Understanding Your Guests

Disneyland Paris Disney theme parks know more about how humans will flow through their systems than any other organization probably knows about its customers. They know how far apart to space trash receptacles. They know where the rest rooms should be. They understand what makes a family linger in a gift shop versus what moves them to the next potential upsell point. And all of those things are invisible to the typical guest to the park, because after all, you’re there to see Mickey or Jack Skellington or whoever your character is (we all have one).

Can we think this way about our online presence? I think so. And it’s important to realize that, just like above, though I know you come here to experience the content, that I’m thinking about the trash receptacles, the rest rooms, and the gift shops along the way.

Understanding Your Guests

When I write a post like 27 blogging secrets to power your community, I know what will happen. It will be bookmarked by people using Delicious. People will pile on bookmarks, which means that it will reach Delicious/popular. That will trigger it to be picked up by Popurls. Then, several robots, including those on Twitter, will pick that post up, and it will get lots of traffic.

I know this because it’s a list, it seems handy, and you want to go back and refer to it later.

What makes a post like that useful? That one’s fairly obvious. It’s promotion. More people find the blog who haven’t seen it before, and that means I capture more new friends and potential community members to have conversations with.

Are there other traffic experiences where I know the outcome ahead of time? Yes. Here’s a list.

Traffic Experiences in My Park

  • Big list posts – visibility by tons of bookmarks. (see above)
  • Videoblog posts – few comments, but a nice level of engagement. The videoblog posts are a way to show you my human side, which is more of a loyalty experience. I do that so you see that I’m real, and human, and just like you.
  • Posts about sharing thoughts – posts like your 3 goals for 2009 are designed for the community to share and talk with each other. The goal there is for me not to be the center, but the starter. What also happens, as you can see by the 48 trackbacks (and counting) is that people link to a post like that to make sure their post about the same topic is discovered. Trackbacks tell Google that there’s something useful happening over at chrisbrogan.com
  • Posts about software – when I write a piece about something like how I use Twitter at volume, I’m not expecting a lot of comments, but I know I’m going to get lots of eyes on the post. The reason is simple: we’re all looking for ways to improve how we use the web. This sometimes translates to links, but definitely always translates to new community members.
  • Pointer posts (where I write just to link to something else) – do just that. They shunt traffic to places where I want eyes to be. Posts like 8 Marketing Bloggers to Watch in 2009 are written so that you’ll visit those other people, and not stick around the blog. That’s also the goal of any sponsored post I write. I’d rather you check out the sponsor than get into it with me in the comments section.

The Importance of Knowing Your Guests

People want to have a good experience with your content. They want their expectations met. If you come here, you’re hoping that I’ll give you another thought about business communication. Thus, if I write way off topic, I know most times what you’ll do. If it’s a “woe is me” post, you’ll be comforting. If I write a “my family’s awesome post,” you’ll agree. That’s because you and I have built a relationship. We know each other enough to celebrate each other’s successes.

But I know why you come here, and so I never intend to dwell on matters that run too far afield of business communications and emerging technology.

It’s important to build your content, your online experience, the interaction of humans and your digital “stuff” such that your guests have the experience you hope they will with you and your presence.

What do you think about all this? Does the above make sense? Can you see where your own sites and your own material does different things for different types of posts? Am I seeing my own site and your experience with it accurately?

Photo credit banoootah_qtr

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