While many of us marvel at those Web sites and “viral videos” that
take the Internets by storm and quickly gain viewership, I think the
sign of truly successful sites are those that more slowly and
incrementally gain their fans. The motto for today’s essay is that
slow and steady will win the online video race. And those sites that
are quick to gain attention are also quick to lose it: the longer it
takes you to build your followers, the better a chance you’ve have at
Too often we get consumed by playing the numbers game: is traffic for
our Web site up from last month? What were the big ticket articles or
pages that brought in the most visitors? Did we get anything posted on
Slashdot (which has a huge following, and can often spike traffic if
articles get the right position)? These aren’t the right questions to
Instead, lengthen your time horizon to the next quarter, and look for
efforts that will build interest for more than just the quick hit. Is
your site truly useful as a resource and will bring back returning
visitors several times over the course of the year? Do you regularly
post new content? Are your most popular pages easily accessible from
your home page or clearly labeled at the top menu bar? Do you tie in
your Web site with social network group postings and with regular
(weekly or twice monthly) email blasts that have something of value in
them? Do you look at your site logs and understand what they are
I realize that there are a lot of questions here, more than answers.
Too often, Web site operators are easily swayed by the latest
trend-let or Search Engine Optimization seminar come-on. It doesn’t
have to be that way. Here are a couple of examples from my own efforts
that you can use to guide your own strategies.
People talk about the power of LinkedIn and other social networks. I
have built my own into several hundred people gradually, by adding a
few people at a time. Now the whole thing is self-sustaining. And
while it seems impressive now when you look at the total members that
I can reach, I think it is a much better list because I built them up
gradually. I use LinkedIn to find sources for stories that I am
working on, or to try to discover new clients from my installed base.
After all, these are the people that are most familiar with my work. I
also use it as an online resume/reference source, so potential clients
can check out what my previous clients have said about me.
The same goes for you, the Web Informant reader. These weekly emails
are a great way for me to continue to engage you, because I hopefully
send something out of value rather than a marketing blast that is
content-free. I hear from many of you that save these missives, or
that reply to ones that I wrote months ago, and that is a very potent
connection and a great motivation for me to continue to write them.
As many of you know, I began creating my own series of sponsored video
screencast product reviews over on WebInformant.tv. So far I have
posted 15 videos, and they are slowly gaining viewership on more than
a dozen different video sharing and how-to Web sites. While none of
them are at the level of the Coke-and-Mentos guys, I am glad to see
that day after day and week after week they are getting watched and
more importantly, serve as a great resource for enterprise IT managers
that are trying to figure out whether they can buy these products.
Another thought: always freely offer something of value on your Web
site, even if you are tempted to charge for it. The more people can
stop and smell and taste what you have, the more they are going to
want to stick around and eventually dive in deeper. Some people
suggest that you offer almost everything for free, and then charge
them to customize your content. I can’t tell you how many Web sites
that I visit that still don’t do this, and insist on registering you
or tracking you or verifying you before you can get inside the front
door. You can make money by giving things away for free.
And if you feel like sharing your own thoughts with my audience,
please post your comments on my Strominator.com blog.
David Strom is an expert on Internet and networking technologies who
was the former editor-in-chief at Network Computing, Tom’s
Hardware.com, and DigitalLanding.com. He currently writes regularly
for PC World, Baseline Magazine, and the New York Times and is also a
professional speaker, podcaster and blogs at strominator.com and WebInformant.tv