Three c’s of the social web part 3: consistency

@Kevin | Social

The final pillar of my theory is the idea of consistency. The social web ridiculously overlooks the monumental importance of consistency, yet this is a vital part of achieving success. When you produce any type of content that is offered multiple times a week or on a daily basis, people begin to expect it. This is an area that people constantly fail to understand. They do not post consistently, and as a result they frustrate their readers. While this applies to blogging in general, it really matters on MySpace and other social networks. If you are going to write five days a week, write five days a week, try not to deviate from that. If you are only going to post 2-3 times a week, stick to the days that you usually post unless it is some important breaking news. As a blogger I have to give people a pattern to expect, eventually they know when to look for your posts. Think of it as knowing when your favorite TV program is on, you come to expect it and almost plan around it. While I didn’t see a lot of people doing this I felt it was important. If I missed a day that I usually posted on or was severely late in posting I would get e-mails wondering where my post was for that day.

As I grew, I also needed to keep this in mind, some people get really excited by the attention they receive and start to over do it. Seeing the hits and the comments come in can be an exhilarating, but I couldn’t let the numbers impact how I posted. The last thing I wanted to do was over post. I have read a few bloggers that would argue that you want to keep momentum on a particularly popular post, I felt that it is a good way to over expose yourself and to burn yourself out, plus your content can quickly become watered down. By sticking with a routine and establishing consistency you let people know what to expect and you become a part of their routine. If you engrain yourself in someone’s life they are going to return at a higher frequency as well as become an advocate in what you are doing.

Another issue is long breaks. I had to learn to deal with the fact that I had a life away from writing and also at times did not feel like producing content. I decided to pre-write posts when I felt inspired and sat on them for times when I wasn’t inspired to write. Some people get burnt out on blogging and can’t fight through the grind of it, I didn’t want that to be me. I would see popular writers on MySpace take a month of writing or would post very sporadically. I figured that if you really want to build an audience you can’t all of a sudden decide to take a month off because you are tired of it. Away from some of the regular popular blogs running into consistency issues I would see people quickly build an audience on MySpace, then took time off for whatever reason, killing their momentum and audience. I looked at it like taking time off for an extended period and not posting content is the equivalent of taking ten steps back. There are other options that people can explore rather than leaving their blog dormant. If you have built an audience finding a guest blogger to step in for a bit is rather easy to do. Also find ways to let users step in and generate content for you by creating a discussion and letting them run with it. These are effective options instead of just walking away.

Along with scheduling consistency also means the level of quality of the content you produce and how often you produce it. While I know I have talked about posting more and to a specific niche, the one thing I saw is people that people would capitalize on a popular post, gain an audience, and then become inconsistent with the quality of their content. They would either shift away from their original niche or they would begin to post things that weren’t well thought out or put together. When their quality suffered they began to lose their audience and never could recover. Not every post or piece of content people come up with are going to be high quality, it just isn’t possible. Also it is hard to judge what post is going to be successful and what isn’t. I have personally had posts that I had written in five minutes get more views and had a better reception than on things that I have taken hours to craft. The one thing that is really apparent though in your writing is when you are trying to mail it in and post for the sake of posting. If you force it for too long you can see the quality of your blog and your consistency go out the window.

Consistency just doesn’t apply to posting it also applies to the communication and promotion aspect in producing content. When I started to reply to comments and be a part of the conversation I learned quickly that if a person left comments and I ignored their comments on multiple posts they would become offended often sending me an e-mail. As I thought about it I can’t even imagine the amount of people I might have not commented back to that just didn’t return or stopped commenting. I tried to make an effort at that point to reply to most of my comments, at least saying thanks or to “laugh” at their jokes. I also had to really focus on reply to messages and e-mails as I grew. Things could not turn into a one way street.

While I have only briefly touched on promotion in this piece, it became an important factor as I grew. The lion share of the time I currently spend online when it comes to blogging isn’t about producing content but promoting my content. However, in relation to my blogging career and its start on MySpace, I had to begin to create a routine of promoting my work and consistently doing it, even if it was for ten minutes a day. Establishing a routine and becoming consistent in what I was doing helped me create a larger following than a lot of other people. Most people were reluctant to promote their content, which I always considered foolish. No matter how amazing your content is if you don’t have a promotional strategy nobody will ever find out about it.

I firmly believe that keeping the idea of consistency constantly in the back of my mind helped develop a worker’s ethic to my approach and also it kept me grounded on what is important. By not ignoring the idea of being consistent in my production, communication, and promotion it helped me expand rather than continually fight a peak and valley rollercoaster ride.

As I have progressed in my use of the social web I have learned where success is bred fun. It is important to be able to analyze your own work and what you are doing to apply change and be successful. Looking at oneself and being able to see what other people do in order to create success allows you to mold your concepts and philosophies. That is what I have personally done.