‘How I built a social media network in eight months’


How I built a social media network in eight months

By Gene’O Gordon

Last summer, I started discussing the possibility of setting up a collaborative blog with a few friends. Over the course of three or four months, my sister, Diana, signed on and we went from talking to planning to designing blogs. We kicked off three WordPress blogs in November. We decided that if we were going blog we wanted real audiences. We didn’t want to put the time and energy into maintaining blogs if they were only going to be read by a dozen of our friends. We decided the way to do that was to build a cross-platform social media network.

The problem with that was, we didn’t have a very large social media presence. Most of us were only active on Facebook with 150 or so followers each at that point, with a handful of other social media accounts we hadn’t used in years. We’ve come a long way since November. Our success hasn’t been stellar in terms of daily page views, but we’re making steady progress, and our readers are very engaged, so we’re pleased and we feel like our effort has been worth it so far.

We experimented with at least nine different social media networks during the early months, and we’ve reached the point where we have an idea what works for us and what doesn’t. I’ll explain in this post how we use various social media networks and why we use them the way we do. I’m ranking them in order of their value to me. I think they can all be valuable if you can figure out how to use them and find people to engage with on them; this is just the way I rank them.

WordPress is the heart of our network, because we’re content-producers first and foremost. This is where we publish, and we strive to update three blogs at least once a day. We chose WordPress mainly for the easy pingbacks, tagging system, and ease of publicizing to other networks.

Twitter is valuable, but not for the page views it brings. It’s valuable because it’s public, it’s a good place to interact with other bloggers without having to load pages, and the character limit means you can never ask a question and get back a three-paragraph response that you must read before the conversation can continue. Twitter was difficult to figure out, but I understand how to grow a Twitter account from zero followers into the thousands now, and figuring it out was worth the effort.

StumbleUpon is an enigma to us, but it is potentially the most valuable source of page views we’ve encountered. It’s a bookmark-sharing service that allows you to add web pages to topic indexes. We don’t understand the etiquette or the ranking system yet, so we aren’t able to use StumbleUpon to get consistent traffic yet, but we’ve pulled hundreds of views in a single day from StumbleUpon several times now.

Facebook is the most difficult network I’ve encountered in terms of getting attention. We have fan pages for our blogs, but they don’t do much. I think we’ll have to package content specifically for Facebook and focus on one of our fan pages to build a big one, and we don’t have the time for that at the moment. The value of Facebook for me as a blogger, for the time being, is in the multi-user chat and discussion group features. It’s great for coordinating.

Pinterest is valuable primarily because it gives us an easy way to curate images, which can later be embedded on our blogs. It’s saved us tons of time searching for art to illustrate posts. We’re working on integrating it more thoroughly into our plan, and thinking about building boards with some of our best blog posts on them.

We also have a Tumblr page that all three blogs update to, but we’ve had limited success with it because we haven’t put the time and effort into networking on Tumblr. I think Tumblr could work very well as a blogging platform, but I’m not sure it’s very good for attracting WordPress readers.

We’ve also experimented with Google Plus and Linked In. I hid most of my G+ profile a few months ago because it started to feel like an identity risk, and I rarely look at my feed there these days. We don’t connect our Linked In accounts to our blogs, because our Linked In networks are loaded with colleagues and professional acquaintances, and that’s not an appropriate audience for the type of blogging we do. I’m looking at Reddit, but only looking for the moment.

At this point, we’re mostly focused on WordPress, Twitter, and StumbleUpon because those are the places that have shown the most promise for mass communication. The others are either on cruise control for the time being or are used in very specific ways.

Gene’O runs the blog Sourcerer and contributes to Part Time Monster.

You can also follow Gene’O on Twitter

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THANK YOU!


          Thank you to everyone who has read my blog, who follows me and interacts with me. It means the world that I have ALREADY hit the 200 follower milestone. It might not seem a lot … Continue reading

Social Media: Do We Share too Much Information Online?


Some people share more information online than others, but the question is….

Do YOU think we (as a society who uses the internet) share too much information online?

Sending a ‘Ping’ – HELP!


This is just a quick blog post with a question I’ve had a couple of weeks..well a query.

I was able to send ‘pings’ to people, it gave me the option to add “related articles” of other people’s to the bottom of my post. Know what I mean?…You should have it too.

Well a month or so ago this option disappeared from my dashboard, so I’m unable to send ‘Pings’ from the widget underneath the box where you compose posts. Does anybody know how I can get this back? & If so, how? As I miss the widget; it’s very useful.

PLEASE HELP!

social media - socail networking-media

Best blogging platform for a small business


I have been asked by a small retail and catering business- Crème de La Catering -to write a recommendation for a suitable blogging platform which will allow them to publicise their company. They’re looking to share recipes and tips on running good events; they also want to feature their suppliers so people know where their products are from.

There are many blogging platforms available on the internet, for example; Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Ghost and a more recent blogging platform Medium. I will be discussing 2-3 of these and then discussing the final, chosen blogging platform, which I will recommend to Crème de La Catering in more depth.

Blogger logo

Blogger is a blog hosted platform which gives the option for its user to create an account for free. Blogger allows its users to design their own blog; you can choose from templates which have layouts and backgrounds which can easily be altered to make your blog appear unique.  As well as this Blogger also allows its users to create a custom domain which would allow businesses, such as Crème de La Catering, to be found and followed easier.

As Blogger is owned by Google it allows you to connect seamlessly with Google+ , helping you reach new readers and participate in conversations your posts inspire(Blogger, 2013) meaning if you share your posts you will create conversation about the topic of your post. This is a positive for a small business as creating conversation about your businesses helps to expand your audience reach. Although Blogger seems like a very good blogging platform I don’t think it would be suitable for Crème de La Catering as it seems like a very visual blogging platform, so may not be suitable for posts with a lot of text. However, this would be a good platform for posting pictures of Crème de La Catering’s products, food etc.

Tumblr Logo  Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform which is a very visual platform used, predominantly, by teenagers to post and reblog their friends and people they follow. Although you are able to share your posts on other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook etc. I don’t think Tumblr would be suitable for a business to use. I believe this because the people who use Tumblr are, mostly, teenagers and as Crème de La Catering don’t specifically target teenagers, but a much wider audience, I don’t think Tumblr would be suitable for this small business is to use as their blogging platform.

WordPress Logo

What is WordPress? “WordPress is a content management system. It’s basically a platform that…makes it insanely simple to create websites” (Wolfe, M 2012).

WordPress.com and WordPress.org; what are the differences?

Well, WordPress.org is “the self-hosted version of the platform” (Wolfe, M 2012) which allows you to host and own your own account; it isn’t hosted on the WordPress server so you have to pay for it. On the other hand WordPress.com “is hosted on WordPress’s servers” (Wolfe, M 2012) meaning that your account is not only free to setup but it is also free to use!

WordPress, like Blogger, allows you to choose custom themes, which can be customised and widgets can be added to make your blog unique and do what you want it to. ‘Widget’ stands for ‘web gadgets’ and help to improve the look and functionality of your sidebar. For example, you can add RSS feeds and Twitter feeds; as well as being able to link your blog to other social media sites, i.e. Facebook and Instagram. There are many widgets available, however not all themes have the same widgets, so you may have to sacrifice a beautiful theme if it doesn’t have the widgets suitable for the purpose you intend.

Widgets

Businesses, in particular small businesses, should blog because it helps your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO); as Google displays the most recent content, therefore if your content is the most recent then you’ll be most searchable. WordPress takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics of search engine optimisation for you(WordPress, 2013). This is so that you don’t have to worry about posts being invisible on Google; if they’re up to date and your blog is updated regularly your post/blog will become even more visible in a Google search. Also, as WordPress takes care of the majority of SEO then you don’t have to spend as much time marketing your business online; it allows you to spend more time within the business while it’s being marketed for you. If you would like further help with searchability there are plugins available on WordPress. Searchability is vital, especially for a small business like Crème de La Catering, as it helps the businesses online presence grow and, therefore the people who buy products will grow. There are many ways which SEO can be improved without installing plugins, for example using; keywords, tags, categories, linking back to yourself, search friendly URLs and fresh, original, up to date content!

Keywords

Keywords are useful because they help your blog and its content to be more searchable. For example, if Crème de La Catering wanted to post a recipe on their blog it would be vital to use keywords which relate to the type of recipe. Say the recipe was a cheesecake recipe keywords used would be “cheesecake” and “recipe” as this clearly states what the post is about, also it will help the business’ SEO because if these terms were Googled then this article would appear. This is easy to do on WordPress as you just decide on a title, or phrase, which is popular on Google and this can be used as the title as WordPress will make it visible in Google.

Tags and categories

Tags and categories should always be used in every WordPress blog post; as categories and tags offer an opportunity to increase traffic to your site via search engines(Ewer, T 2013). They also help to organise your blog so people who read your blog can, for example, click on the “recipe” category and know that they’ll be able to just look at all the recipes Crème de La Catering have published. This makes it easier for your readers to find what they want, thus, hopefully, making them want to come back to your blog as it’s easy to use and navigate around. However, don’t go overboard when categorising posts, as a post shouldn’t be in more than 2 categories. Tags are useful because they enable you to “refind sites…you just click on the list of tags displayed on your own page…and it shows you a list of all the sites you’ve given that tag” (Weinberger, D 2008). Both tags and categories are simple to create on WordPress. Categories can be created either in the main dashboard or whilst creating a post. Tags are added to the bottom of each post so that the tags are relevant to your post.

Creating categories & tags
 Tag cloud

Linking back to yourself

Linking back to yourself is an important way to keep an internal link in your blog, it also helps to drive traffic to other posts in your archives. For example, if Crème de La Catering were to post a new recipe they could link to previous recipes they’d do; encouraging viewers to look around the blog and follow it. WordPress allows you to do this by linking text to an internal or external URL or by putting your own article in the ‘related articles’ section; both these way link internally to your blog creating more traffic to more of your blog posts.

Search friendly URLs

Search friendly URLs are important when creating a blog because it’s, for instance, it is easy to understand what ‘www.cremedelacatering.com/recipes’ would contain. However it isn’t easy to understand what ‘www.cremedelacatering/58302’ would contain. Therefore, to make your site easy to remember and easy to predict the content you must have appropriate custom URLs. When setting up your WordPress account it is vital to choose an appropriate name which reflects what your content will be.

Content

Content, yes it may be an obvious one but it’s where people fall down when it comes to SEO. Creating original, fresh and up to date content is key in an online world; as everybody expects to be able to find out the latest fast! Therefore, to make a blog post about last week’s news it wouldn’t be appropriate, because this has already been and gone. So, to create ‘good’ content which will (we hope) become popular it needs to be current! This would work to the advantage of Crème de La Catering because all of the information posted on their blog would be up to date and current; as businesses are always changing, developing and having new ideas. So, Crème de La Catering would be able to inform their readers of this and also share their recent recipes, products etc. with the people reading their blog.

WordPress allows you to do all of the vital things which help towards a good blog post and also to good searchability. Therefore, I would recommend WordPress because it is versatile; you can add or remove plugins and widgets wherever you’d like, dependent on what the theme you’ve chosen allows you to do. However, most themes allow you to have most widgets and plugins which are available to improve the functionality of your blog. As well as this WordPress allows you to add additional pages to your blog. It is important to have an ‘about’ page which is additional to your blog post page, archive etc. so that your readers know what your blog is about; the about page can also be used to add links to your other social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook etc.

Taxonomy is the way in which data is organised, this would be used on Crème de La Catering’s blog by either using ‘sitemaps’ or categories; which are the most common way of organising your blog posts. “In classification systems, an overstuffed miscellaneous category can be a sign that the system isn’t using all the relevant information” (Weinberger, D 2008), meaning if you “overstuff” a category  it isn’t using it to its full advantage; therefore to use a category correctly you must be specific about what you want in your categories so that you don’t ‘overstuff’ them. Folksonomies would also be used to help the SEO of Crème de La Catering’s blog by using tags as explained earlier.

In conclusion I wouldn’t recommend Blogger and Tumblr to be used by a small business because they are too visual and aren’t versatile enough. However, I would recommend WordPress because it is a very versatile blogging platform which allows the use of taxonomies and folksonomies; not only on the blog but on individual blog posts. As well as this WordPress can be customised and widgets and plugins can be added to make the blog function as you need it to, in order to suit the needs of your business. Overall, WordPress is a blog which allows you to do pretty much anything, although you have to pay for some themes, plugins etc. it isn’t impossible to create a very good, popular blog with a free WordPress blog; as it is (I would say) just as good as the version of WordPress you pay for.

social media - socail networking-media

Social Media Management Tools


Want to manage your social media accounts?

Well there are plenty of social media management tools (sometimes referred to as ‘dashboards’) out there to use, such as; shoutlet, direct message lab, hootsuite, tweetdeck, wildfire interactive, strongmail social studio and many more.  Social media management tools allow you to manage an element of one social media (i.e Twitter) or multiple social media websites at once (i.e. managing your Twitter posts & Facebook status’).

“A Social Media Management Dashboard is an online marketing tool suite, a website that provides a platform for you to share to all of your social media accounts and networks.” Source

I am going to discuss some social media management tools/dashboards which may help you to market your social media accounts better and boost your online presence.

www.jessicaleeman.wordpress.com  Shoutlet – a social media management software which helps you engage, promote and analyse your social communication. This software allows you to do this on various social media platforms, such as; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

www.jessicaleeman.wordpress.com  Direct Message Lab – Allows you to control your social presence. Direct Message Lab (DML) identifies key social media locations for your brand, for example; demographics, and finds users to reach in these ‘locations’.

www.jessicaleeman.wordpress.com  Wildfire Interactive –  It’s a social media marketing software which engages in real time (like all social media). Also, wildfire allows you to schedule; so your social media accounts and networks are kept up to date.

www.jessicaleeman.wordpress.com  Tweetdeck – Is a social media dashboard which is available on Chrome, Mac, OS X, Microsoft Windows and mobile devices etc. You can use this dashboard to manage your Twitter account/s and schedule tweets for any time of day. This will make sure you stay active even if you’re too busy to tweet, as you’ve already scheduled a post.

Do you use any social media management tools/dashboards?

Which is your favourite?

You can also connect with me;
LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook
Google+

social media - socail networking-media

Blogging Platforms


So, for my course assessment I have to research and write a 2000 word blog post recommending a blogging platform for a small retail or catering business. I have decided to write a blog as part of the research; so it’ll help me decide what blogging platform I think will be the best.

First of all, there are many blogging platforms – from WordPress to Blogger to Ghost and to micro-blogging platforms such as Tumblr. There are many different types of blogging platforms, for example self-hosted and hosted sites. WordPress is both a self-hosted and hosted blogging platform as it allows you to create your own domain where you own the website (i.e. the paid version of WordPress). However, it’s the free version of WordPress (WordPress.com) which is a hosted site; as your website is hosted through a third-party website (for example, jessicaleeman.wordpress.com). Tumblr is also a popular example of a hosted site, as your website is hosted through Tumblr (i.e. your domain would be – yourblog.tumblr.com).

WordPress

Why is WordPress a good blogging platform for businesses?

  • Can be used for both your blog and your main site as a content management system  (self-hosted version).
  • You can enhance the look, design and functionality of your blog with the many themes, plugins and widgets available. You can make your blog look exactly how you want it to look and make it do what you need it to, i.e. by adding widgets. Themes are limited to users of the hosted version of WordPress, however there’s still a good range of themes, plugins and widgets available.
  • Can re-blog other peoples posts, therefore people may re-blog you and so expand your blogs reach.

Blogger

Is Blogger a good blogging platform for businesses?

  • Free hosted platform; owned by Google.
  • Possible that the more accounts with Google you have, the higher up in search rankings you’ll appear. So, as Blogger is a ‘product’ of Google it doesn’t hurt to set up and account on Blogger..
  • Can use themes which are outside of ‘Bloggers’ systems; i.e. external themes which you can import. Also, you’re able to (if you know how) to slightly modify the themes codes to suit your needs depending on what your blog is for.
  • Add-ons and widgets, i.e. sharing buttons to Twitter, Facebook etc. can also (like WordPress) be ‘added on’ to your blog. Adding different ‘add-ons’ will make your blog stand out from other blogs.

Although, there are a vast number of blogging platforms available I have summarised two just to get an idea of what different blogs can do! I will be going into much more detail about my chosen platform for my assessment.

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Is YOUR Blog Effective?


Want to find out if your blog is effective? Keep reading..

  1. Compare the natural growth of your blog. For example, compare it to the same time the previous year. You should also compare sources of traffic, i.e. is most of your blog traffic coming from results on a search engine or another source such as Twitter. Comparing pages visited and average stay on your site is also useful, this will help you to see whether your blog is ‘doing its job’ and being effective. If people are visiting for longer periods of time it’s highly likely that your blog is effective, however if people are only viewing your site for a couple of minutes you may want to rethink how you market your blog so that it is effective with what people want, i.e. what comes up when typed into a search engine.
  2. Measure the number of people who unsubscribe/unfollow you, i.e. your blog, newsletter (if one is available to sign up to on your blog). This way you will be able to see if you are posting the right content, because if your followers have followed you expecting, for example, content on social media and you post for example film reviews, this isn’t going to be “effective” as this isn’t what your ‘audience’ are expecting to see you post.
  3. As well as checking unsubscribers you should also check how many subscribers you are gaining every month/quarter/year etc.
  4. The amount of comments should also be measured. The more comments you get, the more popular your blog, and so future blog posts, will be. People who take the time to comment on your post/s clearly like what they’re reading. The more conversation which can be generated either on your blog or about your blog the better; the more conversation, the more publicity, the more publicity the more people who will potentially view your blog, and so potentially become a follower/subscriber.
  5. What is the reach of your blog WITHOUT other tools, such as sharing your blog post to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The bigger the reach, the more influential your blog will be.
  6. Also, take into consideration the amount of recommendations which your blog receives between users on, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc.
  7. As well as recommendations if you use a blog, such as WordPress, where you can add ‘relevant content’ at the bottom of each post, and so ‘ping’ the author of that post; you should look at how many ‘pings’ you get. Pings notify you of who likes your post; clearly they must like your post to add it to the bottom of theirs..pinging also increases your blogs reach. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Can anyone else think of anymore ways to measure your blogs effectiveness?