Inspire-o-what? Building a better blog

Blog 2012-10-12

Wondering what’s up with that little doohickey at the bottom of every post?

When we launched our blog back in May, we set as our broad aim that Qreview would become “a lively platform for dialogue and debate.” We wanted to see posts generating lots of feedback and getting high marks in terms of the extent to which they resonate with you.

Since May we’ve been ironing out the kinks, learning all about the care and feeding of a blog, and establishing some baseline data about how you’re using Qreview. We also came up with our own theory about how people engage with a blog. Here it is:

In case you were wondering, since May some 300 of you have been visiting Qreview when we publish new posts. You’re also rating posts, and sometimes leaving comments too. Thanks for joining the conversation.

With the wealth of data available, it took us some time to figure out where we should focus, in order to move closer to our desired future state. We decided to start by trying to improve two things:

  1. Increase the number of you visiting the blog (Level 1 in the pyramid above).
  2. Grow the proportion of you using the Inspire-o-meter to rate posts. We figure this is probably a decent indicator of how many of you are actually reading through to the end of posts (Level 3).

Right now, the average number of daily visits to the blog is just shy of 60. We want to increase this by 50% , to 90 visitors daily, by December 31. Similarly, just over 11 percent of you are currently rating Qreview posts. Our aim is to increase this figure to 20% by the end of the calendar year (a 50% improvement).

We’ve crafted an improvement plan, with specific strategies to get more people visiting Qreview and more people rating posts. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted on our progress over the next 3 months.

PS1 – The Inspire-o-meter scores themselves are helpful too, as these let us know which posts resonate with you. We’re just not focusing our attention there yet.

Correction: An eagle-eyed colleague pointed out a small oops in my original post. That second aim should have read: “Grow the proportion of you…to the end of posts (Level 3)” — not Level 2 (User reads post). Thanks to Google Analytics, we can in fact look at the length of time (in minutes/seconds) that you spend on a given post; people are spending an average of about 3 minutes per post. With our second target, we want to increase the level of engagement you are feeling toward Qreview. Yes, you read a post. But did it resonate with you enough that you take the next easy/anonymous/no strings attached step of rating it?

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6 Responses to “Inspire-o-what? Building a better blog”

  1. Steven Lewis
    October 12, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Hey Greg,
    Here’s the real dilemma. The www, and the blogosphere, are infinitely expandable, and always expanding. This avalanche runs headlong into a finite variable: time. The greater the amount of good stuff out there, the lower the probability that any of it will get read. And readership is hardly a normal distribution: some blogs go viral, most go pffftttt. So what’s really important is the motivation for producing them, and how you define success. The real metric is whether something you write changes someone’s thinking. We can’t measure that, so we measure what’s measurable, i.e., hits, or snap ratings. How you estimate whether the return on investment is adequate is a mystery.

    • Greg Basky
      Greg Basky
      October 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      What you say is true, Steven. An ever-increasing number of us ARE competing for people’s ever-decreasing amount of time to read. Part of our motivation for launching Qreview was a nagging feeling that we weren’t doing all we could to “initiate informed dialogue” — one of the priorities we set out in our 2011-14 strategic plan. So one measure of success for us is getting some conversation going — people caring enough about a post to share a comment, offer an opinion, challenge an idea, pose a question. Which then provides an opportunity to respond, which keeps the dialogue moving. But yes, ultimately, we hope that something we write moves someone’s thinking on an issue, or causes them to actually do something different in response. I assume that is part of your motivation behind MASH, my fellow blogger. You mean you and the folks at Open Medicine didn’t sort this out before you started? 🙂

  2. Manas
    October 12, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I liked the use of the pyramid diagram – that’s the first thing I read in the post. Also like the inspire-o-meter!

    • Greg Basky
      October 12, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Manas. Credit for the visual — and more importantly, the thinking behind it — goes to my brilliant colleagues Jade Gulash, Tanya Verrall, and Jessica Hamilton, who are leading the charge to bring measurement rigor to this new (to us) communications platform.

  3. Robin Eichert
    October 12, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I think it’s wonderful that you posted your goals! And your pyramid approach to understanding the situation is helpful, too, not to mention that you’re using data to track the progress. I have a feeling you will meet your goals with this thorough plan in place. Good luck!

    • Greg Basky
      Greg Basky
      October 12, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Robin. Thanks for dropping by. Like our colleagues in SK’s health care system, we here at HQC are learning lots about the power of making goals visible – posting them, monitoring them, talking about them. Frankly, the amount of data available — through WordPress and Google Analytics — was overwhelming at first. Hence the need to focus, focus, focus. We appreciate your vote of confidence!

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