The Empty Calories My Posts Ate
An experiment with StumbleUpon made me realize that not all views are created equal.
I already knew StumbleUpon. Interesting concept around proposing pages from all around the Web.
But I noticed just days ago that you can submit your own articles, getting a tiny share of their billions of monthly views.
Greedy Me soon submitted some articles. You just add the link to your Medium article to a list on StumbleUpon. They’ll show exactly that page to a number of users.
And, on March 29, I got this peak in views, few minutes after submitting a dozen of my posts.
Wow! Why on earth didn’t I try it sooner?!?
Luckily, Greedy Me is not the only resident in my mind.
Careful Me took the situation in hand, taking advantage of Greedy Me discovering the strawberries in the fridge, and stopped submitting, giving orders to wait and keep an eye on stats in the following days.
And the following days have been quite delusional.
The peak brought no significant reads and… no fans. And the read ratio of the submitted articles uselessly collapsed.
Not to mention that the peak remained quite isolated.
What you see on April 12 is one of the other few failed tests.
Just views, from StumbleUpon.
See the reads and fans stats below.
The fans peak on April 12 is because of a relatively appreciated post (claps and comments from Medium active users, mostly already known).
As you can see, there are also 6 days with less than 5 fans. And, considering that I read a lot, they probably are claps on my comments.
It’s interesting to compare the views stats above, of April, with my stats of February, which had similar views, deprived by the StumbleUpon effect.
You can easily see that similar views were associated with much more reads (4,221 vs 3,389) and a good 130 more fans (497 vs 367). In fact, February was a better month, for me. April is just pumped by the peak of views.
My stats with similar views but without StumbleUpon are more interesting and solid.
StumbleUpon brought views, in the days of my submissions, and some few views the following days, but quite no reads, nor fans.
I see that some few likes are present on my profile page on StumbleUpon. It seems they are real active users, but few and with no real names. Surely, not an audience.
Is it still worth?
We don’t know exactly how Medium interprets stats. I have evidence the Medium often ignores some quality metrics, like reading ratio, but I don’t have evidence that they always do that.
Having poor quality metrics may damage the visibility of our stories on Medium. I don’t want to risk that in exchange for just views.
So, the experiment failed, for me.
That’s not a scientific test, I know. Just enough data for me. Maybe I’ll retry more seriously in future.
But I discovered something I naively ignored during my test.
Are views a business?
Even a child who has just uttered his/her first word would respond yes.
But Naïve Me was in control during the test. Prudent Me is not able to delegate.
The 5% of all the proposed content of StumbleUpon is reserved for pages from advertisers. I suppose at StumbleUpon they need to eat like you and me.
What I do not know is if the business is just about generating traffic for advertisers regardless of the source of the traffic. Is this quality traffic? Does this traffic really come from readers interested in the “stumbles”?
Given that over 100,000 users use StumbleUpon for promotion I suppose that some quality traffic is there.
I saw some users that seemed real.
But it’s also possible that those customers just need views, maybe for letting their clients see how skilled they are in SEO optimization, serving some padded number.
I have myself installed the StumbleBar in Chrome, and I’ve just used it few times as a test. I generated some traffic, as many others do. Quite useless traffic. I didn’t interact much.
Are possible real readers from this platform interested in going deeper, when a Medium page appears, registering and clapping? I suppose that most of the 4 billion of Internet users in the world don’t even know what Medium is. Maybe they read the page, at best, then skip to the next Stumble.
Someone will maybe actually read and clap. Very few of them. Again, is it worth?
Is that for my business?
I still don’t know if that extra exposure is of some help in the long run — here on Medium — , but I fear it’s the contrary. Maybe I’ll experiment again, but carefully and with just a few articles.
My business is in having interested readers for my writing. Views without reads are like empty calories, for me. I like empty calories, but not in blogging.
Medium, despite its many flaws, it’s a good place to interact with interested readers, and grow an interested audience.
So, if someone offers you candies, just be careful. It’s possible that empty calories are not the best option for your diet.