Everyone wants to know about social networking

I’ve been so busy with social networking consulting and coaching lately, and it seems like it will never stop. Or will it? Surely one day everybody will know all about Facebook, at least, and it will be just another communication and marketing tool everybody uses without thinking about it, like the telephone, mail and email.

It’s been a very interesting few months though, with consulting clients ranging from regular bloggers (people not so different from me), government agencies, small and large businesses and coming up this week, a library (with another library lined up for 2012). I certainly could never say that I’m getting bored with my work. Bring it on!

Advanced blogging course – handy links

Hi advanced blogging gang,

Here are some of the links we’re going to use (or I’m going to talk about) during our advanced blogging course. You can always come back to this post later to revisit and reread anything you find particularly useful.

What have you learned from blogging?

Allison Tait is an Australian magazine editor and journalist turned blogger – her blog is called Life in a Pink Fibro because, well, she lives in a pink fibro house. Her helpful post 12 things I’ve learned in my first year of blogging may sound familiar to you, or may give you some ideas on how you can develop your blog.

What to write

A great way to organise your ideas and plan your blog posts – which helps to ensure you have a steady flow of posts, not a drought and flood situation – is to set up an editorial calendar and revise it regularly (weekly, monthly). Darren Rowse wrote a helpful and straightforward post about this: Developing an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog. (There’ll probably be quite a few links to Darren Rowse’s Problogger site today – why send you somewhere else when I can direct you straight to the best in the business?)

And another one from ProBlogger – Setting Personal and Professional Boundaries for Your Blog.

How to write

What does a reader see first? Usually the title (and that might be all they see on a feed reader or social media link). So, your title should be good. Check The Five Worst Ways to Title a Blog Post and try to improve your post titles.

The topic of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is now huge (there are entire careers available in it) but the second half of Darren Rowse’s Search Engine Optimisation for Blogs post is probably what’s most useful to you.

Correct spelling and grammar is also important. A major US online shop (Zappos) fixed up the grammar and spelling mistakes in all their customer reviews and had a huge increase in sales. (It was done via crowdsourcing – another interesting online invention!)

Getting and keeping readers

Using the Link Within widget is free and so effective. My blog page views increased by a third after I installed it and my statistics showed that nearly all of this increase was from Link Within clicks.

We will talk about “best of” posts and creating hubs of your work, and the example I’ll use (sorry for tooting my own horn) is the Country Guides from Not A Ballerina.

Building a community around your blog

The most important way to do this (IMHO) is to interact with similar blogs. They are not the competition – they are your friends! There is plenty of room in the world for more blogs similar to yours! If you don’t know any or can’t find them easily then start searching through Google’s Blog Search and start commenting on those you like. Importantly – comment in a genuine way, not with a two word comment hoping they’ll click on your link and see your blog.

Promoting your blog

Link-ups and blog hops I’ll mention:

The other links I’ll show you are:

Blog design

There are numerous ways to improve and “fiddle” with your blog’s design. Graphic stuff can be cheaper than you’d think – have a look at Fiverr to see what people will do for $5! There are also lots of Australian bloggers who’ll do blog design work for lower budgets – like Melissa at Suger Coat It or Chelsea at Aqua Poppy.

You can learn some more details about ideal font types and sizes, colours, images and so on from this post on 16 rules for blogs or this one with 26 design tips – they’re both full of really useful ideas for designing your blog effectively.

Goals

I’m a firm believer in needing written goals to ensure you make good progress at a task, and I post about them at least annually on my blog (more often on some). If you’re looking for goals for your blog there is a huge list at the Blogging Bookshelf – 101 Different Blogging Goals – something for everyone!

If you are interested in creating a profitable blog and/or making a product (like an ebook) to sell from your blog, these references might be useful:

 

Blogs from today’s participants:

Using blogs in the classroom

There are so many great ways to use blogs with students – here are some blog posts, slide shows and videos that will give you plenty of inspiration.

 

Teenagers and social media

I’m putting the finishing touches on my UWA Extension course on “Safe Social Networking: Family-Friendly Facebook and More”. These resources and links are useful ones for parents to read if they’re concerned about what their teenagers (and tweens!) are doing online.

Teenagers on the internet: Parents need to be involved: says everything I want to say. Don’t be scared of social media, get involved! If your children are interested in it, share their interest! Along with realistic warnings, this article includes some positives that come out of social media:

•    By being friends with people online, we can maintain a more constant dialogue with people, and have people who would not otherwise be so, as a positive psychological presence in our lives.
•    Access to social media can aid in social activism (help to support or create a cause)
•    Social networks allow you to share important information in a fast and reliable way
•    Social networking can allow you to become a more active part of the social discourse
•    And last but not least, if you involved in social media you have the opportunity to share in the social zeitgest of the day.

How do teens use social media: a lot of info and stats on teenagers and their use of social media sites (especially Facebook), but for me the most interesting point is this:

While we assume that this audience are comfortable with sharing their entire lives online, they’re developing a sense of intelligence around this that shows how keenly aware they are of the consequences of this. A study referenced by Pew finds that that 18-29 year olds regularly control their online reputations by deleting certain posts or removing tags in photos. This is an incredibly interesting development in human and social behaviour – that this future generation have such a keen understanding of personal branding, even though they may not be calling it that.

So one of our big fears for young people – that they’re “messing up their lives” by putting everything online – might well be unfounded.

Teenage social media butterflies may not be such a bad idea: research published in the LA Times; worth a read, and the key message is that kids who are sociable online are just as sociable offline – they’re not turning into strange hermits just by spending hours on Facebook or MySpace!

 

 

 

Social media and education

I’m just planning some professional development training for a bunch of high school teachers, so it is excellent timing that I came across this infographic on How to Get Better Grades Using Social Media:

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
How to Get Better Grades Using Social Media  | Infographic |
Via:MastersinEducation.org

Lots of interesting facts and figures in there, and confirms my opinion that Facebook and blogging are not bad things at all! I’ll be able to use this infographic at my Safe Social Networking course for parents next week, too.

Tips for bloggers

Here’s a collation of some useful pages I’ve found on blogging lately. You can also see regular links coming up if you join my Facebook page.

  • Some useful tips on improving your About page, since it’s often a frequently visited part of your blog
  • How to keep your blog safe from hackers, spammers and any other nasty guys
  • Timeless and reasonably standard but still must-do methods to promote your blog
  • Privacy, setting boundaries, and basically the best question to consider before you start blogging: how much will you tell?