Why I Quit Private Facebook Groups

03.30.12

secret_open_closed_facebook_group

24 hours ago I was a member of approximately 20 private or secret Facebook groups. Some of the groups revolved around mom blogging, others were for Stumbleupon, others were regional and others weren’t particularly homogenous, we just happened to “know” each other.

I logged onto Facebook on my birthday and had the standard notes from friends, real friends, but I noticed that the folks in my groups were wishing Lady Gaga a happy birthday.

Because ya know, Lady Gaga is as real to them as I am.

I took a look at what those groups offered me as far as traffic, comments, social capital or inbound links and I realized there was a void. So I left. I left each and every Facebook group that’s not required as part of a job. I couldn’t even be offended because the folks in these groups aren’t my friends, they’re not even Facebook friends. We’re not obligated to one another in any manner. For the most part we don’t share common interests other than a career of relentless self promotion.

Secret groups of friends or family might work well on Facebook but I haven’t experienced one yet. Regional groups where you’re planning events together could make a lot of sense. Maybe planning a sports team or a party. I imagine that planning a wedding or a family reunion might be made much easier with a secret Facebook group but I found that by being a part of of them being a blogger was limiting.

Although there are great exchanges of knowledge and tips people probably wouldn’t share with the world there is also a lot of “support”. Support typically comes in the form of leaving comments on someone’s blog, submitting their site to StumbleUpon or thumbing up one of their posts. Support can also be tweeting their post or sharing it on Facebook. Support is awesome when the content is good and compelling and I love to share great posts with people but support has little value if you’re in the same tiny circles. People notice and people tune out.

What happened for me is that I felt compelled to read and share blogs that didn’t resonate with me. Sometimes I shared their posts but most often I did not. I wasn’t valuable to the group because it would take a very special writer to get me to share their brand sponsored post with you. When I did share posts from within these groups they didn’t resonate with you, my real community. Great writing discoveries don’t happen in small groups. Great writing discoveries happen when you cull the internet and read outside your own niche.

One of the many reasons I love Stumbleupon is the randomness of the sites that pop up. I love images and write ups of cars almost as much as I love discovering open source software or silk shirts. I assure you no closed group will provide this bounty of content. Facebook will provide diversity as well as twitter and google plus, but by sequestering myself in small groups I was wasting my most valuable non renewable resource, my time… and yours.

So I quit everything private and I’m back to diversity of content.

Growing Your Blog Traffic

10.14.11

This morning I read a post about how to get more traffic. It’s a good post, and like any blog post it’s a good beginning. Because blogs are short… they’re so short that blog isn’t even the word, they were Web Logs but bloggers can’t even be bothered to have seven letters and a space involved.

I digress. Everyone wants to know how to get more traffic to their site.

I don’t know with great authority, no one does. I know that if you try to do what someone else is doing it won’t work.

I can’t be like Ciaran because only one person can be Momfluential. I can’t be like Debbie because if I said Throat Punch it would be weird. I don’t disagree with Helen Jane, but she’s a vague about how to create that train wreck.

I might have hyperlinked back to those women because they have significant audiences and my hope is that my link baiting them they’ll share this post with their audiences.

I can help you avoid pitfalls that I’ve personally experienced.

Giveaways are incredibly time consuming and will not bring you a community or readers. You’ll get passers by who are unlikely to read you again.

Images are a great way for people to find you and should be well named. I do not use images because I’m slow to learn.

Do not automate twitter to share every post. The only person who can break this rule is Guy Kawasaki. I don’t know why Guy can overshare and no one else can, I just know that’s how it works.

Don’t join a StumbleUpon group. Those kids at StumbleUpon are smarter than any blogger, their algorithm will start ignoring you and StumbleUpon traffic is so delightful you wouldn’t want to lose that.

Don’t reprint a press release. It doesn’t count as quality content and I’m not visiting your site to get the same content that 2,000 other bloggers are publishing.

The things that you can do to get readers:

Tell people you’re a blogger. Add a signature to your emails.

Generously share other people’s content on your social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. Share different stuff on each channel.

Say something outrageous, memorable or poignant. Make your audience love your community.

Write every day, or as close as you can.

Respect your audience and don’t bullshit them about loving a product that no one in their right mind could love.

Above all else every blogger should know that they’re incredibly privileged that anyone wants to read anything they’ve written. Assume your audience is smarter than you are and never pander to them or to advertisers. People want, and deserve, honest writing that you can’t get from a glossy sell out space.

Don’t be an asshole. People will read.

The Power of StumbleUpon

01.6.11

This week I had the unique opportunity to see the combined power of Stumbleupon and good content. A friend had recently launched a website, and it had the predictable number of visitors. Zero.

Well, maybe not zero, but close enough so that you know it was only a few friends and family reading the site. This is a pretty typical scenario with a personal blog launch.

I’ve known Mike for 25 years, and I know he’s a gifted guitarist and that the music community would enjoy his site, so I submitted it to Stumbleupon with the following comment:

This is a great site for any music lover, particularly for guitarists, maybe bass guitar?

And then I tagged with the following: cyberculture, guitar, music, weblogs. Apparently the folks in Cyberculture enjoy Mike’s site. It’s been about 23 hours since my original stumble and approximately 13,000 views for Mike.

Stumbleupon Jessica Gottlieb

It’s great to be able to send traffic to a friend, and 13,000 views is nice, but it’s not the most traffic the web has ever seen. What’s nice is that Mike sent me a graphic of his web stats, and you can really see how Stumbleupon has clearly been the driving force of traffic to a new site.

Mike Cornelison site stats

Keep in mind that as of this writing another 200 people have thumbed the site up, which means that there is good content. I can submit sites for days, but if the content is missing then no one’s going to care.

If you’d like an introduction to Stumbleupon I wrote one that you might enjoy, but if you’re already using Stumbleupon you might want to hone your skills with this post.

Tech Talk Tuesday: Mommy Blogging Toolbar

05.12.09

I’ve been a little lax in my Technical Tuesday posts. Here’s the thing, what seems uninteresting and rote to me, just might be interesting to you. Understand that I am the woman who wants nothing more than to get into the Wolfram Alpha because I’m fascinated by Rene Descartes and his ability to “discover” the Cartesian Square.

Yes, I am that nerdy.

To my credit, I also can recognize the value of a sexy pair of heels, iron a shirt like nobody’s business and feed a family of four an organic yummy meal for $5 or less. Yes, I’m a Mommy Blogger, I cast a wide net.

I use Firefox to surf the net, I know people like Safari and IE, but I don’t. I have both installed and I check my sites from time to time using a Mac and the other browsers. I rely on Firefox, and though I know this slows the process, I rely on add ons. My connection speed may be compromised by microseconds, but I don’t have to search for programs and utilities. Long term, the adds ons save me time.

toolbar-screenshot

From Left to Right, top to bottom I’ll list and link to what I use.

I am forever adding applications, feeds and addons. What is pictured today, has delighted me today. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I heartily recommend everything pictured. Especially NAG.

Firefox by Mozilla: It’s the best way to surf the web.

Reddit: It’s really great if you are into politics, especially libertarian stuff.

Fireshot: The perfect addon. You can capture the screen and edit it all in their cloud. I’ve used it here.

gMail: Google’s cloud based email. It’s highly searchable, easy to create filters, and yes, I realize that I have 923 unread email messages. *le yawn*

Facebook: If you don’t add content to facebook it’s like picking up the telephone without speaking.

My own RSS feed: I want to see what you see.

Delicious: I don’t use this as much as I should, but Delicious is a great way to keep interesting content well organized.

POPrl: Do you want to know what works and why? Then get this and use it. Trust me. Here’s a link to the feed for my posts.

Compete: Yes, I want to know about your traffic, and I do know. When y’all are talking about how smart/stupid/relevant/irrelevant I am, I do check compete and respond accordingly. I’m more polite in big crowds.

StumbleUpon: I love StumbleUpon and you’ll see part one and part two of how to use it here.

What am I missing? What is your essential addon? Remember the addons do slow things down, so make sure that they’re worth it. These are the addons that I reach for several times every hour.

Tech Tips Tuesday: Stumbleupon 101 Signup

02.3.09

More than once you’re probably had an email from me saying, “I didn’t leave you a comment but I loved your post and stumbled it.”

Oftentimes a post or a site will grab my attention and I don’t have anything to add to the conversation, but still I’d like to share the discovery with a few (million) people.

I do this for a number of reasons: (more…)