Contra Activity Dumps: A Blogging Lesson


On my blog I’ve attempted to provide a “big tent” approach to business analytics, spanning literary analogies to networking tips.

Music is a huge pursuit for me. I play violin in a local orchestra and am a member of the Cleveland Orchestra’s young professional group. 

Why not combine these two big passions, I thought? Surely some great content will result. 

A great idea. But I started out wrong. Here’s what I did — and fixed — and the lesson.

The Intent: Humanize with Culture

The internet has made everything searchable. Knowledge and stats are free. Instead, people want a guide with a unique voice.

Noticing that most business analytics blogs are dry and advanced, my blog covers big-picture data topics with a focus on the Microsoft Excel end-user.

Wanting to find that unique voice, I attempted adding music to my social media outreach. I turned on my Pandora listening feed. I also tweeted some of my favorite tracks.

I thought this activity would humanize my voice. Music almost always comes up with strangers — why not share this hobby with my audience? It shows me as a human, not a 2-D picture on a screen.

The Result: Knowledge Dumps Annoy

 Turns out the activity dump was not impressive.

A friend messaged me, saying that a good 75% of his Facebook feed was littered with my Pandora listening activity. 

He noted that while I post a lot of great stuff, monopolizing the FB feed might not be a way to get followers. In fact it may lead people to unfollow.

I went with quantity over quality — a cardinal sin of content! Rather than be an inspiring, unique voice, I was an annoying, constant clattering.

More Pee Wee Herman than Morgan Freeman.

The Takeaway: Personalize with Context

Have I mentioned I love Wordcamp? 

At my last Wordcamp, Cyrissa Carlson emphasized that it’s okay to share your personal life and interests — so long as it relates to your platform. Sure, post a picture of you getting coffee — explaining it’s prep for your day of speaking. 

Adding a musical element to my blog is a great idea. But within the limits of Microsoft Excel.

My article on how music has helped me as an analyst comes to mind. It was about music, it was personal. But it was about data analysis.

This incident taught me that overwhelming followers with activity does not create authority. With every post I refine my niche and find my voice. I’m weaving something that I can’t fully describe, but I know is there with enough work.

This targeted content strategy is very different than an activity dump. Like a knowledge dump, people don’t want loads of rote information. They want a voice they can trust.

Thanks, Matt, for sparing me future unfollowers!

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  1. I have taken exactly the *opposite* approach, and combined all of my interests in my blog – economic analysis, commentary on current events, ultrarunning, mountaineering, occasional philosophizing and a musical interlude or two – and in my case it has worked extremely well. Of course, my goals are different: I am not trying to get followers. When I actually do get one (apparently it happens!) I typically have found someone who I find as interesting as I find myself. Hah!

    • George Mount says:

      That’s true and I love it! I even enjoy the LeGrizz posts even though I’m a candidate for a “0.0” bumper sticker… I think the difference is you don’t unload on us how many miles you ran each day and where, etc.

      Instead it is in the perspective of personal achievements, friends and family. Living the good life in a free society. A bit of a stretch.. but it works 🙂

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