Online posts and why not all eyeballs are equal

Why do I bother? The blog posts I write attract a few dozen eyeballs. Why can’t I be like Gwyneth Paltrow and attract hundreds of thousands to a cool sounding website like Goop? Or perhaps I’d be better off if I was Richard Branson with people amplifying my utterances on LinkedIn alongside those of Plato?

I have to accept the reality that I am not famous, not even infamous which might even be better. There is no doubt fame or infamy are absolute tickets to success in the online world. It seems the less important the content, the more likely it is to secure a cult following.

This is bad news for those pedalling serious content. Celebrity, gossip, gaming and fads collect the eyeballs. The thing that prompted this blog was a recent article Melbourne’s Herald-Sun journalist, Susie O’Brien, ‘What a load of Goop’. This beautifully headlined piece was about Susie’s encounter with Gwyneth Paltrow’s website.

Goop is from a long line of US ancestors, the old frontier land medicine shows. These could be anything from a huckster standing on the corner flogging dubious cure-all brews to full-blown performances from the back of a wagon in a travelling show.

The point of Susie’s article was that, on the back of the profile of Gwyneth and a bunch of celebrity pals, people are happy to take health and other advice from unqualified people and buy over-priced products on the basis of it. People are still easily sucked into buying stuff by other people who have the gift of the gab.

I have recently posted a bit of content that has been more successful than most, if measured by the hard, but rather meaningless metrics of ‘views, likes and comments’.

When I left full-time employment, I posted a ‘Brooxit’ graphic, leveraging off a much more significant event. It attracted 15,000 views and dozens of comments and likes. Of all the better things I have posted, the announcement of my exit was the biggest news ever.

The blogs and posts generating the most interaction and sharing have been those focused on what I am doing, what I have learned and, when I’ve been feeling a little bit too transparent, the mistakes I’ve made.

Does this make this content any better than other posts on professional topics? The answer to this depends on what my success metrics are for the content I’m posting and, in particular, the audience I’m posting it for.

The few dozen eyeballs drawn to various professional articles are precisely the ones I am looking for. They are generally the colleagues, connections and business people with whom I want to build my brand. I want to paint a picture over time of what makes me tick, my areas of expertise and, yes, even embed in their minds some of the values I hold.

Publishing blogs for your business is not necessarily a numbers game, although it might be if you’re flogging cosmetics or insanely priced designer jeans. In those instances, you’re better to stick to visual stuff and influencers on Instagram.

Gwyneth of course is combining celebrity influencers, ‘educational’ and visual content techniques and channel strategy. Putting aside the medicine show hucksterism and the dubious ethics that accompany it, it’s actually pretty smart content strategy and has obviously gathered a cult-like following of well-heeled Goopers.

The message is that if you’re not Gwyneth with a pipeline of celebrity influencers plugged into your narrative, don’t despair. The chances are very high that the people reading Goop are not those you’re trying to reach.