Blogging vs Other Social Media

It’s a fight to the death!

085

Well, okay, not quite that, but bear with me for a bit longer.

The other week I gave a short talk to my writing group on reasons a writer should be on social media and, more importantly, why they needed a blog. I’m not going to go into this in any detail now, but I promised I’d summarise what I said in bullet points, and then thought it might be worth putting up here to see if anyone felt like adding anything to it.

So…

Why?

  • As a writer, you need to have a social media presence to sell books, to get known. Even if you are a published author.
  • On a social media platform, you are aiming to get shares for your posts. The more shares, the more people will see them.
  • It’s all about engaging with customers, fans and critics.
  • There are a huge number of platforms, but just a few examples that I have experience of:
  • Facebook is the biggest, and the most active, with a high rate of engagement. Having an Author Page is a good way to engage through backstories, questions, surveys and daily updates (yours or your work), ‘Behind the scenes’ articles.
  • Linkedin has many users, but a low rate of engagement. A business page can be useful.
  • Twitter is short and succinct. A sort of ‘Marketing Lite’. Posts appear fleetingly and then are essentially gone, though, unless they generate lots of likes and retweets.
  • Goodreads is like ‘background’ media – people need to seek you out to find you.
  • But the number one way to be found is through blog posts.
  • Like all good social media, blogs encourage visitors to return. Unlike ordinary websites, they are updated regularly and the reader can be alerted to each new post.
  • There are many other reasons to blog, viz:
  1. Teaches you to write more professionally – you have an audience
  2. Discipline
  3. Practice
  4. Feedback from people outside your usual circle
  5. Networking with others
  6. You can upload links to other social media
  7. There is space to write more in-depth than on other social media
  8. To review work for other writers
  9. To explore ideas and get feedback on these
  • A blog is simply a website with posts being regularly replaced, although the old ones are still on the website to read.
  • There are many blogging platforms, but I use WordPress.
  • One advantage of WP is the ease by which readers can see you have a new post.
  • Whichever platform you choose, it should have clear instructions and / or tutorials to help you set up.
  • It should also allow you to block spammers, remove adverts (by upgrading), monetise your site, and change the layout. In other words, have as much control as possible over its appearance.
  • It can be really helpful if the platform provides diagnostics on data such as page views, visitors, likes, comments, and links to and from your site. This helps you plan and refine how you run it.

How?

  • Purchase your own address! It is not very expensive, but it makes your blog more personal, more professional, and the address more memorable. And the host cannot arbitrarily close it down, which might happen with a free site.
  • Start by going and looking at other blogs, to find what you like and might work for you. then use your Site Builder Tool to create your site.
  • Once you begin writing your first post make sure you are using a clear font that stands out.
  • Keep the post around 500 words, certainly under 1000. When you have a decent following, you may get away with more, but new readers will be put off by longer ones. (As a guide, this post has 945 words).
  • Add a picture or two to help it stand out and look less daunting, but not too many. And not just dozens of selfies, unless you are an established celebrity. It’s a real turn off.
  • Make the post interesting! Put some good stuff in first, to get the readers’ attention. And don’t save all the good stuff until the end, as readers might not otherwise get there.
  • Use categories and tabs on each post to help new readers find them.

Issues

  • Don’t feel under pressure to post to a fixed schedule.
  • Don’t be afraid to change the subjects you post about – it’s all under your control and there are no rules on it. Let it develop organically.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need to. It’s very easy to get into a mindset where you think you need to do all these things to a rigid schedule.
  • Don’t obsess about the number of followers you have or likes / comments you get. Chasing them is counter-productive.
  • Find some blogs YOU like, and follow them, commenting when you have something to say. That way you will begin to get visits in return and then, hopefully, follows back. It is pointless following a blog that doesn’t interest you, just hoping to get a follow back. You want followers who will be interested in what you have to offer.
  • And on that subject, if a new follower has a site that doesn’t interest you, there is no obligation for you to follow them back.
  • And don’t feel obliged to comment on / like / or even read every post on blogs you follow.
  • Do remember that copyright law applies exactly the same on the internet as it does in the real world. If you copy a photo or article from the internet without permission and post it on your blog be prepared for possible legal unpleasantness. I always use my own, just to be safe. I think it looks better, too.
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44 thoughts on “Blogging vs Other Social Media

  1. Excellent Mick. I agree with most of this.

    I’m finding a limit to how much I can do, but having a way for a random viewer to follow back to your home page/s is critical.

    I’ve had a number of instances now of people finding me by searches that have thrown up references to me or to my work and folk can work backwards to catch up to me.

    That’s invaluable.

    I would also add that engaging with visitors is important. I’ve just scooted past 13,000 comments on my blog, so conversation with the people that like to visit can’t be over-stated, IMO.

    Also, I’m not sure that follower numbers actually relate to real followers. Of 1500, I find I regularly interact with a very small portion. Still, I’d rather have silent followers than none at all!!

    Anyway, good article and I’m sure it was an interesting talk for your group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Frank. On your point about interaction, yes – it’s critical. I make it a point to always reply to comments, and always engage in conversations. I believe it makes a huge difference. And as for real followers, I calculated that the number of actual followers I have at any one time is probably about a quarter of the number WordPress shows. I did write a post on that a couple of years back: https://mickcanning.co/2018/02/01/1000-up/ if you’re interested in my calculations.

      And thanks, yes – they seemed to find it useful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Spot on Mick. That talk must have been good to do and I bet some of the questions you received from non-bloggers were interesting too.I think that interaction with followers is so important and you’re right about the number of ‘active’ followers being nowhere near the actual numbers. Always reply to comments and try to engage as much as possible without it becoming too time-consuming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, Jonno. It’s the time-consuming bit I often struggle with – this is where I really need more self-discipline and limit the number of times I check for replies and then get distracted by all the other online shenanigans.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Mick — excellent overview and this would actually make a very good “introductory packet” for WP
    I do have one comment about commenting. I will sometimes read a blogger who writes about something outside my expertise – say, WWII armored vehicles. it’s interesting, and I’ll click “like” as a tiny salute in passing, but I certainly don’t know much about the topic, and have nothing to contribute. I try to express appreciation, but I’m not sure how useful it is to leave “Thank you for your in-depth analysis of cobalt steel metallurgy as employed in tank armor.”
    so I just click the like button and scuttle away before I embarrass myself!
    But even though you don’t write in American, I understand your English quite well, and very much enjoy reading your articles. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robert. I’ve had a few discussions around ‘liking’ a post and not commenting for various reasons. I’ve come across one or two people who think it a pointless exercise, as there is nothing to stop someone zooming through the reader and ‘liking’ dozens of posts in about twenty seconds. I know what they mean, as I’ve frequently had a whole list of ‘likes’ notified by email, at the rate of about thirty a minute followed by a ‘follow’. Usually, you never hear from them again – they’re just after a follow back. I think it’s a chance you take, really. I use a ‘like’ as an appreciation of a post on which I have nothing to contribute myself. Equally I can read a post and not leave a like if I don’t think it merits one, for whatever reason. I’d certainly rather get a couple of dozen likes than nothing at all.

      Like

  4. You have summarized it so well. I will share this with budding bloggers. The biggest reason for SM presence is it allows your followers to reach you. When you publish new blogs, they get updated. Email subscription somehow doesn’t work well. Also, SM is a good way to exchange and communicate. Certainly, it allows you to reach new readers with social shares. The most frustrating aspect is with limited time, you can’t be active on all SM unless you are not actively working. A blog allows a lot of discussion with other bloggers. I enjoy the chatter…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All very good points, Arv. And I agree about email subscription – I avoid it as far as possible, otherwise I’d be getting dozens of new blog notifications by email every day, and it’s hard enough to keep up with everything as it is. And enjoy the chatter! Yes! There’s no point in doing it if the commenting is boring or hard work.

      Like

  5. I agree with your bullets about blogging, Mick. Engagement is really important, and it’s the way to make active connections versus trading likes which is meaningless in the long run. I put more attention into blogging than all other platforms combined because depth, in my view, is more important than breadth. Whatever an author decides to do, do it well. And most of all, have fun with your choice of platform – readers can tell if you love what you do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Mick for sharing this. Its spot on and I needed to read these tips. Its tough being all over social media. I’ve decided to stick to WordPress and this post was a sign that I had taken the right decision. I’ve realized most of my posts are read here on WordPress. The rest of Social Media doesn’t get many readers. In fact barely any.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Mick, interesting post. Though I must admit, I differ on social media strategy. I am not on social media at all. And obviously I, thus, don’t share my posts on social media.

    Instead, I ensure I include social media share buttons at the end of each post allowing readers to share the posts ‘they’ like on ‘their’ social media handles. I feel third party endorsements and shares are far more effective than publicity by oneself. The classic difference between PR and marketing!

    Furthermore, I have seen most of my readers coming in from search engines so using the right tags, I believe, is key.

    Oh, and yes, connecting with each person who comments is definitely invaluable as you state. I try and visit their sites, get to know their personal names and blog style/ content and then mention it in my reply. Time consuming, true. But then whoever said blogging was a piece of cake? I definitely did not. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds as though you are using your blog platform in a very constructive way – of course, a blog is a social medium, and my point is that I find it the most useful of the social media I have tried.

      I also agree strongly with you on third party endorsements and shares opposed to self-publicity. It’s a different topic, really, but I do find self-publicity a difficult thing to do; I’m not one of those writers who feels comfortable constantly pushing my book and blowing my own trumpet. It comes easily to some, but not me.

      Thanks for the comments, Rama.

      Like

  8. Your comment made me think and realize that blogs were also considered social media. I had been looking at social media as being limited to the kinds of facebook and twitter. Am glad I commented on this post and got this insight. I have even changed my About text to now reflect my new understanding. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. After more than ten years, I’m still satisfied with decisions I made in the very beginning. I’m not engaged with social media, in the sense of using Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to build readership. And I never provided a ‘like’ button on The Task at Hand precisely because I wanted to encourage comments. I went for several years — three or four — with very few comments, but that didn’t bother me. Eventually that changed, but most of the techniques that were offered for increasing stats were irrelevant to me.
    When I began my photography blog, I did provide a ‘like’ button, because sometimes that’s all a reader wants or needs where photos are involved, but comments still are a part of the mix.
    Your section on “Issues” is great. I agree with all of your points there. My one disagreement is about length of posts. My hard and fast rule is that I’ll try to use exactly the number of words that a given topic requires. If it’s a haiku, there might be ten words. If it’s a complex, historical post, I’ve gone up to about 6,000 words — but I deal with that by splitting the story into multiple posts. The key is content. If it’s engaging and interesting, it can work.
    There is one issue I don’t hear talked about as much as it deserves. When any of us comments on another blog, or even on social media, we need to remember we’re being judged by our words there, too. Misspellings, poor punctuation, nasty or snide language — all of those things help people who might become readers form an impression of us, for better or for worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some very good points there. I did put together the presentation originally for my writing group, so it was aimed specifically at writers building an audience who might then be interested in their published work, but I think we all get a feeling about what actually works for us with Facebook et al. As for not providing a ‘like’ button, do you think in hindsight it did encourage comments? I don’t think it makes a difference to me when I visit a blog – if I have something I want to say, I’ll say it, if not I tend to just move on.

      As for the length of posts, I base this upon my own feelings and conversations I’ve had with others. If I’m scrolling through (say) fifty or sixty new posts and decide to visit one of them (I tend to look at about half of those who appear in my reader on any given day) I am definitely put off by a very long post. I’m very reluctant to give an extra five or ten minutes to a post unless it appears to be an exceptional one, otherwise I could potentially spend hours each day just catching up with posts. But I note you say you’d break a very long post down into several posts, which is what I frequently do.

      And yes, we are liable to be judged as much by our posts, as by our interactions visiting others – language, grammar, manners, etc.I couldn’t agree more. We are, after all, getting a little attention from potentially a new audience.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. All excellent advice, Mick! I try to keep the length of mine between 800-1200 words, because the nature of my content is tough to keep to around 500, but I agree, if it’s too lengthy, people lose interest before the end. And, I am guilty of your first point under “Issues” … I put a great deal of pressure on myself to stick to a 3:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. schedule every day, 7 days a week. Every now and then I skip one, but I always feel guilty when I do! Anyway … good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a great post, Mick. I think you have summed up the various social media’s very well and I agree that blogging is the most valuable because it is the most interactive and you develop friendships with people. Have a great new week.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Change can be a good thing. I’ve decided to simply my life with less, meaning less social media, less “tools” like the scheduling tools I used to use to schedule posts to FB, Instagram and Twitter. Being mindful of what I’m doing and who I’m engaging with is a higher priority and keeps me focused on my mission. It feels so good reconnecting with people I haven’t spoken with in a long time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think you’re very sensible to limit the social media engagement to something you feel comfortable with. We don’t always do that! I now tend to be quite selective when deciding what to look at on any particular day.

          Liked by 1 person

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