Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Magic of Blogging, Search & Social Networking

My blog is one of at least thousands which presume to observe and comment on business matters. Its followers number less than 10, and I don't believe it's permanently linked to any large, famous blogs.

On an average day, it probably draws 50-70 readers. Most, I know from Sitemeter, find a specific post due to a search. Sometimes a post about a company is linked on some major stock information site and draws above-average traffic.

Occasionally, one of my posts, such as a prescient one about unfundable municipal pensions, over a year ago, become a lightning rod and draw a few hundred visitors. That post was linked on the main page of some national government workers union's website, accounting for the stampeded of readers eager to learn, before the topic was so mainstream, that, and why, they may never receive their pensions.

Yesterday, however, saw a very new, yet commonplace combination of new media occurrences drive readership of my blog over the 1,000 mark for the first time. It took a little digging into Sitemeter's referral data to learn why.

Apparently, sometime yesterday afternoon, Dave Ramsey twittered about this post I wrote last year, prior to the elections last year. I know of Ramsey from his weekly appearances on Neil Cavuto's Fox News program at 4PM, but I have never listened to his radio program.

What surprises me is that my post is over six months old. It was written about a piece that Art Laffer wrote in the Wall Street Journal concerning Bill Gates, Sr.'s funding of a campaign to initiate a personal income tax in Washington state. Laffer presented some empirical work which clearly demonstrated that US states with higher tax rates experienced less economic growth than states with lower rates. No real surprise there, but some people refuse to acknowledge natural human economic behavior.

So, perhaps since it's tax season, or because Congressional Democrats and our president want to raise tax rates again, Ramsey somehow found my post and twittered Laffer's conclusion, with a URL for my post. I'm sure Ramsey has a ton of followers- he's a very popular radio personality. Next thing I know, by mid-evening yesterday, I had over 300 visitors, mostly from Twitter or iPhone apps.

Clearly, mobile and social networking access, combined with Twitter, catapulted my brief, derivative, dated blog post into brief popularity. There are still visitors coming on today based on the same twitter link. Apparently Facebook is also involved, as quite a few referring URLs are that site's exit page. Perhaps Ramsey's Facebook page has his Twitter link.

In any case, it's a testament to the unpredictability of the effect of current communications technologies.

Who would have guessed that, on some random day, a well-known radio personality's brief comment about the effect of state tax rates, as discovered by Art Laffer, in a major daily paper without free access to archived material, then observed by me, in a public venue, months ago, would result in a torrent of mobile traffic to my blog?

If you need some evidence of why we don't want excessive FCC regulation, this anecdote is a good one.

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