Good Posting Practice is meant to list a few of my technical and non-technical considerations specific to The BA website with which we potentially could increase the user experience/satisfaction/interest of our visitors.
We need to think about the purpose of our postings and the potential or likely effect of our posts to visitors.
Why do we post on our website?
First of all we might want to express that we are concerned about a particular topics and consider it important enough to direct others’ attention to it. So we just share what is in our mind.
Apart from that we might also want to encourage others to think about the same topic and share their views as well. What’s more we might even want to initiate some sort of discussion leading towards a common understanding of a particular topic, values, practices.
From the latter viewpoint it is in our own interest to keep our visitors on our website and have their views, comments there, not elsewhere. Which is quite challenging because visitors are mostly passive, they suffer from shortage of time to spend for comments, the news pressure on them is very high, etc.
To find better practice for posting let’s think about the potential effect of our current way of posting.
In most of our posts there are nothing more than few short sentences introducing a topic discussed in a post on some other website, or just sharing whether or not we find it interesting. Plus we have a string inserted including the URI of that particular post. Pictures in most of the cases are not included.
Human beings are strongly influenced by visual input. Various researches agree that 60-70% of the impact on an observer by watching and listening something/somebody is created by visual observation and only the remaining 40-30% is by listening. In case of web surfing the impact of visual input (i.e. images versus text which requires reading) the difference is even more significant, giving priority to visually attractive subject. Pure text is just boring for most of us, and we don’t bother to read if there is something else which is more attractive.
Therefore creating a post without a single image largely reduces the chance that visitors will take time to click on it. (This post in its current form is not for visitors but for the founders of The BA.)
What happens if they click on it and they find an URI which is not even an click-able URL, so they are ‘forced’ to select and copy it, than to open a new browser window and past it into it. The subject must be a matter of utmost importance to encourage someone to complete such an exercise.
Now let’s pretend that the visitor finally follow the link to an external website and read what he or she find there. Our website is in English. Our links are pointing mostly also to English targets. Usually very popular targets where there are already some sort of discussion going on about that particular topic. Therefore it is very likely that if the visitor has anything to say about that topic he or she will share it on the target website, not on ours.
At the same time there is another danger posed by the fact that we regularly use the same source for referencing topics being discussed there. The visitor might come to the conclusion that it is easier to bookmark that particular portal and search for information directly there. It is especially true if that portal has a dedicated expert team to regularly publish posts on wide variety of subjects falling into the area of environment protection, biodiversity, global warming, etc.
So how can we compete with these portals and how can we overcome the above outlined shortages.
The easier part of the answer lies on technical side. We have to include proper images for our posts and we must include a click-able link in our post if it is referencing to some external portal to avoid cumbersome exercise of copying an URI into a browser window.
The difficult part of the story lies in the essence of our posts. It has to include something extra, such as an added piece of experience, expertise or knowledge which can’t be find everyday everywhere. Or it has to deliver some sort of aggregated analysis or conclusion gained from several sources, so that the visitor would be impressed by getting more on our website during less time than elsewhere.
All in all we might need to focus more on quality rather than quantity. The generic pattern tells us that on long term quality always has a higher Return on Investment (of time and effort).
I agree on quality Janos. I see a couple of immediate things: the first is that URL issue. Whenever I make a post and put the link in the post section it does not come out as ‘clickable’. Yet if I put the URL in a comment to the post then it is hyper-linked & clickable. Any idea why? I did ask before.
I agree with photos. I’m mainly interested in in-depth knowledge, so I only use the posts as a gateway to deeper research: most of my insights come from reading the scientific articles afterwards.
It’s true that most posts are in English, but that’s because it is our common language of communication (I remember on BP that there were a few Spanish posts ~ but even with 20,000 members only a few ever posted there). At the moment the Guardian does best with environmental stories, so mostly the reason I use those is because they are worth sharing. We’ve had a few good discussions here, but mostly people do not post. If a topic has strong emotive aspects then folk will engage. But, climate change and biodiversity loss, population growth and unsustainable resource use are meaningless to most folk. Ocean acidification stands no chance. Has anyone actually changed their lifestyle to make a difference? I did, but no-one else I know does. “work, consume, throw the rubbish!”
That is not completely true Mike. You know at least one person who made a significant change in his ‘lifestyle’. Possibly you are not aware of the change itself, but for sure you know the person. 🙂
I could not agree more with Janos. The message of the post and the visual impact are important to attract attention, and the shorter the post, with probably a link to more detailed information for readers wishing to know more, are some of the ways of attracting attention.
The problem Mike is that a large number of people will look at the heading or headlines of a post and leave it there; another large number will look through and leave it there to; the number of people commenting on posts are indeed few. A large number of posts on Linkedin go to waste without even a single comment.
You are right Ven. Indeed on LinkedIn it is also very common not to react and comment posts. I tend to think that in order to have regular commenting users on a website, a pretty large number of returning visitors are needed. I do not have an idea about the threshold, but if I look at The Guardian for example, there I can see a thread of comments for nearly every post. So we need to reach the threshold. 🙂
Thanks Janos and Ven. Correct! That point about people not posting or commenting occurs elsewhere too. I just did another MOOC (online course) with Adelaide University and part of the assessment was to post to the discussion each week. Everyone did, and a few of us commented on other posts, but probably 95% of the threads had no comments other the original post. Linked-in is still the same.