There’s no denying it, running any sort of Digital Marketing initiative without some component of a web analytics tool is akin to driving with your eyes closed. That being said, we’re starting to see more and more instances when killing your web analytics may be the smartest thing you can do.
Julien Smith (co-author with Chris Brogan of the best-selling business book, Trust Agents, Blogger at In Over Your Head and co-host of the Media Hacks podcast) had a very stirring Blog post this week titled, You Need Tension (if you have not read, please do so). "When you get rich and famous, you go on defense and, next thing you know, you’ve lost your way," Smith notes in the Blog post. "You don’t produce relevant work any more because your purpose is to defend what you’ve built and avoid to mistakes. Those that are able to keep tension in their lives despite their success are those that will endure and have a chance to become great. Those that coast on their success will not."
Analytics can be compared to success, and it could very well remove the tension too.
Deborah Hinton and I were discussing this over breakfast the other day, and she went on to say that this could well be why some Blogs are going to fade off and/or become boring in the near-to-long term. Blogs (along with other Social Media channels and platforms) started off with very real people sharing content in a very real way and attempting to connect it to other real people. Over the course of the past few years – and as these platforms develop and homogenize (for more on this, please read: The Good Old Days) – Bloggers (along with people using Facebook and Twitter) have started using many different types of web analytics tools to figure out who is following along, who is sharing, and how well these pieces of content are being amplified throughout the network. Those who have turned this into a quasi-science are the ones who know what is "just content" and what is priceless linkbait. The problem (challenge, opportunity, etc…) is that if your content starts to change and adapt to cater to the analytics, it could well-be to the detriment of the real reason you started publishing in the first place: to create and push the tension that Julien Blogged about.
Tension is your creativity. You need tension.
From musicians and artists to scientists and businesspeople, tension is core to success (and it doesn’t last forever and it has its own life-force). The truly great publishers of content are those that pay little heed to the analytics. The truly great publishers of content are those that nurture and peck away at the tension. There’s no chance we would have the music of Bob Dylan, the comedy of Richard Pryor and Howard Stern or thinkers like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Cory Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig if they had been paying too much attention to the analytics.
You have to know when to kill (ignore or put aside) your web analytics and when to just let the tension be.