Audience Development is rarely talked about by bloggers but many of us could benefit from spending an hour or two each week focusing on it. In this post, I explain how one Audience Development tactic – an influencer leaderboard – that worked really well for me on my personal blog GamificationOfWork.com.
When I set up GamificationOfWork.com my main objective was to document my thinking as I started to learn about gamification. Over time it became an editorial site with reviews of gamification books, guest posts and a hub for those thinking about the emerging field of Gamification. It’s use of a power 100 leaderboard in the early days, as an audience development tool (not a phrase I knew then) is worth understanding in more detail.
Audience Development is the term publishers use to describe their own marketing efforts. One of the primary jobs of any news organisation is to build an audience of people who want to hear their news. And after all, no audience means no advertising.
When you pick up a usually paid-for newspaper for free when you jump on a flight, you have been targeted by the Audience Development team of that newspaper. By getting you to read one issue, they reason, you are more likely to be converted to becoming an avid reader in future.
Like any online marketer, the audience development team for a digital news publisher has plenty of marketing options – favourites including incentives and offers, advertising (on other similar publications if they let you and on social networks) and content marketing.
” a specific piece of content can be designed to attract a specific audience…”
In this post I want to focus on audience development using content. The idea is that a specific piece of content can be designed to attract a specific audience – the audience that you want to come to your blog and read your posts.
Top publications do this all the time. When Forbes publishes its annual list of the top billionaires it is seeking to develop an audience among two sets of people – the few, very wealthy people and the vast majority, who would like to be very wealthy.
And it works very well for them – many of us do have an interest in the peaks and troughs in fortune of Messrs Gates, Buffet, Bezos and Zuckerberg.
This type of content works. We are innately interested in how others around us rank.
A few years ago, I tried the approach on my blog and created the “Gamification Gurus Top 10” and it immediately had an amazing effect!
My usual traffic was around 10 viewers a day – this top 10 post got 154 views! A 15x increase on normal. I then repeated the tactic with a follow up post of the top 20 the following month and gained 268 views! Over time I matured the leaderboard and now have over 300 gurus on my board, many of whom have signed up to be there themselves. As well as blog traffic, this provides me with an additional valuable monthly email channel directly to the top influencers in my community.
Most importantly though it built a voice for me within the gamification community – suddenly everyone knew who I was – and it kickstarted a valuable audience for my blog that continues to this day. All through a simple list of influencers, updated on a monthly basis.
Since then I’ve converted the tools that I used to create the board into an application, Rise, and template, Power 100 Leaderboard, to allow others to do the same on their own blogs.
While I still see some monthly boards being created on Rise, the most popular ones tend to be weekly or fortnightly. Check out City AM’s Fintech powerlist (which has already been shared over 5000 times).
One question I often get is how should I rank the influencers – my answer is to start with Klout scores. Klout is a very sophisticated influence algorithm and it is difficult (though not impossible) to game. While of course it isn’t showing influence specific to your audience’s topic it is a great proxy to get going with. Over time you can gradually evolve the score algorithm to take into account metrics more in keeping with your audience. The Gamification Gurus Power 100 board now leans very much toward use of Slideshare (presenting and teaching) and Twitter (being retweeted as an expert) to derive the rankings each month.
If you’ve got a blog and you want to develop your existing audience, or perhaps market your content to a new audience, then I highly recommend a Power 100 leaderboard as a fast and effective way to do that.
PS. As an added incentive, here’s a discount code to get 10% off your monthly board price if you create your power 100 board and subscribe anytime this November (NOVBLOG15)