Results of My 2010 Reader Survey

Last week, I conducted my 2010 Reader Survey. This was my second year to do it. As of this writing, more than 1,700 people have completed the survey. In my original post, I promised to summarize the results.

Pen filling out a survey - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/spxChrome, Image #903735

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/spxChrome

If I boiled the survey results down into a “reader profile,” it would look like this. My typical reader is a male (60%) between the ages of 31–50 (57%). He has at least a college degree (76%) and household income of $70,000 or more (54%). He lives in the U.S. (86%), most likely in the southeastern part of the country (36%). He is an active Christian (94%), attending church at least once a week (84%), and his faith is very important to him (90%).

He is extremely committed to personal growth and reads two or more books a month (73%). He reads most of my blog posts (83%) and is especially interested in those related to the topic of leadership (75%)—probably because he serves in a leadership capacity in his local church (93%). He also avails himself of other forms of learning, such as conferences (74%) and webinars (71%), and intends to pursue additional formal education (51%).

He is very active in social media, including Facebook (85%) and Twitter (72%). He has a need for self-expression, as evidenced by the fact that he has a blog (66%) and posts to it at least once a week. He also has a book idea (59%) that he hopes to write and get published.

If you are a survey geek and want to see the specific responses to each question, including the reader comments, you may do so by clicking here. All the responses are anonymous; I can’t tell how any one person voted.

I also received more than 600 open-ended reader comments about how I could improve my blog. These were the most helpful part of the survey. As a result of reading these, I have come to four conclusions:

  1. I need to create a separate publishing blog. Those who are interested in leadership (the majority) aren’t necessarily interested in publishing—and vice versa.
  2. My posts should be shorter. I am going to shoot for a 500-word limit. (I usually write 800 to 1,000 words.) If it becomes longer than that, I will break into multiple posts.
  3. I need to include more video content. Some readers indicated an interest in seeing my workflow or interviews with some of the leaders I get to meet because of my business.
  4. I’ll never please everyone. It was amazing how many contrary opinions there were. For example, some think I post too much; others, too little.

I intend to continue my Reader Survey on an annual basis. It is a huge help in making sure that I provide better, more relevant content. Thanks to each of you who participated.

Question: What questions should I have asked but didn’t? What additional insights do you see in the data?
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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/petereleazar petereleazar

    I so admire this process, but humbly feel that you need to go beyond connection, to engagement. Lately I stepped back a bit because I needed to reassess why I was there. On reflection I felt that what is meant for debate is often closed-ended, by design or by accident. I detected somewhere in your tweats that some of your audience want more blogs some less, but maybe there is a third way – to achieve higher levels of engagement and meaningful debate on key issues, whilst separately posting content that is by-the-way (great and very valuable, but less debatable). That may mean a less frequent intense debate that goes deeper and achieves greater connection, with informational blogs in between. I also limit myself to <500 and rather chain blogs where needed, but I only pitch a debate once a week. This argument alludes to what marketers refer to as "dialogue", that level where a relationship acquires real, honest glue.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I totally believe in the value of engagement. I’m sure I could do better; however, this is one of the reason I participate in the comments.

      PostRank.com is a great tool for measuring engagement. It factors how many comments, Twitter and Facebook posts, and Re-tweets you get, then it gives you an engagement score.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/petereleazar petereleazar

        I know you do Michael and I admire your accessibility, but true engagement is never simply achieved. Paul inferred that we will "come to the unity of faith", a process that leads to real relationship – for me contructive argument and debate is vital to building a shared vision. God cast all kinds of contradictions in my path until I lost my ideals, got real and gained a sense of His heart. My marriage also had to move through contradictions to achieve real oneness. In asking for less volume but more depth, maybe your follower base has a similar idea. You have a significant and privileged platform and a heart for God – a real opportunity to be more than you are. (I will also explore PostRank – thanks).

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/gwalter Gary Walter

          Peter, you make some great points. These are principles I've been trying to stress to others in position of influence. Some of my friends in active, full-time church planting, and/or ministry need to better develop their online presence. It isn't enough to just have a FB page and post announcements there – they need to engage.

          But the pushback I get is from people who see it as just another task. Between the phone messages, overflowing email, board/committee meetings, and other administrivia issues, they can't imagine developing an online community either. It feels overwhelming to them.

          I happen to think Michael does an awesome job of engaging. Would I like more dialog with him? Of course. But, like everyone, the administrivia and busyness creeps in. My blog doesn't get near the readership or replies that this blog gets, but I could easily spend four hours a day just cultivating and growing my community. And when I do, it grows, but it doesn't pay enough to pay the bills.

          • http://www.4u2live.net Peter Eleazar

            Hey Gary, now we are cooking on gas. Here we are debating as kin without Michael having to do any admin. Why do we always over-complicate. Changing a response from a statement to an open-ended, “why do you think that?”, can blow a debate wide open. We teach that very principle in negotiation skills, as it is such a useful instrument for opening up the other party so we can get below their perceived issues to their real issues. We will never achieve the glue we need until we drill down to heart and soul. Perhaps Jesus went for depth rather than breadth because connection only elicited a following, but engagement transformed lives – but isn’t that the objective of leadership?

            You know I am only being constructive here, but I really appreciate your feedback.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1116524763 Peter Eleazar

            Gary, I must add that I am not advocating one-on-one dialog (unrealistic) or anything that would add workload, rather I advocate less but richer debate. When corporates refer to dialog, they rarely imply 121 conversation. Many prevailing comments are merely acknowledgements – going no deeper and if the reply is also closed-ended, thats where it will die – and there is no glue in that.

  • Clear2Go

    In your case it probably makes sense to create another blog. I make that comment because I have seen others that have done that, create a separate blog. Then they start cross posting and linking when they are not sure if a particular post applies to one or both, or maybe they feel that they need to inform the subscribers of one blog about a post on another.

    As a thought, you could use tags or categories, then RSS feed off the tag. Those interested in publishing, select the publishing RSS feed, those interested in Leadership, select the Leadership feed, those interested in both, just use both feeds or the main blog feed.

    Just a thought.

    -mike.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I've thought about that, too. However, I think the second Web site is the best option is best for me. It won't be mine alone. I plan to brand it under a different name and be one of the contributors.

      • http://www.4u2live.com Peter Eleazar

        Doing it like that makes good sense.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/gwalter Gary Walter

      This is probably the best Mike. If I ever get a spare moment, I hope to do this with my scattered presence in the blogospere. The only issue I wrestle with is branding. How do I put Daddytude/parenting, EMS Stories, Life Journaling, and Leadership into one blog – with separate categories and still be true to the brand.

      Probably by using my name as my domain, and having the other domains point to that blog and the specific category.

  • Clark Palmer

    As you are self-evaluating, this might be a good moment for me to make this point. I greatly appreciate the time and effort you spend on your blog. I enjoy them. I'm encouraged by them. I come away from most of your blog postings with some fresh piece of information and more importantly, a desire to achieve more. So, in a word, thanks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Clark. I appreciate your encouraging words.

  • http://nicodemusfile.blogspot.com/ Whitakerous

    Thanks for the summary. While I understand the need for two blogs for some, I think that the value of what you bring to the table is your unique perspective as a Christian CEO of a publishing company. I think that one, it would not serve your time well to split the blogs (after all will you then find yourself compelled to have to write more content that you normally do to satisfy readers) and then there is the cost associated with running two. I like the lay out of your current website and with the easy of clicking ona topic that interest you and see what you have written it is very easy to compartmentalize for people who are not interested in one topic or the other.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1116524763 Peter Eleazar

      I have to agree with you. The greatest biblical leaders were also writers. Writing and leading are not mutually exclusive. Communication of any kind is one of the most powerful instruments of leadership. Time after time I see surveys on corporate climate, and communication is always at or near the top of the issue list – a global trend. I do see practical issues too – I am not sure I could do justice to two different audiences although I am considering cutting down my own "imprints".

  • Ian

    Thanks Michael for sharing the feedback and providing access to the core data. Being transparent is important and reflects your willingness to be open with your followers. Congratulations Michael, I'm not sure how many other CEOs would do such.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com patriciazell

    I am definitely not one of your typical readers, but I enjoy your blog. I owe a lot to you and your faithfulness in writing posts–I would not be where I am today (8 more posts until my book is finished) without your written input. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! :-)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Patricia, good for you! That is an awesome report.

  • http://www.sowingseedsministries.com James Castellano

    I feel you are doing a great job in your current format. Adding more about publishing could be beneficial, especially to unpublished authors.

  • annie

    Wow, I am totally atypical. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I would read a blog devoted to publishing.

  • http://cfpagels.blogspot.com C. F. Pagels, Ph.D.

    Your blog is excellent. I don't meet most of your summary results. Wondering how many other women did not do your survey because someone in the background was hollering, "Mom!" Keep up the great work and thank you!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That cracked me up! You're probably right.

  • http://www.dearkaren.com Karen Anderson

    Hi Mike,

    Since your gender split was 60/40 I’d love to know about your women readers. Did you happen to run that data? If so, I’d be curious to see if their interests differ, and if so, how. It may be exactly the same, but it did make me wonder.

    I, personally, like that you include the publishing with leadership. Because it’s what you do, publishing (and its issues!) on your blog gives context to your leadership ideas. Publishing is what you think about a vast majority of the time in your job and those publishing details give insight into how and why you’re thinking the way you do. Again, I think the publishing side gives insight into who you are, even if it’s not terribly interesting to those not in the industry.

    Also, because you advocate for living a full, well-rounded and
    integrated life, I would be concerned that fragmenting off that part of you might derail you a bit from that important value.

    Now, do I think a pub blog with you and other folks would be interesting? Of course. But it doesn’t really help me understand you, your thinking process and your model of leadership.

    Now of course, these are just my opinions, but I’m nothing if not good for an opinion!

    Mike, I love your openness, transparency, and willingness to listen.

    What a great gift you are!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Karen. Those are all excellent points. I will continue to ponder them.

  • melissa

    As a female, I don't fit the mold of your average reader. But I LOVE your blog and I love that you did this survey and I love that you shared the results. Really interesting. I'll keep reading………

  • http://guymwilliams.net guy m williams

    Thanks for sharing the results and conclusions. I hadn't thought of your posts as too long, but I do think there's value in going around 500 words and doing a series. Seth Godin is great at the short post, of course. Also, Craig Groeschel (swerve.lifechurch.tv) is great at writing short posts in a series. He usually picks a topic for the week with about 4 posts. That said, I'd hate to see your writing style or voice change in the midst of tinkering.

    Thanks for the time you put into the blog — it's valued!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/gwalter Gary Walter

    Very interesting. It's always good to learn that I'm not so unique after all. Of course, my parents may disagree! ;)

    I guess I'm a "typical" reader of your blog. #sigh

    Your four take-aways are what interested me most.

    1) Separate Blog. I wrestle with this myself. I currently have my main blog, and various others (life journaling, leadership musings, EMS stories, and then an anonymous one where I can vent – in addition, I write for a few other sites.) At some point, I'd like to bring all those writings under one roof – but branding becomes the issue.

    2) Shorter Posts. I too struggle with this. Like Asimov, "writing is like breathing" for me – I do it for myself as much as for anyone. But were I to submit most of these posts to a formal editing process, I'd spend 10 times as much time on them and greatly streamline the thoughts contained. But I know I'd get increased readership if I could stay within the 500 word limit. Maybe even 3-5 paragraphs. I wrestle with this. (But then, I'm sure you have more time than the rest of us, so you probably don't have this problem! ;) )

    3) Video Content. I've been experimenting with this. I now have a webcam and my new pocket computer (Droid) does video really well – live even. Which means I could do some video-blogging, while hanging out in the forest, or walking on the beach. I've wanted to experiment with some interview/discussions, ever since I was interviewed online a couple of years ago. I'll be curious to see where you go with this.

    4) Can't Please Everyone? Isn't that the truth. Even though I'm a spiritual leader, my circle is wider than just the church. Because of that, I seek to use inclusive language and verbiage. My overtly Christian readers think I'm not a real Christian, and my anti-religious readers think I'm too religious. Though I will continue to remain open and inclusive, in order to be salt and light, I know longer get too stressed when I realize many of my unchurched, irreligious, and secular friends read my blog.

    Thanks for continuing to share your journey with us – its very helpful. In my opinion, you are setting the standard for using social media – especially for a dead-tree mogul. It appears to me that you "get it" and you're helping others to also understand it. Thank you!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I wrestle with the length the most. I think it is because I trained myself to write 800-1,000 words, and I tend to think in blocks that long. It will take some re-training to get the word count down, but I think it will be worth it. I am looking forward to the challenge.

      • http://communicatrix.com Colleen Wainwright

        If you can share your process of moving toward those shorter posts, I'm sure a certain segment of your audience—the Long-Winded Section, of which I'm probably first chair—would be deeply grateful.

        And whatever method you use for dividing your content, I'll continue to consume vast quantities of it. I think you might be surprised at the areas of overlap you share with certain of your fans; this single, childless, 49-year-old agnostic finds extraordinary value in the insights you so generously and eloquently provide.

  • http://www.southerngospelblog.com/ Daniel J. Mount

    I personally like your leadership and publishing content equally, and would read both (whether here or elsewhere.) I think some of your readers appreciate their second choice more than they realize.

    Also, I don't mind long posts.

  • http://twitter.com/mitzi4602 @mitzi4602

    Given the nature of your business and industry, it is not surprising that men make up the majority. I would be interested in learning if women follow the same lines or veer of in other directions.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/blogan Brent Logan

    Yes to the separate publishing blog! Although I never aspire to publish a book, I enjoy reading about the issues surrounding publishing. I'd also be interested in knowing how the religious book publishing business differs.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/48days Dan Miller

    Mike – your blog is representative of who you are and thus it has the interesting blend of leadership and publishing information. And I question separating those – for two reasons. One, it implies more time on your part to create content and you are very clear about keeping clear boundaries for commitments. Two, anyone interested in “leadership” should also be interested in what’s happening in publishing. Trying to be effective as a leader without understanding the impact of branding, social media and building an audience is short-sighted. Whether someone is an author, artist, musician, human resource director, professor, physician, politician, employee or entrepreneur, that person must be aware of what is developing in areas outside their specific current position.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PattiM PattiM

    I'm not one of your typical readers. I do think that a big part of the 'charm' of your blog currently is that it is a blend of the various aspects of your life. Like most people, you are the sum total of various aspects. Your blog reflects how those aspects blend into the person you are.

    I've gone through splitting one aspect of a blog off into another blog. I don't think it was a wrong move, but it does at times leave me feeling a bit like a split personality with a bit of a different 'voice' on each blog. Being fully integrated has its benefits. Those who prefer to see the split, could be more selective in what they read. Just a thought.

    As for post length, numbers can be deceptive. A really interesting 800 word post is just a nice warm up. A boring 800 word post is 799 words too many.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree with you completely on word count. It is only one measure. The challenge for me is to be interesting AND brief. Thanks for your input.

  • http://www.lauraclick.com Laura Click

    Thanks for sharing your responses! I find surveys to be fascinating and incredibly useful. I’m someone who recommended #1. I think it would be nice to parse out the publishing information for those who really want the inside scoop on that. The rest of us, really dig what you have to say about leadership. Separating those two topics would be incredibly useful.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  • http://chrisshaughness.wordpress.com/ Chris Shaughness

    I'm hanging my head in shame that I didn't complete your survey last week, at the very least to have bumped up your female demographic ever-so-slightly! I am a regular reader and enjoy your content as it is, but I do agree that your posts should be shorter. I read many blogs daily as well as writing my own, so time is precious. Also agree that you will never please everyone. Play your own game!

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com WomenLivingWell

    Well, I guess I'm in the minority being a woman!!! But I love your site! And I wrote number 3 down – more videos! I really liked the road warrior video (even though I'm not a road warrior) just to see your face as you talk! It doesn't have to always be an "interview" – a 2-4 minute video of your stream of thought is interesting to us! Thanks for all you do!!!
    Courtney http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

    Next time when asking about whether a book is written or not, have an option about a book in progress. That's me. I also love to read but have so little time between job and book so I didn't even answer that question which makes it seem I don't read at all. I have yet to read many of your posts but I eagerly look forward to doing so. God bless, Anne Marie :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's a good point. You are probably not alone in this!

  • Angela

    Well according to your survey – I am your average reader – almost exactly (except I am female).

    My first reaction is to say “do not change a thing!” I have only been one of “your typical readers” for a short while – and I love your blog!

    Okay – so go ahead do what what you must – because I will still be tuning in!

  • http://gladwellmusau.wordpress.com Gladwell Musau

    Mike,

    Its thanks to you that I got the courage to start my blog 7 months ago. Yes…I think it is an excellent idea to go the other way…with another blog on publishing…because thats what I am after. I have learned a lot about publishing by reading your posts here.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work!

    Blessings.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/byronu byronu

    Keep knocking it out of the park Michael. You'll never please everyone and may go crazy trying. Look at your mission and stay within it. Video is cool though.