Sorting through social media

I must admit I was completely overwhelmed when I started the Ultimate Blog Challenge at the beginning of this month.

get the green light for social with some easy tips
Once you get going with the help of others who’ve been there before, you’ll be smiling at how easy it is to make social work for you. Photo courtesy of Eole via flickr.

It wasn’t the writing. I’ve been doing that for a living for decades and rarely find myself at a loss for ideas or words. It’s been a little time consuming because I set a goal for myself to keep all posts under 800 words. Writing tighter is harder than doing a brain dump. But, the routine of daily time devoted to writing for me has actually been a blessing as I’ve faced an extremely difficult week of personal and property challenges.

What had me flummoxed was the social. The first day I logged into the Facebook Page for this group my jaw hit the ground over the sheer volume of posts and people participating. With the FB changes, posts are no longer chronological and a comment you’re reading can completely disappear off the page in seconds as the feed is rearranged to spotlight the latest activity. Everyone was throwing up blog post links in a way that made me feel like I was standing alongside a passing train trying to talk to passengers as they whizzed by at 60 mph. Where to start?

Fortunately, some kind and savvy professionals involved in this Challenge jumped in to lend a hand as I tried to sort through how to be an involved participant without devoting full work weeks to the task. With encouragement and a few tips, I felt like I hit my stride by about day three. The lessons learned this week alone will serve me well for a long time to come.

Everyone has their own style, but I figured I’d share how I’ve managed to be an active and supportive contributor while getting some eyeballs and comments on a blog that was launched just before the Challenge began.

What’s worked well for engagement in the Ultimate Blogging Challenge community

  • Getting to know a few of the powerhouses and reaching out for guidance (and help getting the conversation going)
  • Installing the Comment Luv plug in on my blog so it’s quick and easy to find the blogs of those stopping in on mine (thanks Alan)
  • Posting early in the morning – I realize it’s an international crew, but there doesn’t seem to be much activity between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. US EST. Getting your blog pointer up near the front of the queue increases the chances of people seeing and commenting or checking you out.
  • Compelling pictures – most are scanning and if you can find a photo that grabs attention, people are more likely to pause and read further
  • Responding to all comments both on the FB feed and the blog
  • Reading and leaving a comment on the blogs of those noted in the point above
  • Tagging names in posts on the FB page
  • Good writing (it helps J)
  • Introducing the blog post on FB with a brief comment that compels people to check it out
  • Using #blogboost in Twitter posts and RTs
  • Limiting my time, outreach and comments to a manageable number of connections
  • Featuring blog posts with tip lists that are relevant to a majority of general readers
  • Understanding the personalities and style of folks and using this to engage in online banter (if you don’t have comments on your FB thread it will disappear off the page in seconds)
  • Offering to help others

Mistakes I’ve made and hard lessons learned

  • Trying to follow the stream – unless you have nothing else to do with your days and don’t sleep nights, you can’t keep up.
  • Attempting to find someone’s blog announcement in the FB thread – instead, I’ve subscribed to a good number of fellow participant blogs and have pings hitting my e-mail when posts are put up
  • Getting caught up in the social sharing enthusiasm and forgetting where I am – I made the dumb mistake of offering my opinion to a comment on another’s blog – and got slammed for it
  • Spending too much time trying to share on a blog that has huge barriers in place to do so
  • Not checking in at least a few times a day to scan e-mail after announcing a post – the comment function was down on my blog for a day and a lot of people went out of their way to alert me – but I didn’t see the messages until the end of the day (thanks for this, by the way – you rock).

Participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge has already been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve met many interesting people. Reading the blogs and interacting has provided some fantastic learning opportunities. Witnessing the kindness of the community is inspiring. I hope some of these lessons learned (so far) will help make your Challenge (and social) experience better.

44 responses to “Sorting through social media”

  1. Great selection of tips, Nanette; they way I’m handling the challenge is reviewing the updates a few minutes 2x daily and commenting where I have an interest. Then I go to the hashtag on twitter and retweet more – I find that’s an easy way to distribute value for my readers and benefit the blogger, too!

    • Thanks Andrea – for taking the time to comment and adding your tip. Admittedly, I still haven’t developed a fondness for Twitter. I’m working on it. By the way, I really enjoyed your blog post today. Left a comment there too :-).

  2. That is a seriously fast moving group over there! The threads are going constantly and it’s easy to get lost.

    I agree with pretty much everything you’ve mentioned – and you’ve adapted well! (Quick study, you are!)

    It’s a great community – I’m glad to be part of it.

    Thanks for the informative post.

    • Yes, it can be dizzying sometimes, can’t it, Lisa? Agreed on the caliber and character of the community. What a special find! Oh – and I’ll be pondering your thoughts on soul mate today – very interesting perspective.

  3. Hi Nanette – what a great post. As someone that works in social media and is still learning every day about blogging (that is the best part – there is always something new to learn!), you have listed some fabulous tips there for the blog challenge as well as for building a blog audience in general. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thanks Donna. I transitioned to computers (still have my Smith Corona) kicking and screaming but am slowly trying to get up to speed on what today’s technology has to offer. Of course, the moment I feel I’ve mastered something, it’s ten versions ahead of me. At least with the garden things move slow enough I can watch them grow :-).

  4. Great summary of your experiences! Like yourself I am also new to most of this – having only dabbled round the edges previously. I have only had my blog up and running a couple of weeks and joined the challenge to get me into the flow of writing regularly. So I am learning loads and like yourself finding the whole community experience very inspiring.

    • Fortunately, I have another blog that’s pretty established, so am not new to both blogging and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I admire you, Dot for taking both on at once. Thanks you for taking the time to stop in, read and comment. And, yes, the community is incredible, isn’t it?

  5. I know exactly where you are coming from Nanette. This is my 2nd challenge, but keeping up with the speed of it all is a challenge in itself!

    I pop into the FB group a couple of times per day and scan quickly for posts that catch my eye. I check the Twitter #tag at least once per day and I have blogs that really have caught my eye, interested or inspired me in my RSS.

    Loved your tips, and will definately try a few out too.

    • Jan – I’ve stopped trying to follow the feed. I will scan once in a while but even then posts keep moving and then I can’t find them. Thanks for your seasoned input on other ideas for handling this.

  6. I had to realize that I can only participate so much in the challenge and not to feel guilty. There is no way I can comment on every post put up, but if I do 2 or 3 that’s not bad.

    • Yes, Tazim, I hear you. I spent the last week trying to figure out how to best manage it all and after some missteps discovered some things that work. Of course, I can’t continuously monitor e-mail so can spend more time than expected responding to that when I do slate it in, but it’s fun.

  7. Hi there, Nanette,
    I’m doing the UBC right now too. I have successfully completed it 2x before this one. I’ve met some very amazing people online doing it. I am surprised at your comment about getting “slammed.” I can’t imagine that happening, but maybe, I just don’t understand the context of the situation you describe. Hmm. I agree that it’s harder to write tighter, but of course, it’s so individual.

    I’m really laidback, I suppose about all of this. I don’t try to comment on all of the blogs. I just go where I’m drawn to and I do my best 🙂

    • Yes, the people are amazing, aren’t they, Lisa Marie? To clarify (probably should have in the post) I don’t think I was slammed by anyone participating in UBC. It was a commenter that was probably coming from somewhere else. As to the context, she asked a question relating to marketing and I offered some feedback from my experience. It was a dumb thing to do on my part and probably rude to the blog host in retrospect, but I was rolling along between FB reading and replies, my blog comments and follow-up, reading others and commenting and forgot where I was. Still, the response from the commenter was out of line. No matter, I have a thick skin :-).

  8. These tips are gems, Nanette. And I had to laugh at your analogy of the stream resembling us standing by a railroad with a train whizzing by trying to talk to the passengers. That’s exactly what it’s like! Loved this.

    • Thanks, Susan. I’ve given up trying to stay active through the stream. That train just moves too fast for me. Hence my ‘behind-the-scenes’ tips :-).

  9. I can definitely relate! I was, and still am, overwhelmed by this blog challenge – but I am enjoying it too. I normally don’t write in my blog every single day, only once or twice a week, and so it’s been hard for me to write captivating material every single day. Have had to use a couple of fillers already, but that’s okay =)

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned — it’s helpful!

    • Nikki, I’ve never been a daily blogger either. There’s no way I could do with with my Horse Sense and Cents blog, but when I realized I was just about to launch the writing blog (long overdue) I figured I could go daily there with much shorter posts. Of course, they’re winding up a lot longer than I had initially envisioned, but it’s adding good core content to a site that’s sparse, so there are multiple benefits.

  10. Still figuring out how to manage and get the most from this challenge – without it taking over my life (which it easily could, and I’d thoroughly enjoy that too!) Thank you for your tips, which will definitely help me and lots of others in this challenge to hit our stride too. Following the pioneer! Thanks, Hannah

    • It can be addictive, can’t it Hannah. I never understood how people could spend so much time on Twitter or FB. Now I’m getting it. Must keep it in perspective and get the paying work done, though. There have been tons of people who have come forward and been kind to me as I try to get the lay of the land with the UBC – they’re the ones who deserve thanks.

  11. Great lists! You caught on quickly. This is my third go round and I still feel like things are hit or miss for me popularity wise. I write about a variety of topics so some will resonate broadly and some won’t. That’s okay. I just like the challenge of writing everyday. And, I’ve found a few bloggers along the way that I really enjoy even in between challenges. I really love the CommentLuv feature but haven’t figured out how to make it work with Blogger. I think it’s going to take some HTML fiddling.

    • Wow – three trips through this one, Kimberly – I’m not sure if I could do that. Although I’m learning so much, I can certainly see the benefit. Right – the strategies that are working well for my writing/marketing blog might not be so effective if I were spotlighting the horse blog in the UBC (fortunately, that’s more established) so I certainly hear you on the challenge of speaking to a broad audience. What I’m trying to do is create posts that are relevant to my niche audience (ideally that would be want-to-be-clients :-)) but on topics broad and non-technical enough to work for a more general crowd. I can delve deeper after the 31 days, but need content on the site anyway and this challenge will help a lot with SEO and other business-related objectives.

  12. Thanks for these tips. This challenge can be quite overwhelming trying to read and comment on most of the posts. I actually thought I could read and comment on all the posts. This will definitely help me.

    • Honestly, Jessica, I’ve just found the list feed too daunting. I’ll throw in a comment or go check out a blog if I see something near the top that I can relate to. That’s why I’ve tried to figure out some other ways to be supportive and involved.

  13. Wow, you had quite the week. It is hard to follow something this large but as this isn’t the only group I belong to I limit myself to commenting on 2 blogs per day. I used to try and get everyone but I burned out super fast.

    As far as writing the blog posts, pre-scheduling them a week in advance has helped me tremendously.

    You Said:
    Attempting to find someone’s blog announcement in the FB thread – instead, I’ve subscribed to a good number of fellow participant blogs and have pings hitting my e-mail when posts are put up

    How do you go about doing this?

    • Hi Sara – I think we all have other priorities (and groups) we need to attend to. Fortunately, this is a relatively short time period, so it’s easier, for me at least, to put a little more time in early to learn. I’m certainly not trying comment on everyone’s blog – but do manage to hit a decent number given the amount of people who have supported me.

      Thanks for the tip on pre-scheduling. I’ve tried this but never can seem to get GMT figured out, which is what my blog seems to be operating on. Good point though – I certainly can pre-load the content and just hit publish in the morning.

      On subscribing to others’ feeds, most have an option to do so at the bottom of the post or after the comment section. In WP, it’s a box to click. Other blog formats handle it differently. Sometimes you can do with with a sign up box that’s in a column on either the home and/or blog page. Most will have an RSS symbol, if that’s how you like to get your feeds.

  14. Isn’t it fabulous to have this degree of engagement? I’d been away from blogging for a couple of years, and when I put up HROomph at the end of May, I was lucky if I got one comment a week.

    You’re right about the powerhouses – finding the people that you really know you’re going to want to engage with longer term, while just waving a cheery hello to the neighbours.

    • Oh yes – I hate to admit how long it took me to start gaining some traction with the Horse Sense and Cents blog. Of course, there’s a smaller potential audience for that one, but still . . . Agreed, UBC also provides some excellent long-term business opportunities. Not to mention a super quick-start to getting a new blog seen. It’s been a great experience for me and we’re only a week in.

    • By the way, Alan, I really have to thank you for being a big part in helping me to get my stride and start the process of figuring out how to effectively manage the UBC engagement tricks. Probably would have given up without the outreach, encouragement, tips and kindness of you and a few others in the group as I took the plunge. THANKS!

  15. This has been a great help! Thank-you for the breakdown. I too feel like I am standing on the sidelines with teh great contributions passing me by.
    Great suggestions.

    • Oh, I’m certainly not standing on the sidelines, Elizabeth. Just took me a few days to get a lay of the land, so to speak. This is a super group, a great opportunity and a ton of fun. Still, incredibly overwhelming if you try to take it all in at once. Hopefully some of what was provided in this post will help you get your bearings and get on the field :-). Took a look at your blog and posted a comment.

  16. Thanks for the helpful info! I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I read this post! It’s a full time job attempting to keep up with this.

    • No it’s not a time consuming task, Jes, done right. Pick and choose what works for you. Frankly, if it weren’t for responding to comments on my blog and the time involved in reading blog posts from those who come here (there are may more than I anticipated), most of this stuff could be done in about 1/2 hour per day. I’m ultimately focused on my business with this Challenge (others have their own reasons for participating) so I’ll spend more time with people likely to be good prospects, vendors, collaborators, etc. But it’s great fun learning a ton, expanding my awareness with new perspectives (and design/content/focus ideas from the blogs I’m visiting) and meeting new, interesting people. My biggest ah-ha was realizing it makes no sense to try and keep up with the FB feed. There are so many other easier ways to participate and connect.

  17. Nice snapshot of navigating the challenge. I only joined the facebook group today, and overwhelming does not even begin to describe it! Thanks for putting this together.

  18. Wow, Nanette, this list certainly drew a lot of comments. I read each and every one of them and enjoyed them all. I think your list fairly well sums up my experience as well. I can’t believe I’ve actually posted everyday since the first day and I’m looking forward to going all the way to day 31.

    I scan FB when I have time, try to comment on the blogs of people I know as well those who have left comments for me. Then if I have time, I look for topics that are of interest or talk about something I need to know. I tweet some, share some on Facebook and that’s about all I can do right now.

    By the way, I just shared your Horse Sense and Cents blog a few hours ago with my friend Shelly from White Fox Horse Rescue. She already loves your approach and bought your book.

  19. Great tips! I only just started blogging and this is my 1st time doing the UBC. I stumbled on it while trying to find motivation to get serious about writing and its been great. I have to admit, I was overwhelmed the first few days, trying to keep track of the new posts, write and still get work done. Now, I just scan through the page and open those that catch my eye and ensure I comment on at least 2/3 each day. How does comment luv work?

    • Hi Sisi – If you look at your comment on this blog, you’ll see a pointer a clickable link at the end to your blog. For me, it allows me to quickly jump over to your website and read what you have there and make a comment if I can find something relevant to say.

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