“Likes” and Email Subscriptions

I have been slowly re-tagging my posts (and fixing the occasional typo that happens to jump out at me) on here, going at the impossibly slow pace of five posts per day. (I’ve been doing this since February, but at least it’s getting done.) While I was looking at some of the older posts I wrote in 2011 or so, I remembered something.

WordPress didn’t always have a “like” button.

I forget exactly when the “like” button was first put into place. Maybe it was around 2011 or 2012 or possibly even before that, but I know that when I started with WordPress, the “like” button didn’t exist.

That made me start thinking too much, as so many things often do. It seems that the “like” button can shut down conversation, in the sense that you don’t need to take the time to leave a comment saying that you enjoyed the post. You can just hit “like” and that’s that. I tend to use the “like” button as a bookmark feature so that I can go back and read posts that I think would be interesting. I also use it to show support for a post that I like so much that I can’t find the words to express how much I like it. Or if I were to comment, the comment would be longer than the original post.

The “like” button can be disabled for all of your posts and added to each post individually, so that’s better than forcing a “like” feature on those who may not like it. I suppose that if you wanted to foster an actual conversation on your blog, you could disable the “like” button, but then you may not get any feedback on the post at all.

This brings me to another topic: email. Those who do not have a WordPress account can follow WordPress blogs by putting their email address into a little box, so they get all the blogger’s posts. The blogger then has a nice little list of all the email addresses of those who have subscribed to his blog, so he can spam them at will or sell their email addresses to companies that specialize in sending badly written emails from foreign “princes” who demand money.

But in reality, the email list is kinda weird. I know for a fact that some people are still subscribed to my blog, but their email addresses have disappeared from the list. Also, some email addresses are still on the list when I know for certain that those particular email accounts have been deleted and no longer exist (well, I’m sure the NSA has them somewhere). Last (and I may be 100% wrong about this), I don’t believe email subscriptions drive readers to the blog itself. As far as I know, the entire post appears in the email, so there is no reason for the email subscriber to visit the blog itself unless she wants to leave a comment on the post.

I need to do more research, but I think it would be better if the blogger could choose whether the email subscriber can see the entire post in the email or whether they only see the first 100 words or so and need to go to the blog to read more. I can see how having to click to read the rest of the post on the blog would be annoying to readers, so I like the idea of the whole post appearing in the email, but because many bloggers rely on their stats and pageviews as an accurate measure of the blog’s “popularity,” email subscriptions may not drive the kinds of interaction with the blog that they would like to see.

So the moral of this pointless post is… stats are not an accurate indicator of your blog’s popularity, and “likes” may not necessarily mean that the reader likes or has read your entire post. He may just be saving it for later.

14 thoughts on ““Likes” and Email Subscriptions

  1. I receive the entire post in email, but when I click “like,” here I am.

    Why I don’t write dialogue in YA novels:
    I like, like him, but I don’t, like, LIKE him. Y’know?
    (Kidding!)

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  2. Good points. 🙂 I tend to ue “like” for some of the same purposes as you. And sometimes I’m just in a hurry after reading a post and feel that I want to tell the blogger that I read their post even if I don’t write something meaningful.

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  3. “I don’t believe email subscriptions drive readers to the blog itself.”
    You’re right about this in a way. I’ve rarely visited your blog, but have read every post since I subscribed. I’ve turned the digest on, otherwise I’d have commented via a reply to your mail.

    I think you can make your reader click to your page because I have other subscriptions who do that, and they use wordpress. But they’re read less or not at all(by me) because I read on the go and offline all the while, that also explains my not liking many posts ;).

    So while I(or some) can read posts entirely on email unbeknown to you, you can have assured ‘hits’ at a cost of reads from the likes of me. It was years since I gave up waiting for the feature on the wordpress app which would have allowed reading and likes. I don’t think that’s happened yet!

    I don’t blog, so I haven’t researched well; but I believe WP, given its size, might have taken a note to redefine the metric around subscriptions.

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    1. Yep. In the end, the important thing is that the blog gets read, not that it gets viewed. I don’t think I’m going to bother with changing my email subscription settings. I feel like it’s worked for people who have subscribed, and I haven’t gotten any negative feedback, so something must be going right. 🙂

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  4. I read your blog posts from my email but probably wouldn’t half the time if the whole posts didn’t show up in that way. It may not give you the most accurate popularity stats, but fundamentally, I don’t think bloggers should write for popularity but for the joy of writing. That said, I know that having confidence in a writer’s readership helps to motivate and encourage consistent and probably better writing. That’s my two cents!

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