What have I learned from the survey? It certainly wasn't meant to be an exercise in soliciting platitudes. Yet, many of you did say some very nice things that did make me feel quite good about what have done with this Brew Lounge thing here and more resolute than ever about making the future even better than the past. Some also dropped private e-mails and commented to me in person which were equally appreciated.
Here are some additional quick notes that I took away from the 100+ responses that you took the time to submit. And, once again, I thank you very much for participating.
- Some of you don't give a rat's patootie about social media. This warms a little corner of my soul and reminds me that I can't always be playing to the Facebook and Twitter crowd.
- Yet, from recently published numbers, Facebook boasts 1.7 billion visits for the week ending 7/21/12. That's roughly 3 times the number of visits to YouTube and 30 times the number of visits to Twitter. And together, these top 3 comprise roughly 85% of the social media space. So, in this realm, you can expect that I'll be cleaning up my approach to "discussing" and advertising my work and becoming more consistent. If you're not on one of them, it's really not that scary. Still, if you're anti-social media, that's cool. It's certainly not the end-all...and definitely not the be-all.
- I should do a better a job of organizing content at the site. Particularly in the form of a guide to worthy beer destinations (both in real life and on the Web).
- Nearly half of the respondents simply make it a regular habit to check in at TBL without any prodding. No email, feed reader, social media, etc. A good portion also visits via links from other websites. That underscores my desire to do a better roll-call on TBL (as I mentioned in last bullet) of the worthy places on the Web to stop by.
- Combing the usage logs from the past month at The Brew Lounge, it's interesting to see a not-totally-surprising finding in that the sum of traffic from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York is just a few ticks greater than the percentage of visitors coming from California. That continues to support my years-long argument that I may be based out of the Philadelphia area (and certainly, area-related articles comprise a majority of The Brew Lounge), but that does not necessarily pigeonhole me as a Philly Beer
- The calendar, as I've mentioned in the past, is extremely popular. But also, not too surprisingly to me, was the popularity of and desire for more, beer, brewery, and bar reviews. This used to be a bigger part of the TBL m.o. that has certainly dropped off in recent years. I definitely see me splitting some of this content in the future between TBL and my column at The Washington Times. But, for now, I hear you. You definitely got my attention.
- I'm going to stop getting so hung up on my independent voice. I've always known that I've had good judgement when it comes to conflict of interest. But, with all the noise out there in recent years about writers/bloggers and the "benefits" that we receive, it had me second-guessing how clearly my independent voice was coming across. Unless you're all just trying to make me feel good, the message I take here is that I'm going a nearly perfect job in protecting my independence.
- With the recent HopChef event, I experimented with someone else providing the words and pictures. More than a third of the respondents would like TBL to remain singular voice, but enough of you sound like it wouldn't be bad thing if I occasionally let another credible voice join the party from time to time.
- Gotta say I was a bit shocked that "Pictures Only" was a distant 4th place in terms of your style of content preference at TBL. Perhaps even more surprising was the first-place choice of "Short Story" and "In-Depth Articles" not far behind. Here I thought in the Twitter age that no one reads anymore.
- I knew this but most of you made it perfectly clear: I don't do a very good job at all of pimping my column over at The Washington Times.
One more thing as I wrap up all this behind the scenes talk. I've always realized that TBL is not exactly the prettiest place to hang out. Most of you probably know that I have very, very little interest in becoming any more conversant in templates, html code, etc. than I need to be just in order to put out decent content. All I want to do is generate solid content.
Somewhere in the not-too-distant future (hopefully), I'm going to take a stab at creating a more visually-pleasing layout here at TBL. I may put out feelers for someone to help me with it if it comes to that. But, after 7 years and many advances at Google, I figure I should do a little housecleaning and maybe apply a new coat of paint.
Did you want or need to know any or all of this? Don't know. I erred on the side of I-thought-you-might-find-it-interesting and give you a peek into my thought process as we push on.
Back to your regular programming.