Monday, February 14, 2011

One-on-One is How My World Turns

Last fall I attended and spoke at several conferences, individually and on panels.  It was an honor to be a guest at these events.  The primary reason I was invited to each event was based upon my writings online.

If you are reading this then you know that I spread my words and efforts over many different venues.  'Brass and Ivory' is my home online but I spend much more time collectively at the other websites where I contribute.

These websites include:
I maintain three Twitter accounts:
  • @LisaEmrich
  • @MS_Bloggers
  • @MSHealthCentral
And, I can be found on Facebook where I am genuinely connected to family members, friends from my hometown, classmates from the three universities I attended, colleagues from the local musician community, and fellow patients who live with multiple sclerosis and/or rheumatoid arthritis.  Some people on my "friend list" belong to more than one category.

Probably due to the diversity of this collection of friends, I share less of myself rather than more on Facebook.  Here on the blog, I share almost as much as I might with my closest 'in real life' friends.  But to be honest, there is much that I hold back.  I'm sure everybody does somewhat.

Back to the catalyst for this particular post.  At each of the conferences where I spoke in the months of September, October, November, and December,  I was asked several questions centered around a singular theme - How influential are you?

"Do you know what your readership is?  What is your reach?  Do you know how many people visit your blog every day?  How many Twitter followers do you have?  What are your blog's traffic stats?"

I don't have good answers to any of those questions except maybe the Twitter follower question.  But how many of those people have since abandoned Twitter for other online social venues?  The number shown does not represent much of anything.

It is even more impossible to know exactly who is reading this blog or who might see any particular tweet I've posted.  For the blog, I do not require that anybody come here to read.  You can stay offsite in the comfort of a Google Reader or the equivalent.

I can see that there are 127 people who have "joined" this blog, 376 people who are subscribed through Feedburner, and an unknown number who follow this blog through Networkedblogs on Facebook.  Then there are the 107 who follow the Carnival.  That's well over 600 people, right?  Maybe, maybe not.

To be honest, it doesn't matter to me how many people read this blog.  It matters to me that those who do read it find something which helps them.  This blog isn't designed to gain a cult following.  It is aimed at the individual.

One by one I have gotten to know people and develop personal relationships.  That's also what I do in my music attention and development.  It works best for me and for those around me.  In fact, I have some students for whom this is their 11th year of lessons with me.  Just think about that - 11 years out of someone's life who is only 15, 17, or 18.  Now that is influential!!

But those in the business of healthcare and social media (ie. the marketing folks who are trying to figure out how to "connect" with all of us patients) want to know the numbers.  It is the mentality that tossing out a message over a bunch of people might result in it sticking to a few is successful.  That's how those commercials or magazine ads work - mass media marketing.

I learned this week that throwing out many messages (even if they are individually sent) does not always result in people taking action upon the message or request.  It was only those with whom I had already had direct connect previously who took action (and then sent a kind word of support).

It doesn't matter that I theoretically have more than 2911 people who read what I have to say.  (Yes, I know that many individuals may be duplicated in the numbers from site to site but stick with me here.)  There are less than one 10th of that who visit the blog daily.  Again, no one HAS TO come to the blog to read ever.  (I'm toying with the idea of changing that as an experiment.)

OK, now I've digressed.  What was I saying?

It is on the individual level where my influence matters.  I have no cult following or popularity.  I can't make people take action upon my say so.

My blog was just in a competition where I asked for votes and support.  The individual one-on-one response was amazing.  My blog received 592 individual votes.  I told everybody only one vote allowed per computer or IP address, so that's what people did.

I learned this weekend that many of those who voted for my competitor were able to vote multiple times.  How the system allowed their computers to do so, I don't really know.  His blog received 864 votes.

Unfortunately, our blogs are read by some of the same people.  Those people had to make a choice for whom to vote.  With that in mind, it is amazing that we collectively received 1456 votes which amounted to 88.4% of the total votes in our category.  Only one other category in the competition received more responses than the "Best Patient Blog" category did.  For a medical blog competition, that is amazing.

Brass and Ivory may have fallen 273 votes short of winning, but I thank the individuals who took the time to follow through on my request to vote.  Your support is much appreciated.  I would have liked to have won.  This blog deserves it and I know that many, many individuals would have awarded it to me if they could.  Over 500 individuals showed that type of support.

Thank you very much for your support.  It is the positive response I receive from individuals which keeps me motivated.  Without motivation, I would say to hell with this blogging business.  But then again, the paid writing I do elsewhere online did manage to fund my IRA this year and pay my taxes, both which are very important to this self-employed freelance person living with chronic disease.

Finally, thank you for allowing me to contemplate the concept of "influence" and to indulge in a pseudo-rant.  I sincerely do appreciate your readership and support.  Please let me know you were here by leaving a comment.



  1. I may seem like a lurker sometimes, but I'm HERE! I always find info of value and have come to value you as a friend. You do a great job, and it's the connecions that you make, personal connections along with professional writing that makes it so. Hugs

  2. Lisa, if you want to know about your traffic get yourself a free counter to post on your site somewhere. Even the free version gives plenty of information, but they have other versions which you pay for that give you lots more. Me, I don't have that much traffic so I'll stick with free.

    Sorry you didn't win; you obviously put in a lot of work here. I can't speak for everyone, but I do appreciate what you do here. (I just wish for a little more personal this and thats.)

  3. I'm guilty of being a lurker as well. Maybe it'd serve better if I opened my mouth sometimes.

  4. Thank you ladies, my friends, and soon to be new friend Hatchetgirl. I feel rather raw right now, especially based on some not-to-be-discussed behavior I encountered online recently. I thank you again.

    Webster, thanks for the tip. I use a free version of Sitemeter which provides me some information on the 100 most recent visits and an overall view of visit/page views for one year. I also have Google Analytics enabled.

    To be honest, my visits/page views have gone down in the past year. I almost feel that by not stating what I know is happening that maybe I can maintain the illusion of greater reach which some others think that I have.

    Based on the Sitemeter stats, I will be reaching 100,000 visits since the end of 2007 very soon. That will likely happen by the end of the week. Kinda cool.

  5. I read really I do!
    Sorry about the disappointment sometimes it is nice to get recognition.

    I resisted the temptation to vote for this blog numerous times (it is not that hard to cheat)when I saw the vote counts in the poll but why? Seriously I would not find joy in knowing I won because someone rigged the deal.

    There have been a few debates on the subject of showing full or excerpts in RSS feeds to force folks to visit the blog. Some large sites readers revolted.

    I appreciate the information you hunt down and share. I also miss the more personal posts of the past.

    I use my news reader more than a few years ago - the more eye candy on a blog the harder it is for me to read.

    the more professional a blog looks the less likely I am to comment.

    Very cool to reach 100,000.

    I will try to remember to click over to the blog so the bean counters can see me.


  6. Lisa, I, for one, really enjoy your blog, and I did vote. I asked my daughter to spread the word and get out the vote via her many friends on FB. Not sure if any of them did. Your competitor's blog doesn't appear as often as yours, and while I read it, I find that yours says more to me. While you may not have won that contest, you're still tops with me!

  7. I'm here, Lisa! And I voted for you, too!

    I have to admit I'm not here daily, but that's not because I'm not interested! I'm overwhelmed with all the good blogs out there that I wish I had time to read every day ...