Gini Dietrich

More Online Noise?

By: Gini Dietrich | August 9, 2010 | 

I was chatting with a friend last week who told me he didn’t enjoy Spin Sucks as much these days. He said it used to be much more intimate and now we have different voices from people he doesn’t know so it’s hard for him to care. He said, for him, it’s just more online noise.

That got my attention. More online noise.

While the goal for the blog is to eventually monetize it, it’s equally important to maintain the culture we’ve created. But how do you do that as you grow?

This goes along with something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks – how do we continue to engage with our community as it grows? How do we continue to make people feel welcome, pay it forward, and debate professionally as it gets bigger? How do we continue to make every commenter feel important when there are hundreds of them? How do we grow without making more noise? Does a blog eventually have to go the way of Mashable and Guy Kawasaki or is it possible to maintain the intimacy and accessibility we’ve created?

I’m not going to pretend that the 94 percent increase in traffic we had in July, after we started having daily guest bloggers, hasn’t been exciting. I’m not going to pretend it hasn’t gotten us months closer to our goal in just a few short weeks.

But this is your blog as much as it is ours. And we don’t want to create more noise. We want it to continue to be intimate; after all that’s the culture we’re building within our four walls. It makes sense to have a common culture in all aspects of the business.

So what do you think? Have we just created more online noise? Are we getting too big for our britches? Do you still see intimacy and accessibility? Or are we on our way to getting too big for you to care?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Hi Gini,

    In the building of community, there will be some loss of intimacy as the community gets bigger. I, for one, enjoy blogs that still have interaction from the blogger. I think you have to weigh the value the business is getting from the blogging community to determine how much time you put into responding to the many comments you get.

    Congratulations on the 94% growth!

    • Julie…thanks! I guess I don’t really want to lose the intimacy as the community grows, but I also know I can’t spend all of my time on the blog (as much as I really would like to) so I suppose it’s a balancing act of not snubbing those who were here when we were small, but also engaging with new friends.

  • Gini… keep up the good work and the guest bloggers. I don’t think you’re creating more online noise at all. Quite the contrary, you’re filtering the noise.

    There’s so much out there it’s nice when you find someone’s voice who resonates with your own. It’s even better when they start sharing people who resonate with them.

    Instead of having to sift through all the noise to find other insightful professionals, you’ve done some of that work already. I for one appreciate it. Thanks!

    • Tony…THANK YOU! I just had a great idea that, if it works, you’ll get full credit because you sparked it from your comment about not having to sift through all the noise to find other insight.

  • Gini,

    I think Spin Sucks engages with readers much more than others. Your personality and warmth shines through your words and video. I think this helps build better and more personable relationships with your audience.

    I don’t agree that your site is just “online noise” at all.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Samantha – you just want me to make you laugh out loud in a public location! 🙂 You and I are going to launch the dual-screen video VERY soon!

  • Gini,
    Ditto Kudos on the 94% growth! Remember it’s not “noise” if you don’t TALK AT people … engaging them in conversations, beginning fodder for discussion versus lecturing, or the very worst, selling.
    Continued success to you!

    • Pat, GREAT comment about not talking about people. I’d forgotten that point when my friend was telling me how he felt about the blog. I hope we never do that…and I invite you to smack me if we do.

  • Ike

    What you need to keep everyone galvanized is a villain.

    Someone to be a troll, and get everyone stirred up about tired arguments and ad hominem attacks.

    Just kidding.

    Seriously – you can’t worry about that, every change you make will impact someone’s level of enjoyment.

    In fact, I recently made an inadvertent change (don’t know how it happened) and it messed up my feed, from a full to a summary. I lost many subscribers. It happens.

    Don’t sweat it. Or I shall have to troll you. 😉

  • I think you are very intimate and yet I love getting to “meet your friends” and hear their viewpoints…which has also expanded who I follow on both Twitter and blog wise. You have never let anyone that you dont stand behind be a guest blogger…and because of that I have never been let down!

    Thanks for all the good insight!


    • Rachael – thanks for your input…and for blogging today! I love your writing style.

  • Gini, I don’t think Spin Sucks is more online noise at all. You and your guest bloggers interact with those commenting on the posts.

    You’ve been successful at creating an online community with your readers. As you’ve expanded to guest bloggers, you are now giving your readers access to other influential bloggers and thought leaders that can educate your subscribers.

    However, to your friends point, I think we all became faithful followers because of the personality you brought into Spin Sucks. 94% growth is phenomenal as long as we all feel the same level of community that Spin Sucks was founded on! If that remains your core, then it’s definitely not online noise.

    • PR, but I ask you this…can we maintain the personal level that I’ve created as we continue to grow? I’m not going to pretend that some days aren’t super overwhelming and I feel guilty if it takes me ALL DAY (like today) to even read what people are posting. I don’t know if it’s sustainable.

      • That’s why you are now introducing your readers to other bloggers. They can continue to sustain the personal level that you’ve started by THEIR interactions with your readers. Those of us that know you personally can’t expect you to be the one and only person communicating with your audience given the commitments on your time already!

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  • There is validity in your friend’s comment, sure. But as you said, you want to monetize your blog. So you have already made a choice in that respect: you are happy with the time it has spent as an intimate close-knit group of thoughtful professionals discussing the PR industry…but the goal is to change that into a LARGE friendly group of professionals building relationships within your discussion community.

    For that, members will need space, and more generalized attention rather than the intimate, one-on-one interaction one might have expected in the earlier days of the blog.

    As you grow, weighing the loss of one against a gain of ten will become more frequent.

    • Jillian, great point about weighing the loss of one against a gain of 10…but I want everyone to like me!

  • Gini, great thoughts. I have had the same lately as I continue to grow my site.

    SImilarly, ultimately I hope it to be a viable business. But, I am not sure it has to “go the way of Mashable.”

    Maybe there is some middle ground if you want to keep it a more intimate community. I love interacting with the core group of followers.

    You can’t always keep in touch with all your followers. But, with some balance I think you can keep your fans happy.



    • So TMN, you’re saying that it’s okay to maintain engagement with a core group of followers, invite in new followers, and not feel guilty about not chatting with the ones who only appear sporadically?

  • It’s funny. This post complements what I wrote today at {grow} perfectly : )

    To me, it’s about defining the special sauce — what’s different abotu you and yoru blog — and then keeping that focus. It is the difference between you finding customers and customers finding you.

    Thanks for the questions and congratulations on your success!

    • Hey Mark! Are the u and o keys on your keyboard transposed?!? Can I hire you to help us define the special sauce? 🙂

  • Bigger isn’t bad. You do a great job of managing the quality–I am enjoying the new voices. Your personal warmth still comes through.

    • Thanks Barbara! That actually means a ton coming from you…I respect the heck out of you!

  • Hi Gini,

    It is the nature of things.

    You may very well be able to share your real self with billions, but you cannot connect to each of them individually.

    We live in a world built on the model of economic growth and at the same time, the powers that be are feeding the public the concept of sustainability, blurring the definitions of each. But they are a contradiction of one another. To sustain, is to remain constant, while growth is an actively changing process.

    Humans are creatures that naturally want to connect. We need it. And interestingly, technology has made it possible to share our thoughts, ideas, and products with billions of people. We can speak to the masses, we can send them our message, but we can only really connect to a limited number of them. We, as humans, don’t have the ability to connect to each of these people. Once they become, “the masses”, intimacy is long gone.

    We already know that there is a limit to growth. We can only fill the world with so many people before it breaks. The same logic can easily be applied to everything.

    For example, my doctor who is in family medicine and very successful, no longer accepts new patients, and hasn’t for years. There is a limit for time versus good medicine.

    If it’s sustainability that you want, then growth must be consciously capped. Think “boutique business”, making a good living delivering your craft to those with whom you know appreciate what you have to deliver. If it’s large financial success you want, then growth must be at the heart of the matter.

    • Grayson, as usual you deliver a very thoughtful and poignant comment. The analogy to your family doctor is a great one…and something I definitely need to consider. Thank you!

  • I think as long your point of view doesn’t get lost or compromised, you can grow it successfully. Your unique take on the industry is the thing that made this blog worth reading in the first place, so folks might be reacting to some diluting of that. You have to maintain your editorial presence. Sorry, but you do!

    • Rusty, get out here and ride with me! And, let me ask you this…is my unique take on the industry gone? I do still blog every day; in fact, I’ve become even more consistent about it and publish not only daily but by 9 a.m. I’m curious to hear if you think it’s diluted.

  • Well, if you believe you’ve reached the tipping point of your ‘blog, then maybe it’s time to change focus, or, alternatively, not worry about it.

    • MM – I love seeing you here and in my Twitter stream. You might be right…I may have to decide not to worry about it.

  • You can’t get anymore intimate than sharing in a blog. Well…you know what I mean.
    Coming into a blog discussion is the same as coming into a conversation at a coffee shop.
    Hi. May I set down here?
    The only difference is the blog coffee shop table has hundreds of people setting at it.
    I don’t hear anyone talking or interrupting while I comment on this blog. There could be 1 person participating or 1000, I still don’t hear anyone while I comment.
    The way I see it is this…the more people there are participating in any given subject on a blog, the more intimacy has a chance to express it’s self

    • John, GREAT analogy and thanks for joining the conversation! So, like you’re in the coffee shop, is it cool with you that some people have a louder voice than others? Or would you rather have one-on-one time with the writer?

      • Hi Gini
        I’m just glad to be in there somewhere and I love to hear people express themselves and share their opinions/thoughts even if they are loud opinions.
        And, one on one with the writer is a privilege I think. One to be enjoyed for what ever there is to be learned there and for the association.

  • Hmm, what an interesting question. Maybe because I’ve been a subscriber since the early days of Spin Sucks, I’m feeling a little bit like I’ve lost access to my Gini in the process of the growth of the blog. You are doing exactly what you had set out to do.. create a community and provide interesting, relevant and differing views on the communications business.

    Keep at it; just because some of us are having a hard time adjusting to the change, doesn’t mean the change isn’t good.

    • Abbie, you get to have me in real life! In all seriousness, do you really feel like you’ve lost access to me? I’d like to hear/learn more about that.

  • I’m not sure when he was referring to, but when I was first getting into reading blogs, this was one of the local and consistant, that I like to read; yet it did feel like a closed circle. I didn’t comment often, maybe twice, but not much “conversation” in return. However, I still read your blog (more than I read Mashable actually) as I like your approach and it’s refreshing to hear your take on things.

    • Nicole, tell me more about the closed circle feeling you got. That surprises me and it may be key to what I’m feeling. Oh…and thanks for saying you read us more than Mashable. 🙂

  • @Gini,
    I think the incredible growth in traffic – even in the summer months – is a testament to just how good SpinSucks is getting.

    I’m really proud of you guys and SO enjoying the content.

    More please !!!

  • Joe Keller

    I just recently heard a talk that I think is relevant, by Andy Stanley, about how some tension is necessary and good. This may be one of the situations where it’s not either/or. There are certain things that need to be held in tension, and you may need to find the ebb and flow of the tide. It’s kind of like work life/ home life “balance”, there seems to be no solution to that. I may need more time at home this month and more at work next month…The other thing I want to say is that sometimes the intimacy of the community is between the commenters and not commenter/blogger.

  • Gini — yes, I am lucky in that I can get to see you and interact with you on a regular basis. A true IRL friendship, which I am so grateful for.

    As to “losing access,” Spin Sucks was synonymous with Gini — you were one and the same. Occassionally you would have guests. Now Spin Sucks refers to an awesome community of other really smart people. A good thing for sure.

    Don’t get me wrong — I am all for the different viewpoints, variety that comes from different bloggers. It keeps the blog fresh.

    So I now engage a bit more with you on the AD Facebook page and watch your video blogs on a more regular basis.