Introverts in the Age of Social Networking – Part 3: Advice from Niall Doherty
Niall Doherty provides some final advice in how he has managed blog marketing and social networking – to think he says he was once an introvert too!
One other blogger caught my eye as well. Niall Doherty with his blog Disrupting the Rabblement stood out having 451 followers on Twitter but only following 55. In a venue where following to get followers seems to be the game, Niall stands out. I had to ask . . .
1. As I mentioned, you have 451 followers and are on 30 lists but are only following 55 on Twitter. You are also already up to 99 Likes on Facebook. How did you get such a large following so quickly (as I see from Facebook you started in 2010 too, so it can’t be that you’ve just been persistent for several years!).
“It doesn’t feel like it happened very quickly! I’ve been blogging for about 18 months now, though only went “all in” with it when I quit my day job last November. Things have picked up nicely since then, and I believe that’s mostly because I’m now walking the walk, actually taking action instead of just theorizing and speculating. People like reading about people living interesting lives, and I feel I’m on an interesting journey right now. All the new and unusual experiences I have make for good blogging.
Also, I did receive a big follow boost lately thanks to my Random Acts of Courage project and subsequent manifesto release. Halfway through RAoC I knew I was doing remarkable work that deserved more attention, so I reached out to some big-name bloggers and asked if they could help spread the word. And they did. One important note on that though: I only requested the help of people I had met and formed some sort of connection with in real life. Online networking is important, but nothing beats meeting other bloggers face-to-face. With the latter, it’s much easier for them to know you’re for real.”
2. Do you think your success is partly because the number of tweets you’ve done (1,187 as of today)? Or is there another reason?
“I actually don’t consider myself a big tweeter. I’ve been on Twitter for almost 3 years, so that works out to less than two tweets per day since I signed up. Admittedly, I have tweeted more as time has passed. I’d say I now tweet 5-10 times per day on average. I aim for each of my tweets to do at least one of the following two things:
1. Add value.
2. Build a relationship.
Sometimes though I’ll throw out something silly, like a joke or a random observation. But then I guess that could fit in with #2, since it shows people another side of me.”
3. Do you equate success with a high following such as you have on Twitter of other “visible” social networking (as in I can see it unlike your site stats)?
“I think comments are a better measure of success. Lots of comments usually mean that people are reading what you write and caring enough to leave a response. Retweets and Facebook likes are good, too. That’s all social proof, so new readers are more likely to give your content a shot, and so it grows and grows.
I don’t think your total Twitter follow count is a good measure of success, because you can drive that up just by following everyone on the planet (many of them will return the favor, mindlessly). A better measure is your ratio of following to followers. If you only follow a handful of people but ten or twenty times that many follow you, then you know you’re doing something right. I never follow someone unless I’m genuinely interested in what they have to say (and sometimes not even then, since my attention is limited).
As for invisible measures of success (at least in terms of what your readers see), I put a lot of stock in the feedback I receive via email. Such feedback has picked up a lot for me in recent months, and the vast majority of it is positive, people thanking me for putting their own thoughts into words or for inspiring them to action. That last one is big for me. I regularly state on my blog that I don’t just want a passive audience, I don’t just want my readers living vicariously through me. I want them to get out there and make good things happen in their own lives and in the lives of others. Affecting positive change in the real world is my ultimate measure of success.”
4. Obviously a high following or Likes helps your exposure, but do you think it really helps with your site readership and following (i.e. do you get a lot of people following links to your site?)
“Good question. As you can see from my most recent site progress report, the volume of traffic I get coming through from Facebook and Twitter pales in comparison to the amount I get directly and from Google searches. However, the traffic that does come through from Facebook and Twitter converts better than the traffic from those two primary sources. Not a hell of a lot better (+5-8% last month), but better nonetheless. I conclude from that that people who find my site through Twitter and Facebook are more likely to stick around and actually read something.
Of course, Twitter and Facebook conversions pale in comparison to RSS (feed and email) conversions. That’s the granddaddy of them all when it comes to building a following.
(Oh, and I realize I got a bit technical above with all my conversion talk. I’m no expert on this stuff either, but I came to understand some helpful basics by reading this post by Karol Gajda on Think Traffic. I measure conversions in the exact way described there.)
One more thing on this: I don’t believe retweets and such to be worthless if they don’t drive traffic to your site. It’s an impression regardless. Someone may not click the link, but they see your name and they’ll see it many more times if you keep producing good content. Eventually they’ll ask themselves “Why the hell does this person keep showing up in my stream?” and click through to see what all the fuss is about. That’s exactly how I ended up becoming a fan of Chris Guillebeau. His name kept coming up on my radar and eventually I could no longer ignore it. I clicked through, read a few of his articles and found myself hooked.”
5. And lastly, what advice do you have for someone working to publicize their blog – other than get out of the game if you can’t hack it (which I hear)?
“I’ll list a few key things I believe made a big difference for me:
1. Push yourself out of your comfort zone regularly, see what you learn, and write about your experience. That always makes for good reading.
3. Related to the previous point: Work on narrowing the gap between your real voice and your writing voice. Several people told me that I came across very different in my writing than I did in person, so I started doing video updates. They’ve helped me close the gap.
4. As mentioned earlier, don’t just network online. Get out there and connect with other remarkable bloggers in the real world.
5. Show up every day.”
— Niall Doherty
Thanks Niall for taking the time to answer my questions! Definitely good advice, tips, and help.
Both Niall and Katrina have given my food for thought. If I were more of an extrovert, I’m sure I’d just incorporate everything, shake up the site and get moving. But then, if I were more of an extrovert, I wouldn’t have had to ask. But don’t worry, Raven and I are working on it.
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