Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
The questions I left you with yesterday are: Why are so many people signing up and contributing to the community around the Stuff Christians Like blog (especially considering that it’s not even a year old)? AND What is Jon Acuff (the primary author of SCL) doing right?
Here’s a list of my thoughts on those questions:
- Purpose - Stuff Christians Like has a clearly defined purpose. Pretty much, the name says it all and that’s key. Successful blogs grow by providing compelling content. That’s not to say that successful blogs are always massive, but within their niche, the bigger the better because that’s typically an indicator of the quality of the content as a draw for individuals to join up.
- Delivery - SCL is nearly always really, really funny. If you don’t believe me, here’s a sample. Whether or not he intended it to be this way, Jon and the clan have found a way to call the church out on some of our quirks that might be off-putting to a newcomer, but does it in a light-hearted way that approachable and extremely witty. That’s not to say that your blog has to be funny to grow. But it is to say that you need to speak to your audience in a way that they will find attractive.
- Context – Not only does Jon run the SCL blog, but he also has another blog called The Prodigal Jon. The Prodigal Jon gives some context to the author in that the posts on it are more contemplative and tells us that this sharp-witted, pointer of fingers at the church is also a thoughtful, caring believer.
- Limitations - Knowing what you’re good at, and what you aren’t – Questioner: “What happened to the interview you did with DC Talk’s Kevin Max?” Jon: “I learned an important lesson by doing that interview, I suck at doing interviews”.
- Relational - A successful blog is not a Public Relations tool in the old school way of thinking about it. Successful blogs are as much about the readers as they are about the primary author. They are communities of people who are passionate about the topic(s) of the blog. SCL succeeds in this area because it’s pointing a light-hearted finger at our quirks in church and all of us know we do it so it resonates – the blog merely rallies a group of people with a common interest. Referring to the 3rd place ranking on the top 60 Christian blogs, Jon said on SCL:
“Stuff Christians Like was ranked 3rd. That this site even made that list was pretty surprising. That it was 3rd is what the French call “ridiculous.” But in looking at the list I realized something. That ranking isn’t just about me and what I write. It’s also about you. The stats that were used to build the list measure reader activity. Readers subscribing. Readers visiting. Readers linking. That's you, not me. So what that means is not that I'm the third most influential Church blogger online, it means you are the third most influential group of Christian readers online. So wow, you guys are awesome. I hope we can all enjoy our bronze medal.”
- Engagement – SCL enjoys a VERY healthy amount of comments and as I’ve indicated in past Xpiritmental posts, this is another key measurement of a successful blog. As you read through the posts and related comments, you come to appreciate that there are many, many other people out there who are raring to provide great content for the SCL blog – so Jon invites them to contribute. This is a key in the world of social networking – you don’t own the information or the rights to be the only one coming up with it. So rather than compete with others to split the pot of your audience, invite the other person/group in to contribute and together make the best blog you possibly can. Unity in diversity...where have I heard that concept before?
So those are the list of revelations that hit me as I read through the SCL blog yesterday. It’s a great case study from a successful blog that we can all learn from.