In Social Media, Size Matters!

One of the facts that gets quoted every now and then by people advising bloggers on how to write articles is that the top bloggers use the word "you" more often than "me" or "We/Our". So I thought I'd take a look and see if this is true, or another Social Media Urban Myth.

As a starting point, I took the blogs of 8 of the top Social Media Bloggers and looked at their percentage use of "I", "We", "You" and "They". In each case, I collected at least 5,000 words, which for most equates to between 6 and 8 articles. I know it's not a very large sample of writers or words, but I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. And they did!

I We You They
Chris Brogan 4.89 0.93 3.07 0.32
Karen Skidmore 0.70 0.18 5.80 1.80
Louis Gray 0.71 0.53 1.06 1.19
Marko Saric 2.05 0.22 4.10 0.33
Mitch Joel 0.89 0.35 1.60 2.13
Nick Tadd 2.42 0.00 4.67 1.53
ProBlogger 2.16 0.00 5.14 0.00
Seth Godin 1.42 1.02 5.84 0.70

(In my draft this tabulates beautifully, but gets scrambled in the displayed version. It may be easier to read here.)

Louis Gray blogs more about developments in SM and emerging technologies, so I had thought that perhaps he would have used "me" more often, as he is often giving his opinion. But he still managed to use "you" more often than "I" and "We" combined

Chris Brogan uses the first person singular a lot in the sample tested but there's a good reason for it - among the posts that I sampled were several explaining how he uses mind mapping, how he doesn't use LinkedIn as he feels he should etc.. I'm going to go back and examine his more general articles to see the pattern there.

As can be seen from the table, all of the others use "you" almost twice as often as they use "I", the exceptions being Seth Godin who uses "you" 3.5 times as often as he uses the word "I" and Karen Skidmore who uses it a whopping 8 times as much!. This is entirely consistent with SM articles being about engaging with other people and drawing them in. After all, with the exception of self -disclosure articles of the type Chris Brogan has been writing recently, most of us would soon get bored with, and probably stop reading, writers who used "I" twice as much as they use "you"!

There's a lot more I'm going to be analyzing, such as percentage of past, present and future orientated words, the percentage of nouns vs verbs etc

The conclusion? These folk are some of the top in their field - anyone wanting to be up there with them needs to be looking at their writing style. The small words matter.

By the way, I have the software to quickly check a large volume of words - if anyone would like me to analyse their writing, please let me know.

www.nic-oliver.com email twitter linkedin

Nic Oliver

nicoliver

In Social Media, Size Matters!

*blush* Awwww, thank you Vanessa - I expect many bloggers wonder sometimes if what the are posting is useful and posts like yours are a wonderful confirmation! I always read your and Nick's posts too... you both bring so much insight and warmth into your posts. Have a great weekend and be warned - you and Nick are on my list of people I want to meet in 2010! Nic www.nic-oliver.com email twitter linkedin

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Vanessa Warwick

vanessawarwick-311643

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Nic, I would like to nominate the author of this blog - "you" - for a special mention! I have learned a lot from you, and your engagement here is exemplary. Too many bloggers post material here and never return to answer questions or reply to comments. It amounts to spam in my book as it is nothing more than hit and run. They just want to speak, and not listen. It is all about "them", not the the You-ser. ;) Nic - You lead by example in many ways and I acknowledge your contribution to ecademy and value it enormously. Have a good weekend, V. Vanessa Warwick www.4wallsandaceiling.com Dedicated to all those wishing to secure their financial future through property investment. Follow me on Twitter:@4_walls Property Tribes Forum - the most engaging and supportive property investment forum on the web.

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Nic Oliver

nicoliver

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Anthony "So you and I are a great combination, and what a fine message that is!" - I/we are in agreement! Have a great weekend Connect - Engage - Share www.nic-oliver.com email twitter linkedin

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Anthony Madigan

anthonymadigan-293183

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Nic, Really interesting post - thanks for doing the work. I may have to go and do a bit of self-analysis now: what else are Fridays for ... The I/we debate is a common one but I'm a big fan of I, used properly. Whether it sounds conceited rather depends on what you put after it: self-flattery is never good, but your personal perspective on things is. I is a very honest word and using it well helps to build integrity and a relationship with an audience. We can be a bit weasel, unless the we is you and the audience. So you and I are a great combination, and what a fine message that is! Anthony Anthony Madigan Director Write the Talk Ltd The Art of Business Writing T 01788 535630 M 0794 0795 027 E anthony@writethetalk.com W www.writethetalk.com If you don't have anything better to do, pick up some tips from my Art of Business Writing and Infernal Comms blogs.

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Nic Oliver

nicoliver

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Coincidence indeed! This must mean that we were both writing our content at the same time yesterday, another coincidence! I suppose it's already almost weekend in Australia, so have a good one Nic www.nic-oliver.com email twitter linkedin

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Dr. Mehmet Yildiz

mehmetyildiz-306761

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Wow...What a coincidence that my blog today which I sent early this morning talk about power of "We/Us/Our" pronoun based on the latest research. Regards, Mehmet Yildiz

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nick tadd

nicktadd

In Social Media, Size Matters!

This is fascinating Nic, like Louis I/we/you/they had no idea that I was using "you" more. I suppose whilst talking about SM and/or the greater good of the web I should be using the word "we" more as it belongs to all of us (the web). If you take the McDonalds view of their "social media manager" being the customer (which I quite like) then the collective seems to be more appropriate. Thanks Nic, again I'm humbled to be mentioned with-in the same breath as these top content generators. Regards N    socialmediagraffiti.com  

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William Buist

WilliamBuist

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Very intersting NIc. Can you clarify what the numbers mean - is Chris Brogan's 4.89 mean 4.89 uses of I per 100 words? I'd be interested to know the use of the inclusive 'us' as well. Do run mine through your machine too if you have time - I'd be very interested. I do sometimes spend time removing 'you' as it is unclear (often) whether it is plural or singular and whether it is nominative or accusative. More and bloodier blog disputes have been caused by someone reading the singular accusative when it was written as the nominative plural.

1 comments

Nic Oliver

nicoliver

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Louis, Many thanks for commenting. The use of "we" is interesting - many self-employed people use "we" to give the impression that their organisation is bigger than it is. Nevertheless, there is a dilemma here: Use "I" and sound conceited; use "we" and be accused of inflating the size of your business . A tricky one! Have a great weekend Nic www.nic-oliver.com email twitter linkedin

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Louis Gray

louisgray-468366

In Social Media, Size Matters!

Wow. Great insight. I honestly haven't been counting, or editing the text to get any ratios right. The one thing I am most aware of is that I often say "we" when I should say I. The word "I" makes me feel self-centered, so I often will use a phrase like "So we went to the Apple Web site" when I should say "So I went to the Apple Web site". :) Each individual's writing style is different. What's a good length of a post for me, differs from that for you, as do many of the nuances. Thanks for watching and running the numbers. -- Find more about me at www.louisgray.com

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