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Comments are Bonus Points

Last week my friend Greg Ng and I were having a discussion on Twitter about whether bloggers need to allow comments on their blog. Greg was frustrated because he wanted to comment on a piece by Seth Godin, and there was no immediate way to react to Godin’s piece. Greg thought there needs to be some method of getting in touch with the original author or an article, as that’s part of how modern marketing works.

I’m not Seth Godin. I don’t have a crazy fan base of linchpins. I’d probably die under the traffic his blog gets in one day. But still, I can understand why he runs his blog the way he does.

Comments are not a necessary part of a blog. Comments are bonus points. They’re nice, and most audiences are great and will add to a discussion.

Still, some commentators will take away from the conversation. We call them trolls. They want their own internet fame and glory.  They are willing to build their own reputation by tearing you down. And if you’re a popular blogger who gets a good number of comments, then they will appear in droves.

Really, do you want your extra credit to be so bad it takes away from the actual work?

Bonus points only work if the audience lets them work well. Great articles and blog content will last beyond the content of the comments. Having comments just for the sake of being modern and interactive does not make your blog have any better conversation.

I don’t have time to deal with haters.  I doubt Seth Godin does either.  I also don’t have time to react to 1,000 comments.  Comment moderation and fan interaction take time, which is your most valuable resource online.

Are your bonus points worth that time?

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Live Blogging - The McDonald’s of Blogging

Tuesday of this week I had a realization as two live blog events were going on simultaneously.  In one corner I was watching as all the major tech blogs covered the Apple “Back to the Mac” event which revealed a whole slew of Apple products to make fanboys like me wet themselves in glee.  In another corner I was watching my friends at the Triangle AMA Analytics Camp live blog and tweet all of the information they were learning from that event.

Caught between these two events, I learned there’s a big difference is spreading information that is meant to be announcement, and sharing information learned from a keynote or other session. Still, it’s all like McDonald’s.  Quick, greasy, and to the point.

McDonald’s ok for a bit.  When you need something and you need it quickly, it’s there.  It’s not the best source of nutrition, but sometimes we all have to make sacrifices to get through the day. It’s why watching a live blog of an Apple event is palatable.  It’s all basic, short bits of information that keep you up to date.  You don’t have to think about what your putting in your mouth brain.

But there’s only so much you can actually digest quickly.  This is why live tweeting educational speeches and events gets into the realm of disgusting for me.  People are absorbing a lot information quickly and then turning it out without a second thought about what the greater meaning and ways it could benefit the audience.

It’s like the scene from Super Size Me, where the director and star, Morgan Spurlock, eats a Super Size Meal in fifteen minutes and immediately throws it up. Do you really think you have thought about all the implications of what you’re hearing and make it useful for your audience if your posting your notes immediately online?

That’s not to say any blogging, whether live or not live, is better.  It’s all fast food in one form or another, some of it is thought out more and presented a little better.  Every post in another chicken nugget of wisdom, hoping to be picked up, dusted off, and prove to be made of gold rather than separated meat.  But you can take the information and find ways for it to become useful for your audience beyond just posting every single thing you learned.

What do you think?  Is live blogging useful? Or is it like trying to cram a big mac and supersize fries into your mouth in 10 minutes?

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The No-Strategy Strategy: A Strategy Guide for Bloggers

Today’s post is a guest post by my friend and SEO maverick, Phil Buckley.

Is it possible you’re spending too much time on strategy? I think it is.

If strategy is draining time, energy and resources from the actual doing, maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy strategy.

The idea of a no-strategy strategy popped into my brain while reading Any Jerk Can Be A Social Media Strategist.

If you’re a simple business, or a single blogger you should probably be spending more time on measuring your actions than on complicated strategy documents. My advice to anyone who is thinking about blogging is, START WRITING! That’s not a complicated strategy, in fact, it’s just the core action.

You run a business selling firewood, here’s your strategy - write about firewood. Done. You’re a mommy blogger, here’s your strategy - write about your life. You’re IBM or the Carolina Panthers, now you need a strategy. Rather than overthink your strategy, start doing the work. Start writing. Write something right now! If you can’t write this very second, make sure you make a date to write tonight.

Maybe you think that you’re a special case, and you really do need a specific strategy. That’s possible. Here’s a quick test to see if how much time you should be spending on strategy for you blog:

  • You have as many people subscribed to your blog as you have contacts in your phone. (1 minute)
  • You have posts waiting to be published in the future. (1 minute for each future post)
  • You have people contacting you about advertising on your site. (2 minutes per inquiry/month)
  • You are being asked to speak at local events. (3 minutes per engagement/month)
  • You are being offered money to speak at industry events. (5 minutes per engagement/month)
  • Your blog is main source of income (10 minutes)
  • Your business makes enough money to employ additional people. (30 minutes/employee)

Now add up the time from the list above. That’s how much time you should be spending on your strategy. Now get going bringing that strategy to life.

Phil Buckley is the Director of User Experience at Media Two Interactive, a media advertising agency specializing in digital and traditional planning, buying and design. He blogs at on search social and web development. You can follow him on Twitter @1918.

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Content Creation Burnout

How much do you blog a week?   How many times do you tweet or update Facebook in a day?

On an average week, I author 5 posts for this blog, as well as 10-30 tweets, and one or two Facebook status updates. This is just the stuff I do for fun, it doesn’t include anything I might create for work or the organizations I volunteer with.

Keeping up a schedule like that makes it easy for anyone to burn out.  We’re not meant to be content creating machines.  Masterpieces take time, they don’t just spring into your head when you are furiously typing out tomorrow’s blog post at midnight. 

Your creative ability sucks when you have no passion. I don’t care if you’re telling a funny story or writing a how to post.  It’s going to suck if your batteries are drained and you’d rather be doing anything other than creating.

We all have families, friends, and jobs that draw our attention.  Few of us are lucky enough to be paid to blog or create online in any sort of capacity, let alone to make a living off of it.  The only thing holding us to our blogs and social media is ourselves.

It’s ok to take some time away from it all.  Do what you need to do.  Don’t apologize when you come back.  Just get back to being amazing.  Your audience doesn’t want apologies, they just want amazing stuff.  The quality of your content will prove that your break was worth it.

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I’m having so many issues with computers this week, it’s like living the book of Job, if Job had install WordPress and upload YouTube videos. I’m having such crazy issues right now I’m having to blog from my iPhone, which is terrible because I can’t edit worth a damn on this thing.

Why do we still have such crazy issues with computers? It’s 2010! We don’t have Windows 95 anymore. Our phones are as powerful as our laptops from ten years ago. Still we can’t make computers easier to use?

Blogging and creating content needs to be easier. People getting frustrated just makes the experience worse for everyone.

Why does the Internet make it so hard just to blog? If you can tell me, or make a better blogging platform, there’s a million dollars out there for you to make.

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Announcement: We’re Moving! (Kind Of)

If you follow my personal Twitter account, @JayDolan, you know I’ve been wrestling with tumblr, and recently, WordPress.  Tumblr is the blogging software that runs The Anti-Social Media. I love tumblr, but it’s starting to prove it’s time to move on.

There are a lot of aspects why I love tumblr.

  • tumblr is dead simple to use.  You log-in and it presents anything you could want to post and makes it as absolutely easy as possible.  You don’t have to think, you just click and go from there.
  • tumblr is pretty.  There are a lot of awesome designers on tumblr, and they make lots of gorgeous themes.  If the free themes don’t suit you, there are even a bunch of great and relatively cheap (under $50) premium themes.
  • tumblr is free.  Tumblr pays for all your hosting.  So, unless you use an actual domain (like, for example), you don’t pay anything.  It’s an easy way to blog quickly and without having to worry about setting up your server.

Still, tumblr has been driving me nuts recently:

  • My scheduled posts are never posted on time.  You can imagine how horrifying it is to see something you wanted posted at 8 am doesn’t show up until noon or later.
  • When my scheduled posts do appear, they are posted as private. Blogging for myself isn’t any fun.
  • It’s really hard to add new features to the site.  Granted, I don’t want to add a lot of clutter.  I hate cluttered sites.  But I hate messing with code and destroying the entire site even more.

So, I’ll be transferring the blog to WordPress.  I’m not a WordPress fan, but it will solve the vast majority of my problems.

I just want to post and share my content.  I want the site to look exactly like the preview when I install it, and then just need to insert the code and user ids that are necessary to make certain things run.  I’m not a designer.  Wordpress is nice, but with great power comes great insanity.  It took me six hours to get my personal site going on WordPress, and its not near the exact way I want it.

What does this change mean for you?  If you’re subscribed via RSS, you shouldn’t see much of a difference at all.  Otherwise you’ll be seeing a new site soon.  It should look awesome.  It should do awesome things.  It won’t solve world hunger, but it will make me happy, and then we can keep talking about how crazy social media is.

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Want to be a Great Blogger? Start Reading.

For every great blog post I read, I see at least ten terrible ones that could have been awesome.  The people who write these posts sit down and write without regard to the actual language they are writing in.  I don’t mean they start writing in English and it turns out to be German by the end of the article, but rather they don’t consider the nuances and construction of the writing in a way that will make the writing work.

Looking at it this way: if you want to be great blogger, you need to know all about it.  And because blogging is a form of writing, you need to become a master at writing.  The easiest way to do this is to start reading everything you can.

Everyone I know who is a great writer and thinker is also a great reader.  They consume lots of information from a variety of sources to supplement their thinking.  They have a burning desire to know more.  They go Fahrenheit 451 with that desire and fuel it with books, articles, blog posts, and whatever else they can get their greedy hands on.

The more you read, the more you understand writing.  If you’re reading all the time and looking at the words, sentences and paragraphs through a writers eyes, you tune into how the language works together as a whole.  You’ll start asking questions about the writing

  • “How does this article work to support its thesis?”
  • “This was a good point, why does this argument fall flat?”
  • “Does that first sentence and paragraph draw readers in?”

Those questions may sound a bit like elementary school, but many writers hear this advice from grade school onward and never take it seriously.  Find the articles, books, and blog posts you love and look at them as a writer.  Deconstruct the language and the grammar.  What makes them work?

When you begin reading with a writer’s eye, your writing will begin to transform and improve.  Go read through this post again.  Find what works, what sucks, and what could be salvaged.  Learn to read like a writer, and your writing will pay off immediately.

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What to Blog When You’re Out of Ideas

What to Blog When You’re Out of Ideas

I’m having a terrible time writing a post for today.  The whole idea behind cutting back on posting was so I can give my ideas a little more time to breathe, and here I am without a single good idea to write about.

So, I’m going to write about what to do when you have nothing to write about. Here are some topics that never get old to write about.  Use them when nothing else works.

  • Crazy Pet stories - Most of us own some pet in out lifetime, whether it’s a dog, cat, or poison dart frog.  Write about how your animal is better, worse, or funnier.  People will come if for nothing else than the cute photos.
  • Social Media Strategy - Everyone either has one or doesn’t, and it’s a great buzz term with absolutely no meaning.
  • Crazy E-mails - I get weird e-mails all the time.  I wish I could share them all without alienating my readers with legitimate questions.  But when someone includes this emoticon ( :) ~ ) in the first sentence, you know it’s going to be terrible in a good way.

What kinds of things do you blog about when you’re brain runs dry?  Do you wait to blog until you have a good idea, or do you churn something out?  I want to know what you do.

Oh, and here’s an obligatory adorable cat photo.

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