March 27, 2010

Blog Readers and a Click Thru Culture

I have been blogging for about 5 years now, and love the opportunity to write and express myself in this way. It amazes me that people read my stuff, they comment, and even discuss it with me outside of the virtual realm.

But I am also addicted to the stats. Behind the scenes of every website is some kind of  counter. It records every "hit" or visit made to a website. Some counters are more elaborate than others. While I can't narrow it down to an individual person, I can discover where in the world readers come from, what articles are of most interest, how long people stay, how many pages are looked at each day, and much more.

A large portion of visitors to this site, like every other site on the web, stay only a few seconds. The average Youtube video gets watched for only 6 seconds (understandable if you see some of the things people post :) ). They click onto the blog and discover this is not what they are looking for, or they decide that this blog has nothing to offer them or doesn't interest them and they move on. While I want more visitors, I think there is something deeper here that has been stirring as I look at these stats...We are turning into a click-thru culture.

We are looking for something to excite us, catch our attention, thrill us, or appeal to us all in the first 6 seconds!

I have always looked at the stats and tried to figure out ways to get people to stay longer. But lately a new question has been cropping up...why do I care about the drive-bys and click-thrus?

Maybe, we as writers, artists, church planters, pastors, and leaders need to care-less about those who are doing the drive-bys and click-thrus and focus on those who are genuinely interested in what is going on. Maybe it is time to focus on the people at the core.

For a church or church plant there is a fine line to walk that needs to be walked. You certainly don't want to be in-grown or self-focused. You want to evangelize and reach people. Too many churches have died and are dying because pastors and church boards have stopped caring about the people outside the walls. You want people to come to your church.

As artists and writers you want new readers and viewers; you want people to purchase your stuff.

I think refocusing means we ask questions like: Do I want more visitors or more followers? Do I want many people to look at my site for 6 seconds or do I want a regular group who reads the content and interacts? Should we try to keep more of the people who click and leave or invest in the people who love what we do? Do we listen to critique of someone with nothing invested and allow it to ruin our day or do we listen to the people who are most involved and willing to tell us the truth?

As a pastor and as a writer, I have had people tell me how much they hated or disagreed with what I said. Some of them have been close friends and supporters, and I took their comments to heart. Some of them have been drive-bys and click-thrus who just want to spout and leave...sometimes I have been able to let their comments roll off.

The more we cater to and seek after the click-thru crowd...the more we are really chasing the air. Seth Godin calls it the race between the Who and the How Many. "who usually wins...Find the right people, those that are willing to listen to what you have to say, and ignore the masses that are just going to race on, unchanged."

Who are you chasing?


  1. Does it show up on stats if someone reads it through a reader? Like Google reader? That's where I read all the blogs I follow.

  2. Jenni,

    They are tracked, but outside of Google Analytics...though they are working on that.