Influence: The Importance of Consistency

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Consistency: a Motivational Poster
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It’s funny how much we talk about content frequency, retweet ratios, comments, etc. as key determinants of influence. What really matters in interactions with people, particularly as a content creator, is consistency.

Not that content, retweets and interactions aren’t important. They are (depending on your goals).

They’re just public and measurable, making them easily quantified. Go Klout.

From a psychological perspective, when trying to develop influence and loyalty we need consistency in those acts. We trust people that deliver reliable consistent acts, and are even lulled into trusting them without thinking about it (groupthink).

One of the most important and still prescient works on the topic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion goes in depth into the importance of commitment and consistency as core trust factors to get people to do things.

“Someone without [consistency] could be judged as fickle, uncertain, pliant, scatterbrained or unstable; how someone with it is viewed as rational, assured, trustworthy, and sound,” says Author Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D.

I know this to be true from my sales experience. A core aspect of sales training is building trust through consistency.

This is particularly true of business to business consulting. When you tell a prospect you are going to do something for them (commitment), you must do it, and on time.

This builds trust. The customer believes that you will deliver your promise if they give you a contract.

How This Impacts Blogging

Applied to social media and blogging in particular, I think frequency is important, but what’s more important is not just the amount of posts, but the consistent delivery of that content.

Using this blog as an example, it’s had its ups and downs. Recently it started to have an uptick in subscribers, the first time in a long time, actually.

There’s been more content, true. Frequency is up. But after a period of experimentation and based off of what worked for readers both for clicks and comments, I made a commitment to do the following:

Deliver four blog posts a week:

  • Three posts will be delivered on M-W at 11 a.m. exactly.
  • Those three posts will be on these topics; influence (ta da), marketing or integration, and strategy.
  • The fourth post will be delivered on Friday at 7 a.m., and it will shed more light on the way I think personally or in business, as well as hobbies like photography, etc.; generally lighter fare for the weekend.
  • The only alternate topic is social media, but for my own purposes, I would prefer to focus on the four prior topic areas; the first three for business, the fourth to allow people inside and get to know me (good and bad). If I go social, it’s important to tie it back to one of those.

By staying on topic with this editorial mission (a recommendation from both Now Is Gone and Welcome to the Fifth Estate), and delivering regularly and consistently people come to trust me the information resource more.

Because I write everyday I now have a jreservoir of posts that is a month deep.

If something happens that requires me to disappear, I can simply let the scheduled posts do the work. And if something in the now deserves blog attention, I can simply unschedule the existing post and replace with the timely news.

I believe this specific and consistent editorial content will create growth. We shall see.

One thing I know it will do is improve my relationship with you, my dear community members. You are coming to know who I am, and what you are going to get from me every week. I hope you agree.

What do you think about commitment and consistency as they relate to trust?

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  • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

    Consistency isn’t the biggest thing new followers / readers look for initially. New followers / readers look for valuable content, and might check out your other articles / outposts when they do get value. They might even subscribe! Consistency is more important for people that start following you and stay with you.
    That said, I consistency has been central in turning by blog into a serious business tool.

    • geofflivingston

       True enough, my man!  You have to bring the honey to attract the bee, too.

  • http://gearboxmagazine.com/ Brian Driggs

    Consistency reflects commitment. When we can’t commit to serving our customers, they immediately pick up on it. It suggests they are not as important to us as we say they are. 

    This should be Blogging 101. So simple, yet so hard (for some reason) to achieve. Why do you suppose we let our blogs slide like this?

    • geofflivingston

       I think it’s because we’re writers, we’re people, we get tired, we run out of gas, we lose interest, the weekend happens. It gets tough. I find it to be much tougher now that I have a kid.  It’s requiring a new level of discipline.

      • http://gearboxmagazine.com/ Brian Driggs

        Totally understand what you mean, as I have used all those excuses personally, but I wonder…

        If we’re writers, don’t we always have a desire to write? As people, don’t we all want to be heard (have an audience)? And how do we lose interest in something which – at one point – we felt to be our calling?

        To me, these are fundamental reasons why we start blogging to begin with. If we’re losing that fire, it seems we need to think about ways to add fuel or protect it from the elements. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

        And kudos on stepping it up with a kid. Expecting our first around Halloween. Reminds me I need to get my ish together!

        • geofflivingston

          Congratulations! It’s the best thing ever!

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  • http://deepfootprints.co.uk/ Joel Chudleigh

    I think that consistency is more important in terms of quality as well as your nature and personality.

    Frequency of posting is less important as most people try to read a broad range of blogs so it is now unlikely that users will read daily posts or even 2 or 3 a week from a single blog – I know that I do not have the time to.

    I will for a while when I find a good new blog but then I start filtering the content and only read the posts where the headline pops for me.

    However; consistency of quality is far more important – it only takes one rushed off, ill thought through post to deter a user from returning.

    • geofflivingston

       Well, true. If your stuff sucks…  But I think you’ll find a lack of consistency also plays against you. Trust me,  posting once a week did not do much for this blog.

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  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson said consistency was the hobgoblin of small minds. You should host a debate with him, Geoff. I think that would be faboo! :)

    • geofflivingston

      We’ll see who was right in three months ;)

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