Where Have All the Readers Gone?


Kimberlee of I Have A Degree In This! recently shared a report from Media Bistro breaking down Twitter users by demographics.  The study, conducted by Pew Research Center, looks at the landscape of social media and Internet use in America.  What I found most interesting from the study were the statistics of social media usage overall.  I started thinking about HOW people use the internet and how that impacts us, as bloggers, in our ability to find new readers and engage with them.

I've long argued that bloggers are not our only readers, and the majority (90%!) of our readers are silent — they don't engage with us at all!  As you can see below, based on the number of people who are using the Internet, the stats on social media use are lower than I expected (with the exception being Facebook).


Based on these numbers, do we need to be re-thinking HOW to reach our desired audiences and how to develop interactions with them?

As Hilary shares in Social Media Made Simple: How & Where to Spend Your Time, it's worthwhile to invest our time carefully and “do more with less.”  It isn't worth our effort to devote excessive amounts of time to social media sites to only connect with the same people over and over; it isn't worth our effort to share the same information, in the same way, with the same people over and over.

Where to Find Your Readers:


When they AREN'T on social media!

  • While bloggers aren't our only audience, they are a GREAT audience to have. I truly believe our relationships with other bloggers  are instrumental in growing our blogs and being active participants in the blogging community. A recommendation and incoming link from a fellow blogger is worth its weight in gold– and YOUR recommendation is worth it for another blogger.  I've found developing relationships with bloggers is based on regular interaction via commenting, Twitter, and emails.
  • Pay attention to your analytics: where are people going? Where are people coming from?  Despite what the above chart says, use that as your best gauge of where to devote your time (and what percentage to devote!).  There's no point is spending 3 hours a day on Pinterest if  it's only returning 5 or so clicks to your site; only 15% of your target audience is using that site anyhow.  Maybe you receive 30% of your traffic from Twitter though! If so, find out what's working and push it to see if you can't bump it from 30% to 35%.
  • SEO. We all praise, SEO, I know.  On a daily basis, I receive approximately 50% of my traffic from search engines.  A big portion of this comes from using the alt image tag in photos and titling them something searchable. (Thanks, Chris Hemsworth topless for the traffic!) On the less silly side, I've received many comments over the years from women searching for tips on being in a long distance relationship; a compelling post with great content will naturally pick up SEO, even if you're not an SEO pro yet.
  • Advertise in the right spots.  If you reach a point where you want to invest financially in growing your site, advertise where your readers are. Using the above stats, I'd be better off utilizing Facebook ads and optimizing my Fan Page to reach women in my target demographic than trying to find new traffic through Instagram.
  • Promote your site OFFLINE. It's crazy, I know. I've had tons of friends who've taken advantage of free business card and postcard offers to whip up some cards for their site and have distributed them IN REAL LIFE. They've left them in book stores, clothing shops, and their local coffee houses. They hand out their card to a person they may meet at a party.  And it works.

Were you as surprised by the social media statistics as I was? (What's going on Tumblr–only 6%?!) 

Does seeing those numbers impact how you want utilize your social media time for promoting your site? 

What alternative ideas do you have for reaching out to the remaining internet participants who AREN'T on social media?

{Ed Note: I like to sing the title of this post to the tune of Paula Cole's Where Have All the Cowboys Gone. You're welcome.}

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17 Responses

  1. Rachael @ Style Every Day

    This post is spot on, Ashe. Bloggers are often told you’ve got to be on every new platform and reach all of the people, but in truth, it’s more important to understand where your target audience is (e.g., if you’re not writing to young women Tumblr probably doesn’t make sense) and where your current audience likes to consume your content (e.g., referral traffic). Analytics can tell you just that.

    But just as, if not more, important are those face-to-face interactions you talk about as well. Since I’ve been getting more active in my local fashion community, I’ve seen an overall lift in traffic. They aren’t clicking from any place, they’re coming to my site directly! And, don’t forget that just because people aren’t at fashion events doesn’t mean they don’t want to read your content. If you can get over the awkwardness of saying, “Yes, I put photos of myself on the Internet a few times a week,” a lot of your friends and acquaintances are interested in reading your content as well!

  2. Z

    I agree with what you say about offline networking. I printed off a load of business cards and have distributed them at various events like fashion week and meet ups, and even to my hairdresser! It does work.

    Embarrassingly, I have also found that a lot of traffic comes from people that my mum has recommended my blog to! She loves it and is really enthusiastic about people seeing it, and gives my card to a lot of people…..cringe. Friends and family do work!


  3. Jeanine Marie

    There’s so many places to keep up with your favorite blogger, there is no need to read the blog. On the other hand its like pulling teeth to get people to go to my actual blog when they can see my work on other social media sites.

    I have a new blog that I just started. I haven’t put the real work into yet so I am posting things that inspire me. I get a few visitors now but I am hoping when I start to add personal content the readers will come.

    This article offered a lot of good tips.


  4. Chinny

    wow I’ve been doing it the wrong way. I don’t have a facebook page for my blog because I felt twitter and instagram is enough. Now I know that I definitely need a facebook page and I’m still trying to get past the awkardness of telling people that I take pictures of myself and put up on my blog. lesson learnt….thanks IFB.


  5. Lydia

    This is really interesting, thanks for sharing! Just goes to show that its not enough to randomly publicise your blog everywhere – analyse your stats and most importantly, don’t just publicise your online! I find that word of mouth is still the best way of promoting something!


  6. Chelsey

    This was really surprising. I’m blog shy when it comes to promoting it and creating a Facebook page for it, but I’m reconsidering now that I’ve seen the statistical numbers.

  7. Nicole Feliciano

    I take almost any TV appearance I can get. Even if I am working for a low hourly rate, I am getting fresh eyeballs on Momtrends.com every time I appear on air.

  8. Jessica @ Beautify My Life

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been contemplating quitting Twitter for a while now, and this post was the push I needed. I just did a quick check of my analytics, and in the past six months, I’ve gotten TEN TIMES as much traffic from Facebook as I have from Twitter. And I’m definitely seeing more interaction there as well.

  9. Maria V

    The best approach to finding new readers (ie. promoting your blog) – Integrated Marketing (IM). ‘selling’ your blog isn’t any different from actually selling a product. So organise a little integrated marketing campaign for your blog! TV and print ads as strong or still even stronger than Internet. I could go in great lengths explaining what IM means but we’re all Internet savvy here, so Google it and have a good read.

  10. Cody Doll

    I can see Tumblr. I don’t have one and probably wont ever. I also can’t see making a business card for my blog, inless it was business related but I don’t have a business. It would be cool to get readers that way, I just don’t see it being practical.

  11. Natalie Heather

    I am very surprised! I mean, very! I knew Facebook was popular, but that’s pretty ridiculous. The stats do change how I look at things – I should probably get on making a Facebook page for my blog!
    I’m also really surprised by how low Twitter is – I thought it was a fast growing community, but apparently not as fast as I thought.
    Thanks for the awesome article!

  12. Sarah Marie

    Twitter has been a good way to get readership in my opinion. Facebook tends to be too lengthly for me to keep up with.

    A new site here –> http://InternationalFashionBlogs.com/
    has a blog directory that I have submitted to to gain more readership.

    Oh, and don’t forget to #hashtag your tweet!

    Happy blogging