Thoughts on Instagram

I have recently started using Instagram, actually after a webinar I watched at work where the librarians were talking about what a great social media space it was. They had a lot of success with being found, with getting constant interactions on posts, and with being able to ask questions and get answers. Well, that all sounded pretty good. So I gave it a look.

So far I have really enjoyed Instagram. It doesn’t get spammed to the extent that something like Tumblr does, so I can in a few minutes scroll through and see everything that’s posted for the day. It’s visual like Tumblr is, though, so it’s easier and better for scrolling through and checking out on the fly than I have found Twitter or the WordPress Reader to be.

How do they pull this off? Well, for starters, there’s no sharing. At least, not that I’ve figured out yet – I do see the occasional “re-gram” with a little share symbol and username in the corner of the image. Not sure how that’s done, but it’s pretty rare. Unlike a space like Tumblr, where sharing is the majority of the activity. You can like and comment, both of which being closest to something like Facebook in terms of use and visibility. However, some things in posts or comments don’t work – like websites. No hyperlink. So it discourages going in and linkdumping – unlike Twitter, where that’s almost the whole deal.

So it’s a visual space that’s there for others to experience and interact with. And really, I’ve had more success there with interaction than on other social media accounts. Things on the Facebook Page almost never get seen. Tweets rarely get any likes or shares. Tumblr doesn’t see much action. Indeed, in a couple of months I have as many Instagram followers as Tumblr followers, and the latter account is over a year older. In other words, it ended up really being what was advertised to me: a fun space with good interaction.

So let me run down a couple of things I have discovered regarding how Instagram plays with my whole suite of other social media accounts, to give you a more complete picture of how it works!

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If we were having coffee… back to work edition

Librarian MugIf we were having coffee, I’d probably talk about being back at work this week. And how it was weird. For periods, I could get caught up in work and forgot everything else. At other times, I was so overcome by exhaustion it was impossible not to remember why

It was hard being away. I think that’s probably something parents everywhere can sympathize with. So maybe over coffee you’d be offering that sympathy, that empathy, with me. And then we’d probably wonder what we were doing sitting around drinking coffee when there are kids to be with…

But the coffee’s not finished, so we keep drinking.

I’d probably talk about blogging some. About how great the guest posts have been on Comparative Geeks, and how they’ll keep running for weeks yet. About how we haven’t figured out working blogging back into our lives yet, and the guest posts are so great to help us with that. Though I would mention I pulled off a post on Sourcerer this week…

I’d talk about this blog, as well. About how I’m coming up on a year’s worth of Wordless Wednesdays, and how it’s time to think about doing something different with it. Maybe sharing some sketches. Which means I need to get sketching.

I’m thinking that a graphic novel or webcomic is in my near future. And that, having not found an artist, I may be needing to do that… So I need practice. And this seems like the place to showcase some of that. Well… here or Tumblr. Actually, Tumblr seems like the right place. I’d ask what you think – here or Tumblr?

Thanks for coffee.

Check out all the coffee posts on the linkup thanks to Part-Time Monster!

What to do about Mondays?

I ran this poll in a post recently, but I thought I would highlight it and see if I could get more responses. Please vote if you are interested!

I think that Meme Monday is not going very far. It does not get many views, or likes, or comments. The memes, once shared on Tumblr, tend not to go very far (though a few have gotten a few likes and reblogs). Overall, it’s work for not much result. And I have succeeded at the initial test with my Features: I have worked them into my weekly flow, I have increased the number of posts on the site, and people are reading/viewing/interacting with the posts.

Well, especially the Wednesday post, anyway.

So I am thinking a new Feature for Monday, thus the poll! Let me know what you would like to see from the blog, here, and I’ll see what I can’t do to deliver!

One Month of Features – Thoughts!

Yesterday I talked about the stats difference from doing Features on a regular basis. As these things go, when you post more frequently, you get more views! It’s like science.

However, I have some more direct learning and thoughts after a month worth of Features. Even if the stats say “doing features is good!” what does that really mean – and do I need to keep up with these same features? A few questions to consider!

Learning More about WordPress

So the first thing that really happened when I started to work on setting up Features was that I started learning more about WordPress. I found a couple of things in particular. One is a setting that makes it so people can like and share posts directly from the Home Page/Archives Scroll. For the Photo Blogging I have been doing, this is a big step, I think – there is no reason someone really needs to click into these posts; they can read and/or see everything from the home page.

I considered this when it comes to Comparative Geeks, as well. However, while we have been writing a bit of shorter posts lately (after what we learned in the A to Z Challenge), most of them still use the “More” separator, to keep the home page from being massive, to hide spoilers, and just generally because it’s how we write and present our posts. So people need to click into them to get the whole thing anyway – so the liking and interacting can all be “hidden” there, without it being troublesome. But with these simple photo posts, no reason to add steps!

Another thing I have found out is that Tweets with line breaks don’t get picked up in the feed on WordPress, so most of my Six Word Story posts haven’t shown up here. So I probably shouldn’t post them like this:

[tweet https://twitter.com/dbc_ii/status/484861322706698240]

The other thing I learned is that there is a Screen Options menu, hidden away on every post you work on!

Screen Options

If, like me, you’ve never noticed/clicked that before, give it a go! Here you can pick which additional menus or options you have to work with, below your post. For instance, you can write a custom Excerpt for the WordPress Reader or RSS feeds – something I have seen other blogs do, but had no idea how to do myself! It also includes the options for manually turning comments, trackbacks and pingbacks, etc. on and off. Or for choosing who the author on a post is! So many options! That I had no idea about. Fellow WordPress bloggers: give this a look!

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Sorry for my absence! Blogging, Contributing, and #SixWordStory

Well, I can’t believe over a month has passed since the end of the A to Z Challenge! It’s been a busy one for me, with lots of blogging, but it probably doesn’t look like it here! I felt I needed to take a moment, after finding new readers and connections through A to Z, to talk about what I’ve been up to!

My main blog, that takes my most time and interaction, is Comparative Geeks. I post there three times a week, and after the A to Z Challenge over there, we had a lot of catching up to do on things. I think I’m approaching caught up to the present, or at least only a couple of weeks out from the movie I am highlighting this week – X-Men: Days of Future Past. So we’re almost stable again there.

I’ve been working on growing the related Tumblr for Comparative Geeks, with one post queued up for every day. That, along with the blog posts, means there should be TWO posts there most days! Granted, half of them are shares from other people’s stuff, but those are good too. I have shared a few of the more original memes or images I have put together, and those definitely are more successful, or at least the notifications track back to us! If you’re on Tumblr, give us a look and a follow!

I’ve also started contributing to a blog – I’ve shared a bit on that here. It’s a good feeling to have someone else accepting and sharing your work, to have new readers look at it, and also to work on integrating with the content and posts on that blog. Hopefully you like what I write there – trying not to just do my same sort of posts, but to mix it up. Much like my posts here end up quite different from my posts on Comparative Geeks! You can find my contributions and more over on Sourcerer!

My wife and I were also asked to contribute on another blog, but this is already filling up my weeks quite a bit. That’s four nights that I tend to be doing blogging, a fifth night where I am working a freelance job (the proceeds from which I use to pay for a lot of the games/movies/books/comics that we discuss on Comparative Geeks!), and that’s five days. I’m also working six days a week between two jobs, you add in serving on two non-profit boards, a little bit of church and volunteership, some social media, and I don’t have a lot of week left. I would like to do more contributing, but I think I need to add these sorts of things one-at-a-time.

The other impact, unfortunately, is that I really have not had/taken time to do much of any writing here, nor much of any fiction. And if I am going to fit more into my busy life, will it be blog posts here? Contributing to blogs elsewhere? Or writing fiction? I don’t know.

Well, we did a little bit of writing on Saturday, on Twitter with the hashtag SixWordStory: Read more of this post

B – Blog

When I was in college, and answering the question of “what I wanted to do when I grew up,” my answer was inevitably writer or author or something of the type. The follow-up question became “do you have a blog?” Blogs had become the big thing, of a sudden, it seemed. I had written some travel stories, mainly, in a Live Journal… I had joined others in creating fiction on forums… Social Media was just catching its stride with the advent of Facebook… I had competed in NaNoWriMo… but no, I did not have a blog.

After college, there were a number of years where I did little or no writing, and it was during these years it might have been nice to have had a blog. However, even as I started my Master’s and they had us create a blog (the very foundations of this blog here), I did not use this for the writing I could have been doing. You can see a big gap in the archives from the blog’s start, in 2009, and when I later took a course on blogging that had me blogging more in earnest.

B

However, a blog is really more of a delivery method, and also an interface. It’s not a driving force in-and-of itself. Having a blog does not make one write. You can see this in any number of blogs which start up, have some steam, and then just lose it and disappear. Honestly, this blog has looked like that at a number of points in its lifetime.

So the question asking me if I had a blog was like asking if I used Word, or if I shared my fiction on Facebook. It’s about getting known and presence, or about where and how you write. I hope now that people are forming this question more carefully when they ask young students, so they don’t just feel dumb for not having a blog. Because having a blog does not make you a writer. Writing does. Having something to write is what helps you write. And, if you figure out what that something is and it happens to be a blog, make a blog. Look for the right place to blog. I still hold that someday I am going to write fiction and put it on Tumblr. But holding the Tumblr real-estate down has not made me write the stories.

It’s the overall audience-finding, content-creator connection to content-consumer aspect of a blog which is powerful for a writer, and these sorts of benefits can come from good branding and a good social media presence in general. Twitter can be huge, and lots of writers are hanging out there, waiting for you to read their books. Should you have a blog? Maybe. I think the main answer I would give is have a blog if you’re going to write the blog: a blog without content is a webpage. You should maybe have one of those. And blogging, as a public, interactive thing, brings along interactive, social media elements that are important. But be ready for that.

What do you think? Do you need to have a blog as a writer? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Searching Social Media

So an interesting question came up and I learned something. And maybe you can help.

How do you search social media?

Hashtags were added by users – and later adopted by the companies, and have been a growing thing. From their start on Twitter, you can now see and use them on Google+, Tumblr, Facebook, and other places. And of course, there’s the tags on blogs and other things that are user-generated attempts at keywords and searchability. However, even if we assume that what you are looking for are posts where users are self-defining their content – say, with the upcoming Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle this weekend (#eccc) – how do you best search these things?

So with the question came this link, so I can’t say I found it myself: http://guides.library.cornell.edu/socialmedia They don’t necessarily have all the answers, but they did post the important question: Twitter only has the last 10 days searchable! Living in a 140-character world may be bad, but living in a world with a ten-day life-span? That’s really rough. 

 

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