Tuesday, October 05, 2010

What is effective, anyway?

Last week I crunched the monthly stats for the range of services I publish on. September was a pretty busy month, judging from the numbers. Which set me thinking - is what I do online effective, and what is effective anyway?

Let's start with the low hanging fruit. Easily the most effective thing I've done in the course of the last year was stopping podcasting. This isn't an anti-podcast rant (although there are a heck of a lot of bad podcasts being made which do not consider the optimum format for the delivery medium) - in my case, the effectiveness of the podcasts I was producing was simply not repaying the time/bandwidth costs involved. But then, that's true for most podcasts.

These days I think of any blog site as a mere content container which allows republication into the sphere of online attention where all the interaction occurs. So what of RSS versus Twitter versus Facebook?

It depends. Twitter is winning on SoTI, taking attention away from the container to the network, or at least outstripping RSS as a messenger. And Twitter clearly drives traffic (September was the biggest month ever for SoTI no matter how you measure it, except for RSS), but where is the community? Twitter fragments community into sub-networks - lists. Does this mean we are moving toward distributed online presences?

In contrast, on MicrobiologyBytes, RSS is usage is up. Is this because RSS is seen as more "professional" than Twitter? But Facebook is also beating Twitter here - suggesting multiple sub-networks again? It is noticeable that surprisingly few referrals to full articles on MicrobiologyBytes come from Facebook, showing once again the stickiness of Facebook and that the community is on the Facebook page not on the blog (no surprise).
MicrobiologyBytes Stats

So what does it all mean? In my case, it means I know nothing, that the multiplatform Babel persists, and that publish early, publish everywhere is the only strategy which competes effectively in the attention economy (The VLE Is Dead).

What does it mean to you?