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Where is your Emotion?

I have a lot of theories about how things work and the way the world is.  If I was slightly more neurotic, I would be a great conspiracy theorist, stuck in a basement somewhere covered in tinfoil and duct tape.  Instead, I’m here on this blog thinking through social media issues endlessly.

Naturally, I have theory on why the most popular and seemingly best blogs got where they are.  The majority of that theory is that they have amazing stories and news to share.  They also write regularly so people don’t forget about them.  But the last part is where I think many fall short.

The very best bloggers show emotion in their writing.  They find the things that make us happy, sad, or enraged and are able to write that out and still focus our ideas on the overall goal of the post.  If it seems hard, it is.

The posts I write when I am truly angry, saddened, or disappointed are the ones that get the most responses, views, and traffic.  People recognize sentiment and feeling better than they can take in ideas alone.  When we write about ideas objectively, readers grasp it, but a writer has to work harder to get the reader to the idea.  Emotion is the spoonful of sugar that helps the reader absorb the idea happily.

People are attuned to emotions more than they’d like to admit.  This fascination with the highs and lows are show throughout the history of humanity, and why reality TV just won’t die.  We want drama, and drama doesn’t come from the facts.

If writing with emotion seems impossible, it isn’t.  Your blog could be about paper airplanes, and you can fuse some feeling in there.  Find an amazing solution to a problem? Write about the frustration the problem caused, and then the joy from the ease and simplicity of the solution.  If you’re blog is personal, you should already be doing this, and if you aren’t I’m worried about you.

Your blog shouldn’t start being some type of counseling session where you work out your emotions.  Also, you shouldn’t portray that you go on whatever whim hits you at the moment.  But showing something beyond ideas and tips gives you a sense of humanity that people want to connect with.  People want to connect with people, and real people have emotions.  Get your blog together, and start showing your readers you’re a person.

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Stop Worrying Why You Don’t Get Comments

Imagine: You’ve just written what you consider to be your best blog post.  It’s funny.  It’s poignant.  It even teaches something at the end.  You hit publish, and wait for the comments to arrive.

Then nothing happens.

No comments.  No retweets.  No online reaction whatsoever.  It’s like you dropped the atomic bomb and it evaporated before it hit the ground.  What happened?

As bloggers, we live for feedback.  We constantly want people to read what we write, spread the word and add their opinions.  If we weren’t selfish, egotistical narcissists, we’d stick to writing books and journals without the capacity for immediate feedback.

Here are five things I do to get comments on what I publish online:

  1. See if anyone read the post -  You should be using an analytics tool like Google Analytics to begin with just to see how much traffic you’re getting. Set it up, and see if anyone is reading.  If no one reads your posts or watches your videos, there’s no way you’re going to get any comments.  Get off you’re lazy butt and start shamelessly promoting your posts
  2. Don’t Have All the Answers - If you are too thorough and too knowledgeable, people won’t want to comment.  No one wants to come across as dumb.  They also want to be able to contribute.  Leave room for people to fill in details or their experiences.
  3. Ask for comments - A lot of people don’t know when to say something.  For every one person who will jump in and say something without a second thought, there are at least two more who aren’t sure if it’s ok to go ahead and speak up.  End the post with a call for people to respond with their own stories and ideas.  Your readers will then feel free to dive right in.
  4. Be Bold - Most people don’t write just to say “Great Post!”  They want to either add information, relate a story, or disagree.  Getting people to say I disagree is a great way to stimulate conversation and get people thinking about opposing ideas.  If you don’t say something that gets someone angry, you aren’t trying hard enough.
  5. Reply to the comments you get - Get a comment?  Great.  Now reply to it.  Even if your reply just says “Thank you,” your readers will appreciate knowing you actually took the time to read what they wrote.  Chances are they’ll come back for more.

I know there are more ways to get people talking.  What do you do to get people commenting on your blog posts?  (See, I even took my own advice there!)

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Why I Blog

Behind my facade of an angry, sarcastic blogger with grands plans of changing the way we use the internet, I’m an insecure, self-doubting writer.  I’ve come to accept that I will never think any post is good enough.  I also accept that my posts I loathe most become the most popular.

Still, every four weeks or so I go through a blogging identity crisis.  Why do I do this?  Who on Earth reads this?  What is the point of all this writing?  Will it ever pay off?

I like to imagine every blogger goes through a similar journey more often than I do.  Thinking this way lets me feel better about my own self-doubts, and makes me think everyone else is worse off than I am on my worst days.  This thinking has gotten me through the rough patches, but still, those questions nag me.  However, I find the more I answer them, the more I want to blog and make a difference.

Why do I do this?

I write because I love to.  I write about what makes me angry because I know there are other people with the same feelings.  I write about what makes me angry with social media because I know I live in a time where I can use my anger and the anger of others to make a difference in the way everyone, not just marketers and PR folks, use social media.

Who on Earth reads this?

People who hate Facebook read this blog.  So do people who love Twitter.  People who heard about this social media thing and just can’t figure it out come here.  Gurus who think they know everything about social media and want to learn why someone hates it end up on this site.  People who want to do business online better come here too.

In other words, this blog is for anyone who can read English with access to the internet and some vague interest in the way we interact online.  You can’t go wrong with that broad of an appeal.

What is the point of all this writing?

I want people to have fun and learn about social media.  I think all messages can be broken into information or entertainment.  I aim to do both.

At the same time, I want to be a voice for people who can’t say no, or tell people they are being absurd.  I want to challenge ideas and see if there is a better way to do things.

Will it ever pay off?

It already has.  Who knows if it will pay off monetarily, but the connections I’ve made are invaluable. I talk with people around the planet about things that matter.  I’ve made a small difference in the way people interact online.  Nothing crazy, but enough to know we’re thinking about deeper issues that why Facebook sucks today.

Also, my ability to write honestly, openly in my own voice, and be able to make jokes has improved significantly.  Who would have guessed having to write something every weekday would do such a thing?

Do my motives seem crazy?  Am I a fool for not being blinded by greed and a desire to earn money?  I want to know why you blog, and what you think of my motivations.

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Why I’m for Anonymous Comments

Why I’m for Anonymous Comments

Somedays, it feels like I am the last advocate of anonymous comments.

Before I started The Anti-Social Media, I considered making a full Anti-Social Media personality with no ties to my real name. Think of the power and the possibilities.  I could make horrible comments without any of the stigma to my real name. I could call out all of the authors that make me want to gouge their eyes out. I would be like Batman, only without the cool gadgets, and stuck on the Internet.

But I decided not to, mostly because I’m a fame whore. I wanted attention lavished on me, not some fabled internet persona that had no real life.

Regardless of my decision, there is still room for the anonymous online commenter. Need proof? Look no further than @BPGlobalPR. The genius behind it has not only made BP look like idiots, but has done so in a hilarious fashion. While none of us know who is behind the screen name, I do believe s/he has brought a smile and more education to a horrifying situation.

Unfortunately, not all anonymous comments and personalities are funny and educational.  Trolls exist, and they suck. I read a lot of marketing and PR blogs and articles that advocate eliminating anonymous comments on your blog because of them. I can understand that.  It’s your blog.  You don’t want people to be nasty and bring you down.

I’ve seen a lot of amazing communities brought down by a few evil people.  There’s nothing as terrifying as someone twisting and mutating a perfectly healthy online community into a cesspool of internet drama.  However, in each case, I noticed everything happens because there is no community management.  I recently read a comment policy that wanted my real name for me to comment. As easily as I could type my own name, I could easily type another.  I seriously wondered if that author could believe s/he could police his/her comments just by requiring a seemingly legitimate name on each comment. 

Regardless of that comment policy, the internet is too open for you to try and keep one area free of negativity.  If people can’t complain in one medium, they will find another, and trust me, they will find it very quickly, and it will sting just as bad, if not worse.  Personally, I’d rather have 100 people tell me I suck on this blog, than to say they same thing on Facebook, where each one of their friends will have a chance to read it.

If you think anonymity is the problem, maybe you need thicker skin.  If you try to control the internet, it will control you.

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Stop Worrying and Shamelessly Promote Your Articles

Stop Worrying and Shamelessly Promote Your Articles

I suck at writing headlines.  It takes me forever to summarize my posts in a few words.  The headlines I usually come up with have little or no SEO value.  My only redeeming factor is that the titles I do come up with are often funny and memorable.

With my weaknesses in mind, I began an experiment recently using The Anti-Social Media’s Twitter.  I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but it was more fun scientific that way.  With that in mind, let’s break down this experiment 6th grade scientific method style.

Hypothesis:  I believe I am a crappy headline writer. I intend to prove this realization by posting the same article on Twitter twice in the same day with different headlines to see what gets more page views.

Method: I posted my articles to Twitter using the original headline in the morning around 9 am EST.  In the afternoon, I’d post under a different headline.  As a control, I’d reposted some articles using the original headline.

Results:  Results were varied. One post spread rapidly under the the different title.  Other posts stayed relatively the same as others.  All pages that were reposted to Twitter had more views than if they had only been posted once.

Conclusion:  I’m not sure if I proved I am a crappy headline writer from this experiment.  All of the posts that were reposted got more views, regardless of headline.  This increase may be a result of people not seeing the original posts in the morning, especially for my readers in different timezones than me.

Besides one post, different headlines didn’t seem to have a huge effect.  I’m just going to trust my instincts on this one for now and keep using my original titles.  Hopefully I’ll get better at titling as I keep writing more.

Overall though, posting just once didn’t seem to be enough, so clearly putting the same thing out there twice is worthwhile.  If that’s the case, how can I repost an article without alienating my followers.  The last thing I want to do is make my followers feel like I’m spreading the same content over and over.  Here are some ground rules I came up with.

  • Only promote and repost the article on the day that I published it.  If it doesn’t catch on today, it’s not going to catch on tomorrow.
  • Separate the new posts from the reposts with the tag “New Post!” in front.  This gives readers a visual cue as to what is new content.
  • If the readers and followers start complain incessantly, quit reposting.  You’ve got bigger fish to fry.

I want to know if you’ve experimented with reposting articles on Twitter.  Was it successful?  Was it sexy?  Was it a complete failure?  Let me know how your science project turns out.

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Social Media Serendipity

Social Media Serendipity

I believe there is a firm equation between work and results. Good work with persistence gets better results. I know this equation isn’t exact, but it holds true often enough.  For example, the more I practice playing piano, the more I become a better pianist.   Thankfully for everyone, I realized I wasn’t going to be a great pianist and quit practicing to focus on criticizing social media.

The more I work in social media though, the more I notice an additional factor to this  success equation. It’s a strange, unpredictable factor that happens more when you work harder, but isn’t always there because you tried hard.  You can’t predict when it happens, though you can sometimes give it a good guess.

I call this factor serendipity.

I love serendipity. When it happens, it is magical. Your post suddenly explodes in ways you couldn’t predict. In an instant, the words you sweated out in your home office spread across the entire globe to all sorts of people.  It’s like Andy Warhol manifested and granted you your fifteen minutes of internet fame.

The trouble with serendipity though, is you never know exactly when it will happen.  You want it to happen all the time, and when it does happen, you’ll think, “Really?  People like that? I wrote that in a pinch to get something out the door!”

The only thing I can pin down about serendipity though is the more you work, the better your chances are for it.  I can’t count on any post here making it big, but the more I work to make better posts, and the more better posts I make, the more serendipity I make for myself.

You can’t count on serendipity happening to you, but you can increase your chances of it happening.  Get to work, and let fortune smile upon you.

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When Should You Blog?

It’s easy to get caught up blogging for blogging’s sake.  You have an audience and you want to appease them.  They are like Pac-Man, endlessly devouring content, fruit, ghosts or whatever else gets in their way.  You want your content to be in that line up, but you have no plans to stick to any sort of a regular schedule.

  • When you have an idea - This is the easiest time to blog.  When an idea is fresh in your head and the words pour out of you, writing is a joy.  Take  advantage of these moments.  If you can’t get to your computer right then, jot the idea down somewhere, a post it, a notebook, on your phone so you can come back to it.  I’ve lost many good ideas by not writing them down.  You all can do better than I.
  • When you think you have something to say - If you have a point you want to clarify, or something you want to rant about, write about it.  Take the moment and pour out your thoughts.  When you read them over, if they make no sense, try to edit.  If it still doesn’t work, save it for a later day, or scrap it. 
  • When your thoughts take more than five sentences - Perhaps you are writing a blog comment or a tweet and it starts turning into a short novel.  Before you start working up a sweat, consider posting it on your own blog.  You can still link to it in the comment you are leaving, and make a great point without hijacking someone’s comment section.  It’s win-win for everyone.
  • When you have a solid argument - We all know a lot about something.  My expertise is in fixing crappy social media.  I write in such a way that explains why people get annoyed online and how to make it better for them.  When I see a post that makes me angry, and I know I can counterpoint that post, I go for it.  You can do the same thing.  A point to remember, when arguing, don’t be an ass.
  • Whenever you feel like it - Sometimes you just want to write. Other times it’s the last thing in the world you want to do.  Listen to your heart.  If you want to blog, do it. 

After you’ve written the post, always consider the moment to post it.  You can post immediately.  You can save it for later.  You can throw it all away.  Either way, stop blogging just because you can, and start blogging with purpose.

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    Why I’m Great at Social Media

    Why is it that some people have thousands of followers, and others only have a handful?  Sure, it could be they lock their accounts down.  It could be they really don’t work on spreading their message beyond a few close friends.  Or it could be that they create really horrible content with no value to anyone.

    But, what if they aren’t particularly bland, they’re every open, and the share content of great value to all kinds of people.  While they may not be a celebrity, they certainly give you more value than learning what happened in the life of Ashton Kutcher.  Yet they still linger in a realm that prevents them from pushing star status.  Perhaps there is something more.

    There is a certain quality that many of the amazing bloggers, tweeters, YouTubers and other social media greats share in common.  As someone who observes and participates within that circle, I believe I have located that secret trait within myself. I present to you, the quality that makes me an amazing blogger:


    That is to say, I’m obsessed with myself.  If you think I am kidding, you are very wrong.  While I may give the outside appearances of benevolence and kindness, inside I’m trying to figure out how I can use you all to make me look amazing.  Whether that is by getting you all to buy something I’ve come up with or by earning your trust enough to lead you into the jaws of advertisers, either way I plan to make money off of you through building my self-image.

    I will kill you with content and kindness, and then process your corpse into a low grade meat slurry for a few extra bucks.  And the entire time I’ll be sharing more information and stories about myself than any normal person would want to know about.

    I don’t really want to spread awesome content to share the value of that content, I want you to see me as a valuable resource and information finder.  I don’t write for to help my readers, to bring them a laugh, or even for the art of writing, but rather to say, “Look at me!  I’m dripping with ideas!”

    I even make sure to try and write every day, so you won’t forget about me.  Because if you forget about me, I might as well be dead.  Keep coming back, and I’ll give you even more social media tips.  But you can only learn these from me, so you have to come back here.

    Come and learn more about me and my narcissism!  Don’t let me die!

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