Motivations are often mixed. We are people, after all, and people do people stuff.
Despite the difficulty in understanding our own motivational state, I think the motivation behind blog posts and tweets matters. It is about being genuine, and communicating for genuine reasons.
I blog because I want to. I choose subjects because I think they are important. I would hate to have my agenda set by commercial motivations: witness magazines where features are determined by advertiser interest. Or even reader interest.
That last sentence may sound a little odd. Shouldn’t you give readers what they want? In this age of the internet everything is measurable. A news provider can see what sort of articles get the most clicks, and drive traffic.
But if you let your news agenda be driven by traffic, then very soon you’ll be delivering the most appalling populist content. Where will the editorial judgment of a good newsroom go?
I quite like being controversial, but if I suddenly fill my blog with controversialist opinion pieces, which generate lots of comments and link love, my blog will have lost something. There has to be balance.
If you are serious about blogging and tweeting, then motivation matters. Don’t just ask your readers lots of questions. Yes, the occasional ‘what do you think?’ is appropriate—but only if you really care about what your readers think, not because you are keen to generate engagement.
The businesses I most respect are those run by people whose primary motivation is to be excellent at what they do, and who then hope to make a living doing it (and I love it when these people succeed: after all, financial sustainability is a vital part of sustainability). Those I least respect are where people want to make money, and then see a particular area of business as the way they can do this. It’s usually clear, in wine, into which camp people fall. Motivation matters.