If you aren’t using smartphones, tablets, and other modern gadgets, you risk losing touch with your audience. I wish there were a less audacious way to say that, but it’s the 100 percent truth. People are experiencing the web in different ways than they did even two years ago — even one year ago. Bloggers who don’t adapt to these new patterns will lose their audiences to those who do.There are two basic ways that modern technology helps bloggers do their jobs better. First, it enables them to get into the minds of their audiences. Second, it gives them an unprecedented level of connectivity, allowing for occupational flexibility. They add up to make certain gadgets indispensable for the modern web worker.
For pete’s sake, work on your own schedule, not some businessman’s from the 1950s!
As I said, chances are you have a smartphone. Maybe you’re one of the hip who carry an iPhone. Maybe you’re among the geekier crowd who prefers the accessibility of Android. Or maybe you’re holding onto the past and still have a BlackBerry. Whatever the case, there’s probably a 99 percent chance you already own a smartphone. It’s in the way you use it that makes the biggest difference. The blogger who doesn’t visit her own site every day from a smartphone is a blogger who is not getting the most out of her smartphone. More and more readers are accessing blogs on smartphones. It is then a blogger’s responsibility to follow this trend and make sure that readers are getting the optimal mobile experience. That necessarily involves visiting the site every day and, if applicable, loading up the site’s app.
People are experiencing the web in different ways than they did even two years ago — even one year ago. Bloggers who don’t adapt to these new patterns will lose their audiences to those who do.
If the site doesn’t load well natively on a smartphone, a blogger must decide between a redesign and a mobile website plugin. If mobile website traffic is relatively low compared to desktop web visits, a mobile app might make sense. If users aren’t downloading the app, or if many are downloading it and not using it, the blogger has to decide how to increase engagement. He can gain insight into these issues by becoming a user himself. Visit your website every day. Type in the URL directly. Visit from a bookmark. Type in a search term you know you rank for and visit through Google. If you have a mobile app, compare that to the mobile web experience, and then compare all that to the desktop web experience. WIth these insights you will find new ways to reach your readers in the way that they experience your blog.
Much like the iPhone changed the modern conception of a smartphone, the iPad changed people’s idea of tablets. Android has been getting in the game, too, and with tablets such as the Asus Transformer Prime and the upcoming Nexus 7. They might never be as widespread as smartphones, but tablets are still pervasive in the market. That’s a trend that will continue for the next few years.
The blogger who doesn’t visit her own site every day from a smartphone is a blogger who is not getting the most out of her smartphone. More and more readers are accessing blogs on smartphones.
The one user every blogger should be concerned about is the one that ditches his laptop in favor of a tablet. Since my primary machine is a desktop, I’ve basically stopped using my laptop and instead use my tablet for hours on end. Here are a few differences in behavior.
The home screen rules
Chances are if you’re not on the first screen of my tablet, you’re not getting much attention. Your tablet offering, whether it be merely a bookmarklet or a full-blown app, must be compelling enough for me to place on my main page.
Widgets make an app worthwhile
This is mostly for Android tablets, since the iPad does not allow for widgets. If you have an Android app for your website, you had better include a widget. That’s the easiest way to make it onto my home screen and stay there.
I don’t use bookmarks
There are just too many other ways to enjoy content on a tablet. Using traditional bookmarks just doesn’t work well. If I’m reading your site on my tablet, it’s through a home screen icon, your app, or an RSS reader.
And that’s not the biggest change in my reading habits with tablets. Basically, if you have valuable content, I’m going to read it on my tablet. If I find it on my desktop, I’ll send it to Instapaper. That means you have about a paragraph to show me — but not tell me — that what you have to say is important. I don’t get past the one-paragraph point on my computer any more, because reading on my tablet is so much more natural. Now, more than ever, your headline and first paragraph mean everything.
Mobile broadband connections
With tablets and smartphones, we were looking at adapting to fit the needs of the user. With mobile broadband connections, we’re looking at optimizing the blogger’s own time. There are three ways that mobile broadband connections allow bloggers to do their jobs better.
1. Get out and go. For a while, reproducing content worked. A blogger could get a hold of recent news, either from another blog or a press release, and write a new entry in a matter of minutes. Those days are coming to a close. Sure, the practice is still alive and well. The problem is that sites such as Gawker and BuzzFeed have a stranglehold on that kind of content. It’s tough to compete with these giants. That means more going places to talk to people and learn new things. That is, blogging is becoming more about original journalism. That might mean going to a conference and talking to the five most important people in your industry. It might mean sitting down with one person in the industry and getting an exclusive interview. Whatever it is, blogs absolutely need more original content. That means going places. Since you can’t count on any venue or establishment having free internet, the only solution is to buy a mobile broadband service for your tablet or laptop. Consider it an investment in moving forward.
You’re not stuck in a cube for an arbitrarily set period of time. You can get tasks done when you have time for them. That’s the way life really should be!
2. Work whenever, wherever. Bloggers need not work a 9-5 schedule like the rest of the world. In fact, bloggers absolutely shouldn’t keep up a normal schedule. That’s just an arbitrary block of time, and it was decided on ages ago. Times have changed, and we need to adapt. Everyone has different personal needs and wants, and with the flexibility of blogging we can fulfill them. It just takes a little technology. A mobile internet connection can help you fit work into those slices of time where you’d otherwise stare at the wall. When I was renewing my driver’s license, I brought along my tablet, complete with mobile broadband connection, and got some work done while I waited. I’ve responded to comments while in line at the supermarket. I’ve tweaked a plugin while at a Starbucks so crowded that you couldn’t get onto their free Wi-Fi network. Pretty soon you’ll notice that your workday doesn’t take as much time. That’s because you’re not stuck in a cube for an arbitrarily set period of time. You can get tasks done when you have time for them. That’s the way life really should be, and a mobile broadband connection helps take care of it.
3. Productivity benefits. Allow me to share an experiment I conducted last month. I found that while on my main machine, I was far too distracted. With email, Facebook, Twitter, and other distractions constantly popping up, I felt as though I was getting no work done. I couldn’t just turn off the internet, because that’s where I work. I needed something a bit more creative. And so I got an idea. After researching speeds, prices, and data caps, I finally purchased T-Mobile mobile broadband services. Since the point was to prevent distraction, and since I didn’t want to spend too much (I was still keeping my home internet connection), I paid $35 for the plan that provided 3.5GB per month. That’s about a tenth, if not less, of what I use every month normally. Then I deleted my home WiFi network from my Keychain, so it wouldn’t automatically connect. Limited to just 3.5GB, I had to cut out anything that automatically updated. Goodbye Twitter. I also had to cut down on viewing tons of images and video. Goodbye Facebook stream. I also didn’t want to be checking the server constantly for email and instant messages, so that meant not having my Gmail and GChat open all day. The result: more work accomplished than ever, more money in the bank. It’s sad that it came down to this, but mobile broadband services certainly saved me here. No matter what industry you work in, keeping up with modern technology is basically a requirement for business. But for bloggers it’s of the greatest importance. If your audience is by and large using these technologies, so should you. It’s the only way to keep up. Plus, there are other perks along the way. So check your site every day on your smartphone. Figure out how to get it on the home screen of your tablet. Make sure that your app offers users something more than an RSS feed. And for pete’s sake, work on your own schedule, not some businessman’s from the 1950s. It will all add up to a better blog.
Image Source: Gadget Techno