Share This Story
We polled our readers to see what everyone thinks of our posts and now we reveal what the survey says (and what we plan to do).
This is post 4,304. Seriously. We started this website back in 2008 with Queen Natasha the Evil, Rusty the Rooster, Miss Kiska, Kodiak (The Big Galoot), and Qannik (Q-Tip). Miss Cheoah (the Cheesewhiz) joined soon after to bring us to a canine pack of six.
Before the website, we posted stories on other sites about Nikita, our very first Siberian Husky, who joined a pair of awesome dogs—Ginger (a kind of Chow) and Cocoa (more or less a Corgi).
In other words, we’ve told a lot of stories. Sometimes, we feel like we are repeating ourselves (we are) and can bore our readers (we do sometimes—some of you told us so). Like most people in 2020, our lives are quite routine. We walk twice a day for a total of about five miles a day. During the day, the dogs sleep sprawled in various places as human work happens. And, for a total change, at night the dogs sleep sprawled in different various places as human sleep happens.
That doesn’t create endless new stories. The fact that The Herd has reduced from six dogs to four doesn’t help.
Over time, the Herd will get smaller. As we humans have grown older, we want to ultimately get the pack down to two. We can’t imagine life without canines underfoot, but we could deal with a few less trip hazards. (Don’t worry. No one is going anywhere. We mean simply as nature takes her course over the coming years).
So, the question we face is simple—How do we keep the stories fresh and entertaining in light of changes? We didn’t have the answer so we thought we would ask.
What did we learn?
We received several hundred responses to our survey and some general trends came out:
Photos and stories are equally important—We purposely worded the answers to force a weighting between stories or photos. Your answers showed the split—50.3% of you preferred stories to photos and 49.7% preferred photos to stories (and lots of you complained you didn’t want to choose).
Frequency matters—This one was clear—70% of you preferred more frequent but shorter stories versus 30% who preferred longer stories posted less often. Still, in the comments, several made the point they enjoy an occasional longer story.
Some human time is cool—This one surprised us. Only 8.8% of you wanted the posts to be strictly about the dogs. Most of you said you wanted the posts to be mostly about the dogs, but it was okay if our stories were mixed. Nearly 40% of you, though, said it was fine if we fully merged the human stories Hu-Dad tells with the dogs.
It’s not all about the website—We asked how often you visit the website (78% said daily), but your comments were enlightening. Many of you emphasized that you often read the newsletter, visit a social media account, or get our posts via an RSS reader like Feedly (Hu-Dad uses that too!) instead of visiting the website every day.
So now what?
Before doing the survey, our plan was to reduce (again) the number of posts a week we did so they could be a little longer and less repetitive. But your answers challenged us to try a different approach. We are going to kick-off an experiment over the next several weeks:
Daily single photo, short story posts you can read without visiting the website—If you saw our Thanksgiving post yesterday, you will have seen an example. In fact, we did that as a test to see how it appeared everywhere. For those of you who visit us via social media, read us on an RSS reader like Feedly, or receive our newsletter, you will be able to read the entire story without visiting the website. The only exception is Twitter because of the short form nature of posts there. Note the post will still appear in its entirety on our website and will still take comments there.
Long form story when appropriate—Sometimes, we have something really funny that happens and requires a longer story. We will post it on the blog and notify through the other channels (much like what happens today).
Interactive fun on the website—We recognize the pitfalls of social media (Facebook, for example, shows our posts to less than 10% of our subscribers), so we do still want to entice you to our website some. We will experiment with different formats but our thoughts are things like “Caption this” where we post a photo and you supply the caption.
Monday Musings—Hu-Dad has started a Monday Musings column on his website (you know, the far less popular one not about us). This post will often not be about the dogs, but will include a “gratuitous dog photo.” We recognize not all of our readers are interested in his books, but they are what keeps us in kibble. Consider this advertising you can ignore if you wish.
What do you think?
We will do another survey in the early part of next year to get your feedback and thoughts. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback today or at any other time. Just drop us a comment below.
And, yes, a dog photo
You didn’t think we would do a whole blog post with a photo, did you? Frankie Suave wants to make sure you are clear.
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This Week's Thundering Herd Special Features
Weekly thoughts from our Hu-Dad with the latest updates on his writing projects, the books he's reading, and a gratuitous dog photo of us.
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Each week, we reach back into our vault of over 4,500 previous posts and share a favorite. We hope you enjoy this look back.