Damned Statistics

WordPress helpfully provide me with statistics. Number of views, visitors, even what countries they come from and sources of referral where a link was clicked from elsewhere.

I’ve been looking at them from time to time to try and get a handle on what’s going on out there. I trust the statistics. You can never be quite sure if these things are 100% accurate but for the purposes of this argument I shall assume this is so.

I have chosen to “follow” five blogs. Violet makes me smile and the other four (deborahlove, Robert Okaji, Shadows of Iris, Thoughts and Views) have poetry that I have enjoyed reading. I actually like them. I only have so much time and will not “follow” more blogs than I care to read.

I have a couple of “followers” who do not seem to have actually viewed or read anything I have written, and a bunch of “likes” that are similar. Out of interest I have had a look at most of them. A couple are self-publishing authors. It’s not hard to run through a list of blogs on the WordPress front page and click “like” and “follow” indiscriminately. There may even be software available that will do it for you. What they have got out of me is a view, which boosts their own statistics, and exposure to their self-promotion and advertising. Their books look terrible. And the pattern of blog posting they employ appears to me to be following a prescriptive template likely to have been learned on some social media marketing course or other.

It’s the internet equivalent of cold calling.

Well, screw that. Most advertising and marketing relies on a basic principle that humans operate transactionally. And our emotions are duped. Especially in this arena where the currency is “like” and “follow”.

It would be interesting to know how much credence external advertisers place in the statistics for views, likes and followers on blogs as evidence that their paid plugging will actually be seen. If they have any sense they will only pay “per click” of course, for actual traffic, in which case the chasing of artificially inflated statistics is quite pointless.

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