9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online

Diagram showing 9 responses listed in this article.

Blogs and Twitter have almost eliminated any barrier to publishing. You have an idea and in a few minutes your thoughts can be online. Think about it – with every person thinking about more than 50,000 thoughts a day, producing online content can be simple.

Maybe. But simply churning out meaningless content does not guarantee that others will read what you write. Make this mistake and people will read what you write and write you off.

What’s the alternative?

Use your creativity to generate content that will inspire and transform the lives of the audience in a positive way. Remember that it costs time (and indirectly – money) for your audience to read what you write. And, they expect a good return for that investment.

You will know whether you are succeeding in influencing your audience in a positive way because the audience will tell you. No, maybe not directly but by the way they respond to your content.

So, here are the nine ways your audience will respond to your online content:

  1. Spam: If your content does not provide a reasonable ROII (return-on-investment for an interaction) for the reader or is self-serving or simply useless, the reader will mark it as spam. Posting something that may be assessed, as “spam” is the fastest way to losing credibility.
  2. Skip: The reader makes an assessment that he or she won’t lose much by reading it. In this case, the reader has not written you off yet but if you consistently create content that is worth “skipping,” the reader might write you off.
  3. Scan: The reader thinks there are only a few parts that are of relevance and wants to get right to the core of the content and skip the rest.
  4. Stop: The reader is touched by the article and stops to think about the article, it’s relevance and what it means to him or her personally and professionally.
  5. Save: The content is so good that the reader might want to re-visit this multiple times.
  6. Shift: The article is transformational. The reader is so deeply affected (in a positive way) by the article that it shifts some of their values and beliefs. In other words, this piece of writing will transform the reader and make him or her grow.
  7. Send: The content is not only useful to the reader but also to one or more people in the reader’s network. The reader simply emails the article or a link to it to people that he or she cares.
  8. Spread: The reader finds the article fascinating enough to spread it to anyone and everyone via a blog, twitter or the social networks that he or she belongs.
  9. Subscribe: This is the ultimate expression of engagement and a vote of confidence that you will continue to provide great content. When the reader wants to continue listening to your thoughts, he or she will subscribe.

Finally, here are a few things to consider before you post your next online content:

1. Understand Your Audience

Unless you are writing something for your private consumption, your audience should be the center of the focus and not you. The more you know about your audience, the better you can connect with them. Think about:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Why are they reading what you are writing?
  • What are their concerns in general and what are their concerns NOW?

2. Check Your Objective

Some questions to think about:

  • What is the purpose of your article?
  • What assessment do you want the reader to create by reading your article?

3. Unleash Your Creativity

You know the audience and you know the purpose of the article. Now the next step is to unleash your creativity and create something that will generate the kind of response that you are looking for.

Some questions to think about:

  • What would be unique (content, point-of-view etc.) in this article that will make the audience do what I want them to do?
  • How can you make this article “extremely relevant” to the current times?
  • What can you include that will increase the “longevity” of the article?

4. Learn from Feedback

You already know the nine ways that people respond to your online content. When people act the way they do, they are providing you valuable feedback. Keeping your emotions aside, learn from the feedback and incorporate this learning into your next article.

Background: An earlier version of this article was titled Skip, Scan, Stop, Save and/or Spread. Thanks to several people especially Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Kathy Hendershot-Hurd who helped me enhance the initial concept through their comments.

About the Author: Rajesh Setty is an entrepreneur, author and speaker based in Silicon Valley. Rajesh maintains a blog at Life Beyond Code. You can also find him on Twitter at @UpbeatNow.

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Responses to this Post

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  1. How To: Your Own Right-Wing Blog | September 6, 2009


  1. Very nicely explained and with a good visual. Thanks.

  2. Thanks all of you for adding your valuable insights in the comments as well as on your blogs.

    I have been reading through all the comments and the related blog posts and it is humbling to witness all the love for the craft of writing and for this post.

    Thanks again.


  3. These 9 tips are really good. It inspire me to write more for my audience instead of my personal life. Keep posting stuff like this. I love it.

  4. Life and everything in it is a Gift from the Infinite
    mind, And the only way Life could go wrong,
    is through the limited Finite mind

  5. I’ve just read your post and I can certainly say that it is very informative. Great insight into the content we choose to share with our readers…

    Thanks for sharing,


  6. Thanks for this very informative post! Your diagram is great, very well thought out. I’ve printed it out to refer to as a guide and as a reminder to always make sure I am provided quality content to my readers.

    I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my readers and others!

    Thanks again,


  7. I like how you’ve listed spam as number 1 in the steps above. This is critical I think as it is what makes a reader either hang out on your website or click that back button to go find something better.

  8. Thanks for this post!! I find its content and especially the diagram enlightening!! I will use this great insight to constantly provide my readers with quality content.


  9. Being a blogger myself for over 5 years, I think this post beautifully sums up the entire though process about blogging.

    really enjoy reading your posts, all of them nicely bullet pointed!

  10. That was just awesome lots of stuff I didn’t know but I do now Thanks so much

  11. Great post!
    Just started a blog for entrepreneurs in my country (NIGERIA) and will like to get the “engage” reaction from my readers. At least now i can imagine how they react to every post and work harder towards getting the kind of reaction i want.

  12. ahmed samir says:

    i like yur detailed analytical point of view .. this is how we succeed ;D

  13. As part of unleashing one’s creativity I would also add that some posts should be timeless content, meaning content that is applicable and interesting today and years from now. Those posts will be bookmarked, linked to and returned to by many people. Something unique could be something controversial, that will ruffle more than a few feathers.

    – Andrew

  14. : ) What I am most appreciating about this article and the site in general is the clear and concise presentation of ideas. This particular piece drew me in to read right through, but actually taught me nothing that didn’t seem like common sense. What I’m finding in the site in general, is focus on subject. My site content includes engaging and well considered material, but ranges in subject and focus – and this maybe what [I] need to work on to garner feedback – or maybe it’s just that nobody loves me or cares : (

  15. that’s a good article, I think it’s very important to learn from feedback!
    Thanks for the post.

  16. WOW! What a stupendous article! Communication that carries impact..

    A great way to convey what you’ve been thinking on, what people rather boringly & repeatedly advise bloggers to create great content, without explaining, how it ever looks like..

    Everyone who read your article is done a favor.. Subscribing to your blog right away!


  17. Great article. It is rather unfortunate that over the last decade, the travel industry has already been able to to take on terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, bird flu virus, swine flu, as well as first ever entire global economic downturn. Through it all the industry has proven to be powerful, resilient and dynamic, locating new methods to deal with trouble. There are always fresh troubles and opportunities to which the industry must yet again adapt and behave.

  18. It’s all about being real. There are so many people out there being exactly what people want them to be. It’s about being yourself and polishing it so other people are interested.

  19. I believe that I’m a scanner who engages only when content reaches the gold standard.

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