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Reflections: 5 Lessons Readers Taught Me in 2013

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I haven’t always published a “top posts of the year” on this blog, but Shift Communications recently published their “worst” posts of 2013 – a tactic I found to be a clever and transparent analysis – and it prompted me to have a look at the best and worst posts on this blog.

Generally, I pour over the analytics on a mobile phone in those in-between moments, but it’s been a while since I took a comprehensive view in a proper web browser.  It was a very useful mental exercise and in reviewing data on the 130 or so posts published here in 2013, several things stood out for me.

Here are five lessons my readers taught me:

1. Avoid politics. I tend to avoid expressing a political viewpoint and focus these posts on the communication aspects of politics. I love politics – tried for a long time to get a gig as a press secretary on The Hill to no avail – but reader clicks tells me you do not.

2. Stay on topic. Occasionally I come up with a post that isn’t necessarily related to PR or marketing.  Usually, readers do not like these, though there are exceptions, like this old post, that continues to get a substantial amount of traffic.

3. Throw away the throwaways.  Lots of bloggers do the weekly wrap up posts. Over the years I’ve experimented a few different ways of writing these – this being my latest effort. My goal here was to stem the dip in traffic on the weekends.

These are labor intensive, despite what Matt Cutts says, it’s a time-consuming challenge to piece together different topics into a coherent post; I always try to add value along the way.  While they do tend to boost traffic over the weekend, I think they distract readers from my original ideas.

4. Social sharing does not equal traffic. Most sites find that the overwhelming amount of traffic comes from organic search. Vanity metrics earned that label, but it’s worth pointing out this is not always a direct correlation between social shares and traffic.

For example, some of the most read posts (listed below) in 2013 were not the most shared.  However, the least read posts were generally also among the least shared. In the mix, there are older posts that have very few shares but continue to earn readers.

5. Blogging is relationship building. If there’s one underrated value to blogging its the comprehensive understanding of relationship building. The social nudge of a backlink, the ensuing conversation in social media side bars, the conversation that flares up after many months of quietness – these are the foundations of relationship building on a dynamic web. And it’s not just new relationships, but also the strengthening of old ones.

Finally, many thanks to you for spending a little time on this blog.  More than any other benefit of blogging, I’ve enjoy meeting so many people along the journey.

And now the best and worst post of 2013, as defined by page views reported in Google Analytics:

Best Performing Posts of 2013 on Sword and the Script

  1. 6 Creative PR Ideas for Blended Media
  2. 7 Sexy and Creative PR Ideas
  3. Six Creative Ideas for Blog Posts
  4. 10 Unconventional and Creative Ways to Find a PR Job
  5. Google to Clamp Down on Press Release Anchor Text
  6. Wear Sunscreen When Social Media Sites Die
  7. Google+ Authorship is a Game Changer
  8. Why PR Should Embrace Content Marketing
  9. No, PR Does Not Look More Like Advertising
  10. Content Marketing: Five Creative Ways to Repurpose Content

Worst Performing Posts of 2013 on Sword and the Script

  1. When Branding Gets the Better of Politicians
  2. Building, not Borrowing: What PR is Missing
  3. Marketing: the Race to 2nd Place
  4. Would You Outsource Your Native Ads?
  5. Ode to the Contrarian
  6. Reading: Selling Love Objects and Other Communication Theories
  7. Celebrate July 4th Differently this Year: Read the Declaration
  8. What a Politician can Teach Marketers about Relationships
  9. Reading: Goat becomes Raleigh-Durham Publicity Hound
  10. 7 Tips for Reporters for Managing PR Spam

Which post or posts did you like best?  What lessons did your readers teach you in 2013?  What other under-appreciated benefits of blogging do you find to be true?

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