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Lessons for Bloggers from ChatRoulette

chat-roulette.pngChatRoulette (warning: this is often NSFW) is a site that has caused a lot of buzz over the last week or so.

It’s a webcam site where you login to chat with complete strangers – you are randomly matched with a stranger and you both have the opportunity to find a new person to chat with at anytime.

People tend to quickly click, click, click through the people that they find matched with them until they find someone that they find ‘interesting’. Unless you do something a little interesting, wacky or happen to be an amazingly beautiful person – you tend to get passed over very quickly.

While much has been written about ChatRoulette and whether it is offensive, dangerous and moral – as I was spending a few minutes on it earlier in the week (where I must have been having a bad hair day because I was ignored by 99.9% of people I was matched with) it struck me that what I was watching was a visual of how people increasingly use the web.

Click, click, click.

  • They don’t stay till long – they’re always clicking
  • They are always looking for the next best thing
  • They only pause if they see something that is interesting, intriguing or completely relevant to them
  • They are ruthless
  • They are impulsive
  • They will judge what they see within a split second of arriving on a site
  • They rely upon instinct and first impressions

As bloggers – the reality is that people are making these kinds of calls about our blogs every day as they click through to them from different sources. The blank faces that you see scrolling past on ChatRoulette could be the faces of your readers – clicking onto your site, making a quick judgement about your site and what its worth and then in many cases moving on.

PS: after 3 minutes on ChatRoulette and being ignored by 100+ people I decided to experiment. I put on a clown wig, I stuck two CDs to my glasses and put on some 70′s disco music (hopefully no one took a screen shot of me doing this).

The rotation of people I was being matched with slowed down – one in 5 waved – one in 10 even chatted with me.

The take home lesson

  • do something different
  • be unique and original
  • make people look twice
  • snap people out of their ‘click click click’ stupor

Do this and you might just make people pause long enough to connect (or you could just make a fool of yourself).

Further Reading: The Power of Uniqueness – 19 Starting Points for Being a Unique Blogger.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. David Rankin says:

    your post is absolutely spot on . Having a website that is “clickable” is great – as long as the clicks lead to a page on your own site , not somebody else’s. Originality is rare on the internet and everywhere else but it is worth it’s weight in gold because people remember you and that gives you a chance of seeing them again on a second visit to your site

  2. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall to see you in that clown wig with CD glasses. Just sayin…

    I’m not sure I’ll go to such an extreeme for my blog, but your point is well taken. If you don’t capture visitors interests in one way or another, they’re unlikely to stick around. A timely message for me.

  3. Jen says:

    It’s not unlike going to a singles bar and explains why talking about sex on my blog always gets more people to stop and read and comment.

  4. The_Landlord says:

    Thanks for that, Darren! I loaded up that site at work, and the first thing I saw was a naked guy stroking himself =\

  5. Sanford says:

    Very good post on the practicallity of being unique. Hope we don’t end up with a bunch of boring “clown wigs” showing up on websites.

  6. Great point Darren,

    People just have short attention spans and/or precious little time today.

    I recently wrote a post on how the “look” of your copy has just as much effect on whether people will read your post or not as your words.

    For anyone interested, go ahead and click my name and it will take you directly to the post.

  7. KristenAC says:

    Ignored by 100+ people in 3 minutes? Ouch!

    Darren, I loved this article. You are hysterical, and that’s why people want to listen to you.

    How thirsty we’ve become for immediate gratification. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I am a clicker–and a scanner. I can click and scan my way through unspeakable volumes of text in one short coffee break.

    I don’t think I’m up for exploring ChatRoulette, for even though I can dish it out, I don’t think I can take face-to-face rejection, like being picked last for the soccer team, after the girl with the broken collar bone. It would be like high school all over again.

  8. Judy says:

    Great Analogy Darren…I can’t wait to share with the writers on my Ezine…Some of them are still trying to craft great literature instead of a down and dirty, knock you off the porch lead sentence to grab and keep attention.

    Thanks for putting this together. Perfectly worded.

  9. Lisa says:

    Darren – you probably went to ChatRoulette just to check it out, but I’m guessing it would be a regular site you’d hang out at. I think the type of people who are ‘into’ ChatRoulette are not necessarily the type of people who would looking for useful information on the web or seeking quality content on a blog. So maybe the ‘click click click’ mentality is not the type of reader one would want to attract anyway. But I appreciate the points you’ve made about capturing someone’s attention if they do come to your site – and hopefully they are worth keeping in terms of being the site’s target market. :-)

  10. proson says:

    Darren, you are spot on. That is true do something different and people will notice you.

    It reminds me how important that a site is doing something unique in their niche,.

    Thanks

  11. KS Chen says:

    Interesting! This is the first time i heard about the chatroulette. I am impressed that you can relate the chatroulette with the bloggers. Hope to learn from you. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Jaszy says:

    LOL! Great post! Wish I could have seen the clown get up!

  13. The blank faces that you see scrolling past on ChatRoulette could be the faces of your readers – clicking onto your site, making a quick judgement about your site and what its worth and then in many cases moving on.

    but your point is well taken. If you don’t capture visitors interests in one way or another, they’re unlikely to stick around. A timely message for me.

  14. Darren – I see hundreds of submissions daily to http://www.chatroulettevideos.com and they are only getting more outrageous and hilarious. When do you think the word “Next” will be the it word of 2010?

  15. Rick Barlow says:

    Reading this makes me wonder if you’ve been living on another planet. What do you think the advertising and direct marketing business has been doing all these years? Do you imagine people scanning blogs are different than people in a grocery store? You have to grab eyeballs, stimulate curiosity and make the sale. Headlines, pictures, captions, subheads and body copy, in that order. Nothing new in this problem.

  16. Andrew Boyd says:

    My guess…is that men tend to go on there to find woman to chat with…
    moreso than chicks going there to find men…

    therefore…

    by sheer numbers..

    WOman will get more chats then men.
    Is Anyone willing to test my hypothesis (educated guess!)?

    OK Daren…so you can hold onto that and feel better now. It wasnt you…It was just your male to female gender ratio:)

  17. Gin says:

    I am very webcam shy, I rarely get on mine but if I had been there and seen, I would’ve stopped to least say hello. Even all ‘decked’ out in your outfit, I still would’ve stopped and asked if you were trying out for a job interview. lol. Definitely a interesting outcome. Thank you for sharing. :)

  18. Ronald Reagan says:

    Ok! Chatroulette is very cute and all but how will the 17 year old Russian guy that created it monetize the site???

  19. Farnoosh says:

    What kind of idiot would ignore YOU, Darren! Do they not know who you are!!! :)
    I am sure ChatRoulette will end up being the biggest thing right after I say this but it is a dumb idea (yep, surely it’ll be a smashing big hit!), stupid and a waste of time (surely it’ll be like that Yahoo stock I should’ve bought!)
    Oh well! :)

  20. Phil Simon says:

    Good post, but it’s not easy to do something different.

    I recently launched a comic on my site to add a little brevity:

    http://www.philsimonsystems.com/content/travails/travails-5/

    Still, being unique is damn near impossible. Perhaps I am the only Rush nut-IT author-consultant out there, but I doubt it. :)

  21. Anne Bender says:

    The big thing with this here in the states is it’s predatory possibilities, but based on your experience it doesn’t seem like that would be too much of an issue as long as their is nothing in the field of vision giving way to where the individual may be.

    Too bad you didn’t post a shot of you in the clown wig. I am certain that alone would drive even more people to your site [this post], not that you need it. ;)

  22. When I started “A Sitting Duck” it was just photographs and illustrations. My traffic was always below 100 visitors a day and I never received e-mails or work from business’s.

    I started making animations with Luke Hyde a year ago and since then we have fresh emails from people all over the world every day and Luke Hyde is earning good money from paid flash work to small business’s in the UK.

    I think that standing out from the crowd is the key to success!, either that or get some attractive 20 something’s on your website! ;]

    Thanks Darren.

  23. Steve J says:

    I agree that it is near impossible to be unique but I think that standing out from the crowd is a major plus.

    Thanks

  24. spinthecam says:

    In my experience, Chatroulette seems to be full of men exposing themselves – something which is especially concerning considering children use the site and there’s no features in place to protect them. There are other sites identical to chatroulette, such as SpintheCam.com which has features in place where you can block/report any innapropriate content – I also find it’s a lot faster loading than chatroulette (I know chatroulette has had problems with its servers recently too).

  25. Cemil says:

    Well, I gave into the hype and checked out this site – lost interest after 10 mins, a hundred or so click throughs to different people and about a dozen or so men over compensating for something.

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