Politics of Poverty

What we learned (or didn’t) about blogging for influence in 2014

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5 observations from Politics of Poverty’s stats last year

We want Politics of Poverty to reach those Oxfam America is trying to influence – US policy makers, other policy experts and thought leaders, i.e. the “grass tops.” We don’t want it to be an organizational bulletin board, or a way to solicit the general public, and it is certainly not a place to speak for people who are poor. Rather we hope it is a place for informed, relevant, and provocative commentary/analysis on policy issues and other relevant events in the global development sector.

So did we accomplish this in 2014?

Last year we continued to see a increase in the demand for our content, which included 209 new blog posts, and in acquisition of readership as well, with 87,970 users visiting Politics of Poverty in 2014.

PoP Historical Traffic 1_8_15

As with other facets of advocacy work, reaching policy makers with blog posts is admittedly a difficult thing to track and measure. However, with what I can glean from google analytics, here’s my attempt to answer:

What did we learn (or reconfirm) in 2015?

  1. We’re reaching at least some of our intended audience…we think.

The most common “typical” Politics of Poverty reader in 2014 was a 25-34 year old professional in Washington DC, reading Politics of Poverty on her PC desktop via email or referral. Since only about 30% of Politics of Poverty readers are over the age of 45 and since the average age of the new Congress is 57, let’s hope they are running to their boss with every blog that they read.

  1. We shouldn’t be afraid of celebrity news.

According to the top “affinity categories,” yes, our readers are “news junkie and avid readers,” but they also love some pop culture (movies, TV, music, sports), with their political and technical reading.

Ok, so maybe we don’t need to get excited about Comet, the killer orca whale, or Justin Bieber’s Calvin Klein ad, but timeliness, captivating titles and opening lines, and relevance to existing conversations in the popular media or “discourse” continues to demonstrate themselves as vital factors in gaining readership for the blog. The point is to draw readers in, not presuming that everyone will be fascinated by our idiosyncratic pursuits.

  1. Engagement matters.

It’s not just about the quantity of readers Politics of Poverty had in 2014. Quality matters too. Is our content important or interesting to our readers? That’s why we also track what people did after reading our blog posts. If a reader “shares” the post via social media, or if they comment on, or link their website to ours, all of these actions indicate that the content of a blog post is resonating with readers. This number is rising, though providing this figure would require way too much explanation. So trust me.

  1. Blogs have staying power.

We often think of blogs as just the most recent content, which is soon forgotten. But if you’re paying attention to SEO matters, that google search can keep issues relevant for a long, long time. Two of our top 10 blog posts in 2014 were from previous years. (See below.)

  1. Women are better bloggers!?

Nine out of 10 of Oxfam’s top Politics of Policy blogs in 2014 were written by women. Maybe content is QUEEN, not king.

Top 10 Performing PoP Posts in 2014

  1. Can a board game reach policy makers on US foreign assistance? by Jennifer Lentfer
  2. Protestors and UN report test Peru’s new indigenous peoples’ consultation law by Emily Greenspan
  3. (from 2013) Hard work, hard lives: The new “American dream”? by Mary Babic
  4. 7 things you may not know about US foreign assistance, by Jennifer Lentfer
  5. Distributing seeds, fertilizer and pesticides to poor farmers is OUT. Agroecology is IN. by Gina Castillo
  6. Will oil bring promise or peril to the communities of Turkana, Kenya? by Emily Greenspan
  7. Could we create an Ice Bucket Challenge for global development? Should we? by Jennifer Lentfer
  8. (from 2012) How Haiti can dig itself out of poverty, by Keith Slack
  9. “The Samaritans” elegantly demonstrates the need for serious aid reform, by Jennifer Lentfer
  10. Child laborers bring case against food companies: “You’re enabling enslavement” by Irit Tamir

Through Politics of Poverty, our job is to more readily connect Oxfam’s work and writing to the outside world and what’s currently on reader’s minds. My questions for 2015: Are we using blogs strategically enough? Are we taking risks with our blog posts? Would there be value in attempting to be more provocative or presenting more “top-of-the-mind” content?

Regardless, more to come in 2015.

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