Do you care about your online statistics? I do, a lot. But possibly, you don’t. If that’s true, stop reading now. You’re going to find this post ridiculous.
From time to time, I read posts from bloggers who say their blog stats don’t matter. They don’t care about page views, likes, follows or shares. They want to write, they say, it’s irrelevant if anyone reads. If this was twenty-five years ago, I’d say this was a load of manure (although I might have used a different word back then). Twenty-five years ago, I knew everything. I was perfect. If I thought stats were important, if I obsessed about mine, then everyone else did too. Of course, twenty-five years ago, there were no statistics to track.
I’ve aged, I’ve mellowed. I’m less sure of myself. If someone tells me their statistics don’t matter, who am I to argue. But I’m not the one saying that. My stats are a drug, an addiction. Big numbers get me high, and I’ve been mighty high lately.
Two weeks ago, I posted a story called God’s Light. It’s about my niece Taylor. She’s been hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer (update: she finished), and I’ve followed along on Facebook. For the past six months, she’s posted to Facebook every day. And everything she posts gets a hundred likes. I looked on with a mixture of pride and envy. When I post something on Facebook, I usually get two or three likes. I typically post links to news articles that catch my interest, and I don’t expect many people to read them, much less like them, but really? Two likes?
A few days after I posted God’s Light, my stats started climbing. All the traffic came from Facebook, which is rare. Even though I have an “Other Stuff” Facebook page that is automatically updated with anything I post on my blog, I almost never see traffic from Facebook. Taylor discovered my post and linked it on her Facebook page. Suddenly hundreds of her followers wanted to read what I had to say. I was stunned by the number of page views.
On the same day, the Good Men Project posted a Tourette Awareness essay I wrote two years ago called Below the Surface. Every week, the editors at the Good Men Project search my blog for posts that they think their readers will like. I get posted every Tuesday morning at nine. I love this relationship. It gives me tons of exposure, tons of readership, and only one thing is expected of me. I tweet a link to the article of the week.
On occasion, they post content that embarrassed me. Once, they published an essay I wrote that minimizes my struggle as a newly sober alcoholic. I called this essay Never Again. The Good Men Project called it I Quit Drinking with No Drama which sets an expectation right from the start. Against my better judgement, I tweeted out the link with an apology. Here’s a response I received: “That’s like telling a depressed person to go outside and get some fresh air. It’s just that easy!” I’m now the Tom Cruise of the sobriety world.
When I tweeted out Below the Surface, I again experienced a mini-viral event. The Tourette Association of America retweeted it and posted a link to Facebook. My Good Men Project article got thousands of views and hundreds of shares. The Tourette Association – Texas Chapter picked it up and even shared a link to my blog. For three days, my stats went nuts.
The page views are still trickling in, but the exciting crush of viewers quickly died away. Left craving more attention, I tried to create a viral event. Recently, a blogger I follow went viral with this tweet about Trump. Possibly you saw it shared on Twitter, I did.
He’s a smart and talented writer with thousands of followers. I wanted some of his action. I came up with my own clever meme, touching on the topics that anger and frustrate me most: cigarettes and guns. I posted this on Facebook and Twitter, and I went off to work. While I was away, I expected it to circle the globe twice.
Fourteen likes, way better than my average of two, but not the viral event I expected. I don’t know why I set such high expectations for myself. I’m always disappointed. I do this with everything I post– on my blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.
I still think my post is ingenious. Sage, funny, sarcastic, true. It didn’t gain traction on Facebook, and I’m not sure anyone even saw it on Twitter. Fortunately, my blog is a place where it can live a long life and get periodic views.
As a side note: this “vaping disease” is serious, and my intention isn’t to poke fun at it. I don’t know why e-cigarettes became acceptable in the first place, but I fully support the growing movement to ban them. My theory about the susceptibility to lung damage is that the afflicted have caught a virus that interacts negatively with vaping. As the virus spreads, more and more people will be stricken (you read it here first). I support a total governmental ban on e-cigarettes, cigarettes and guns, because apparently, common sense isn’t enough to guide Americans towards more healthful behaviors.