So part of the reason I decided to use the WordPress format is because of engagement. My goal with this website is to reignite my creative side. (you can read about that here) I use WordPress to read about writing and photography and creativity, and I do find some very useful. I try to leave comments and give constructive perspective. In return, I hope that people will come and check out my page and give me some feedback (good or bad) so that I can gain insight as well.
You can create art for yourself, but art without an audience is just creative masturbation.
I know that people have a lot of media to consume these days, and that if I can’t get someone to slow down and leave a comment, then a simple Like will have to do. My thinking was that even though I wouldn’t know why someone likes one of my photos or my style of writing, I could at least see which subject maters or styles get the most attention and judge for myself. I knew that this was somewhat flawed thinking, but you take what you can get and make the most of it.
And at first it was going well. I was getting a few comments but mostly, Likes. As I anticipated. And I tried to gain as much info from this as I could.
Then I decided to buy my own host and domain. That changed everything and the way I looked at WordPress Likes. I realized I couldn’t trust them.
I bought the host and domain myself instead of going through WordPress.com because it gave me more control for a lot less money. For less then the premium package, I could get almost all of the benefits of the professional package. It seemed like a no brainier to me and I’m glad that I did it. But what I hadn’t taken into account was that WordPress.com doesn’t include self hosted WordPress websites in the Reader section of WordPress. This was a dilemma for me. I wanted that WordPress.com engagement. That’s when I came up with the idea to post a preview on my mrfunkedude.wordpress.com and have it link to mrfunkedude.com. My hopes were that an extra click wouldn’t deter people from viewing the content.
That’s when I started to pay attention to the stats. How many people were clicking over to mrfunkedude.com? Would this work? The answer surprised me.
Half the people would like a preview image where I posted a copy of the original image with a black bar going across it. Like this..
Why would someone like this image? Were they clicking back from mrfunkedude.com to give it a like on their Reader? I went back to the stats and compared the two sites. It seemed that only half the people who viewed the preview, clicked through to the main site. Then I started to pay closer attention to who was liking my stuff on wordpress.com and mrfunkedude.com. Certain “people” were showing up over and over liking my previews but never clicking over to mrfunkedude.com. When I went to look at their blogs I found mostly people trying to sell their work. It became clear that the only reason they were liking the previews was to get me to view their website.
In other words, the only Likes I could trust, were the ones on mrfunkedude.com. And I never would have realized this if I hadn’t hosted my site away from WordPress.com.
Now I look at other WordPress.com sites differently when I see how many Likes a post has. How much of that is authentic? I question posts that have only a few comments and 100 Likes. If so many people like that post, why aren’t more commenting? All of this inevitably has lead me to start focusing on other avenues to gain engagement.
What do you use besides WordPress.com to get people to engage with your work? I use Twitter, and I hate Facebook with a passion so I won’t be going that direction. I’d love to read your thoughts. (if you have the time)