Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

Twitter & Blogs: Symbiosis or Competition?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

twitterbird.JPG

There have been neglected and abandoned personal blogs on the Internet ever since blogs were invented. I suppose technically it would have been a day or two after that. In the last year or so, however, blogging has kind of run out of steam in the face of the more immediate gratification of microblogging. I have seen several bloggers write that discovering Twitter was the beginning of the end for their blog because they liked tweeting more than blogging. Blog readers have also jumped ship in droves as Twitter takes up more of their time.

I still blog fairly often. This particular blog went on hiatus because my interest shifted to other things. It made more sense to start new blogs than to drastically alter the focus of this blog. I have decided to start writing here again because I occasionally get a bee in my bonnet about business related stuff.

I have to admit that I spend more time on Twitter than on any of my blogs. I wouldn’t call it an addiction. It is a vibrant social outlet. It is an immediate source of news. Most importantly, I can find an audience who are interested in the topics that I blog about. I have two blogs set up so that a tweet is sent out every time I publish a new post. The tool I use for that is called Twitterfeed. I have separate twitter accounts for my two blogs. One focuses on reducing plastic waste and the other shares interesting solar power ideas and links to a website and blog that I have written about DIY solar panels. I have used tools from several different sites to follow lots of people who share these interests or are in demographic groups that are likely to share these interests.

I can only devote a few hours per day to Twitter. My followers come from all around the world and they can easily miss my tweets in their stream. The way that I increase the chance of being noticed is to schedule tweets throughout the entire day. I use SocialOomph to accomplish this. This service has both a free and a pro membership. I have used both types of membership at different stages of building my twitter accounts. I have a twitter account associated with a special project that I don’t devote a lot of time to. I sit down and schedule a whole month of daily tweets so the account won’t appear dormant to other services that help Twitter users weed out inactive accounts from their follow lists. I know about this kind of service because I use several of them. Twitter is so popular that there are new twitter management tools launching on an almost daily basis.

One function that SocialOomph and a few other services provide is autofollow. If you enable this function, your twitter account will automatically follow any twitter account that follows you. I had this enabled for a few months, but I soon found out that it results in my following a lot of people who are only interested in increasing their own following. Having a large following is meaningless if the majority of them are bots and spammers. I was really happy when I found a tool that could unfollow accounts that hadn’t bothered to upload a profile pic.

One important tool that I use when I am promoting my blog posts through twitter is a url shortener that that provides traffic data. I can use this to see how many people click on the link in a specific tweet. Having thousands of followers does not mean you will get thousands of readers for everything you post on your blog. I have over 8000 followers on one account and if I’m lucky a dozen people will click my link. I conducted and experiment while writing this with 31 out of 8567 followers clicking on a link when I told them that it was an experiment to gauge response. That is a response rate of 0.4%

If you want to use twitter to drive traffic to your blog or anything else, you have to tweet often. I’m not saying that you should tweet the same thing over and over again, in fact the service won’t even let you do that. I’m saying that you need to craft a variety of compelling tweets linking to your content and send them out at various times of day. They don’t have to be 24 hours a day. If you have a regional audience, spreading tweets out from 7am to 11pm is sufficient. If you are targeting a national audience in the US, you would do better to run scheduled tweets from 7am EST to 11pm PST.

I have not seen a huge increase in blog traffic since I started using Twitter. I haven’t seen a precipitous decrease either. My honest take on blogging in a post twitter world is that you have to go where the readers are and right now they are all on twitter.

Common Blog Contest Mistakes Part 1: Sucky Prizes

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

prizeContests have been pretty popular on the blogosphere over the past couple of years. The trend seems to be waning quite a bit these days. This could be the result of the economic crisis or it could be that many bloggers felt that they got a lousy ROI from contests.

I have run a few contests on this and other blogs. By and large I would say they were failures. I have learned from my mistakes and I figured that I could fill in some space on this blog by telling you about some of them.

One of the most common mistakes is giving away something that nobody wants. I found a good example of this at Six Different Ways. There may be a few people who would want something that may damage your wall, door or the product if removed.

I have held two separate contests that had ‘mystery prizes’ and it seems that people don’t like surprises. I had one entrant for the first contest and zero for the second.

Some people offer fantastic prizes, but ask for a lot in return. Tyler Cruz is giving away PS2s and wide screen monitors, but only to people who become affiliates (downline from him) and earn high revenues.

Personally, I think that cold hard cash is often the best prize. I had a very simple contest a few years back that involved awarding cash (through PayPal) to the first person who congratulated me on reaching a certain web traffic milestone. This was modestly effective because it encouraged frequent visits from the people who had seen the contest details and decided that they wanted to win.

A ‘Same to You’ Plugin

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I was searching for WordPress plugins for my blog today. This one isn’t exactly what I was looking for but I was intrigued by the unwritten sentiment behind it.

Add Nofollow searches for links to large websites that use the ‘nofollow’ tags for external links, and puts the same tag on your links to those sites.

Add Nofollow adds ‘nofollow’ tags to websites like Digg, Reddit, Youtube and other large websites that do the same to you.

I know a few people who think like the author of this plugin, Alan Carr.

I am looking for a plugin or some other quick way to add ‘no follow’ to ALL of my old posts. I am 100% sure that my blog is being penalized by Google for my past participation in certain monetized blogging programs. I browsed through my posts last year and deleted a lot of posts that I would not have written if I wasn’t being paid to do so. The irony is that there are dozens and dozens of posts that do not stand out as being paid reviews. My blog is still indexed by Google and my posts still show up prominently on search queries. I think Google basically just takes the Page Rank number that is spit out by their logarithm and subtracts an arbitrary number (3?). Adding ‘no follow’ to all my outgoing links would make things right, I think.