Lots of people talk about building an audience, building traffic to their blogs. I struggle with that idea.
Not for others, mind you. In fact, I love the idea of sending you to posts that I find valuable. I have a blogroll to make those connections. I use twitter sometimes, I put links in posts sometimes. I send emails with links. I have no problem driving traffic. (In fact, my next “8 ways Wednesday” post will be full of links…8 of them, in fact.)
My struggle is with establishing for myself the goal of building an audience.
I’ll be honest. I love traffic. I look at my site statistics. I treasure the Brogan Bump (DEF: The traffic spike that comes when Chris Brogan includes your blog in a tweet.). But when I find myself thinking, “What can I do next that will get attention,” I have to stop.
I could build an audience in all kinds of ways, but most of them are, for me, questionable. There are enough people who have enough questions about pastors, of which I am one, that I gotta be careful.
So, what about building relationships? That’s the social part of social media. And relationships are wonderful. We are built for relationship. We are built to connect together. And it takes more effort to build relationships than to build an audience.
The handful of you who are reading this will read that statement and say, “Wait. I have both. And I have built an audience BY building relationships.” And I understand that.
When I focus on getting eyes, I start writing for emotional buzz. I start turning phrases just to see if I can. I start trying to pick topics that will get attention.
I’m much better off, however, if I am focusing on people rather than topics. If I listen and encourage and comment. If I build connections.
Unfortunately, however, I run into a problem that way as well. I mean, I can comment on every comment. I can connect and friend and social.Eventually, however, I run the risk of maintaining networks just for the sake of maintaining the network.
Rather than elaborating, and running the risk of making people say, “What? You mean he’s pretending to care?” I need to move on.
So where do I want to end up? What really matters? Building people. I want to help people grow and deepen. I want to give you tools and understanding and resources and encouragement not for the sake of connecting but for your sake.
For example, I want to tell you stories that help you understand what prayer really is so that you can have conversations with God. I want to help people not be so afraid of church and what it will do to them. I want to help people figure out what they are built to do. I want you to be a better friend, to have meaning and find meaning and make meaning.
I want to help you matter.
And that, for me, takes the most effort of all. Because in order to build people, I need to listen and respond…just like in building relationships. However, I also need to learn, to read, to think, to have resources available so that in the course of conversations, in relationships, I have something to add.
And I can’t do that for everyone, for a huge audience, for the sake of building an audience.
It’s why, by the way, I’m not twittering much. I can’t start conversations that I can’t continue, that I can follow. It’s how I’m built.
I’m not sure this makes sense. I’m not sure I’m clear.
But I’m pretty sure I’m for you.