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The Opportunity Cost of Not Participating in Web Events

Just a quick post/tip to followup on the April Fools post update that I did yesterday. While in general I find the day to be a distraction more than anything else (I’m sure many of us spent more time filtering pranks than doing much else yesterday) it is one of those days that has an ‘opportunity cost’ associated with it.

Opportunity Cost‘ is a term I learned in my university Accounting subject and has to do with missed opportunities of not taking a certain action. When you have a choice between doing two things you forgo the benefits of the option you didn’t choose (I’m sure my accountant readers will give us a better definition of it).

The Opportunity Cost of not participating in a day like April Fools day on your blog can be significant. I just checked Technorati again this morning and the volume of blogs linking to my prank yesterday bumped up considerably over night. While there were a few link ups yesterday as the prank happened the real benefit (and opportunity cost) revolves around the April Fools Summary Posts that many bloggers write around the blogosphere. These posts that sum up the jokes that people did are done in their hundreds (if not thousands) and the link juice that they provide can’t be underestimated when it comes to SEO.

April Fools Day is just one of many web events that a blogger has the choice to participate in (or to ignore) – there are many hundreds of them out there – almost every holiday and most real world events have some sort of opportunity associated with them for bloggers. For a little more on some of this check out Seasonal Traffic and How to Capture it for Your Blog.

Note: a blogger can’t participate in every web event – it would take over their blogs. I guess the lesson is to be aware of the opportunities and to choose to participate in those that relate most strongly to your blog.

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.
  • I didn’t even realize it was the first until it was first…I missed out.

    Well, I’ll think of something crazy for next year. Be prepared.

  • My participation in yesterday’s Men with Pens “buyout” of Freelance Writing Gigs and the James Chartrand takeover of Copyblogger cost me a full day of work.

    I was exhausted by the end of the day keeping up with everything going on PLUS trying to deal with tons of incoming email (“Dude – is it TRUE?”) and phone calls (“I want the real story firsthand”). I had regular client emails to answer and my own daily management duties for our business.

    The Opportunity Cost of not participating would’ve been less attention – attention that got us new readers, subscribers, and a spike in traffic. I would’ve also lost the the benefit of people getting to know me a little more on a personal level.

    The Opportunity Cost of participating was income. Period.

    Worth it? Oh yeah. But let me tell you – I slept really well last night :)

  • I had made the conscious choice to not chain myself to holidays and special events, as I wanted to let my own material drive my blog. However, I think perhaps I am indeed missing those clicks by not participating. I am going to revisit my editorial board and at least pinch in a few seasonal and special holiday posts in the future. Thanks for the tip!

  • What is so odd is that on Digg, some prank posts got thousands of votes.

    It appears that geek prank compilations were the favorites

    What is even stranger is how much effort Google put in this year, launching a dozen different prank pages

    Perhaps we all need a break from the cut throat competition, the hostile takeovers, the stress of breaking news – and just want to be children ocassionally

  • I was more caught out by other people, by the time I noticed it was 1st of April I was to late.

  • I didn’t realize how popular these April Fool pranks can be. Until I read this post, I just found them annoying (I was Rick Rolled a few times, among other things). I was thinking of just turning off my computer next April 1st, but now I see how it can be fun. Thanks for the great post!

    – Dave

  • Participatating in web events in April Fools day…. no way… I’m outta here. What can I or other expect more on the day of Fool’s day other than pranks :)

  • @Miss Universe – The prank posts on Digg got thousands of votes because they were funny. Digg’s front page doesn’t have to be all obama and Apple – it can have funny stuff as well.

  • I too noticed the upturn of links and traffic to my blog for my april fools gag. I also blogged about some of the most popular april fools gags and rank rather highly in google UK for “Legend of Zelda April Fools Gag”, which has sent me a lot of traffic :)

  • Very true! Perhaps next year I’ll post an April fools joke…. *=) – I loved the problogger prank by the way!

  • FYI.

    Opportunity cost is an economics concept. It’s very important and basic on explaining economic activities/behavior.

    Opportunity cost = highest-valued option forgone

    e.g. Value of choices: A > B > C
    if you choose A, the cost is B forgone. (not B+C)

    It helps so much in making decisions in my life. (I like economics originally :)

  • Wow! That’s really something to think about. Very eye opening. I’d have to say I missed out this time. I will be ready for the next event. Thanks!

  • Lou

    I’ve found that the posts on my small niche blog that bring in the most reliable traffic are almost always the timely ones on upcoming events- That’s what people are researching for, and what they are willing to take a chance on.

    It’s a lot harder to catch the genie in the lamp and post one single post that gets noticed by hundreds of people.

  • I’ve never been much for April Fool’s gags, but you’re right. I find that my readership boosts when I participate in foodblogging events–it gets my links out there and lots of people come clicking over to see my creations. A few invariably like what they see and subscribe.

  • Living in a foreign country where there are many religious holidays it’s a no brainer for me to pick up on them.

    My post on Seijin No Hi, A Japanese Coming of Age festival was stumbled and the traffic still comes in it’s droves.

  • You make a good case, Darren. Still, is it all right for me to suggest that this particular web event was…

    well, with apologies to my good friend James from MWP…

    a tad bit lame?

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s harmful, by any means. And some of the “pranks,” like Darren’s and James’ were funny, to be sure.

    I think its just a bit cheezey, at least in this instance. It’s a bit like dancing around the town square with a bright yellow umbrella in one hand and a monkey in the other, yelling out “Check me out! I’m a great blogger/writer/seamstress/whatever you do/ who can fix every problem you’ve got! After all, I’ve got a monkey!”

  • 1st April – the Fools/Lie day? It is decent as Christians to take a break from saying the truth and only the truth? Are there white lies and black lies? No! The lie is a sin, anytime, anywhere, in any way you would say it. It is still a lie. God does not agree with falsehood and considers it as critical as murder. The most critical is when you live in sin. Let the Holly Spirit look into your hart, let Jesus Christ change your hart and your life, so that you would take part to the eternal joy, in Heavens. If He comes the next second, are you ready to meet your God? No not deceive yourself; this is not going to change your eternity.

  • Darren, what may be the opportunity cost of de-monitizing your blog? May be a good internet marketing consultant?


  • Traffic wise – and link wise – pretending Men with Pens was buying out FWJ was a success. 95% of my readers got it and had themselves a good little chuckle.

    5% of my readers didn’t and I’m still fielding emails and comments from those who felt it was mean, immature or “sad”.

    Would I do it again? Sure. Maybe not next year as I don’t know if I can pull it off 3 years in a row, but I think it’s good for morale – and traffic – to have some fun once in a while.

  • Timely post… thanks for the tip. I haven’t considered the value of traditional holidays but will go through my calendar and think about what types of events could create strong posts for my blogs. I enjoy reading your blog often, Darren, and intend to comment more often in the future.

  • I’m now in the process of building a list of dates that work with my idiot based blog, thanks for pointing out the obvious to me…

    Next year, I will have a whole set of articles and stories prewritten, so that I can do a “War of the World” / “Minute by Minute Play” type scenario that will suck people in and get them coming back. If it’s done right, with different “Staff Writers” etc… it could get picked up as legitimate blogger news by Google and yahoo, especially if you start the day before.

    Oh, this is going to be fun, thanks for pointing out these little marketing gems I tend to not see.

    Mayor of Idiot Town

  • Yeah I tried this out on my blog with some corny jokes, it was worth the traffic.

  • i completely agree with you Darren, April Fools Day need to be part of your marketing calendar with an strategic plan to keep current customers on point about your company and to increase your customers or visitors base…

    Yours truly,

    Luis Galarza.

  • I, honesty, am one of the statistical few who chose to ignore April Fools as a blog opportunity.

    Having read the included link in this post, I am now much or aware an alert to identifying and addressing seasonal traffic and potential online opportunities for blogs.

    This is indeed a quality reference.

  • I’d say it depends on what you want to tell with your blog where you participate or nor. And at the end it’s always a question of your personal attitude.

  • I just shocked my readers by showing them my $5,000 bucks on April Fool Day, and it helps me increasing my blog traffic. :D

  • I totally missed out this year :( It would have been a real traffic boost.

  • yeah, i think that bloggers should take advantages of holidays… it creates more familiarity between blogger and surfer which builds a better relationship creating more return visitors… doing something special for a holiday like april fools will also get your blog noticed and create a lot of backlinks to your website!

  • Ecko, how exactly did you show your readers your $5,000 bucks; and how exactly did it increase the traffic to your blog?

  • What is the concept behind ‘Men with Pens “buyout” of Freelance Writing Gigs and the James Chartrand takeover of Copyblogger? How did this concept originate? How much time did you invest to get this campaign going?

  • James Chartrand, what is the concept behind ‘Men with Pens “buyout” of Freelance Writing Gigs and the James Chartrand takeover of Copyblogger? How did this concept originate? How much time did you invest to get this campaign going?

  • How exactly did you show your readers your $5,000 bucks on April Fools Day?

  • @ Reginald – At the risk of not knowing where you’re taking this, I’ll share.

    The “buyout” of FWG took about five minutes to set up, 10 minutes to write a post, and maybe a half an hour throughout the day to write some comments to keep going.

    The “takeover” of Copyblogger took even less. 3 minute setup, 5 minutes or so of comments, and I already had a guest post scheduled to run that day.

    Interestingly (because I’m known as a schemer), I didn’t instigate either concept.

  • I think as with pretty much everything else, the question of participation boils down to a cost-benefit analysis: if the “opportunity cost” is higher than the “opportunity benefit” (as it seems to have been the case for James Chartrand of “Men with Pens”, see above), you should obviously steer clear of it.
    To phrase it slightly differently, if getting involved is more hassle than it’s worth, you should not do it. Common sense, really…

    Frank Sattler