Thursday, March 15, 2012

Post-Mortem of a Post

I am interested to know, what exactly goes behind the success of a post, from a strictly academic point of view of course. Measuring the “success” of a post is not that relative or abstract when there are defined indicators. For example, the number of comments, the number of tweets, or the number of “Likes” on Facebook are some indicators that define the success of the post, not to mention the content of the comments. I have a few theories, but I do not know if they work.

Content Theory
I would think the content resonated with most people who read it. Barring a few who did not like my post, most agreed that they identified themselves in a similar situation. I am somewhat hesitant with this theory, because in the past, I have written many posts that people identified with. None of those got as much attention as this one did. In fact, this is not even one of my better written posts. I have written much better posts in the past. I have even written about similar content, of the whole alienation experience when you live in a different country. So is it content after all?

Platform Theory
The forum is undoubtedly a well-written, popular and a widely acclaimed blog. With thousands of readers, I am sure this post was bound to get some attention. So is it the fact that it was presented to a wider audience? I do not know.

Theory of Critical Mass
It could be possible that there is a critical mass of readers and more importantly, sharers for every post. I do not know what that critical mass is, but when it crosses that critical mass, it spreads like wildfire perhaps? When 2-3 people read something and share, chances are more that it would be a dying flame lost even before it has spread a significant number of times. However, when 200-300 people are sharing the same thing, the chances of it being lost or dying becomes significantly lower. Perhaps it is not content or platform alone, but a phenomenon of crossing that critical mass? I don’t really know.
Help me think of other factors that could lead to the success of a post. I know there are measurement biases and confounding factors involved here (for example, having or not having friends who network widely, and who spread the word). Still, there has to be something underlying, maybe singly, or maybe a combination of factors, that determine the popularity of a post. I have written travelogues with much time and effort that have done reasonably well in the past. However, on a bored Monday morning, in between listening to class lecture and introspecting about the value of taking that class, I had ended up writing a short post on why Portugal is an amazing country to visit. That post had become an instant hit, got widely circulated, showed up on travel websites of Portugal, was instantly loved by the Portuguese community, and currently stands at close to 400 “likes” on Facebook. No one really knows what worked right with that post, and when I tried emulating that formula again, things did not work. A hastily scribbled account of a country had produced an effect that carefully crafted travelogues that failed to create. In any case, given that the shelf life of a post is not much, maybe days, maybe weeks, I am currently basking in the glory of finally having written something that has gained the readership I have always dreamed of. Trust me, modesty and everything aside, it is an awesome feeling.


Neelam Kamdar Bhamani said...

I think the 'platform' in this case made a huge difference. Not only AD has a huge following but also has the right demographic for the kind of post you wrote. It resonated with the readers. I also like the 'critical mass' theory, had never thought of it before, but it does make sense.
Also, for your Portugal post, I imagine you probably had the right SEO which made it come up on a lot of searches.
But none of these factors would matter if your content didn't deliver, which it so beautifully does. So you ought to be proud!!

Akshaya said...

Hi Sunshine,

I am rookie blogger myself ...but I think content theory and platform theory worked very well for your posts on Amreekan Desi about FOB. Do share your findings in the end.. curious :)

Spiritual_Flame said...

Hi Sunshine,

Congrats on the success of your post, and it definitely resonated with my thoughts, feelings of being in an alienated country.

And regarding your theories of post gaining wide readership, I think the Platform matters, being available to more readers via widely publicized blogs like Amreekan Desi, definitely improves the chances of post being a success.

Keep writing and enthrall us readers with your thoughts!!


Mormegil said...

I like the facebook 'like' badge with '42 people like this' message on top of your every post. Cute. An unassuming reader would think you have the mot hardcore 42 people reader base on blogosphere.

Sivaramakrishnan said...

I stumbled across here because of the Amreekandesi post and found your blog interesting. Wrt that post, I'm guessing what made it so popular was that someone had posted it to some popular information/news aggregation and sharing websites. That was how I found the article. That helped catching eyeballs (critical mass). Once you've managed to get them to see something on which they have a (strong) opinion, they will probably share it, which results in the article going "viral".
And that was just one plausible hypothesis.

Partha said...

Sometimes success also depends on what kinds of people you have as friends. When ideas resonate, and as you have mentioned, people can relate to what you are writing, they are motivated to make the ideas spread among more like-minded people. More often than not, they might go the extra mile to actively 'share' and popularize your post. And behind the scenes, all these shares fall into a tree structure with rapidly multiplying leaves. We can think of this as a ripple effect, which starts with a tiny stone at the middle of an ocean and then spreads to all corners. I have read both the posts you mention here (FOB to ABCD, and Portugal), and I cannot help but say that I love your style of writing. However, the one I enjoyed the most was the one about DurgaPuja, "Kawta jama holo?"

Keep up the good work!

sunshine said...

Dear Neelam, indeed, it was a proud moment for me :)

sunshine said...

Akshaya, I need to design a formal qual and quant study in order to find some findings it seems :)

sunshine said...

Spiritual_Flame .. yeah, I agree.

sunshine said...

Mormegil, yeah, hardcore 42 readers as it stands right now.

sunshine said...

Sivaramakrishnan, thanks for sharing that. I was wondering how word spread, and where all was it posted.

sunshine said...

Partha, "Kawta Jama Holo" is a recent favorite one of mine too, but an all time favorite would be "27 and unmarried" :)

Biddu said...

This has now become the first post on amreekandeshi to cross the 1000 FB likes mark!