followers)

“Long-term goals w/my blog: To establish credibility & expertise and make money.”

@TomPick http://webbiquity.com (Klout score: 61 | 5,520 Twitter Followers)

“My top goal is just to keep up! Blogging, over time, expands name recognition and credibility. Audience is determined by topics.”

@Jchernov http://blog.eloqua.com (Klout score: 67 | 7,082 Twitter Followers)

“We see our blog as a way to get marketers to discover Eloqua & “lightweight” nurturing for prospects.”

@Frank_strong http://swordandthescript.com (Klout score: 51 | 2,633 Twitter FOllowers)

“Hmmm…don’t really have goals. I just write because I like to and when I think I’ve got something to say or share.”

@Britopian http://Britopian.com (Klout score: 74 | 37,709 Twitter Followers)

“Google is my target audience … lol. most of my traffic comes from people searching for content i write about.”

@PointGM http://Pointglobalmarketing.com (Klout score: 42 | 214 Twitter Followers)

“Our business overall targets small/medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. We’d really like to see Jamaicans businesses on a whole take a more holistic and worldly approach to marketing.”

@LisaPetrilli http://lisapetrilli.com (Klout score: 72 | 8,746 Twitter Followers)

“I blog for people looking to be visionary leaders at work and in life”

@PamMktgNut http://pammarketingnut.com (Klout score: 79 | 59,782 Twitter Followers)

“Build brand, community, thought leadership. audience = do it yourselfers, small biz owners, SMB smm mgrs & decision makers, CXOs, and thought leaders.”

@BrennerMichael http://b2bmarketinginsider.com (Klout score: 73 | 4,808 Twitter Followers)

“All explained here in 1 of my first posts: Why I blog: http://bit.ly/qtxEkN

@MargieClayman http://margieclayman.com (Klout score: 63 | 3,928 Twitter Followers)

“My long term goal is for my blog to become a resource for business people who are moving into online marketing :) My short-term goal is just to keep building building building!”

@JasonFalls http://socialmediaexplorer.com (Klout score: 74 | 42,591 Twitter FOllowers)

“Generally – thought leadership for digital marketing, especially social. Marketers, PR types, business owners.”

@GlenGilmore http://socialmediavoice.com (Klout score: 73 | 102,072 Twitter Followers)

“Simple short/long-term blog goal: share good content & let content define audience & feedback content.”

@GrowMap http://GrowMap.com (Klout score: 73 | 21,200 Twitter Followers)

“I’d love to publish more posts about local #smallbusiness marketing or how they can use social media more effectively”

16 Responses to Figuring out your Blogging goals and target audience?

  1. nealschaffer says:

    Great post – and appreciate the mention! Honored to be with so many other bloggers that I respect for their great content and sociable presence.

  2. Thanks for the very kind shout, Eugene. This is interesting on a lot of different levels – how you were able to do this research without making anyone mad,the results you got…very cool stuff!

    • I don’t know if we upset anyone yet, we’re still new, but no death threats as of now :). 

      I hope to see a response from @dgupta5150:twitter we’re really curious to see his take on this!

      But in the future we’ll definitely be a little bit more sensitive in our language to ensure nobody gets offended.

  3. Joe Chernov says:

    Hi Eugene,

    This is a great post, excellent curation with a nice contextual wrapper. (Gosh how “academic” does that sentence sound?) I saw on Twitter that Mint.com is looking for a managing editor for their blog. As companies increase the resources invested in their blog, and shift to a more “publishing” mindset, then it naturally follows that goals get ratcheted up from views only, to more strategic metrics — and, as you insightfully point out, short-, mid- and long-term objectives. Good stuff in here, nice work!

    Joe

  4. Frank Strong says:

    Good post, Eugene, thanks for the mention.  Indeed it is a lot of work to talk to 60 people — even on Twitter.  Should not that the answer provided is for my personal blog, which I do in my free time.  My answer, or rather the business case for an organizational blog would probably be a bit different.  Still it’s interesting to see what others have to say!

  5. JasonFalls says:

    Wow. Some great insights here. Thanks for asking me to participate and for making sure I saw the post!

  6. Brian says:

    Excellent post – thanks for mentioning Business 2 Community.  You really have highlighted some of the best bloggers out there and it is an honor to be included in the discussion.

  7.  @twitter-19306636:disqus “As companies increase the resources invested in their blog, and shift to a more “publishing” mindset, then it naturally follows that goals get ratcheted up from views only, to more strategic metrics” - golden nugget of wisdom!

     @Frank_Strong:disqus My apologies! 140 characters didn’t allow us to clarify whether we were referring to your personal or business blog. We had 2 worries when making this Blog post: 1) We were afraid of offending the great Bloggers we mentioned 2) We didn’t want to appear as spammers in Twitter because we were clogging up the time-line.
    @JasonFalls:disqus I’m honored to see you took the time to actually read the post, Thank you!

  8. Joan Stewart says:

    I hope the respondents above who aren’t seeing a lot of response to their blogs keep with it! It takes a long time to build up traction and pull traffic. But boy is it worth it when you do.  

    • How long did it take http://PublicityHound.com to build significant consistant traffic? Also why the spikes in traffic, noticed one passing over 20,000 unique visitors in a month? 

  9. Tom Pick says:

    Yikes! Would have tried to be more insightful with my response had I known it would end up here. :-) What I meant is, audiences are attracted by content. In my case, it’s social media, SEO and marketing blabbering that attracts corporate marketing types, PR pros, agency people and the occasional small company CEO. And I’m grateful for every reader my blog has.

  10. @twitter-11567972:disqus  “Audience determined by topics” was more than a good enough answer!

  11. Thanks for including me in your initial post and sharing how you pulled it all together.  Always great to share in the learning!

  12. Thanks for including us in your post! You must have done A LOT of work to get this much information. Very good read. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out in the future!

  13. Eugene, great job and thanks for including me with all these incredible people! This must have taken a lot of work to pull together.