value of exchange

Value of exchange.    When I stop to think of it this phrase seems fraught with so many different meanings.   It could simply be a field in a form a retail clerk uses to process a return.  It could be a topic up for discussion among world leaders at some economic conference where we all continue to hope that any day now they will be saving the day.   Or it could even be a theory about numbers and statistics when it comes to blogging and social networking.

I found myself talking with Holly about my theory that you have to look at blog statistics as a three legged stool.   It’s pretty easy to drive junk traffic,  but it will have a terrible bounce rate and an abysmal average visit time.     Those three measurements taken together give a picture of a blog or website’s success in engaging visitors.  But manipulating any one of the three statistics does nothing whatsoever to further any  goals you might have,  from converting visitors to sales to drawing comments and discussion or even just to get lots of folks to button dance on your piece.   It’s easy to manipulate most stats.   It’s much harder to engage with an audience.

It seems to me that the value of exchange for bloggers is in the people that you meet and the conversations that you get to have.   In my experience conversations tend to go on and on and as you speak with people on different posts,  on different sites,  you get to know them and some of them you like more than others,  connect with more than others.    If you’re not meeting and chatting with people…you’re not doing it right 🙂  And finally today,  many thanks to Nexus Revolution for suggesting today’s words.


32 comments on “value of exchange

  1. Interesting how small the world has become with social media. Used to just be power players who connected and now it can be anyone. Very different world.

    • Cathy, I agree that the Internet has made the world a much smaller place. Yet it seems to me that the way we meet and chat with people all over the world is remarkably similar to the ways people have always met and chatted. The distances are vastly reduced, but I suspect the relationships are not changed all that much.

    • Yep. So much easier to keep chasing after that mythical elixir, rather than doing the hard work of learning about (writing, web publishing, social networking, etc).

  2. Social media has so much potential… but only if a “like” is a statement that something is appreciated; if a “share” is a statement that something is worthy of calling to others’ attention; and if a comment is really indicative of a reaction to the content of a post. Thanks for inviting us into your conversations!

    • Vince, I kind of think that social media is actually evolving towards more genuineness. I think that as more and more users begin to realize that their ability to Like content is actually limited, more and more users will become more discerning about what they “like”. Or perhaps I am a bit Pollyanna-ish about this.

  3. Thanks for sharing. The bounce rate will continue to get worse as time goes on but for those good enough to break through the prize is also greater.

    • Trevor, I think for most bloggers a focus on bounce rate is mis-guided. When I used to have a widget on my blog that visitors could click to record their visit, I spent hour and hours each day visiting other blogs (to click an identical widget). I had lots of unique visitors and was so naive about blog statistics that I was proud of my traffic, not realizing that my bounce rate and average visit time were horrible, since no one was reading the articles and each of my 200–300 daily unique visitors only stopped by to click the widget. You really can waste Years chasing junk traffic 🙂

  4. Manipulating stats only fools yourself into believing there is engagement, when none exists at all. Creating good content, and engaging people in conversation across several social media platforms is more effective in achieving real results.

    • Indeed. It’s also actually a lot more hard work than, say, visiting three hundred blogs to click a widget every day. But if your goal is to communicate with other people….there really is no substitute for actually communicating 🙂

  5. Thats why on my pages and everything, I’d rather have 10 less likes as opposed to one comment or question. There are people that do ‘traffic driving’ in an extreme that goes beyond what is acceptable in my tastes. They offer you 1000 likes or blah blah, and then you get people who are non-local, dont speak the language and come with spam and malware as well. This is not true in most cases but that is part of that exchange. Cheers.

    • Exactly. I’ve previously written about Amazon’s Mechanical Turk ( which easily allows anyone to hire a human to do some little thing for just pennies per action. If actions are all you are looking for, even play money can drive traffic. (If all you care about is driving traffic put up a 500 eaves mission and open it to everyone. You can buy traffic all day for 500 eaves a hit.) But as Wayne pointed out, you’re fooling yourself if you think that incentivized traffic is doing anything for you. (Unless you have a great landing page and a high conversion rate from it….good luck with that 🙂

  6. Nice ! I think setting your value expectations from the blog effort is so critical – to ensure you don’t shortchange anything that matters. I also remember one insight I picked up from a blog recently thanks to EA – Stop Caring ( about how other people would react, etc. and Start Caring about the content, the message and what really matters to you about it ! 🙂 e(abhijit)

  7. I really don’t think you can generalize. There are so many kinds of sites and reasons for having a site and hence different measures of effectiveness. You may be selling (so measure sales) or publishing (e.g. NY Times) (page visits), or using advertising (click throughs), seeking dialog (measure engagement) , or combinations of the above.

    Best to first figure out what your aims are, and then pick appropriate measures, then refine the measure by screening out noise.

    • David, I definitely agree with you that there are no one size fits all answers for blogging or social networking. If you know what your goals are and I can show you how to achieve them. But until you figure out for yourself what you are trying to accomplish….it seems to me you are mostly in danger of being sold snake oil 🙂

  8. Very good post as usual Alan!

    Funny, that’s been a theme with me the last 3 months and will be going forward for the next 3! From my social media world to my currently full real life world, I have been trying hard to focus on the Value of Exchange as much as I can.

    You’re moving, do you get a large truck and do it all at once, or borrow someone’s van and do it little by little? Value of Exchange can be used to decide what’s more important . . .price or time?

    My SM outlets, is tumblr a waste? Is EAv a time sucker? Same applies to that.

    Too ironic you post this today, I LOL’d while I read it . . .not because of the style, just the irony!

      • Yes you can, though the reference was used towards what I did in the past, lol. I should be moving to Florida in late August, early September. Have some things I need to wrap up in Ohio and she in Florida.

        Can’t wait to get back there !!! 🙂

  9. Of all your posts I have experienced I value this the most. There is nothing in my social media experience of greater reward than the individuals met, and ignorance overcome by those willing to converse!

    PS: Frack you and your food backgrounds! I have to go clean the grill instead of continuing to weed my portfolio.

    • Sorry about the food backgrounds. I will try to come up with some non-caloric pics. (After I used up all of the burgers and summer fruits that I have all ready to go 🙂 Meeting people and getting to know them is definitely the best part.

  10. You all know – some of you have helped me (some more than once) – how much I love entering contests. And that usually involves begging for social shares – not manipulating the stats in sleazy, unsavory ways, but sometimes in less-than-meaningful ways. Which is my LEAST favorite challenge – I love writing, I love knowing people are reading, and most of all, I love the conversation that ensues – IF I can just get people to actually read. While driving social shares is often the way to win (on points), it’s the least personally satisfying component, and doesn’t reach any of my other goals (winning or not is always a gamble, but if you READ the thing and comment, I’ve achieved an important personal goal).

    C’mon over to and help me do both. 😉

    BIS, are you inviting us for a cookout?

    Hank, everything we do is a time-suck – some more valuable than others. Breathing is a time-suck, but kind of essential to life. I think each of us has to look inside and see what it is we value, and whether it’s worth the time. A lot of things I do are considered “time-wasters” by people who think nothing of vegging out in front of the TV for a couple of hours a night. 😉

    (e)abhijit – is it okay to care about both? To realize, though, that it’s easy to click “Like” without liking, or to forget to click it on something you actually did like very much? Lament, one of the songs from the musical, Evita, goes, “I thought the more who loved me, the more loved I’d be – but such things cannot be multiplied.”

    David Sanger, don’t you think that the numbers – to be meaningful – almost have to be objective? (Even GA’s “unique pageviews” can be manipulated. But it’s harder – you can’t buy that whereas you can buy “Likes” and “+1s”) It’s true, though – for storefronts, comments aren’t as important as actual sales. Neither is “traffic” if that “traffic” isn’t buying stuff – but if you’re an ad agency, delivering “impressions” is important.

    Cathy – who or what is a “power player” and what does that mean? When was this mythical time whereof you speak?

    Trevor, since the last Google update my bounce rate’s gone scary low. I mean – 6.25?? Wow.

    • wow. In contest mode, you just reply to everyone. Thanks so much for a great reply Holly. To focus on just one of your points though, I don’t think that numbers usually are objective. Anyone who has taken more than one or two accounting classes knows that there are many different ways to describe almost anything (using numbers) and most numbers can be “managed”. Having numbers that are trusted and widely considered meaningful is a huge big deal. (For business people as well as bloggers.) But it seems to me that blog statistics…..are a long way from consistent and widely trusted.

      • Alan, you underestimate me. I TRY to reply to everyone, regardless of whether I’m in “contest mode” or not. And I missed a few, here, today – but I was also in WORK mode, and busy. I did read all the comments, though, and I love reading blogs like yours that inspire more conversation than strings of “great post” type comments left ONLY for backlinks by people who don’t really exist.

        Fake people – a topic for another post. I’ve encountered several of them this week. They’re amazing. And depressing. And infuriating. I had one offer me a guest post. I sent back requirements; they sent back a political post. One that I would never run, not in a million years. I think I was being punked.

      • I mean LITERALLY fake – pretend, made up people whose email addresses have no history, who write but have no portfolio or proven track record. They don’t exist in the real world. Not just real people pretending to be someone they’re not. Well, you know what I mean.

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