Building a Blogging Community Through Social Media – With Examples

Let’s face it, as much fun as it is to write, and to blog, and to think about the fact that your ideas are public, published, out there… you want readers too. Readers who enjoy what you write, or interact with what you write, or share what you write… or even better, all of the above.

Through the social aspects of blogging, how it works, and realizing we should do for other bloggers what we want done for us… the best followers you will have on a blog are likely going to be other bloggers. With a WordPress blog, for instance, it’s people with WordPress accounts who can “like” your post… who can follow your blog with a click of a button, and then read your posts in their WordPress reader. WordPress – like other blogging communities, like Tumblr – does a great job of letting you connect and share with other bloggers.

So last week I blogged about how I am considering some changes on Comparative Geeks and while informational and data changes like I proposed and discussed can do a bit to network better with other WordPress blogs, there are more channels out there we need to hit as well, and which have different sorts of purposes and users. Though also of course a lot of overlap! But let me look through the Social Media avenues we are using, or considering, to look at some folks I see doing this well, and how we might use it in the future.

Facebook Page

I’ve recently heard the Facebook Page called the “Fan Page” and in some ways, that makes some sense. It’s a way to connect to people who aren’t bloggers, and push some of that material. A way you, and they, can share your posts. And, with a little extra work, you can share others’ work as well. So let’s consider this in a few parts.

Mobile App and Us

So my wife and I both do most of our Facebook reading on our iPhones now, through the App. It’s a good way to just scroll through posts, see what’s going on in peoples’ lives. Like and comment real quick if you want. Yes, it’s a drive-by approach to keeping in touch with people, but in some ways I feel more connected to many people on Facebook than I would without it – because I probably still wouldn’t write or be in touch, you know? So it’s something. And hey, they’ve worked the messaging system in pretty well, and we use that to discuss with friends.

However, the App does not handle pages and such well at all. Once we start looking at Comparative Geeks content, it considers us to be Comparative Geeks – so if we like something, suddenly it is the page liking it, rather than us personally. Or commenting, it’s the page replying. Sometimes we want to do this, sometimes we don’t; but it means there are far more times we would interact with what we’re doing on Facebook than we do now, because they haven’t made it easy. And by the time we might be at a computer, we’ve forgotten or moved on.

We’ve also stopped sharing most of our posts on our personal Facebook pages; I guess it’s the thought that the people who wanted to read our posts have, by now, liked the page and get the feed that way? Maybe we should keep sharing them, I don’t know. But that’s not easy to do on the App at all.

And they do have a “Pages” App that helps you manage your page, or add content there – but it does not function as a reader, so we can’t, for instance, use it to share what we’re reading on other pages. And we’re usually not wanting to create content on our phone – just share it.

Facebook Pages I Like

So most blog-related Facebook pages I see are pretty much like ours: links to the blog posts, being pushed through something like Publicize. So I don’t know that we need to do too much more with Facebook to be doing it just like how others do.

However, there are a few other pages I do like, actual Fan Pages where they’re putting up fun content all the time, and I would like to share some of their great geeky things on our page more.

  • For instance, there’s Doctor Who and the T.A.R.D.I.S. which, while it mostly has Doctor Who related materials, also has some mixed-fandom materials, or general pro-geek material that would fit the theme of our blog well. And rather than co-opt their material, I just want to share it on our Facebook.
  • More recently I’ve discovered Gaming Geeks Etc. who mainly do Dungeons and Dragons and general roleplaying humor, but again, with some material that would be great to share on the blog page. It seems like this is a whole group of friends posting things, and they sign their names to the posts, so you get a variety of senses of humor, and a whole lot of content. Fun page, you should check it out if that’s your cup of tea. Or flagon of grog.

And of course, there’s sharing some of the other blog posts we read, or the ones we link to… that’s the sort of networking that could be done through Facebook. And a way to use that space in a way that is unique to Facebook, ads value to people following us there, and can draw in new “likes” from the people we’re sharing from, or their readers.

My wife has found that it looks like – because Facebook reverts us to the Page when we interact with it – if we use the share option on the App to share to the page, it posts it as Comparative Geeks. So it looks like what I want to do may very well actually work – so it’s time to start doing so!

Tumblr

So thinking of the Facebook Pages I like, what they have in common is that they have a lot of visual, fandom materials. And while this is interspersed randomly on Facebook with politics and baby pictures, on Tumblr, this is like all of my feed. Tumblr is a fantastic visual space, at least I have found, as I scroll through and check out people’s art and gifs, and scroll right on past their text.

Which means, we didn’t necessarily set up a Tumblr for Comparative Geeks… at least not until quite recently. Because ours is a blog of text, really, where we include pictures… not a visual blog with words. However, I’ve seen someone who had the latter really take off on Tumblr, so it’s something of a case for finding the right blogging platform for you.

Son of Public Domain

So one of the earliest bloggers that we interacted with on Comparative Geeks was Michael Allan Leonard of Public Domain. A comic artist, who enjoyed blogging about comics and including lots of memes and images, his page and posts were always visually complex.

However, he set up a Tumblr, Son of Public Domain, and that has really taken off. He’s posting all the time. The visual space that is Tumblr just works well with what he does.

Mobile App and Us

For us, it is again a case of having these great things in our feeds, and wanting to be able to share them as well. Tumblr has, in my opinion, a far better App and useable interface than Facebook. It lets you easily select which of your various Tumblr blogs to share to, and that is what we’re looking for. Because again, it’s not a space where we would be creating content, but sharing others’.

It also looks like they’ve added some internal aspects that show who the original poster of content is, at it starts Tumbling off into the blog-o-sphere. That’s nice, for getting people the credit they deserve. But that’s what’s great about sharing on Tumblr – it’s expected and what you’re kind of supposed to be doing, and it gives the links out to show who the content came from. It’s absolutely built for sharing.

And we do have a few images we’ve created over time, and we’d like to do more of this – so we’ll share those on the Tumblr page as well and get that moving hopefully around as well. That would get us – or you if you’re considering this outlet – some likes, followers, and attention. Because sharing is expected on Tumblr, I’m hoping we can see some of our blog posts shared around too, and just generally get us out there more. Thus why we’re moving in that direction.

Twitter

So I have not done a lot to cultivate or grow my Twitter accounts, to be honest – nor has my wife. She uses hers to share blog posts and news stories (well, blog news stories) that she finds and likes, and I use mine to throw out my random thoughts and fandom mashups. And because we each have one, we each share our individual blog posts through it.

So one big question is, do we need one main Twitter for the blog itself? I don’t know that we would do much of anything on it except have it push our blog posts. As such, what purpose does it serve to do this? Well, for one thing, it could be the feed on something like Tumblr… although if we push the blog posts through Publicize there, we don’t need a Twitter feed with the same info. However, I haven’t figured out having both of our feeds show up on Tumblr… so I guess scrap that idea. And we could have the one feed show on the blog… except with no unique content, and with Publicize not showing pushed posts on WordPress (a feature I love), would there be any content to this Twitter to show? So I guess, the jury is out.

Despite our personal questions and wondering and passive use of Twitter, I am seeing some very active and very interesting uses of Twitter going on, so let me share some of these with you.

@Sourcererblog and Lists

So a function I had never really tried out on Twitter – but now that I’ve seen it, something I may look into more for, say, being able to read the feeds I really want to – is lists. I’ve found out about lists by being added to a few – all by the same couple of bloggers, who are working very hard to build community and network with other bloggers. Find them listed over on their flagship blog, Sourcerer. And please, really do. They have been doing a great job of connecting bloggers with other bloggers, so check out and like and follow this blog yourself, to start joining this growing work.

But I digress, since I am in particularly thinking of their recent work on Twitter. Along with Twitter standards like #FollowBack and #FF (Follow Friday), they have been building their lists. Lists like Friendly Bloggers, and Geekery. I have not fully gone through and done what I really ought to – follow these bloggers, and grow my own following.

Twitter absolutely functions where the more of a type you have – following or followers – the more that you get recommended to others like that. It certainly groups people together with similarities, but when you’re spreading, say, your blog – that’s a good thing. More people who might click on through and read your posts.

So check out those lists, check out those bloggers, and if you’re working on growing your Twitter community – take a look at the lists! Build some of your own, and network with people that way.

YouTube

Early on with Comparative Geeks, I tried out doing a video on the blog, to see how it went. Answer: not so well. Up to a whopping 23 views and no responses – where my whole point was that I was asking a question and wanting input – and I just didn’t see the payoff. We’re also just not sure that putting our faces out there and doing things like this are what we want to be doing.

However, doing a couple – maybe for the intro pages – might not be terrible. I’m thinking of ways to use YouTube. To do just a bit. But I know that doing heavy video editing can take a lot of work – I made a couple of anime music videos back in the day, with one I’m really proud of and that’s full of Final Fantasy spoilers. But oh man, so much work. Do we want to do this sort of thing for the blog?

I don’t know that I have an example here of a blog doing a lot of YouTube material as well. However, we’ve talked about a number of YouTube channels that we like, and watch a lot – like SourceFed and SourceFed Nerd, The Fine Bros, HISHE, CinemaSins, and Geek & Sundry. However, the amount of work they have going on is something different from a blog – they have revenue, and sponsors, and staff. We have two people and some free time. So really, it’s very different from what we’re doing. So instead, let me know in the comments: do you use YouTube with your blog? Or have you thought about doing so?

A particular kudos to Geek & Sundry, who recently got picked up by Hulu and now have some of their old seasons of shows on Hulu, like TableTop. This is a big step towards the growth and acceptance of YouTube, YouTube Channels, and the idea of YouTube Channels having shows, seasons, and episodes. Check out Wil Wheaton’s video announcement.

Google+

I have less to say then about Google+. We’ve ended up with only one Google+ account, however, it’s still treated as an “individual” rather than as a “Page” like Facebook does it. Here we really pretty much do just share our posts, since we have a number of friends who use Google+ instead of Facebook, and they actually do a pretty great job of reading our posts. I don’t know what more I would do with this space.

So another question to you: what else would you do with Google+? What are you doing with it?

I know that there are Communities, and this may be the way to go – except I feel like we would need a much larger following for this to be useful, and it would take a lot more interaction. I am using a Google+ community to help teach a MOOC (massively open online course), but that’s a conversation for another day and another blog post.

WordPress and Blogging

So back, I guess, where I started. WordPress. Using the platform we are on like Social Media, and using the things we do on the blog to build community. We are not so interested in building community as to majorly change what we’re doing on the blog. However, we’ve made minor changes – such as no longer doing many of our “Trailer Watch” posts, as they didn’t have a lot of readers. We also asked readers for input as we celebrated our One Year Anniversary – feel free to give us some thoughts there as well!

There are of course blogging awards, as well, such as the Liebster Award which we won last year. This is a great way for blogs to connect with each other, to read each other and all. So for one thing, we could travel down the rabbit hole of the blogs we nominated, and then the ones they nominated, and on from there… follows, commenting, connecting with people through these lines.

Another idea is participating in blogging events – such as the upcoming A-to-Z Challenge. We’ve been building ideas for this, trying to figure out what we’d like to do, what we’d like to call it. With our popular Character Studies, for instance, a character a day for a month? It’s an idea. We also like the pattern for this challenge – a post a day for a month, with Sundays off – that’s our normal blogging schedule. We have a couple of non-challenge posts to do that month, but for the most part, we’re thinking April will be a challenge month.

And there’s plenty else to be considered there, like the MetaData I talked about last week, and more I’ll talk about and consider in the weeks to come. For now, this was a long blog post, and thank you for reading to this point if you have! Make sure to check out my many links on this post, and find maybe some like-minded bloggers, some community-growing folks, and some ideas for your own blogging!

Cheers!

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About CompGeekDavid
Co-founder, editor, podcaster, web comicer, forum moderator, and writer for Comparative Geeks. Father, husband, geek, nerd, gamer, librarian, Christian, Libertarian, Science Fiction philosopher, and probably a number of other descriptors.

5 Responses to Building a Blogging Community Through Social Media – With Examples

  1. So I looked at Google+ after writing this post… They have indeed added a function for creating a Page. Is this a worthwhile space, or are we serving our purpose at the moment with our posts being publicized on a page that technically has my name attached to it? After all, Google+ isn’t built for sharing quite as well as other social media spaces.

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  2. Gene'O says:

    Wow. You’ve given me a lot to think about here. I don’t use my G+ all that often. Usually, what I do is go and give lots of +1s to people I follow and share some things. Diana’s blog posts to my G+ account every time she publishes.

    The way I am thinking we will handle Tumblr is, just keep doing what we are doing until we meet just the right person who loves Tumblr the way I love WordPress. Then either give them access to our Tumblr feed, or use publicize to update theirs, and build from there. I don’t think Diana and I are ever going to make headway on Tumblr on our own. We don’t have enough friends there, and don’t have the time and energy to put into figuring that network out.

    Questions – Is this a blog you’re keeping on the DL, or is it ok for me to add it to blogrolls and think about reblogging?

    I’m so happy you understand what I’m trying to do. The community building is a serious thing for me.

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    • Hi Gene, sorry I missed this comment! So I guess a couple of things.

      First, yeah, not sure where G+ is going, so if one platform really deserves to go on the backburner, it would be that.

      Second, and I should do a full post about this… Tumblr has actually been pretty good so far. I think it has driven more views (based on what I am seeing in my WordPress stats) than Twitter did. At least, at first and initially. Twitter, it’s more about reaching your followers and interacting with them. But on Tumblr, people are finding us based on our keywords all the time! We’re getting likes from people who don’t follow us, and a few follows, so it’s exciting.

      Meanwhile, as to this blog, it is older than Comparative Geeks, and as part outlet and part portfolio, I keep it up. I hope I write some worthwhile things, and more importantly need to get better about sharing other people’s worthwhile things, but I am unconcerned. This blog gets around 2% of the views Comparative Geeks does… But if you want to blogroll it, by all means.

      Question back to you… would it be cool if I reblog some of your posts? For this blog, I’m thinking especially some stuff from the Writing Catalog (http://gno112.wordpress.com/ for anyone else reading this comment – good stuff).

      Actually, given that WordPress gives us stats for clicks out… do you see people using your blogrolls much?

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      • Gene'O says:

        No, people don’t use my blogrolls much. There was a time when people used them to hop from one blog to the other, but I think readers have killed the blog-hopping from blogrolls. I think these days, blogrolls are mostly for the people who own the blogs. They’re a good way to keep up with people you need to be looking in on, and a good way to give a recommendation. I don’t think readers really use them. I know I don’t. But I do look at blogrolls when I discover new blogs to see who we might have in common, and to get an idea about the other blogger’s interests. So, they are important.

        Totally cool if you reblog anything I post. If I don’t want people to share it, I don’t post it.

        Tumblr – we do get a lot of keyword hits, especially from things like Doctor Who and Hunger Games. But, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a lot, and it only happens when the tags are really popular. The Twitter is performing better for me at this point, traffic -wise. Every time I press the publish button, I can count on two or three Twitter hits. Sometimes I get 10 or 15 from Tumblr, but then I might get nothing from Tumblr for 10 days.

        I do think Tumblr has potential, possibly more than Twitter, I just don’t have the resources to figure it out at the moment, nor a collaborator who really knows how to network there (which is honestly what I think it’s going to take).

        Saw you comment from a few minutes ago on the post that worked. I might need to think about that one for a day or two.

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  3. Gene'O says:

    Just re-read this. There’s lots packed into it. On G+: Early on, we thought about creating G+ pages, but we couldn’t figure out how to get the blogs to update the pages instead of our profiles. We just sort of dropped it.

    I do think you have the foundation for a community (I think of myself as a member of your community at this point).

    You only need a Twitter account for Comparative Geeks if you plan to make it active. if all you do is connect the blog to it and tweet links, it isn’t worth the time you’d spend setting it up, in my opinion. The way I’ve had the modest success I’ve had with Twitter recently is by being active there. I Tweet content updates and planning questions to Jeremy and Diana and use hashtags like #wordpress, #blogs, #blogging, #writers, etc. We’ve moved quite a bit of the planning discussions we started out having by email and private chat to Twitter, because there’s no reason not to talk about that stuff in public, and it interests other creative people. I also tweet at least one shout-out a week, try to give at least 10 or 12 follow Fridays, and tweet a link to Monday Blogs every Monday for one blogger who is outside our little circle – usually it is the best post I can find that day. And I acknowledge mentions as often as I can.

    All that seems to be working, but it does take a bit of my time. It seems as though when I’m tweeting real conversation that’s hastagged for people who share my interests, I pick up followers. When I just let it run on cruise control for a day or two, I don’t. So, you may be better off to just keep things set up the way you have them. The reason I have a dedicated account for Sourcerer is that I plan, in a year’s time, to have that account Tweeting 10 or 12 hours out of the day. I’ll be the only one who uses it for real conversations, because I don’t want to confuse people, but three or four other folks will have access to the account so they can tweet links for bloggers, do RTs, etc.

    It’s also useful because I’m working with multiple blogs. Both Part Time Monster and Sourcerer publicize to most of my social media channels, but I don’t publicize to Diana’s. We set it up that way from the beginning, and I feel as though we made the right decision. PTM is really the flagship at this stage. Even though those two blogs have generated about the same number of views in the same amount of time, PTM has a lot more followers, and the discussion threads at the monster have been better from day 1. At some point, we do want Sourcerer to be the center of gravity for a community, and Sourcerer to publicize to PTM’s channels, but it’s going to take us quite awhile to get there.

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