How Being Inconsistent Can Damage Your Online Brand

Being inconsistent could damage your online brand and reputation Last April was a crazy month for me. I was in Antigua Guatemala for a week, came back to Los Angeles for 3 days, flew to Santiago Chile for 10 days (that’s a 12-hour flight in case you didn’t know), came back to Los Angeles again for a week to finish rushing to Miami for a couple of days.

But that wasn’t all, I did all this in the middle of clients projects and, except for Guatemala, the rest of the traveling was strictly business (when I say business that includes drinks and cigars in the middle… I didn’t say I was complaining). On top of that, my blog has been experiencing some serious issues that required some special attention. Just so you get an idea, every time I publish a post, the entire site goes down, sometimes it will disconnect from the database or it will go completely blank.

Long story short, I decided to let it go even tough I’m kind of paranoid about my blog. I don’t post tons of content every week but the one thing I have is consistency, so stepping out of it will obviously have some impact. The second half of April SocialMouths had very little content published, had technical issues and very little promotion. I was also very inactive on Twitter for about a week. I expected to hit a dip but then try to get back to usual.

The Numbers

The impact this inconsistency had in the numbers:

Blog Traffic

  • It dropped 6,000 pageviews comparing with the previous month (March)
  • Pages per Visit dropped from 1.50 to 1.39
  • And Bounce Rate went up 10% (This is the only digit you hope will go down…)

Community Growth

Outside my blog, I focus on 2 networks: Twitter and my Facebook Page. Growth is pretty steady even tough is 100% organic. Twitter grows at about 100 Followers per week and the Fb Page is also around the same figure.

During the month of April that solid growth dropped 75%.

Another number that has no importance other than some level of social proof is the AdAge ranking, I think I went down about 20 positions. Again, not important but it helps you visualize the kind of impact you have.

Will People Notice?

I was certain about taking a hit in traffic, it was obvious. The other thing I was sure about was that people will not notice. How important can your blog be for people to say “Hey, where is my weekly dose of SocialMouths?”

But people do notice when you’re not there. They do.

The Skool of Life on Twitter

On one hand, it felt great to realize that people will notice you, that they are aware of you and your content. On the other hand, realize that you have to be more responsible towards your brand, your audience DO pay attention.

In this case people are more important, numbers are just numbers, they can represent social proof or some meaningless traffic but your audience, tribe, community or whatever you like to call it will sense that inconsistency.

Now, imagine if you disappear for a few weeks or a couple of months. People say frequency builds traction and that gets you more traffic, I’m not sure that works in every case. I have proven to get more traffic publishing less but one thing I can tell you is that your audience gets used to that frequency, whatever it is and when you break it, your brand has an impact on that people.

Put A Strategy Together

In this case I made the decision to observe what the impact was, I was aware. But you can plan your absence to at least keep publishing content. You could schedule everything in WordPress or you could invite guests/contributors to cover your butt during that time. The technology is in place and a little planning will put you on auto-pilot as much as possible.

Business As Usual

So what happens to SocialMouths? Well, there was a lot of testing, backing up, code reviewing and cleaning up. We now live on a dedicated server at Hostway that costs $100/month. There is a new design (hope you like), nothing too crazy but took the opportunity to spike things up a notch. And hopefully the technical issues are behind us, in fact…

Comparing loading times with @HectorCuevas a few weeks ago I got my ass kicked, his site was 2.2x faster than mine. But as I walked away in embarrassment I promised to come back. So last night after conducting 4 runs, I’m happy to report my site was 45% faster than his…

Hey Hector, chew on that baby!

Fast Five

There are still a couple of things being tweaked on the site so excuse the dust for now but there is a lot of cool stuff in the oven too. There is more content this week, one post from Martina Iring and some stuff from me.

Thank you all for the patience and I hope you keep enjoying SocialMouths!

  • It’s amazing how much difference consistency makes. My traffic on a daily basis has almost doubled since I started doing four posts a week. Just stopped doing autofeeds on my Twitter, so there’s an occasional lull there, but so far it’s been alright so long as I just remember to go update something every couple of hours, especially during the week. Thanks for sharing your analysis of traffic & social changes.

  • Anonymous

    Firstly, love the new layout. The orange is super hot.

    Secondly, inconsistency on my own blog is something I struggle with. I get caught up in my client’s projects and the general rush of life, I neglect my own online image. Gotta say though, it is noce to read that someone like you struggles with it too ;).

    I spent my weekend laying out my game-plan for staying consistent and building a solid online brand, so this post’s timing is perfect! Thank you.

  • Like therealkazia I’ve had trouble balancing client projects and my own marketing. I used to think “hey this shows I really care about my clients” but I know that I need to be more consistent with posting and social media. It’s a process – and a journey – and I’m glad to see that someone is experiencing the same thing, even at your level of expertise.

  • I think we all noticed that you were MIA, Francisco. 🙂

    Yeah, Hector is faster than me as well – will have to do something about that.

  • Yeah, I just tested against @hectorcuevas:twitter again and… let’s just take his site down!

  • I do and I will . . . and thank you for this!

  • Hey Francisco!

    I totally agree that inconsistent presence can damage a personal/professional online brand. In fact, when I’m consulting new bloggers who are working to build a brand the first thing I tell them is that consistency is key– if you’re not gonna stick around for a long while and grind it out just to show you’re worth it, then don’t bother.

    I actually used this consistency strategy as a point in a piece I wrote for Inspired Mag.

    All the best!

    Dave

  • Congrats on kicking some
    @HectorCuevas ass lol

    True dat regarding consistency. Its not so much how often but how regularly. Hope that makes sense. New site design is great. I didnt even notice till you mentioned it. Love it. Tho loved the old design as well.

  • Hey Francisco… I noticed something was up, but figured it was temporary. 🙂

  • Hey Francisco… I noticed something was up, but figured it was temporary. 🙂

  • Kristi, I don’t know how you put out 4 posts a week. To me you are a content generating machine and I truly admire the quality you keep whether is on your blog or you’re guest posting.

    Just read your post about Twitterfeed (http://kikolani.com/why-i-turned-off-twitterfeed.html), I was actually thinking on setting up something like that but now I backed up. Good advice!

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Interesting to see this behind the scenes breakdown Francisco! I think we can all relate to those busy times when we get off our usual routine. I personally try not to stress too much about following an exact schedule, however I do try to maintain a general consistency. If you fall off for too long, people will forget you. I don’t know how many times I have received an email update after months of silence and had to wrack my brain to try to remember who this person was. Usually, I just unsubscribe.

    Visual tweaks lookin good 🙂

  • Hey Dave,

    I have a set of questions I ask when I start a relationship with a new client, something that includes stuff like who’s gonna be responsible for content or is it a team effort, how often, how is it going to be promoted and where and actually propose the use of an editorial calendar.

    I don’t push for more content, only to be consistent in publishing. You need to have that commitment or it’s really hard to build momentum.

    Thanks for your comment and congratulations on the Kindle version of your “Power from Within” Manifesto – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004Y6DWJW

  • Courtney, we all struggle from time to time, we all have to take care of the “real” business behind the blog. Don’t worry about posting more than you’re able, worry only about establishing a rhythm and getting your audience used to it.

    Thanks for your comment =)

  • Kazia, you’ll be okay as long as you have a game plan and you adjust when needed. Blogging is marketing, when those sales come in you have to fulfill them. It’s a good problem to have!

    Glad you like the orange!

  • Thank YOU Delia!

  • Thank you Dave, of course it was only temporary, this blog is my baby!

    How is everything on your side?

  • Site still looks good Francisco….its growing on me…I really liked the old simple look. That was a killer post by @HectorCuevas:twitter with the load times BTW….had me running to get my site faster and I’ll make sure my new site is Speedy Gonzales.

  • Francisco.. you and me both man.. I was MIA for 2 weeks but now I’m back full speed. I like the new look. Clean and simple, I’m sure it’s effective or you wouldn’t do it.

    Talking about speed.. I’m coming for you man.. Watch out!

  • =)

  • Thanks Brian.. let me know when your new site is up so we can race ’em.. =)

  • Lol.. bring it on.. =)

  • Very brave color design I think. The orange on white can’t be pulled off easily, but I think you might have done it. I do, however, like the old design. I actually came across your site and eyeballed it for design inspiration on my own blog. Not that you could tell, but there are some elements that I took from your design. Heh, so thanks! lol

    If you’re having issues when you post, you need to look at what activity if happening then. Are you pinging too many servers? Or maybe you simply needed to ramp up your hosting like you did. But, the problem with ramping up hosting is that you might just be applying a band-aid and the problem could come back to haunt you later. Maybe not. Hopefully you have someone that can identify the actual issue for you.

    All in all, the site looks awesome. Different, and memorable. Cheers dude, glad to have ya back.

  • Wayne,

    Thanks for the advice, the truth is that I still had issues when I posted today, the site actually went down twice, it’s clear that is not the server and we knew that, I still wanted to get it for other reasons. I removed plugins and tested almost each one of them, changed the theme, my guy did some db maintenance, etc. I’m monitoring the activity on the server when I publish the post and a few minutes later the load average goes to the roof and the site goes down. I have to reboot the server.

    I don’t know what pinging too many servers means…

    Any advice on this matter will be greatly appreciated brother, I’m running out of possibilities here!

    Thank you!

  • I noticed you were MIA dude, I thought you were taking a break after the launch of your product, I’m sure it was a crazy time for you…

    Thanks for your feedback on the new design, we’ll see how effective it is with time…

    In regards to loading times, I guess you’ve built a rep for being the fastest blog at this point, you’re the guy to beat bro! I’m planning a post called “What successful bloggers have under the hood?” or something like that and I want to ask different bloggers to reveal what kind of technology they’re running in the back-end, themes, plugins, servers and other stuff, something fun, I’d love it if you want to participate.

  • Francisco, this is a important topic for me. I’ve had 3 huge time & energy consuming issues that have kept me from blogging consistently on my personal blog. All three things zapped both my time and my energy. I could have managed consistent blogging with 1, maybe 2, but not all 3.

    So I had to let my personal blog slip after blogging daily for over 2 years. It was a bummer. Now I’m trying to find the right balance to get back into the swing of things and it’s not easy.

    But what I wanted to share is that I had blogged daily on 2 blogs for the first year. These 2 blogs blended well together and probably helped lots in search results. And then I stopped one blog and continued daily blogging on with the other. When I was obliged to stop blogging over 2 years later, my traffic did not go down quickly at all and I was actually surprised at how long the traffic stayed even though I wasn’t blogging.

    Yes, I lost momentum, but it wasn’t as bad I had expected. The content is out there.

    Plus I still network regularly with the core relationships I had developed in my niche while blogging and I think it’ll be easier to start up again now compared to the very beginning.

  • Heh, I know the feeling. It’s a sinking feeling, but a feeling still. 😉

    Check this out: http://www.jimwestergren.com/list-of-wordpress-ping-urls/

    When you post, WordPress will iterate through a list of ping sites that
    are there to accept requests from blogs that have just posted a new post.
    They in turn aggregate your data out to other services. This usually
    happens when you first publish a new post, and sometimes on subsequent
    updates.

    Check your list of ping servers…if there are a bunch in there, try
    removing them on the next post you do. If the experience is better, then
    perhaps one of those in the list is causing a hang-up. At that point, you
    should add a group back in and wait for the next post.

    That is, of course, if it’s the ping servers causing the issue.

    Hope that might help you dude. Let me know how it goes.

    Cheers!

    Wayne

  • Hey Wayne,

    I know what a ping site is, I just didn’t know you could have too many or one of them can cause a hang-up as you call it. Anyways, I had a pretty extensive list I added a couple of years ago and I just removed them all to run another test.

    Good advice dude, you went out of your way to provide a real solution. I love that.

    Thank you!

  • Hi Cindy, thanks for sharing your experience. You are right, the content is out there, I can see how older posts keep performing over time if they do well in search.

  • I’m curious about your results. Let me know if your publish went faster and didn’t cramp up your server. I too have a pretty big list, and every now and then I see a spike in my server that I haven’t been able to identify. Maybe this is it for me too…lol

    This “solution” (I’d call it a lead really) depends on whether WordPress waits for some type of response from the ping server…I’m assuming that it does.

  • Kat Armstrong

    One key is to make sure you are not only writing about “breaking news” and things of that nature. Posts need to be “timeless” – this way, they continue to be relevant far into the future, including when you cannot be around to post something new!

    Might I suggest scheduling Tweets for those times you cannot blog? I know many people loathe the idea. Don’t spam your timeline! Simply pick out a couple of your old posts that you feel are still relevant and throw out a link to them in a Tweet. Include an open-ended question for your community. This will generate page views AND discussion… win-win!

  • I had to take a 6-week break from my blog for health reasons and am just now trying to get back in the swing of things. My blog really took a hit because of my absence so I totally know where you’re coming from.

  • Re: “realize that you have to be more responsible towards your brand, your audience DO pay attention.”

    They do pay attention. And whether it’s 1, 100, or 1,000 that shouldn’t matter. You should commit to them. Of course by me saying that I don’t want you to think I’m scolding you, heh… I’m simply stating that in general, it’s something to keep in mind.

    It’s very easy to lose subscribers and very difficult to gain them back. I do a monthly clean-up of my RSS feed, you know…to weed out those feeds that have gone stale. Every now and then I’ll think to myself, “aw, that’s sucks, haven’t seen this person post in a while.” And off they go.

    Anyway, great to hear your traffic woes are no more. Happy blogging!

  • Anonymous

    Consistency plus Quality can surely drive traffic to your site be it on a blog or any other social media sites. 

    Great tips there, Francisco! Looking forward to your “consistent” posting of such insightful articles.

  • I really appreciate reading this this blog. It’s very easy to lose subscribers and very difficult to gain them back.
    I do a monthly clean-up of my RSS feed, you know, to weed out those
    feeds that have gone stale. 

  • Really Nice blog, SocialMouths had very little content published, had technical issues and very little promotion. In all awesome blog..

  • Really Nice blog, SocialMouths had very little content published, had technical issues and very little promotion. In all awesome blog..

  • I’m monitoring the activity on the server when I publish the post and a few minutes later the load average goes to the roof and the site goes down. I have to reboot the server.

  • This “solution” (I’d call it a lead really) depends on whether WordPress waits for some type of response from the ping server…I’m assuming that it does.

  • They did all this in the middle of clients projects and, except for Guatemala, the rest of the traveling was strictly business.

  •  It felt great to realize that people will notice you, that they are aware of you and your content.

  • This is an excellent article and one that gets to the heart of social media: PEOPLE! Great tips … and I’m also glad you mentioned internal culture in your conclusion.

  • True dat regarding consistency. Its not so much how often but how regularly. Hope that makes sense. New site design is great. I didnt even notice till you mentioned it. Love it. Tho loved the old design as well.

  • Great post useful stats from south mouths How Being Inconsistent Can Damage Your Online Brand..

  • Well I must say that it is really nice blog….numbers are just numbers, they can represent social proof or some meaningless traffic but your audience, tribe, community or whatever you like to call it will sense that inconsistency….

  • Great post. I love getting into flow during work, and you’re tips for
    achieving flow during the day are well thought out.

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  • Antigua Guatemala for a week, came back to Los Angeles for 3 days, flew
    to Santiago Chile for 10 days (that’s a 12-hour flight in case you
    didn’t know), came back to Los Angeles again for a week to finish
    rushing to Miami for a couple of days.

  • My blog has been experiencing some serious issues that required some special attention.

  • The second half of April SocialMouths had very little content published,
    had technical issues and very little promotion. I was also very
    inactive on Twitter for about a week. I expected to hit a dip but then
    try to get back to usual.

  • Twitter for about a week. I expected to hit a dip but then try to get back to usual.
     

  • I did all this in the middle of clients projects and, except for Guatemala,