Wednesday, February 03, 2010

100,000 strong

A quick glance at the web counter shows me that today this blog passed the 100,000 hits mark.

Admittedly, as I haven't exactly been a prolific blogger since I started back in August 2006, I've rather coasted rather than surged through the 100,000 point. It's a milestone nonetheless.

In truth, when I began blogging, I was hoping to create a significant audience amongst the residents I reporesent in Haughton West - the blog was intended as a new way of allowing 2-way communication for local people.

And whilst I know some residents do occasionally look at my burblings, I'm afraid it has never really taken off in that regard - the monthly e-newsletters I send out to around 100 households on behalf of the 3 of us in the ward probably are much more effective.

Neither has blogging taken off in the North East in a way I expected back then. Whilst my colleagues Simon Henig and Nick Forbes do have their own websites in Durham and Newcastle respectively, truth to say blogging hasn't really developed as a means of communication and debate amongst either Labour or Tory politicians. Only the LibDems seem to have taken it to their hearts, though whether it is really delivering results for them is hard to say.

Here in Darlington, we have a good micro-blogging community. Whilst the occasional postings of Mike Barker, the Cartwrights and myself can scarecely be described as a Socratic dialogue, we do occasionally make the Echo - indeed I'm surprised that more of my colleagues haven't appreciated that well-written blog posts easily generate news stories, as Mike clearly does.

So it's a case of onwards and upwards. Just as Obama and his use of email helped define the 2008 US elections, we'll see how, if at all, the internet will influence voters here in Darlington in 2010. In what promises to be an increasingly-tight election in national terms, who knows what effect the internet may have on the result in the North East.


james said...

Worth noting that social networking seems to offer greater potential for micro-blogging and contacts between elected representatives / candidates seeking office and constituents and supporters.

I think there's a great potential for demand-side pressures to improve the democratic process and restore trust in the process itself.

Mike Barker said...

Interesting, Nick. I have yet to be convinced of the value of Tweeting, however, having signed up to follow David Bumble Lloyd back last summer. Unless you're a big name, like the Prime Minister's wife, that is.

Your blog's hit count is well ahead of mine (almost double, in fact), generated, no doubt, by the amount of comments you attract, with people logging back on to take part in the lengthy debates some of your posts generate.

Maybe more relevant is the number of unique visitors. I am closing in on 10,000. I'm sure yours will be much higher, but I reckon 10,000visitors for a back bench Lib Dem councillor in Darlington, added to the press coverage this blog generates (why bother with sterile press releases?) is a decent return for my efforts.

miketually said...

I think social networking, especially Facebook, is probably currently the best method of interacting with residents on a local level. This is especially true of younger residents (my students use Facebook almost exclusively to interact with their peers) but many older residents will also be on there now, even my mam and she's 50 ;)

Twitter is brilliant for building a 'personal network' of like-minded individuals from around the world. You then have a pool of people who will quickly give answers to obscure questions on whatever your interests are. It can also be set up to point followers to new blog posts.

I've found Twitter to be brilliant for 'networking' and getting word of projects out to some pretty influencial people: a lot of Beauty and The Bike publicity was gained via Twitter; I've gained a bike sponsorship deal from it; plus all the Darlobard stuff.

I think blogs are a great way of getting press coverage and also enabling you to be found via Google and the like. I would also use it as a home for content which I then linked out to from Facebook, rather than parking all my content on there - it keeps you the ownership and control of the content.

Mike Barker said...

Well Mike, maybe you've persuaded me I need a "Mike Barker for Darlington" Facebook page. My daughter suggested it a few months ago, but she never got round to setting it up for me. She says her friends won't vote, but maybe they might if they can see what I'm up to on Facebook.
I was particularly impressed by this:!/group.php?gid=294916008641&ref=mf

as an example of a campaign which used Facebook to mobilise support (in this case against Dari Taylor's bonkers idea to relocate Egglescliffe School into Preston Park - that's a vote loser if ever I saw one). Over 2,000 members in just a couple of weeks.

Mark Burton said...

For what it's worth... I don't think Twitter or Twittering is all it's made out to be, I've never seen its point nor its worth to anyone. Facebook is at its peak and just like Friends Reunited will soon be looking to cash in on its membership... which will be its downfall and there be a new commer before we know it. Blogging and CMS is KING so long as the content is too!

james said...

"She says her friends won't vote, but maybe they might if they can see what I'm up to on Facebook."

Yes, but perhaps not for you, Mike ;-)

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, everyone.

I'm sure Mike McT's right, and social networking sites are the future - I'm just not sure that the thought of regular updates from their local councillor on Twitter about potholes and broken fences is going to send any hearts racing. So whilst I do have a Twitter account (and Mike was kind enough to be, I think, the only person to sign up to it) I haven't invested any time in developing it as a communication tool.

Similarly, I'm not convinced that residents in their hundreds will sign up to a ward Facebook page, although as there are clear cross-overs with blogging, I might give this a go.

MP's, with their greater reach and name recognition are a different matter. It's good to see Jenny Chapman make such good running with her website and Facebook pages (which shamefully, I haven't promoted yet).

Finally, I've never thought that hits, (or indeed unique hits) are a great measure of the success of blogging. I'm conscious from the search engine data that people visit my site for all sorts of weird and wonderful reasons, and once they've seen the blog, they don't return!

That's why returning visitors are so important to me - it's a real measure of an audience who come back because they're interested in the blog's content.

If I have 20 returning visitors every day, and on average a person returns to the blog say once every 4 days, it means there may be 80 - 100 people who at least now and again come back for a look here. Those sort of numbers make keeping this blog going worthwhile.

undecided said...

Personally I too cannot seee the point in Twitter however a Facebook account is the way forward.

However rumours (and thats all they are) they intent to charge a subscription will see it become as popular as one of Baldricks "cunning plans"

But something else free will come along to replace it the key word here is FREE.

I think Jenny Chapmans facebook image has done her some good and would suggest Mike B get one ASAP forget the twitter it's only for twatters.

james said...

Facebook's business model is based on advertising, so I can't see it introducing user-fees...

Twitter is v. limited and not very user-friendly, in my view.

Malcolm Clarke said...

When I get elected as something it will give us all a lift in NW Durham blog community that seemingly consists of me

LOL Thanks for link!

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks for dropping by, Malcolm. We need more (a)White (b)Diabetic (c)Hayfever-suffering (d)Lovable (e)Funky Tie-wearing contributors as a matter of urgency!