Do Algorithms Make us Lazy? Do Metrics Numb our Feelings?

More Feeling, Less Metrics. That’s what I concluded when I asked myself “What Does Your Next Content Audit Need?”

I’ve recently audited 130 blogs and 3500 posts and I concluded you need to personally audit your blog and your competitors blogs to get an emotional response – a feeling.

Here’s a deck of my thoughts on these audits

That’s the difference. You can’t delegate or outsource that experience. You can’t use a grading tool to give you a feeling.

  • Do we need more content? No.
  • Do we need more metrics? No.

We do need MORE feeling. We need to add more humans and humanity back into the process of content creation.

Feelings can be warm and fuzzy or dank, damp and mean. Feelings evoke a reaction – good and bad. They can make us grow. They can make us shrink. That’s the risk. Don’t take the road of the middle ground. Don’t look for average. Don’t be numbed by numbers and algorithms.

  • More sensing and less counting.
  • More beating hearts and less glancing eyeballs.
  • More drum rolls, less rolling eyes.
  • Are you building intrigue and excitement with your audience?

My last two reads Inbound Marketing and Optimize drilled home the value of content audits. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan. I love metrics. Both books are “must reads” for content marketing folk.

I listened to the arguments for Hubspot’s Marketing Grader. We love numbers. We love rankings and we love action points. Actions cleanse our conscience. They stop us feeling.

I came across this deck yesterday supporting my argument. We need to beware algorithms, at the same time as embracing them.

Rules and heuristics give us power and let us scale. We need rules, but don’t lose sight of what the rules are trying to measure.
  • Tools love rules
  • People love feelings (or they should)

Beware you are not becoming a human that loves rules and who forgets how to feel. Don’t become a robot.

This works when you are writing a blog post, picking a gift for a friend, making a list on Listly or choosing somewhere to go to eat.

Feelings are muscles we need to exercise. Algorithms taunt us with their power to simplify and process data.  We rely on Google to tell us what we want, but is that right? We hear about big data, but what about big emotions?

You can’t skip or shortcut having feelings. You need to do the emotional work. We often associate feelings in a personal context, but feelings do exist in the realm of content. Feelings bring us context. Emotional connection makes things matter.

Audits give you actions. You don’t even need to think or feel. I fixed some of Hubspots recommendations. Our grade improved. I stopped. Where’s the feeling in this I asked myself?

And that’s where it breaks. Use them (rules, algorithms, heuristics), but don’t rely on them.

Hubspot or Klout or an Alexa ranking can’t answer these questions and don’t expect them to.

  • What does your content feel like?
  • What do your competitors blogs feel like?
  • Is there a pulse, a vibe?
  • What’s their emotion and passion about their position?
  • Are you AND your competitors turning out “me too” content?
  • Is everyone saying the same thing? Where is the appeal in that?

It’s so easy to gorge on audits and metrics. We can all get addicted to checking our Alexa ranking, our Klout scores or emptying our inbox or completing out to-do list. Tasks, inboxes and metrics make us feel important. We can too easily become their slave.

You need the peace of mind you know you are doing great. If you are like me, you’ll crave the feedback.

The challenge is is that analytical thinking brings “me too” results. Formulas give formulaic output.

What you need is to develop a sensory response to your content audit.

I’ve learned a lot from the auditing process. Most of all I’ve learned not to fear any other blog. Very few do it right and do it well.

You don’t need to see audit numbers, you need to observe your competitor’s content and see how it evolves over time. What’s working for them? What are their gaps vs your gaps? What are they learning from their experience? What are you learning? Can you shortcut that learning?

If you follow my blog and Listly’s blog you’ll see the content audit has been a growing theme. It’s been an idea that’s worked and that’s evolved and led to more analysis and more insight.

No audit can bypass that learning. It’s a human response to paying attention.

I began writing this post to think about my findings when I was hit with the big message – big feelings first.

I’ve developed more blog themes over time, as should you.  Lurkers for example is one of my favourites. Don’t be afraid to revisit a topic that fascinates you. I liken it to a dog gnawing a bone.

What are your themes? Where is your voice most strongly felt? What itch do you have to scratch when you sit down to write?

What piece of you, what aspect of your curiosity can you share that will make your readers care?

Don’t just look for the feelings and emotions from reading other blogs, ask yourself what feelings you can cultivate when people read your content.

The answer is always a feeling. My content audit work evolved from a feeling and some intuition.

Let your intuition flow. Reward your own curiosity. Satisfy, don’t ignore the itch.

You won’t feel intuitive unless you learn to train and trust your instinct.

You won’t find the answer in a number alone.

Get curious.

I read two great posts on curiosity this week by Mars Dorian and Sara Wachter-Boettcher

What are you feeling like now? Inspired enough to comment or to make a list or go write a post? Or are you you stuck in a number rut?

Image Credit: heavyweightgeek


NIck Kellet (130 Posts)

Nick’s ventures range from a visual segmentation tool sold to SAP, to an award winning board game. Today, Nick is co-founder of Listly, raising the profile of lists to be on par with Slideshare & YouTube.