I haven't felt much like writing for the last couple of days, so I kind of hid out for part of Armchair BEA and just read other people's posts. Basically I was a blog lurker since I wasn't social enough to leave comments either. Sometimes I just get in a funk.
Today though...I think it's time to do a little catch up. Well...maybe today and tomorrow. We shall see...
Yesterday (Thursday) everyone was talking about visual expression and social media. Since I'm not much of a picture/comic book reader, I'm skipping out on that topic. I have little to bring to the party on that one. However...let's talk social media. That one I can handle.
First...a definition of social media. It's pretty simple. If you use it to interact with others on the web in some form of individual way, then I consider that to be social media. That means there are a lot of options. It's good, but it can also be scary sometimes. Don't worry...it doesn't have to be. The best thing about social media is that you use it in a way that works best for you. Hopefully some of my words here will help you find new options for yourself (or maybe just reinforce that you're doing the things that work best for you already). It's all good...you can't really do it wrong, you just sometimes can use social media in a way that makes your words (and by extension yourself) more accessible.
You'll notice I have a lot of social media buttons in my sidebar. Why? Well...mostly because I realize that not all blog readers are the same. We all have different preferences. Some like to read their posts via a reader like Feedly or Bloglovin'. Some just like to follow things on Facebook and Twitter and then click over to individual posts from there. Since I want my readers to be able to locate me easily, I've decided that it's important to have several options available.
Let's talk about those individual options. Maybe I'll introduce you to ones you don't know about and I'll share my likes/dislikes along the way. Like I said...we all have preferences. I am not immune. Some social media just doesn't work for me and some I just can't live without. Obviously, I'm not going to go over all social media options, but we'll cover some basics. I'm including all of the ones represented by my buttons as well as a couple of additional ones that may be good places for you to check out (if you haven't already).
Alphabetically, here we go. Buckle up...
This is where I start off by lumping two forms together right off the bat. If you're a blogger then you likely use one of two base platforms: Blogger or WordPress. I use Blogger. Why? Well...honestly, because that's where I started when I began blogging a bajillion years ago and I'm terrified of change. There you go. It's really that simple.
There are pros and cons to both platforms, so it's really just dependent on what works for you. Just because you use a Blogger platform doesn't mean you can't interact with WordPress bloggers or vice versa. It's just a matter of where you want to write. Will I someday move my blog over to WordPress? Maybe. WordPress tends to be a better platform for those who use a private web host and have their own site.
I'll tell you a secret...this blog is actually also on WordPress. What? Yep. I'm sneaky like that. I've created a WordPress account and I use a program called IFTTT (which I'll talk about in my next post) to synchronize my posts to both platforms. At this point in time, other readers can't read the posts there, but they're all there quietly waiting if I decide to change platforms. It's part blog backup and part accessibility options. I sometimes like to cover my bases.
YES...email is social media! You can use this a million different ways. Obviously you can send individual messages or small group messages, but more and more bloggers are beginning to use emails for stronger methods of delivery. Maybe you want to send out a weekly newsletter. Maybe you're a crafter and you want to have a set of free patterns you want to disperse, but only to your most loyal of fans. There are also some readers who like to have their blog posts delivered via email. They don't use specific readers and they don't like to go out to other sites to track you down. Having the ability for them to receive emails of your posts can be a good option.
Ah...Facebook...the king of social media. I personally like Facebook. I'm a bit of an addict. But...I'm finding that it's more helpful for me in a personal sense than a blogging sense. I do think that Facebook is one of the best in terms of mobile accessibility, so it does work really well for your readers who are always on the go.
I've set my Facebook page up to receive post links and other materials from additional social networking platforms, but I don't regularly use Facebook as my primary means of blogging communications. I'll talk a little bit more about that next time when I talk about IFTTT.
On a side note, I understand trying to get more followers on different types of social media sites, but I do find myself getting occasionally peeved when a Rafflecopter giveaway requires me to sign up for fourteen different ways of following the same blogger. Nope. Not what I want to do. I'll follow you in my reader and then maybe on Pinterest and Instagram. I'm not going to have you flood all of my feeds, so just chill the heck out. Pick one or two people.
When I first started blogging, I kept track of the blogs I followed by adding bookmarks to my browser. Then I would have to go through every time I was reading and click on each individual blog to find out if they had maybe posted something new since last time I headed over. Holy crap was that annoying.
Then I found Google Reader. I loved Google Reader. It was my buddy. I got all organized and was able to click through easily. When they discontinued it, I nearly had a breakdown.
I tried other readers (including Bloglovin'), but ultimately I found my love in Feedly. I have a site on Bloglovin', but I find it just isn't as user-friendly for me. Feedly is my new favorite (and by new I mean I've been using it for more than a year). I can organize my blogs by type, I can just read my book blog posts if I want to, I can add and delete different blogs easily without feeling like I'm making a complete disaster. It lets me try out new blogs without feeling like it's a complete hassle. Their mobile platform needs some work, but I love using Feedly on my computer. It's super handy. Have I convinced you yet? I heart Feedly.
I do not heart Google Plus. To me, it's a waste of space. It's more of a primitive set up. Good try Google, but you were better off with Reader. I find that it's too difficult to specifically jump from blog to blog and the feed feels totally messy. I also don't think it's as intuitive as some other social media platforms. Maybe some day. But today is not that day. I more or less ignore Google Plus. I only keep it around because other people like it and I hate to alienate readers.
Are you a book blogger? Are you a book reader? Either one of these categories of people...you need Goodreads. It's freaking awesome. You can build your TBR list, keep track of things you have read, rate books, read reviews...it's a literary wonderland.
I link up with other book bloggers as my Goodreads friends so that I can see what they've read, what they're reading, and get ideas for what I might like to read next. It's dangerous for my ever-growing TBR, but I find books that I otherwise may not have known about -- and sometimes they are A-MA-ZING. You can also enter to win ARCs and you can get recommendations from the Goodreads system based on your prior reading history and ratings. Seriously...if you read, get a Goodreads account.
I really like Instagram. It's good for sharing random things and just basically opening a window into a different angle of your life. I use it a lot when I'm doing read-a-thons or participating in other group activities (like ABEA). It's handy. I also like seeing what other people's lives look like. You can only get so much information from a blog. Like they say...sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Instagram helps me feel like my virtual world is sometimes a little more real. I can connect differently with readers and other bloggers by using it.
I dabble in LinkedIn, but I'm not its biggest fan. LinkedIn is mostly helpful in a professional sense, especially if you're looking for a new job or you run a company and are looking for potential candidates for employment. It's easy to find individuals with appropriate skill sets and you can get more info on them based on who it shows they know...who they're "linked" to. Sometimes this can get you background information that they wouldn't otherwise provide you. It's like having a little bit of an inside track.
Like I said, I don't use it much. I think it has it's place...it's just not for me.
For about a year, I had an intense love affair with Pinterest. If you haven't used it before, I'm sure you've heard of its addicting properties. It's true. It's crafting crack. Pinterest is like a giant corkboard to store all of your ideas in. It's a way to keep track of things you like without having a thousand bookmarks in your broweser. I don't have a thousand bookmarks. I do have thousands of pins...everything from crafting ideas to recipes.
I do actually use my Pinterest pins, but I've evolved in how I use the site. I now primarily pin things based on blogs I read. It helps me keep tabs on book lists for things I might want to read, get ideas for what to make for dinner, and get ideas for things to make. Instead of using Pinterest on its own and scrolling through the bajillion ideas on the site, I now use it more like a holding tank for things I find on my own. I think it's useful in both regards. I'm still a pretty big fan, I'm just not as big of an addict.
I'm not going to lie...Reddit still intimidates/frightens me. I'm not good at it. My brother introduced me to Reddit a few years ago when we first started doing our pumpkin displays and it blew up my freaking blog. People showed up by the hundreds daily to my little blog that had previously been getting maybe 30-40 daily views. Obviously, it can be handy.
I do have an account on Reddit. I don't usually go search through it, but I cross post any of my craft projects to it. Once again...an item we'll talk about with IFTTT.
If you're good at Reddit, kudos to you. Seriously. I'm a total noob in that department. I have now totally shown my lack of cool. Yep...I'm too old to be in the hip Reddit group apparently.
Okay...RSS feeds are important. This is how your posts get regularly delivered to things like Feedly and Bloglovin'. It makes your blog more accessible. It can also help make sure that your SEO (search engine optimization) is increased and you can be found a lot more frequently by random searchers...thus helping to boost your readership.
If you're a blogger, you need to make sure your RSS feed is operational. It speeds delivery up and makes it streamlined.
I use FeedBurner for my RSS feed. It was one of the first things I did when I started blogging. It's easy to set up and it works well. Plus...added bonus...once you set it up, you can pretty much just ignore it. Yes, there are things you can do to make it more optimized and helpful, but if you set it up and get it going, you're already going to be miles ahead of not having a functional feed.
I haven't used StumbleUpon for quite some time, but it's still around. StumbleUpon is basically a nice little time suck. If you're bored and you're on the internet, StumbleUpon will find you something to read or do.
You create an account, input a list of things you like to see on the internet based on their list of options, and (when you press the StumbleUpon button you install into your browser's toolbar) it takes you to a random page based on those preferences.
Sometimes it's great. Sometimes not so much. Once you're directed to a page, you can then give a thumbs up or thumbs down and StumbleUpon will keep track of what you like so it knows how to send you better things later on.
Tumblr hasn't quite become my favorite. I look at it as a substitute for either Facebook or Twitter in a way. You have a scrolling feed based on people you follow. It then gives you photos, videos, blog posts, and random blurbs any time those people post something. It's a mishmash of a bunch of other social media types. I use it occasionally, but I'm not really in love. This is another one of those platforms I automatically crosspost to, but spend little time on.
Twitter is tricky. I still need to get better at it. It's good for little chats and it's really handy for immediate social interaction. I really like it for blog chats like when I'm involved in a readathon.
In those cases, I set my feed up using TweetDeck, a platform that allows you to follow tweets based on a specific user or hashtag. It's very handy for keeping things up-to-date and allowing you to weed out things that might otherwise be in the way if you're taking part in a fast paced chat environment. You can also use TweetDeck to preschedule your tweets, which can be super handy for bloggers.
The best thing I've learned about Twitter recently is the use of lists. Now I can switch my feed from everyone I follow to people I know in real life to book bloggers, etc. with one click. It's super handy and keeps me from feeling lost in a gigantic sea of tweets. Twitter can become pretty overwhelming for me otherwise.
Last but not least, we have YouTube. I love YouTube, but I'm not on YouTube. Why? Because I'm freaking awkward people. I do much better hiding behind a keyboard. One of these days maybe I'll be a vlogger. Today is not that day.
I follow a list of YouTube accounts including some book vloggers, BuzzFeed, My Drunk Kitchen, and Vlogbrothers (author John Green and his brother Hank) among others. I quite enjoy watching random videos from time to time. I use the recommendations tab to help me find new feeds once in a while. It's definitely a social media platform that is growing on me.
Holy crap that was long! If you made it all the way to the end, you totally deserve a cookie. Well done. I'm impressed. Obviously I'm not a social media guru, but I'll do my best should you have any questions on any of these platforms. Follow any of those buttons at the sidebar to take yourself to my personal pages/feeds/etc. on the majority of the ones I've discussed today.
The big lesson about social media is this...it's not going away, it can be helpful, and you don't need to be afraid of it. Give a new platform a try now and then. You won't like them all, but sometimes you can find something that you suddenly realize you can no longer live without. Yay for more addictions! I'm such an enabler...