The Privacy Zone

It’s ironic that being in public often encourages us to remain in our own private space.  When we ride public transportation, for example, we ignore those around us while waiting on the platform. And once aboard, we focus on our phones, listen to music or simply stare into space, always trying very hard not to make eye contact with the other passengers.

This irony recently motivated an American optimist living in London to encourage social interactions on their subway. He went as far as printing buttons and brochures proclaiming “Tube Chat” and recruited other friendly volunteers to help promote subway conversations. However, the locals were not impressed. London commuters were simply not interested and that’s the last I’ve read of his campaign.

I couldn’t help but think of his failed attempt one evening when I was riding the local subway after work. Most of us boarded the crowded train, tired from a long day and already thinking about the evening ahead. Seated directly across from me was a young woman with an incredibly happy baby girl perched on her lap. Within moments, a middle-aged man several seats down was making silly faces to engage the child. His antics were welcomed by the probably weary mother, as her daughter laughed and clapped, so she began chatting with him. Before long, nearly everyone around the baby was also making faces or smiling at her, or joining in the conversation.

So because of a cute baby, the usual quiet zone rules were disregarded. We humans are naturally social beings, but we learn to be cautious around people we see in temporary circumstances. Even though it would probably make the commute seem shorter, and who knows, maybe introduce us to a new friend or two, as the American in London learned firsthand, our nature is to be private in public.


Try These in Your Next Blog Headline: “How”, “What”, “Why” and “Best”


The perpetual bloggers’ dilemma is how to earn loyal followers when there are so many talented, informative voices out there. Finding a niche topic is a wise choice, along with offering a clever view. But what if your specialty or passion is a subject that may be a little crowded?

I’m a big fan of quick tips – and today appreciated learning about the 80/20 rule in blogging. “Compounding posts “– or posts that build readership over time – outperform “decaying posts” – or messages that spike in popularity right away, with little residual interest. Compounding posts have several characteristics in common, as described by HubSpot’s Mimi An in her well-researched report “Compounding Blog Posts; What They Are & Why They Matter.” In a study of 15,000 companies’ blogs, she learned that one in ten posts can be classified as compounding, but those earn nearly 40% of the blog’s traffic. Those are pretty impressive patterns!

So how do we personal bloggers reap those benefits? Consider the following:

  1. Headlines: use the terms “how”, “what”, “why” and “best” and include between 6 – 13 words.
  2. Content: keep your topic and audience broad.
  3. Topics: select evergreen themes that will remain relevant for extended periods.
  4. Purpose: answer questions or provide advice.

While these may seem like rather obvious tips, I’m confident it takes practice to consistently demonstrate these tactics throughout your blog. The message here isn’t to limit your style to compounding posts, but to be mindful of offering these anchor messages amidst your more trendy shares. I’ll check back in on this topic in a few months to see if I can see a difference in my posts and readership!