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Managing Facebook Friends

I was just over at Facebook and noticed that the option to create Friends Lists had been activated. Now you can organize your friends by type (handy). Now I’ve just got to find a spare 4 hours to sort through them all (feel free to befriend me here).

Facebook-Friends-Lists

Speaking of Facebook – Mark Cuban has written about his new Facebook Strategy now that he’s hit the 5000 friend limit. I think we’ll see more and more people begin to hit this ceiling and grapple with what to do.

Blogging vs Social Networking

Blogging-Social-Networking
Hugh McLeod writes:

“So that’s why I have a blog, I suppose. I like the control. I write something, I post it, it gets read, hopefully good things happen as a result, somewhere on this small blue planet of ours. Unlike a book or a movie or a TV commercial, there’s no waiting around for somebody else to greenlight it. The only light is the greenlight….

I guess my point is, if you’re one of these people considering giving up on blogging in exchange for paying more attention to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, or whatever they throw at us mere mortals, bear in mind you are giving up on something rather unique and wonderful.’

Hugh’s onto something with this. I chatted with an ex-blogger recently who lamented that he ended his blog 12 months ago to spend more time exploring social networking. His words still ring in my ears (paraphrased):

“I was offered a job through my blog….
I have 9000 ‘friends’ at facebook and myspace….
I used to know most of my readers by name and knew that they all knew mine – even though there were only 200 a day….
I know a lot more people see my profile on facebook – but most of them just are hunting for friend bait….
I used to spend hours writing things that meant something on my blog….
I now spend hours updating people on the lattes I drink and people I meet on Twitter….
I had a brand of my own on and on my own property on my blog….
I now have a brand on someone else’s property….”

His ultimate reflection was to wonder what he could have achieved if he’d invested the amount of time and energy into this blog as the time and energy he invested into his social networking.

My own opinion with social networks is that they’re not all bad (and you don’t need to choose between blogging and social media) – but that I see them as a secondary and supportive strategy to support my primary activities – those being my blogs. Social networks have been useful as ‘straws’ in the overall ‘nest’ of my brand.

Social networks (as well as other social media and web 2.0 sites) have the ability to reinforce your brand, drive traffic, introduce you to new audiences and open up new networks – but in my own business the primary vehicle that I use at present to drive forward what I do remains my blog.

Further Reading – Blog Bloke wrote on a similar topic a few days back. I don’t know that social networking will die – as he does – but rather think we’ll see it gradually integrate more with blogging and hopefully see the pendulum swing back to a more balanced view of these types of sites.

Social Media Marketing – Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Maki from Dosh Dosh has put together a great post titled The Importance of Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Learn and Master it which I think gives some great arguments for bloggers to familiarize themselves with (and participate in) the social media scene.

Probably the most compelling article is an example that he gave from his own experience:

“I recently launched a new blog a months ago and took around 20 hours to create a feature article. I subsequently promoted it on various social websites through my own influencer profiles. I also sent out emails to large sites in the same niche.

The article eventually got to the Digg, del.icio.us and Reddit frontpage and received over 140+ reviews on StumbleUpon. It accumulated well over 800 unique links, including some from very heavily trafficked websites. Some of them alone sent more traffic than the frontpage of del.icio.us.

The article is more than a month old and it is still receiving incoming links. Subscribers are up by over 800% and I received around 12K pageviews everyday for the first month. Bear in mind this is only a one month old site.”

What a great example. Maki’s written a lot more in his post – the full thing is well worth the read.

Why Twitter Isn’t a Waste of Time

This post on using Twitter was submitted by Sheila Scarborough from Family Travel, Perceptive Travel and Fast Machines.

TwitterI’m Twitter-pated.

Admittedly, when I saw random user “tweets” projected onto a big screen at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive last year, it seemed like a mildly-amusing but rather silly new tech toy.

As a freelance writer/entrepreneur in her mid-forties, married with two kids, it’s hard to justify fitting one more thing into my life. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the available social media options; Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, StumbleUpon, etc.

So, why Twitter?

Think of it as a stream of mini blog posts (and we all know why blogging isn’t a waste of time.) Think of it as an interesting news feed. Don’t judge it by the continuously-updated public timeline of often pointless blather. The value is in your own micro-community of followers and who you choose to follow.

You don’t want the wisdom of any crowd; you want the wisdom of a carefully-selected crowd.

Here are some other reasons to tweet:

Widen your network – As a blogger, you know the importance of the human connection, both for personal enjoyment and professional growth. I like to meet new people, and I’ve found that my Twitter group is very different than my normal writer’s network. I don’t see many of the names that I commune with on other bulletin boards or blogs, but I get to know many early tech adopters and social media experts, and they get to know me.

Learn stuff – Would you like to read some of the daily thoughts and ideas from experts and thought leaders like Gina Trapani, Ben Yoskovitz, Duncan Riley, Connie Reece, Dwight Silverman and Chris Brogan?

Me, too.

Sure, I read their blogs, but there are nuggets on their Twitter updates as well.

Teach stuff - You have expertise in some area. You know something that would interest others. Here’s another platform where you can show your stuff to an audience that you otherwise might not reach.

Showcase your stuff - Your name, your ideas and your personal brand are already out there via your blogging work. Twitter is one more way to extend your name and brand visibility. Claim your Twitter profile as a blog on Technorati and build some link juice as well.

Become conversant in rapidly-developing technology – What better way to learn about fresh tech ideas than immersion into some of that technology, amongst the biggest brains who develop it? I love my fellow freelance writers, but not all of them are into blogging and even fewer are into the details of social media, so I must go where the action is to learn about it.

The 140-character limit also forces better, more focused Web 2.0 communication — this is a situation where you gotta think INSIDE the box.

Keep up with the buzz even when you’re on the move, with text or IM – Twitter on your mobile device means that you can read and send tweets wherever you have cell phone service. I personally do not use it this way, but I know others who like the “always on and plugged in” continuous connection.

Market your work - This comes last for a reason. We are already bombarded enough by ads and marketing plans, and I do what I can to avoid them (hurray for satellite radio — I’m literally willing to pay to avoid stupid ads on my radio.) Don’t stomp into a community like Twitter and start blatantly selling your wares; we see what you’re doing and we won’t like it. Be cool.

As with any technology, there are improper Twitter uses and habits.

Think before you tweet, Part 1 – Do not answer the Twitter question, “What are you doing?” every 2.5 minutes; you’ll just annoy your followers. I saw this today from a respected tech guru: “Sorry, a Twtr for every Flickr photo you are uploading is way, way too many. Removing you from my list now.” Ouch.

Think before you tweet, Part 2 – Twitter messages are archived and searchable. Forever. Remember that.

It’s not all about you – This is not a contest to see how many you can follow or how many sign up to follow you. A real network offers mutual help, nurturing relationships and good company; it’s not a numbers game. If you treat it that way, you’ll lose most of the major benefits.

There’s still real life out there, so live it - Maybe only someone like Robert Scoble can Twitter his kid’s birth. For the rest of us, we’d like to spend some non-tech time with air-breathers. You know, humans.

Twitter is just one more communications tool, perhaps more useful than youíd think. If you check it out and donít like it, the world will not end. You can always do something really radicalÖ.like meet someone in person.

photo via mashable

Can having too many Digg Using Readers Be a Bad thing for a Site?

Digg-CultureA number of months ago I wrote a post titled How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog which explored a trend that I’d noticed on my blogs where getting on the front page of Digg once tended to lead to attracting other active Digg users to your blog – which in turn led to more success on Digg – which led to more Digg using readers which led to more Digg success…. etc (see image to the left for a visual illustration).

It was something that I’d noticed happening on a number of my own blogs as well as blogs of others.

However in the last few months I’ve noticed another Digg trend. At this point it’s just a theory and I have no way of proving it – but I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps a blog can be penalized for having too many active Digg using readers.

I first noticed this through chatting to other bloggers who would regularly get on the font page of Digg quite organically as a result of their readers submitting and then Digging theirs posts up. These blogs had medium to largish sized readerships (although none were A-listers).

After a few months (or longer) of getting semi-regular appearances on the front page of Digg these bloggers started to notice that their posts would do well for a few hours after being submitted by readers but that as they approached the top of the upcoming lists they would disappear.

While it is not unusual for some posts to be buried before hitting the popular page (not everyone on Digg will appreciate every post you write) these bloggers began to notice that it happened to every post – even their best ones.

I didn’t take a lot of notice of this at first – but after hearing the same story from 10 or so other bloggers began to wonder if there was more to the story.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed the same thing happening on my own blogs – blogs that quite often used to reach the front page of Digg completely organically.

My question to Digg (something I’ve asked via email – but which I don’t really expect a response) is:

Can having too many Digg Using Readers Be a Bad thing for a Site?

I understand why Digg needs to protect itself and ban sites who attempt to manipulate their system – however I’ve heard the above story/complaint from a number of legitimate and high quality bloggers now and wonder if perhaps Diggs algorithm or filtering system is being a little too zealous and weeding out quality and legitimate content simply because those sites have grown a readership that love and use Digg.

Now there is a weakness in my hypothesis – and that is that mega/A-list blogs who must have a lot of Digg users regularly feature on the front pages of Digg. Perhaps this is an indication that my theory is off – however I couldn’t imaging Digg banning Engadget, Gizmodo or Lifehacker (who all feature heavily on the front page of Digg).

It’s just a theory – but I’d be interested to hear other’s thoughts on the question.

Can having too many Digg Using Readers Be a Bad thing for a Site?

How to Know When A Post from Your Blog is Submitted to Digg

Amit has a great tip to help you keep on top of whether a post from your blog might have been submitted by one of your readers on Digg.

It basically entails searching for your URL on Digg and then subscribing to the RSS feed of that search. Sometimes it’s the simplest tips that are the best ones.

Why would you want to know if your post has been submitted? Well for starters it’s interesting to know what your readers think is Diggable – but it can also help you to give the Digging a little extra help by adding a digg button or link to the Digg page in question so that your readers can give it a kick along.

How Much Social Networking Do You Do?

Social-NetworksIt struck me today that while I signed up as a Twitter user quite a few months ago – that I’ve never been back since and never have posted anything to my my Twitter account. So today I logged in and found that despite me never mentioning my account that I have 60 ‘followers’.

I posted something – and within minutes people were replying – how bizarre.

I think it was partly because when I first signed up I couldn’t post to it via my mobile phone service (I’m presuming I now could as I see a lot of other Aussies using it). The other reason I’ve never really used it was simply because I sometimes feel quite overwhelmed by social media sites. I find it difficult enough to keep a couple of blogs going and to play my part at b5media without up keeping lots of social media sites.

I do attempt to keep social networking sites like my facebook account up to date and log into mySpace and LinkedIn from time to time (as well as attempting to be an active StumbleUpon user) – but between them and day to day blogging I guess I find that there’s only so much a guy can do in any given day. While I’m convinced that social media is an amazing tool and something that bloggers need to explore – I guess I’m starting to feel a little social networking burnout due to the number of options to participate.

My question to you (and I know this makes two posts in a row where I’ve asked questions) is:

“How many social networking sites are you actively involved in?”

And which ones are you most active in (list them from most active to least if you like).

PS: and one last question for you hard core Twitterers (I can’t believe my spell check didn’t flag that!)…. How do you use Twitter? Is it purely for friendship, do you use it to promote your blogs, is there some other business application that you’ve found for it… etc?

Building Your Blog With StumbleUpon

Skellie AvatarThis guest-post on Building Your Blog With StumbleUpon is by Skellie. She gives away big and little ideas like these to bloggers, webmasters and web workers at her blog, Skelliewag.org.

If you think this is another post about voting up your own articles on StumbleUpon, you’re mistaken.

Every blogger should have a StumbleUpon account. Regardless of which social media service you prefer, StumbleUpon is by far the easiest and least time-consuming to use.

How StumbleUpon works

When you come across something you like online you can vote for it with a button on your toolbar. The page is then shared with others who have similar interests.

When you’re bored, or looking for inspiration, click ‘Stumble!’ and great pages others have liked will be shared with you.

It’s really that simple.

As with most things that seem simple, however, there’s much more to it beneath the surface.

This post doesn’t intend to be comprehensive overview of StumbleUpon. What it does intend to do is show you how you can build your blog and your blogger profile by participating in the StumbleUpon community — while having plenty of fun at the same time!

Getting started with StumbleUpon

If you already have an account, great. If not, sign up here. Don’t put it off — the process is worth it.

One tip: make sure your username and profile picture are branded in line with your blog. Use your blogging name for your profile, and a photo or logo your readers will be familiar with.

Once you have your account and StumbleUpon homepage, make sure you customize your interests to suit your tastes. You can ‘manage your interests’ via the sidebar. This is important, as it will effect what kinds of pages you get when you Stumble. It will also change the kinds of people who take an interest in your votes.

There are plenty of other things you can customize, but we’ll stick with the basics for now. Let’s get started building your blog and your blogger profile with your new account.

1. Connect with other bloggers

To start connecting with other bloggers through StumbleUpon, all you need to do is vote up their content (when it’s good). The more traffic you send them, the more likely they are to go and investigate the source, or even add you as a friend. StumbleUpon can be a great networking tool.

On top of that, supporting blogs you like is just good karma. What more could you ask for?

2. Drive traffic back to your blog with great stumbles

When you vote up a site that hasn’t been voted up before, you ‘Discover’ it. This means that you write its first review and your profile information appears in the sidebar of the reviews page for that item.

Great content can drive a lot of (influential) stumblers to the page profiling you, as they rush to vote and review it. Some of them will be drawn into visiting your profile, simply because you have such great taste. But how can we encourage these visitors to check out our blog?

3. Highlight your blog in your StumbleUpon profile

This is easy. Enter your blog URL as your website address, and this will be displayed above your image on the main page of your profile. You can also write a bit about yourself and add a link to your blog in your About blurb.

4. Connect with your readers

When you start to see traffic coming from StumbleUpon, take the time to visit the reviews page for the blog post readers have voted up.

The stumblers on this page have been enthusiastic enough about your content to want to Stumble it. If they’re not already loyal readers, this makes them great candidates for becoming one.

Take the time to thank them for their Stumble, and add them as a friend. Little acts of generosity like these leave an impression and may encourage the Stumbler to see what other types of great content you’re capable of.

5. Make friends for a more powerful profile

The StumbleUpon algorithm is a mysterious thing, but evidence seems to suggest that the most active and popular stumblers are rewarded with the ability to control large traffic-flows. The ‘active’ part is up to you — how much time are you willing to put in? The ‘popular’ part of the equation, however, depends on how many fans you have. Fans are those stumblers who’ve added you as a friend in order to see the pages you stumble.

How do you get fans? Great, properly labeled stumbles will do it. Another successful strategy is to add those who vote up your content. If they took the time to explore your blog they might recognize you as the author of the content they liked and add you in return. The friendship will enhance both of your profiles and you’ll be connecting with another potential reader.

6. To submit or not to submit?

Some bloggers believe that repeatedly stumbling the same domain will see the benefits of your stumbles at that domain peter down to nothing. Others believe it’s absolutely necessary to submit your own articles to ensure they’re placed in the category best-suited to them. I’d be interested to hear which approach you think is best in the comments section of this post.

7. Send great content to your friends

StumbleUpon users have the ability to send pages to specific friends, or all of them. If you’ve written something you’re really confident is worthy of a stumble then you might consider sending it out to your friendship network. They’re much more likely to vote up your content than the strangers who routinely find themselves at your blog.

Moderation is key when using this tool. If you overuse it there is a chance your friends will tire of you. An alternative to a wide-ranging send-out might be to send an article to one or two friends you know will be particularly interested in the content.

8. Create a profile people will visit for its own sake

Treat your profile like another blog. If you make it a place people will want to visit for its own sake, the chance of visitors engaging with it and following the link back to your blog increases.

Take the time to play with the colors, add images to your reviews, and explore the functions on offer to create your ‘blog’ (StumbleUpon actually refers to it as such). Fill your profile with votes and reviews for great content your friends will want to visit, and tell others about. A great profile will naturally attract interested and admiring visitors, and raise your profile in the StumbleUpon community.

9. Use it for inspiration

When StumbleUpon is at its best, it serves up a long line of great content suited to your tastes. A stumbling session can be a great source of inspiration when your well of ideas runs dry.

A tip: don’t stumble only within the topic you blog about. Sometimes the best (and most original) post ideas are found by trying to relate radically different content to your niche.

10. Have fun!

I hope this post has convincingly argued that the secret to building your blog with StumbleUpon is to participate actively, genuinely and enthusiastically in the community there. The rewards are sure to filter back to you and your blog.

Analysis of StumbleUpon’s Top 50 Stumblers

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a ‘Top Stumbler’ at StumbleUpon?

Glen Allsopp has done some great analysis on StumbleUpon’s Top 50 Stumblers.

Some of the key take home ‘averages’ that might be worth knowing if you’re looking to increase your StumbleUpon status:

  • Average length of membership at SU – 18 months
  • Average number of pages ‘liked’ – 12,805
  • Average number of videos ‘liked’ – 513
  • Average number of photos ‘liked’ – 1086

That’s a lot of stumbling! It is worth noting that these are averages and the spread of results was much much wider (full details at Glen’s post). The only thing missing from the analysis that I’d have been curious about would be how many fans each of the top 50 had.