Today, on Webpronews, Steven Bradley addresses some interesting questions raised in a couple of other blogs – namely:
- Is there an optimal post length?
- Will shorter posts help to retain readers and even lead to more links?
- What makes you unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed?
Bradley’s ultimate conclusion is that the best blogs have a mix of long, medium, and short posts. He’d “prefer to focus on quality and let the length of the post be what it is… to find [his] blogging voice than consciously attempt to stifle it.”
I struggle with the same questions when writing my own blog. Plenty of my readers tell me that they appreciate my more in-depth (translation: really long) posts. But, I seem to get just as many comments (if not more) on short posts as I do on long posts. Bradley’s blog made me realize that we still have a lot to learn about social media and web 2.0 optimization:
- What are the best ways for companies to engage customers through social media?
- How should individual bloggers and social media mavens (i.e. those who set up social networks/ groups on sites like Ning, Vox, Gather, etc.) structure their content to best engage with their peers around areas of mutual interest?
There are certainly a lot of assumptions to test. So far, it seems that marketers and bloggers are throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks. In time, there will more scientific ways to answer these questions. Marketers are only beginning to understand the “science” behind web 2.0, social media, and targeted delivery of information to customers. As web 2.0 and social media evolve, there is a growing buzz about:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO),
- Social Media Optimization (SMO), and
- Website Analytics/ Testing/ Website Optimization, which includes things like A/B Split Testing and Multivariate Promotion Testing, Targeted Content Delivery based on the profile of a specific visitor, Landing Page Optimization, and Predictive Delivery / Cross Selling, etc.
These three topics are closely intertwined… When a company spends money on SEO to ensure that their websites and/or corporate blogs/ social media properties are well placed in search results pages, their efforts won’t result in customer conversion if the person who lands on their site can’t immediately find relevant information they’re looking for. Similarly, if corporations are writing blogs that are too long or too short for their desired audience, they’ll lose that audience. With that in mind, I think that concept testing, website optimization and analytics are the key to answering the key questions about the value of social media. These topics will be of growing importance in the coming years as marketers strive to better understand and target customers to capture greater returns on web-based investments.
There are a some interesting players in the testing and optimization spaces (Offermatica – which, in the interests of full blogging disclosure, is a company that I recently interviewed with; Optimost; Touch Clarity, which was recently purchased by Omniture; Kefta; to some extent Google; and others). If you are a marketer with experience working the products/services of any of these (and similar) companies, I’d love to hear your thoughts on their usefulness. In my opinion, web marketers are only just starting to realize the value of testing and web optimization. It will be very interesting to watch this space as web 2.0 and social media continue to grow.