Why Social Signals You Cultivate Are Valuable

Being social takes effort and if you really commit to the “time sink” that is social media, you will understand just how long you are going to have to chase and refine what you do in order to win.

Winning is subjective in that one person’s win in social media, is another person’s fail, it depends on your goals, and whether you’ve selected the right ones.

I list here some ideas on where time is sunk, to give you more of a wake up call. You should never hand over your hard work so easily. It is not something you should do without serious thought on what you receive in return.

Why Social Signals You Cultivate Are Valuable

It should be obvious why on the face of it but in order to explore this idea further I’ve broken this article down into some key areas;

  • Attraction
  • Cheating (which is referred to as “gaming”)
  • Loyalty
  • Approach
  • Exodus (going beyond just a lack of social retention)
  • Momentum

 

Making the Share Attractive

Is where most people on social media spend 90% of their time. Social media is based around “signals”, a concept you will see me refer to a lot in this article. In order to conform to attractiveness there are lots of hoops to jump to put your audience at ease.

• Visually attractive images
• Eye grabbing titles
• Witty descriptions
• Correctly used hashtags
• Links

Then you need the following to seal the deal;

• Deployment at the correct time
• Rabid followers to push up early numbers

Deployment at the correct time puts you in the right window to gain traction. You need the Rabid followers (your circle of common engagers) to bump up the numbers so that your item will appear in the wider viewing sphere.

• You can further endow social share with cash, cold hard cash. Facebook, Twitter and all the big platforms give you a bigger bite at a wider audience with your hard earned doubloons.

Everything snowballs from there (but only if it is good). You could spend the advertising money on something that is actually terrible, so whilst you might get views, you won’t get signals. Signals are what you want. Signals means shares, shares mean visitors, visitors means subscribers, subscribers means direct traffic, direct traffic means potential income stream, but definitely a huge pat on the back from the search engines (which means more traffic).

Engagement is the goal. Not visitors alone.

 

“Gaming” the System

I’ve seen it advertised many times, and there are many third party bolt-ons to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. I would strongly recommend that you stay away from trying to game followers.

Why?

Fact: Gamed followers aren’t “real” followers.

Q: What’s better about a “real” follower?

A: Real followers actually engage with your work, and follow your point of view (but might not always agree with it). These people are real in the sense that you’ve provided them something they like in the past, and that they would do something for you in return as a thank you.

It’s also better you know how to gain friends.

 

All Followers are Fickle – Every Relationship has an Expiry Date

Which is to say that given time, people will abandon you for a number of logical reasons, but may touch base with you in passing again in the future (as long as they didn’t leave for negative reasons).

Social Media is a moving, evolving feast.

You will receive different types of engagers during your journey.

Followers may connect with you purely based on the fact that they are “gaming” their followers. In that case I would recommend that you observe some form of sense-making screen before you allow that connection. Does their association work for you or not? I would say that you should screen all those who connect with you, like you would if this was something you were doing on a personal level.

There are those who have an “expectation” on reciprocity. In other words, they will continue to interact with your work (whether they truly like it or not) as long as you do the same in turn. The ease of that will depend on how much they push out, and for more ‘active’ producers, that intensity might be too much to satisfy. If you stop being their agent (turning in your aid), they’ll stop being your agent but that doesn’t mean they won’t return in future.

  • There will be followers who are genuinely interested in what you are providing and who may be experts themselves. These are the kinds of follower who can be quite helpful for you.
  • You will receive what I class as the ‘drive by’ engager. They stop for one thing and you will never see them again.
  • There are ‘passives’, who you think are stone cold dead, but are actually absorbing a lot of your content without making a lot of noise. These can also be deemed consumers.
  • Followers might appear who are actually there to recycle your hard work. Recycle especially if you are ‘famed’ or have followed a route that has yielded gold. Even the Bigwigs get in on this act.

 

Social Approach

There are many types of engager. The more you do social “right”, the more you attract the “right” kind of engager. It’s not always a matter of it being a dark art either. It is more a method of approach and knowing how to process in a way that looks organic.

Real conversation is important. This exchange identifies where you can talk to someone in a natural way without tripping over on trying to push your agenda, or having an agenda pushed at you. Participation is the aim. If you can recruit people to participate with your universe you can appear to be a successful facilitator. Facilitating will encourage more of the “right” engagers.

The more you are present on social media, the better you do, but conversely the longer you are on social media, the less time you have to perform the work you need to. Hence the “time sink” angle.

Hustling and chasing in engagement does work but you can alienate followers if you micro-manage to a degree where you come across as “pushy”. I was on an email subscription of a blogger, enjoying the man’s work, but he bombarded me each day with information I didn’t really care about, eventually it just was too much and I unsubscribed. Think of any time you’ve unsubscribed from a similar situation.

Smell of Sell

I have an age old saying of “Smell of Sell”. All promotion in social media determines some form of sell. There are many followers who can be turned off by the “Smell of Sell”. This is because in a media rich world, with an advertising saturation, the traditional signals are often ignored or viewed with antipathy.

Taking my Twitter as an example, I try not to be too much of a pedal merchant because it is quite easy to lose people if you push too much of your own old content, or just too much content. You can also lose people if you push too much of other people’s content and none of your own.

That said, social approach is a balancing act. You are an entertainer to a degree, you have to know how to work a crowd.

 

Social Exodus

If you’ve been out too long from appearing “active”, your followers will leave in droves. I’ve done this myself, having left individuals who have “curled up”, and I’ve also been someone who has been inactive for too long, returning to a much reduced follower count. Those engagers who remain are normally; the stalwarts, those who don’t interact very much, those who know you are away, or those who are pedal merchants that always see you as a “mark” regardless of your status.

Social exodus can also happen through saying something stupid that incenses the masses. People may leave in their droves if you go far enough to upset your audience in an “unforgivable” fashion. A social exodus can happen quickly or over a protracted length of time but when the social signals really start to tank, many will vote with their feet.

An exodus event can happen if the bottom falls out of the market you are appealing to, or the platform you are socialising on goes out of business. If you were solely engaged as a video maker on Vid.me, you now have no platform, as an example. Whilst many contributors don’t limit to one platform, many favour a certain platform. If YouTube was to be closed down, think of the potential damage that would have on many YouTubers who depend on the income to keep a shirt on their back.

 

Momentum

Social momentum is an important concept because social signals are a token system that requires your constant vigil. If you should step off the gas pedal at any time and are not ultimately consistent in your endeavour, momentum will fade.

Number attraction is a science and it does work. It works because “cream subjects” float to the top and thus you will have a blinkered, filtered, view of what is popular. Naturally most interested souls will gravitate towards what’s popular. Certain numbers on certain social signals invite large amounts of additional attention. It is the queue mentality. Often people might join a queue, not knowing what is at the end of it, but heading there on the theory that other visitors find it good enough to queue for. Consider social signals like adding another arrow to direct you to the pot of gold. The fact that the pot of gold isn’t as advertised is neither here nor there.

Ahmad Imran – Reasontouse.com

I am hugely envious of my net friend Ahmad Imran, over at reasontouse.com. He has kept ploughing on consistently whilst I have dropped long off the boil, and I am sure that he has the improved number to show for that extended effort.

I do not have that luxury. If anything, I have to start from the start. I’ve lost all of my well-wishers, and all of my decent connections through a protracted absence. I’m only left with a solitary stalwart as far as I am aware.

At least I still have Ahmad there to act as a “smelling salt”, someone who would question me if they weren’t entirely sure they went along with it. It is terrible to have a ‘yes’ man or woman who agrees with everything you do because you can be falsely supported on what you think is right, but which actually turns out to be hokum.

 

In Conclusion

You can see why every effort you make to form your following is so valuable. You have to go through the sweat of everything above. If a corporation retcon’s your followers, you are handing them a free steer, a free bite at your hard work.

Whether these corporations have earned this “free bite” of the cherry depends on what they provide you in return. It also depends on whether you consider what you achieve on the internet to be owned by yourself.

If you looked at a very granular level at everything that occurs behind what you do, you might suddenly realise that in a large part, you are a corporate entity, an agent in an unbelievably large information bureau. The only difference between a tangible world entity is that in the real world you get paid on day one. Working on these free platforms traditionally engenders working for free from the start, and accepting that the platform owns a large part of what you do.

The important point to realise is that these corporations would be nothing without your presence so you should aim to extract the maximum from the arrangement, because ultimately, you are owed it through your own proliferation of information.

Starting a New Blog – Do You Enjoy Blogging?

This is a continuation of a guide to setting up a new blog in January. This article intends to pierce the veil on the most critical element of blogging; whether you enjoy the task of blogging or not.

Do You Enjoy Blogging?

Where does this question sit in the scheme of things? Why Headboy, would you ask such a silly question?

The art of blogging might not be for you.

Notice I say art of blogging?!

Blogging is definitely an art.

It transcends more than just writing. You have to think about a lot more than just the writing.

A blog post always must include;

  • A title that encourages visitors
  • A decent feature image
  • More images within the article
  • An amount of blank space and a reduction in the traditional long stanzas of other media
  • Eye catching breaks and headings
  • Web Links outside and inside
  • A gambit, something that you are trying to achieve by way of directly or indirectly covering a point within the article
  • Social sharing options

Writing is difficult enough in itself. You have to find the optimum way to put your point across without losing the reader along the way.

 

Motivation and Enjoyment are Not Mutually Exclusive

In my recent series, my previous article covered the topic of motivation. Motivation for blogging is a theme that comes up. Actually enjoying blogging is a separate issue, the art of blogging is a different concept. In order to have motivation you first have to like what you are doing, but you don’t know that until you start.

Motivation Needed For a New Blog

Advice For First Time Bloggers

I believe that my fellow blogger Ahmad Imran from Reasontouse.com, would agree with me that actually starting on a self-hosted blog actually cuts down your learning arch considerably. Self-hosted websites have costs involved, and if you are not fully committed to that idea, or are incredibly budget sensitive, there are alternative starts you could consider.

That said, they are no substitute for doing it properly.

My advice would be either to start somewhere free where there are no costs to writing;

WordPress.com – My top recommendation

Medium.com – A good distraction free platform

Blogger.com – Owned by Google and quite basic

Tumblr.com – Excellent for media

Or

Try and guest post before you have your own site;

Do this by writing a good article and submit it to an outlet where guest posts are permitted. If you don’t get lucky or the person you have submitted to doesn’t like your re-writes, submit the improved article to another outlet until you get some joy. In the mean time, write more articles and analyse those articles that you like.

None of these choices are what I’d class as an “easy” option. You have to commit time to arrive at what you can class as a success.

Another alternative would be;

Get used to writing on forums and/or contributing to other blogs through social media, the comments section and through emails. You can test out an idea before it ever becomes the moving force behind a blog. Testing the water is a good thing, and it never hurts to be sociable.

 

Blogging is Something You Can Get Into After a While

It normally takes a bit of time to get the bug for blogging. I had the fortunate benefit of being off sick for a week when I launched my blog back in June 2013. Being sick was awful but being able to push out 6 posts in the first week was invaluable. Having a good place to start gets you in the rhythm.

If you get stuck, like I have done during 2017, blogging can be difficult to return to. For some people, returning to the blog at all is impossible. If you don’t return, you’ve wasted a lot of time.

 

Your First Articles Are Going To Be Terrible

Unless you are an English master, writing blog articles is going to be clunky at first. Even if you are good at writing, knowing how to assemble all of the components the way the audience wants them is difficult.

A lot of the time a blog post in your early days of development will leave you head scratching as to why it didn’t do well.

It’s not that you didn’t cover the points well. There is sometimes another reason somebody else did better. You haven’t got much chance of knowing exactly what unless you go looking for other people who have done better with similar articles.

A lot of the time the social element is what helped the article shine. The engagement score.

To do better with engagement you have to network a bit, build a following, and make sure your message gets seen.

Google has you on the bottom step when you start. Over time your position on those steps will climb, as long as you maintain movement.

Q: Does that mean that what I write in the start is technically a waste?

A: Yes. But you shouldn’t look at it in those cold terms. Everything you do is practice to hone you for better.

You can’t bottle lightning straight away. You need a strategy for that.

 

Be Prepared Not to See Gold For a Year or More

Image Credit kordi_vahle via Pixabay

It can take that long and sometimes longer to grow large enough to be visible to the “right people”.

Don’t even think about the word ‘viral’ yet. You just aren’t that privileged.

 

Juggling Knives

Is blogging in a nutshell. Not only do you have to write your articles, you have to get them seen.

There are 3 ways to do this*;

  • Social Media
  • Mailing List
  • Search Engine

Social Media is the active method of recruiting eyes to your words. It is basic advertising. Traditional advertising if you’d like.

Mailing Lists are the semi-passive method. You have to be active in encouraging people to join the mailing list but once they are on it, all you have to do is ensure you make the emails interesting enough to get your subscribers to return regularly for more critical information. Google likes this because people viewing your site from a website link in an email count as direct traffic. Direct traffic infers the term ‘useful’.

Where information is useful, Google ranks it higher.

Search Engines are entirely passive. People finding you on search engines improves over time. The best way to quickly affect this area of traffic is with money. Often that may not be the most effective way to go if you have a limited budget. There are subtle changes and tips and tricks you can learn but ultimately, it is a game show. You are better to concentrate on quality (which always shines through) and the quality of your relationships.

* There are some other ways such as link building, commenting on sites with links back, and being active in forums, but these methods aren’t as functional as they used to be.

 

Dealing With Comments

Most comments are normally nice. Some are not.

You will need a thick skin.

Some readers will just hate what you do. Some just are in it for a laugh.

They say, don’t feed the trolls. I say, don’t let the trolls get a foot in the door in the first place.

As much as you can beg for comments, they don’t come until you get a big enough audience. The percentage for comment makers is very low.

You want to respond to positive comments as soon as possible. If possible, try to see where these participators came from, and return the favour. It’s called reciprocity, and you’ll find a lot of warmth from the activity.

The largest majority of visitors to your site are what is classed as “consumers”. They don’t make passing comments, they are just there for the information. Consumers are still good for you but often they might need to see some form of social signal to perform more than just a cursory glance.

 

A Quick Word About “Shilling”

I would never recommend shilling. Shilling is applauding yourself through stealth. Making fake accounts to make it look like someone holds you in high regard. Paying a service to make you look like a stand up guy or gal. It’s not worth it.

You are better to find commentators through making friends. Reciprocity is often a very key way to build exposure.

We are all in this together.

Fun fact: Back in my early days of this blog, I had set upon the idea to create a mini business on Fiverr. This business was about purchasing my services as a commentator. Of course, it fell entirely flat on its face, but I wasn’t the only one who’d thought about that idea. There were many individuals selling services to augment comments. I found that in practice, it is better to have legitimate interaction, even if some posts go without comments.

 

Be Prepared to be Thrust Into a Market of Businesses

There are those that will be trying to sell the exact same cheddar you are selling.

There are those who will steal any cheddar designs from you, that are deemed to be ‘effective’.

You will enter with agenda.

The information you provide has to be needed.

You may see the term B2B (business 2 business) banded around, this might be something you have to understand more about. B2B is the more likely form of market you are pitching to, or networking with at the very least.

 

Blogging Success Can Be Delayed

Not everything you write is of interest straight away. It may take a while to grow a head of steam.

You may be very surprised which articles rise to the surface of popularity. You have to improve at reading and interpreting statistics generated by your efforts. There are just some outrider articles that do unusually well and you might not understand why.

Don’t be overwhelmed by terms like split testing and other higher level methods of analysis until you get to grips with the basics. It is okay to be a newbie. Make newbie mistakes, enjoy that green feeling. Don’t be shamed by bigwig bloggers

I would suggest that there is a certain degree of learning you have to perform that you cannot bypass. Accept failure in good cheer and try to learn from those mistakes wherever possible.

 

One Final Word

Don’t be Denim. If you plan to be another leech, another copycat, there are already plenty of those.

Do your own thing!

You need creativity to shine nowadays. Bland won’t cut it.

You will need to work on your marketing image.

If you can’t commit time to being awesome, don’t commit the time, period.

Blogging is a consuming activity. A time sink. If you don’t have the time, don’t do the crime.

Blog Prefect 2018 Catch Up And 2017 Review

In this article I wanted to convey some cheer to all bloggers for this New Year’s start. I hope that if you’ve been blogging for a while, you are enjoying it, and if not, you are making steps to change that.

My 2017 year has differed to some of the primer years for Blog Prefect and I’d like to explain why over the span of the next thousand or so words.

Blog Prefect 2018 Catch Up And 2017 Review

2017 Review

BlogPrefect in 2017 wasn’t ideal. I backed off quite a way from my high spot for a number of reasons. I don’t wish to make excuses, 2017 just wasn’t that inspiring for me in terms of bringing value for other bloggers. Instead, I spent a long period of 2017 trying to reconnect with my blogging passion.

 

JackoWrites.com

More time was spent on improving www.jackowrites.com, this site’s sister blog. Over at JackoWrites I started a value product in 2015 which has developed into quite a guide now. The Writer’s Block Guide was an area I attributed a lot of time. I also worked on my passion project of a science fiction book and have a 4th drafting stage where I will be handing over the novel to more people to improve. I’m looking forward to getting this book published.

515 Lost World Saga Progress April – June 2017

 

Medium.com

www.medium.com was an area I started charting to try and understand blogging from the perspective of a person who doesn’t want to spend time with maintenance of a content management system, and who doesn’t want the costs involved with domains. Ultimately I had difficulty with the platform so have pretty much pulled back from my engagement there because I deemed it unproductive. I was happy that I committed a year to trying it out as I did have some successes over the period.

I wrote these two articles over at www.jackowrites.com on Medium.com but also have a further article which I will link to, here on BlogPrefect.

Article 1: My Thoughts on Medium as a Writer

My Thoughts on Medium As a Writer

Article 2 : 1 Year writing with Medium

1 Year Writing With Medium.com

What Wasn’t Completed Before the End of the Year?

I was working on a post about motivation (funnily enough) and my timescale to complete this completely drifted the wrong side of 2018. This motivation article was due to drop in December but it didn’t come off. I have quite a high standard now, compared to what I used to write. That high standard also doesn’t help with timescales and deadlines.

 

What I’ve Missed Since 2016

Putting the traffic reports together is an area that I greatly miss. I enjoyed the process that went into making this kind of article, and the feedback the posts generated. It was also a great stimulator in terms of ensuring that the traffic report wasn’t the only post I made in a month, otherwise I’d have nothing to report on.

This is something I will be bringing back but also have some props to make it unique now. More to come on that front…

 

A Shout Out to My Friend

Ahmad Imran from Reasontouse.com has been waiting for me to write for months and I have not forgotten about him. It was nice to see when I posted an article on JackoWrites that he was there commenting on my Disqus comments no less. I thought he would have had enough of my inconsistency and left but I was glad to see him still there. It has taken a great deal of time to make any kind of acquaintance.

Ahmad Imran – Reasontouse.com

My previous friend, Vernon, performed what I’ve seen a lot of bloggers do. That is to let their blog curl up and die. He had much better traffic stats than mine (I had the privilege of being able to see his site behind the scenes) so his decision to pull out of the blogging was disappointing. He had momentum but he didn’t capitalise on it and if he had still run that blog until now, who knows.

I realise that Vernon was in some financial difficulties at the time but it still seems a shame. He gave up too soon. It is unfortunate to say that was an observable characteristic of Vernon’s from what he had told me about previous business projects that he had undertaken. Cutting loose too early.

Blogging does sometimes mean that you leave people behind. Your audience is ever changing but it is good to have friends.

 

Social Cataclysm

Google+ and Twitter are both depleted in terms of their use. I love Twitter and how it works but Google+ has dropped off big style for my enthusiasm. Social media and I are like awkward 3rd cousins. We are family but strangers.

I am considering dropping Google+ altogether. Twitter is something I will return to more vigorously as I get on well with it and appreciate the stats that Twitter provide. Facebook and I are still very uncooperative, despite it being a huge growth area for many. Something I don’t enjoy, I won’t keep up and Facebook fits in that category.

I need to start charting other places to grow but for the mean time I am going to focus on one platform and learn it well. It’s the only way.

 

I Had Thought That in My Absence the Site Views Would Drop to a Death

But I was wrong.

There are a few articles that still invite people to take a look. These few articles make me rather proud that they still have an afterglow, and that readers are getting use out of them.

This Article still generates a lot of attention;

FastMail MX Record Setup BlueHost

 

Retrieving My Resolve

I’m not sure why I had such a dim spell. I’m anxious to say that I’m past it. I know how I can drop off the boil if I’m wounded by something or someone. But, I’m back in the driving seat.

Maybe I should re-visit the article I wrote about motivation not all that long ago.

 

As Always!

Would love to hear from you and hear what you have planned for 2018.

Comments, shares and all that go with it are always appreciated but I’ll never beg you 🙂