In last week’s post, Blog Usage Research Survey: Part 1 (The Setup), I set out to learn a little more about blog usage. To do so I created a short survey, disseminated it via social media channels, and waited for the results to come in. The survey lasted one week in duration and garnered 71 respondents during that time.
The survey was designed to shed a little light on the following topics:
1) How and how often are people engaging with blogs?
2) For what reasons are they engaging with blogs?
3) How does social media impact the way people interact with blogs?
4) Is there a difference in how bloggers engage with blogs versus how non-bloggers engage with blogs?
Let’s jump right in and have a look at the results!
This first question, “Do you read blogs?”, was used as a weed-out question. Of the 67 respondents who answered this question, 23 replied “No” and were therefore immediately taken to the end of the survey. I chose for these people to not continue responding to questions as it would only be a frustrating experience for them, and it would result in inaccurate data for me. Considering that 71 people opted into survey, that leaves 48 respondents to continue, 44 of which responded “Yes”, (meaning 4 did not respond at all). Thus, for the next few questions we are dealing with a very small sample size of somewhere between 44 and 48 respondents.
For this question, respondents were asked to identify the reasons they read blogs. They could choose any number of reasons from zero to 9 different options, with the 9th allowing for a free-response. (Those answers are included in the smaller box above entitled “Other (please specify).” Of the 45 people who responded to this question, 87% of them said they read blogs for entertainment purposes. This is not surprising. The next highest responses were “For research / educational purposes” and “For inspiration” both at 58%. (Under other circumstances, I would expect research and education to come in with a lower percentage, but since my classmates and I shared surveys with one another I believe this probably caused a little higher than normal response percentage in this category.) Aside from the “Other” category, the specified answer to get the least amount of support was “For Parenting Tips” at only 20%. I have to admit that I am a little surprised at this percentage, because I know how popular “mommy blogs” are. Perhaps I should have worded the option differently.
The third question was created to better understand how many different blogs people read on a regular basis (at least twice a month). Of the 44 total responses 7% said they didn’t read any number of blogs regularly (the “Zero” answer). 18 respondents, (41%), reported reading 3 to 5 blogs regularly, and 23% said they read 6 or more on a regular basis. (It would be interesting to further study this 23%. This percentage seems a little high to me, but again, this is a small sample probably containing a little higher-than-normal number of graduate students and social media / marketing professionals. This may be skewing the results. In the future, I will be sure to include a question regarding education level and perhaps profession so that I can get a clearer picture of who is reading regularly.
This 4th question yielded pretty straight-forward results. Of the 44 respondents, 26 (59%) said they either subscribe to or follow at least one blog. That leaves 18 (41%) who do not. This information may be of particular interest to bloggers who focus on building solid followings, especially through email subscriptions, because it says that slightly more than 1 in 2 visitors to a particular blog are open to possibly becoming a regular subscriber or follower, (assuming the blog fits his or her needs and gets the green light regarding all other variables). Those who answered “Yes” then went on to answer question 5, those that answered “No” skipped to question 6.
Of the 26 that answered “Yes” to the previous question, 13 respondents said they subscribe via email, and 13 said they subscribe or follow on social media. (Keep in my respondents were able to “Select all that apply.”) This may indicate to bloggers that offering an email opt-in as well as the capability to follow a specific blog on various social media channels is important.
In order to find out how people engage with blogs on social media channels, I asked how likely the respondents are to click a blog post link that appears in their news feeds. Out of the 43 responses to this question, it is helpful to note that 80% answered either “Somewhat Likely,” “Likely,” or “Very Likely.” 12% were very unlikely to click. These numbers seem to reinforce the effectiveness of sharing blog posts via social media channels, and give hope to bloggers who faithful share. Perhaps this should have been obvious, but I was uncertain how many people really click these links when they show up. This gives me a little bit better idea.
In order to explore blog activity as related to social media further, I ask respondents how likely they are to share a blog post they like with others on social media. This time, 74% answered with either “Somewhat Likely,” “Likely,” or “Very Likely.” Slightly higher, at 14% said they were “Very Unlikely” to share. These numbers as compared to the results of the previous question may indicate that respondents are slightly pickier about what they share with others than with what they click to explore for themselves.
If I were to explore this topic further, I would create more questions around different motivations to share. to “like” something or “not like” something might be a little vague, (and perhaps confusing given the usage of the word “like” on some social media channels such as Facebook). When researching further, I would be more specific by asking how likely someone is to share a blog post that he or she finds to be “useful”, “practical”, “sad”, “funny”, “entertaining”, “unbelievable”, “ridiculous”, “informative”, “important”, “helpful”, “inspiring”, and so on… This could become an entire survey on its own.
When asked how they share the blog posts they like with others on social media, 82% of the 44 respondents said they share blog posts on Facebook. The next most popular response, “In Email,” was given by only 32% of the 44 respondents; a 60% decrease from the Facebook response! It seems that, for blog posts at least, Facebook is still king for sharing content. I am curious to know why people do not share more on Twitter.
Here is where the survey sample gets even smaller. Of the 44 respondents, those who answered “No” to the question, “Do you have your own blog?”, were sent to the end of the survey and thanked for their time. This means that only 17 of the original 71 people who agreed to take the survey, (24%), ended up going all the way to the end.
This next data shows us that, 0f the 17 total answers, 8 people have one blog, 8 have 2-3 blogs, and 1 person has 4 or more. I do realize that not only is this a very small sample, and therefore cannot be considered a valid representation of the general population, but also some of my colleagues / classmates took this survey. Considering that having a blog is a requirement for this course, (and graduate program), the people who responded with having one blog may not normally have one if not required to do so.
The above table shows blog posting habits for the 17 applicable respondents. It’s most noteworthy that only one person posts between 4 to 6 times weekly. At the other end of the spectrum, one admitted to never posting, and 5 people said they post 1 to 3 times a month, (which was the most popular response).
In this final question, I was curious to find out why people blog. The 16 remaining respondents were asked to check all that apply from the 11 listed reasons. The top answer was “To share personal experiences” as reported by 9 people. “For school / educational purposes” was reported by 8 the 16. As with the “Why do you read blogs?” question posed earlier in the survey, these results may be a little off due to my fellow classmates’ participation. (I sincerely appreciate their help, though!) Of course their responses are still valid, but I probably had a few too many grad students sprinkled in the sample. The other answers should all still be valid with “For fun”, “To educate others”, and “To inspire others” all coming in about the same. The business related answers (numbers 5-7) were all reported by 2 people, (and perhaps the same 2 people).
This survey assignment was a very interesting learning experience. Whereas my sample was small, I still gained a few of the insights I desired. In retrospect, I admit that number four on my list of questions, “Is there a difference in how bloggers engage with blogs (other than their own) versus how non-bloggers engage with blogs?”, was not measurable based on the design of the survey and questions. In order to gain this information I should have asked the same questions of both the bloggers as well as the non-bloggers to properly compare the data. That was definitely a flaw, but had it been executed properly, my survey would have been much more involved. One other thing I would do differently would be to define the term “blog” at the beginning of the survey. I do wonder how many people replied “No” to the first question asking if they read blogs simply because they did not realize that many of the websites that come back as a result of a search engine inquiry are blogs. Then again, would those respondents be able to give valid and useful data? Perhaps not…