Weight of numbers, social signs and more

I have often referred to weight of numbers as being something that acts as they key tipping point in social signs. It’s obvious that when many people agree or show their interest, a creation will rise to the top. I say creation because there are a number of different things that are influenced by social signs.

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Pictures
  • Comments
  • Posts

Weight of numbers is important. It is the difference between being unseen and going viral in the two polar extremes.

Weight of numbers, social signs and more

Weight of numbers social signs and more

Image Source: Pixabay by Ariesa66

The strategy of numbers

Sun Tzu was a famous author of war strategy, his book entitled the Art of War has been used by many but it isn’t only useful for war, it is useful for commerce too.

“In executing an Artful Strategy: When ten times greater, surround them; When five times greater, attack them; When two times greater, scatter them. If the opponent is ready to challenge: When fewer in number, be ready to evade them; When unequal to the match, be ready to avoid them. Even when the smaller opponents have a strong position, the larger opponent will capture them.” – Sun Tzu

Essentially you always lose out to numbers in the end.

If we want to talk about SERPS results for example (that is getting to page one on Google) it is the meaningful numbers that carry us to that goal with the help of social signals.

Organically many people need to view the content, many people need to comment on it and many people need to share it via social media. That will help the hamster turn the wheel to get the material higher up on that page.

 

Social signs and signals

You may see this term bounded around if you are trying to get your content made. This is all dependent on your marketing mix or what we can refer to as your social platforms.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

These are the two biggest platforms, the ones that most people display as sharing links on their content.

  • Google+

Google+ is slowly catching the rest of the pack. It is reported that Google+ helps your visibility and search results, I am not entirely convinced in reasons that I would prefer to chart on a different article but rest assured, Google wants a piece of the action.

  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Flickr

These are places you go to share images. Instagram and Flickr share similar traits unlike Pinterest in their operation. With Pinterest you pin favourites to your board, with Instagram and Flickr, you simply share pictures.

I have mentioned this about a billion times (If I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate!) but the image processing cortex of the brain processes images quicker than text. Images have a large currency right now. Good images can go viral quicker than articles.

  • Youtube
  • Vimeo

These places share your video. Video just like images has a high currency right now. Videos in the past were less accessible in good quality because bandwidth restrictions were a problem. Now that internet speeds have started to travel upwards for the average Joe and Josephine more people are watching video. Video has many benefits over text and standalone images. Video can take you through tutorials in real time. Debate can be made with the correct integration of passion and real human emotion. Video produces a real sense of talking to someone directly.

Video can be a brilliant way to liven up your content.

  • StumbleUpon

A whole number of things can be shared on StumbleUpon, it is normally the best things or the interesting things that you never thought to search for that get thrown up when you “stumble”. As with all things, Weight of Number plays into this so you are far more likely to see something that has been liked 350,000 times as opposed to something that was liked once.

 

Social media cross migration

Sharing and social signs can be amped up through the use of social media cross migration. It is quite possible to share something through Twitter which is then shared via a link through Facebook and so on. As I have also mentioned in a video before, you get different audiences in different platforms so through cross platform migration you expose your content to a more varied audience.

It is quite possible that if you get enough weight of numbers behind sharing that your content can be shared backwards and forwards between different sharing agencies multiple times, ramping up your social signs in the process.

Rich snippets and other technologies have been designed to make sharing a more accessible proposition. Google bought Youtube to enact a hold over video sharing. Yahoo bought Tumblr to get a foothold on blogging. They have all done this because they want a piece of the sharing pie. Sharing, liking and commenting all have an intrinsic value to every blogger. You may not be able to generate the required social signals but you covet them all the same.

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Tackling project drift when blogging

Project drift is something that can happen from time to time, especially if you are running with conflicting priorities or generally just too much on your plate.

In this article I hope to provide some ideas on tackling project drift, especially for bloggers who are likely to be considering new content ideas and posting at frequent points.

Tackling project drift when blogging

Tackling project drift when blogging

Image source: Wikipedia.org

Shifting Sands

There are many metaphors in regards to movement and change in plans. Shifting sands are perhaps the best. It is impossible to make an accurate map of the desert because the sands are always shifting. The image above is of the Taklamakan Desert in China.

 

Setting Milestones

Milestone (aka millstone) dates are a critical element of project planning. They are put in place to drive you to action and hopefully organise and focus divergent tasks that all lead to the end goal.

Setting milestones in not enough unless you review your plan and are alerted to the imminence of said milestones.

You should not get sentimental about laying down plans. You are more than likely going to have to modify them as you go along.

 

What causes the drift?

  1. Being busy can make you forget that you have important milestones to reach
  2. Negative results can make you lose faith in the idea
  3. An urgent problem can shift your priority
  4. Simple Procrastination – Being idle when you have things you can do
  5. Lack of forward planning (a few weeks out) and review (seeing how you did)
  6. Lack of contingency planning (what happens if scenario B occurs)

 

Busy

Everybody gets busy unless they have impeccable planning and follow through. Sometimes you have to make time to do the important things in life. Setting time aside is critical.

 

Negative Results

This is the most common reason why my projects stall. I haven’t found a perfect way to counter this. Rather than looking at it as a setback, why not look at it as a learning experience. The important thing is to report the result of the trial in order to try and learn from what went wrong.

The saying goes: forewarned is forearmed.

On the route to success you are going to have a lot of failure. Being constructive about how you deal with that failure (and how you prevent it in future) is key. At the very least you can turn the fail into some content that may inform someone of the pitfalls and save them the bother. Think of the karma points in the bank!

 

Urgent problems

These occur out of the blue and there is no way around them. Often you should try and work your project ahead of pace to allow for the time when you have some slippage.

Being ahead of the curve is better than being behind it in this instance.

 

Being Idle

This is more a question of motivation. Everybody needs some firing up at some point in their life. You have to remember what the result is for, what your ultimate goal is and how you will be highly satisfied when you have reached the end.

As my father says; you will spend a long time sleeping in the box. You can also imagine that this was said when I was being lazy.

Blogging is commonly a sole activity which later becomes a group activity. The weight of indecision, inaction and lack of momentum rests squarely on your shoulders. Develop some guilt about not doing anything and you will be sent into action.

 

Lack of forward planning

Plans change so you need to update your plans to be realistic with what you can tangibly produce within a given time frame. You should be a good judge of your capability. You should be able to block out those days ahead of time where you know you are occupied.

Being realistic of your forward time is important. Blocking out time to do your activity and sticking to those arrangements is important.

You can also think about how you delegate those tasks if you need to. If you need an assistant or just a third party to help you see that goal in that timeframe then plan them in.

 

Lack of contingency planning

Events don’t always go to plan. As part of your initial review into your project you should take some time to think about contingencies.

A contingency is something you do when something out of the blue happens. You may have heard a contingency plan mentioned in the event of a natural disaster i.e. heading to a safe evacuation zone and having reserves of food and water in place.

With everything you are likely to take on as an experiment, there may be a chance that it will have some negative outcome. You may be able to determine what that outcome might be and think of a way to avoid some of the negative affect.

 

An example may be the following situation:

 

Without a contingency plan

You drive to work along the country route every day because it is quicker.

On the news there is a weather warning, high winds are likely.

You drive the same route you always drive and end up being 5 hours late to work.

 

With a contingency plan

You drive to work along the country route every day because it is quicker.

On the news there is a weather warning, high winds are likely.

You drive the longer route and avoid the fallen oak tree blocking the path which takes several hours to be cleared

 

The importance of monitoring progress

What is apparent is that you need to monitor your progress.

There are two types of planning:

  • Proactive & Reactive

Proactive planning is preventative, you stem off problems before they arise. Reactive planning comes when you have an unexpected problem and need to deal with it before it becomes a terminal problem. Proactive planning when deployed effectively reduces the need to perform reactionary planning as often. In order to be more effective at proactive planning you have to review the outcome of the reactive planning.

 

Recovery Plans

In order to get you back on track, you need to produce a recovery plan. This is a short term plan that aims to get you back to where you needed to get.

If you had a false start, you can always restart the project. Sometimes you get a better start when you have to start again. You know what parts went wrong last time and know what to avoid. Many inventions often have failed prototypes before they were perfected. Pull up your socks and try again.

If you got part way into the project but hit a roadblock, you need to devise a way to overcome it or move around it.

The important thing with a recovery plan is not to be too ambitious. If anything, you want to restrict the scope a tad, to bring the situation more within your control.

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The hypercompetition sea and how not to get washed away

What is hypercompetition?

Hypercompetition is the combination of the word hyper and competition (that was the easy bit). It is a well-known business term that references specifically to a market that has no barrier or very limited barriers to entry.

When you enter into blogging you exist in a hypercompetitive market.

 

The hypercompetition sea and how not to get washed away:

The hypercompetition sea and how not to get washed away

Image Source Ausdragon.co.uk by Patrick or Colin

Why is blogging a hypercompetitive market?

Because it is easy to start! Anyone could start a blog. Anyone can go to one of the free blogging platforms and start a blog, today, for free. Many people do start blogs every day of every year and have been doing so for years.

Bloggers often start with one blog which can snowball into many blogs, there is nothing limiting each person to one.

 

Why is hypercompetition bad?

In a hypercompetitive market with such low barriers to entry, retaining audience amongst such rich choices is very difficult.

There are a finite number of audience looking at any given time but an exponential explosion of new blogs to choose from so retaining the interests of your audience may be a struggle over time.

 

Getting lost in the wash

Getting lost in the proverbial wash is the result of you not being able to compete effectively with the other fry. The number of blogs that survive is tiny compared to the number that are spawned.

  • You could hit the nail right on the head with your first go

And in that case, congratulations!

  • You could, with discernible effort, craft your blog into a work of beauty

Hats off to you for the perseverance!

  • Or you could call it a day, end the experiment and bury it!

You are likely to be joining an army of people who’ve come to the same conclusion at one stage or another.

The latter of these three options is the most common. At some point you will abandon the blog because it didn’t work out, you couldn’t keep it up or you were disheartened by the numbers.

 

The numbers game

A lot of us bloggers fall into the dark and destructive cycle of stat-watching or what I would determine as a “Stat-Whore”. You’ll be perving on those stats with annoying regularity wondering where it all went wrong.

The thing is, despite your best efforts (and as long as you are not delusional about the sheer amount of effort you have to put into blogging) you may just not be able to pick up that elusive fickle audience that you were searching for, despite all the optimization and work that you perform.

Part of the reason is “incumbents”.

 

What are Incumbents?

They are the big fish that own the bigger stakes above you. They won their place through a historical advantage, one that you can never challenge. They are the ones that you don’t have the tools to compete against. They are the secret barrier to your success. In order to avoid incumbents and their influence there are a number of things you can do.

 

Strategic Positioning

The strategy school of position is one of the oldest. Often to avoid competition you have to position yourself in a place where you gain competitive advantage. To avoid the heat of getting fried, you position yourself on the edge of the frying pan.

In order to tackle an overwhelming incumbent, you’ve got to box in their shadows. You have to cover whats left, what they didn’t talk about in depth. Eventually you’ll develop your following and your unique voice. You’ll be providing what the core audience wants and you won’t have to worry too much about the incumbents because you become one of them.

 

Borrow their audience

By commenting on the incumbent’s work and by making valid and valuable content shared by the big fish, you can invite new audiences into your world.

 

Create a coalition

Sometimes it is better to go about social activities by collaboration. You build up networks by helping other people out, being philanthropic and generally of value.

A term I’ve heard of recently is Mastermind groups. These are groups who help each other out in a collaborative way. Often through cooperative ventures, you have many minds to consider the pros and cons of going about tasks within producing successful blogs.

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10 sites versus 1 site?

I think it was about time that I introduced yet another post dripping with liquid gold from the silver tongued blogging devil that is Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn is a smart operator having previously been a highly paid architect; he was laid off during an economic slump. His trials in producing a method of revising for the “Green” exam helped him start on the road to making money online. In recent months he has been earning upwards of $80,000 which in Brit Bucks is roughly £47,904. Quick maths should inform you that he is making well over half a million a year although bear in mind that Pat’s income is variable and can go up as well as down (just like an investment).

I’m not trying to put Pat on a pedestal or oversize his ego. I just think that Pat has got a lot to offer and his visible signs of success should encourage you to think a bit more Pat.

10 sites versus 1 site

10 sites versus 1 site

Pat introduced a topic almost 3 years ago on a simple question about whether having 10 sites making $100 is preferable to 1 site making $1,000. He opened out this question to the floor and I am basing this article almost entirely off how the audience reacted.

Before getting deep into this I would like to point out that there isn’t a definitive yes or no. No one method is good or bad. Pat has not suggested which of these strategies is better. This question was free-flow and left for Pat’s audience to answer however they chose. Very little was set in the way of parameters, the floor was literally wide open.

 

For information I’m talking about Smartpassiveincome.com

The post I am exploring can be found here (this link opens in a new window)

 

Whats better 1 site or 10 sites

Source: Smartpassiveincome.com by Pat Flynn

 

Before analysing this further, the question should be asked to you.

Which is more preferable? 10 sites making $100 or 1 site making $1000?

Can you manage 10 sites as effectively as 1. The answer is no. You can’t maintain multiple sites single handed to the same standard as you can with 1. You can’t generate the focus to multiple sites that you can to 1.

 

Getting down to plain statistics (the bit I love)

I’ve been through the entire cornucopia of answers. There are 5 types of answer that commonly fit this question

  • Support 1 site to make $1000
  • Support 10 sites to make $100 each
  • Sitting on the fence
  • Answering the question with a revised question
  • Wandering off topic entirely (AKA the idiot answer)

Here is how these answers pan out in terms of their slice of the pie.

I sampled the first 230 responses to produce this pie chart.

10 vs 1 pie chart

This topic attracted a lot of comments, something that Pat is famous for. He is “pro comment” which is something I value just as greatly.

 

Low value comments

Low value comments always creep in. With 417 comments on this topic there is bound to be a percentage that are garbage for one reason or another. If they don’t answer the question and don’t advance thought, they are worthless.

I counted 19 idiot comments in my sample but undoubtedly there will be more.

 

For a single site earning a princely sum

For the vast majority who opted to stand in favour of a single site, they cited ease of maintenance burdens, lower overheads and a better focus of time and passion as the reasons behind opting this way. The fact that at $1000, this site outperformed 10 individually at a factor of 10 was what swayed them over the line.

 

For 10 sites with a modest return

The slim majority voted this way but were often ridiculed by the opposing side for losing the “focus”. Many opting this way were of the micro niche variety. The most common analogy used by this camp was the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Algorithm change (of Google inclination) was cited as the major reason why you’d want to split your resources to fend off market changes. Many people shaped Adsense and Adwords as their ways of making money but were often challenged by the naysayer camp on this.

 

The liberal on the “fence” count

In fairness I’ve never been a big fan of liberalism. It’s got some popularity in Europe at the moment but being liberal is the equivalent of being a proverbial “woolly jumper”. I referred to it as fence sitting. Now this question has given room to sit on the fence. If the question was between two websites that make $500 each and one making $1000 the amount of fence sitters might reduce.

My sample perhaps under represents the liberal sentiment of some. I’ve made a determination that someone fits one way or another when what they actually meant was quite different and set them right down the middle.

 

Why this determination?

Pat has been smart in a way by asking this dividing line question. In order to compare whether 10 is effective versus 1 you would have had to have run 10 sites to speak with authority.

Very few people can honestly weigh in with a for comment when running multiple web properties because 10 is more than a lot of people would be happy to run with at once.

For me, coming up to my first year, and knowing how much effort has gone into my site galvanises my thoughts on 10 versus 1. Many are for multiplicity in these numbers but I am very much not.

My optimum number of properties might be a maximum of 4. I don’t think I could happily go beyond this without having a sturdy support staff. If you ran a chain of hotels, you’d have a manager for each one. If 4 of those hotels were in Florida and 6 were in New York, you’d have a regional manager in Florida and New York.

 

How I would tackle this answer

I am a fan of metaphor and so for me the best way to visually represent this is with a sheep farmer.

A farmer of 1 sheep collects enough wool to fill one sack each season.

Another farmer of 10 sheep fills enough wool to fill one sack in the same time.

  • The first farmer pays 1 tenth of the feed cost to maintain his flock.
  • The first farmer pays 1 tenth of the vet bills.
  • The first farmer can keep an eye on one sheep all of the time, he doesn’t even need a sheep dog.
  • The second farmer pays 10 times the feed and vet bills of the first. The farmer requires a sheep dog to keep an eye on his flock.
  • The first farmer cannot afford for his 1 sheep to be out of action at any time. The second farmer can afford to lose a few of his sheep and still turn in a reasonable sack of wool.

So if wool is your profit, many who have answered Pat’s question, seek this contingency route of the 2nd farmer.

 

Where is the threat?

Many people cite algorithm changes as the cause of this terror, this inability to make money.

My counter argument is that if you are using “Black Hat” techniques which are getting you penalised by Google when they make these changes you are doing something wrong. Plain and simple.

The concerns of those who cry on this subject, smacks of people who don’t know how to craft quality. These are the people that pump out the sort of garbage that isn’t worthy and go about it in means that are underhand.

Should you only rely on one input channel to help you make this money. Answer = Hell no. Yes, Google has a monopoly on search traffic at the moment. Bing and Yahoo are small potatoes in comparison.

However, in my experience I haven’t been horribly beaten up by Google and changes made to its routine. I haven’t lost earning revenue so my views differ to those who feel they’ve been cheated. I don’t aim to belittle those who have suffered at changes but I do question the rigidity of the methods they used to get where they got. We have often heard of empires built on sand.

The other threat is a lack of general interest. Many niches can operate on an ebb and flow basis, can be trendy one minute and dead the next. If you are operating a single blog on a dead topic then you are not doing yourself the best service. It might have been doing well in the beginning but either your competitors (both new and incumbent) and/or contributing factors may conspire to dry up your spring of traffic.

 

Link Bait

Perhaps the most interesting part about Pat’s article was how he managed to get over 400 comments on this simple question. He offered nothing more than a random winner a t-shirt and in return received tons of comments and in turn, tons of social signals.

And guess what…

The fire is still burning on that post. People are still making comments several years after he released it. It still rests in his top 10.

Of course, he stirred up this competition and the question in his social media circles. Anybody following Pat for a long time knows that he favours Facebook and Twitter. I sent him a Facebook comment on how his old design website allowed the comment number to squeeze off the edge, especially when he had exceeded 3 digits. I found his response fun and friendly just like the character. Yes, he’s a busy man, but he’s still that helpful guy that you can rely upon. That is something you should keep in mind when you get into the big leagues.

 

So hopefully you’ve learnt that:

  • You can turn a comment rich article into a fresh dissection of a topic i.e. what you are reading now.
  • You can produce a very capable way of producing a heavy social signal hit just by posing a popular and open question which splits public opinion (all you need is an incentive, in this case a t-shirt).
  • A question of 10 websites making $100 each versus 1 website making $1000 is a more complex question to answer than you might think.

So to ask that question one more time, 10 sites or 1?