Should I Go Negative on Taylor Hicks?
The internet is an equalizer, I think. The computer offers a voice to anyone with a keyboard and an opinion to share. There is opportunity, but no guarantee. Some voices are louder than others, and it’s often difficult to be heard above the clamor.
There is pleasure in the simple act of writing and publishing a blog. There is a sense of satisfaction when I feel that a phrase has been well turned, when the words flow easily in sequence. That said, I’m not writing a diary. I’m writing with purpose, and in the hope that others will read and enjoy what I’ve written, and perhaps seek out the artists/music I’ve presented.
During the first six months of the blog, I’ve learned a few empirical truths about writing and marketing. Much of what I’ve learned has come from trial and error, and even more through the generous counsel of other bloggers.
I’d like to share some of my lessons learned through comparative examples.
A Tale of Two Blogs or The Power of Negativity
Last October I posted “Taylor Hicks and Marilyn Monroe: A Photographer’s Story“, a news story with promotional intent (Taylorhicksnews on tap blog). In January, Harris Decker published “Opinion: How Taylor Hicks Ruined American Idol“, personal commentary based on statistical review (The Truth about Music blog).
My article pulled 420 views the first day, 1260 views in the first three weeks. Harris’ article pulled 500 views the first day, 815 views in the first three weeks. The news story prompted 14 comments from readers; the editorial elicited 78 comments. There were approximately 20 “tweets” about my post in the first day or two; Harris received 80 twitter replies to his post, many with angry/negative tone.
My post was 4 months from concept to publication by the time interviews and necessary approvals were obtained; the post was rewritten 3 times. Harris devoted one day to research/analysis and forty-five minutes to writing.
I consider both of these blog posts to be successful with regard to generating interest/views and comments. Clearly, Harris’ post was much more successful in encouraging reader interaction.
1. Negative headlines attract attention.
When asked about his attention getting headline, Harris had this to say, “I actually spent an entire year as an entertainment editor for a college newspaper, writing headlines for every single article in the section. While I hated it at first, I grew to love it. In the past, I’ve used headlines like: “Katy Perry, Please Go Away, You Aren’t Loved (Anymore)” or “Indie Music Fans Think They Are Special, Here’s Why They’re Not.” I know that a dramatic over the top headline will spark interest…”.
2. Negative content evokes emotion and generates views/comments.
In discussing his post, Harris offered “I’ve learned over the three years of writing this blog that negative articles always do better than positive ones. I can’t say that I was going for this emotional chord in this case but you certainly couldn’t put it past me.” Harris also voiced surprise at the well of support for Mr. Hicks that erupted within minutes of his blog’s posting.
3. Effort is no guarantee of success.
There is at best a weak correlation between time and effort spent on a post and the eventual success of that post.
4. Readers play a critical role.
By reading and then sharing a post, readers play an important role in its success. By commenting upon or discussing an article on social media sites, the reader encourages others to visit the blog. In this respect, positive and negative comments are nearly equivalent. Both bring more attention to the post and help the post to remain visible on internet search engines. Negative comments may actually prove more useful as curiosity drives readers to the post.
Through their actions, readers also provide feedback that guides future post selection. When articles garner a large number of comments, tweets and/or reposts, then the blogger is encouraged to provide more of the same.
A Tale of Two Posts or Animals Rule Humans
One of these photos received far more views than the other. In a July 2010 post “Doggone Smart: Curry, Rob, and Taylor“, the Glen of Imaal terrier was the focus of nearly 50% of the comments posted.
A New Year’s Eve post that featured little in the way of new blog content but that included a photo of a squinting cat received an embarrassingly large number of views.
Readers prefer cute animals to humans. It is unclear if a boa constrictor would have yielded the same result.
1. Animals enhance blog views.
The perfect headline would marry negativity with a handsome animal while still advancing the blog’s viewpoint.
2. I missed my chance.
It was there, if I had only known then what I know now.
The headline that could have been:
“Hound Dog Pans Taylor Hicks Performance”
The First 6 Months: The Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned
1. There’s more to learn.
I’ve read many blogs on a variety of topics over the past several months. Most of these were written by authors with far more experience and skill than I. I look forward to learning and improving.
2. I have my own voice.
Singers have their own unique style; so do writers. My style is my own and it’s here to stay. Over the last 6 months I’ve developed a fair understanding of what I can and can’t do. I can’t do negative effectively. While the blog may occasionally tease with a negative headline, the content is unlikely to run that way. It’s a personal and stylistic choice, not an indictment of other bloggers. The artists presented here are those who entertain me; I’m grateful for their efforts.
The truth about Harris’ blog is that most of the posts are well written with a neutral/positive slant. Here’s the link to his blog. Leave him 78 comments on a post that you like; chances are you’ll get more of the same. http://truthaboutmusic.com/