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Friday, June 29, 2012

You need a blog: Why Facebook and Twitter are not enough

How are your friends doing? Your Facebook friends, I mean. Have you seen their updates lately? Are you sure? Are you sure you're not just seeing "Top Stories," despite having specified that you want to see all of your friends' updates, over and over again?

How about those groups and organizations you're a fan of? Are you seeing all of the updates?

The answer, in both cases, is probably not. Facebook routinely tinkers with what you see - or what the people you're trying to communicate with get to see.

I've said it over and over again: Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg's playground, he's just letting us play there. And the rules of that playground keep changing. Ask anyone who's been put in "Facebook Jail" for attempting to "Friend" someone who's been recommended to them by Facebook itself. Plus, Facebook reserves the right to censor what you've posted, and then punish you for posting things that Facebook finds offensive. Or objectionable. Or violate today's rules.

I've also said over and over again that Facebook is no substitute for having  a blog to promote your group, organization, band, or whatever. Neither is Twitter. Twitter is like being in a crowded party where everyone is shouting out little snippets of conversation, all given equal importance. You want to say something important, something you really want all your friends to hear? Too bad, it just got buried by three dozen people posting tweets about their lunch, their pets, their commute, and how much they love lamp. Buried, and never to be seen again, because in the next few hours there will be hundreds of additional tweets piled on top of that.

Blogs may seem quaint and old-fashioned to those neophiles who are constantly chasing the banner, for whom what worked yesterday is considered junk because it's...well, just so yesterday. But for those who actually give a damn about things that work, blogs and blogging are immensely valuable tools for getting your message across in a manner that has a high degree of persistence, even permanence.

Consider this: If you are an organization that wants to keep people up-to-date with the latest news, you could opt for the Facebook route, setting up a fan page and attracting subscribers.  If you're lucky, some of your fans will see each post (estimates vary from 16% to 25%, based on your "Edgerank"), though it will almost certainly be lost among posts from their other "friends." (They might have a chance to see it later, if they make the effort to surf over.) Of course, this visibility is only to your "fans," and only to those fans who are on Facebook. (Astonishingly, not everyone in the world is on Facebook.) You can also use Twitter and Tweet your news, but again, this will only go out to your "followers," and will quickly be lost amidst the noise that is 99.999...% of the stuff posted on Twitter.

So how do you make sure your message gets out?

The answer is simple: you need a blog. Not just a website, but an honest-to-goodness blog, with frequent updates, an RSS feed, and an easy setup for people to follow or get posts by email. This takes a little more effort, but the payoff can be much greater. What you post on your blog today will still be there tomorrow, and won't get buried by what other people post on their blogs. Your posts will be visible to the world, not just "fans" or "followers," and not just to members of a site like Facebook or Twitter. They will get indexed by search engines and show up in people's searches. And you can post links to your blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, and have your Twitter updates displayed on your blog!  So it's not an either/or situation. Having a blog is essential to having an online presence, and using it in conjunction with other social media is key to maximizing your visibility. On top of that, it doesn't have to cost you a dime. You can get a blog for free and completely manage it yourself, or you can pay to have the "prestige" of a top-level domain name or even hire someone to design and manage your blog for you.

It's up to you. Facebook is nice. Twitter is nice. But if you're serious about getting your message out, they're not enough. You need a blog to create a real web presence, a place where you can say what you need to say and your friends and fans can always come to hear it.

15 comments:

Gort said...

Like

Aunt Stanbury said...

I'm sure you're right, although your situation isn't mine. I don't use or understand Facebook or Twitter, and I'm not sure I have a message to communicate. My blog consists of stories, most of which I've been telling for years to anyone who would listen - the kind of tales your aged great-aunt bored you with but that you missed after she died. I've collected stories from my elderly relatives and friends. Knowing no one was likely to collect mine, I started writing them down.

Karen Ivy, a college friend, sent me the link to your blog. I will look at it from time to time.

Christine Stone

Karla said...

Blogging is not viewed as old fashioned. In fact the opposite is true. Tumblr gets over 30m new posts per day and there are 100,000+ new wordpress accounts launched every day alone, not to mention the blogs born on other platforms. Wordpress, originally envisioned as solely a blog platform has now become a major CMS contender for entire websites not just the blog component.

"Neophiles" actually helped launch blogging, have a significant blog culture and often shun Facebook and Twitter.

I have seen you use the word 'prestige' in relation to owning a domain name on multiple occasions. Owning a domain name has many practical benefits like having a short name people can actually remember not blahblabla.blogspot.com just blablahbla.com, your own personalized email address and protecting the name of your blog so no one else can register and use the name - logic not prestige.

Other forms of new media like Twitter and Facebook are extremely beneficial to blog marketing efforts. My blog gained readers as if it started taking steroids when I was able to use LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, facebook, Digg, YouTube, Ning, and other very helpful social media sites.

Another important factor in reader engagement is to have open comments not not owner moderated ones. A good spam filter keeps the junk out. Moderated comments give the perception that the blogger doesn't promote open dialog.

Michelle D said...

Harold - my antivirus is coming up with an infection when I visit your page. Whoever is http://xmadmx.com on your blog roll has the infection in their favicon.ico file. It's a Java iFrame trojan. You may want to remove them until they can get their infection cleaned up.

D.B. Echo said...

Michelle - thanks for the heads-up. That's the blog of Melissa Auf der Maur, former bassist for Hole and Smashing Pumpkins. Her post from the other day is her first post in months, so the image she posted there is likely the problem. I'll temporarily remove her blog and let her know about it.

Karla, I've seen people with top-level domain names get cybersquatted. And comment moderation is a sad fact of life. It's not just a question of blocking out spam. When you have a relentless troll attacking you dozens of times each day - especially when you have things to do other than sit at a computer and delete offensive comments all day - moderation is the best option. You can ask Michelle about the comments she helped me deal with, and I still have a bunch of others saved from the 2008 election from a virulent racist in California that I can send you. I believe in encouraging open dialogue, but I also have a responsibility to not let someone come to my blog and crap all over the comments. If you've never had to deal with something like that personally, consider yourself lucky - for now.

D.B. Echo said...

Hrmmm. I don't see Melissa's blog on my blogroll anymore. WTF? Is google doing some aggressive proactive cleanup?

D.B. Echo said...

...never mind. Found it. Letting her know.

Michelle D said...

Cybersquatting only happens when/if you let it. If you are a careless webmaster who lets your domains expire, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

If you care enough about your domain names, you will not allow them to expire. I've had mhryvnak.net since 2001 or 2002 with no issues.

Michelle D said...

Also, what is Facebook jail? I have never heard of that before.

D.B. Echo said...

If you try to "friend" someone, and they reject (rather than ignore) your request, Facebook sees this as a form of harassment by you. I don't know how many "strikes" you get - it might be just one - but Facebook may punish you by cutting off your ability to request friends, post, or even sign on to Facebook for a period of up to several weeks. I've had a few friends get punished like this for sending friend requests to people who had been recommended to them by Facebook.

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Excellent arguments!!!

Kate said...

People are just not that into blogs anymore, from what I see. For example, when I was 14/15, a lot of people had a blog. A lot of people, really. And now, only 2 or 3 maintain it. Plus, Facebook allows them to do a lot of things. For example, MSN is no longer that used anymore. Why? Because of Facebook chat.

Although, I'm not against blogs - I love them, actually. I wish more people would love them too.

D.B. Echo said...

KATE! I miss your blog tremendously. I check in on it once in a while just to be sure my RSS feed hasn't broken. How are you? How have you been?

EB said...

Haha aww, I'm okay :D I got into the uni I wanted so I kind of lost myself around there. I've been thinking of writing on my blog again, so we'll see x)

It's great to see you're still around, though! And that you haven't lost yourself to the wonders of Facebook and Twitter and completely forgot about the blogging community :p

D.B. Echo said...

Congratulations! And I hope your time at uni is giving you lots of material for future blog posts!