Facebook Frenzy

Assignment: In your journal blog, describe what your Facebook strategy and goals might be. 

I’ve repeatedly established that I’m a good bit behind the curve when it comes to social media adoption and use.  I typically have only co-opted to use social media because everyone else was. That was the case initially, for sure. It was incumbent to create a MySpace and then, even though I had a healthy presence there, I felt pretty much forced to go over to FaceBook because everyone else did.

Naturally, I was slow to be active on FaceBook. At once I learned it was a different animal than MySpace–not nearly as blog friendly and it lacked alot of the visual appeal and personalization aspects I had grown to enjoy on MySpace.  But because I had learned the value of using MySpace as a “stage” where I “performed” for my willing fans (through blogging or posting videos of myself performing on stage at that time or through the ease of archiving pictures on that site), I did my best to adapt to FaceBook’s “stage.”  This was an altogether different performance, though–much more succinct and far less personal.

Over the years, I’ve learned that being succinct and less personal is a good thing for me though.  We know that general privacy rapidly becomes a larger concern, as discussed in this week’s reading. It’s on the note of personal privacy where FaceBook and social media in general are growing concerns for me.

I’ve said it before–my sexuality is not something I typically broadcast when I can’t control the audience. And that’s largely out of respect for the audience. Not everyone I know either wants to or needs to know that I’m same-sex attracted.  (Indeed, when I was MySpace active, an anonymous person printed out a photo of myself with my boyfriend at the time from that site, taped it to a post card and mailed the photo to my mother. Luckily she never saw that because my sister-in-law scooped it out of my parents’ mailbox just in time.  You can’t make this stuff up.)

And recently and to divulge another sensitive story in my personal life, I was messaged on FaceBook by a friend of my daughter’s family (yes, I said daughter) disparaging me about how I hadn’t been involved in that little girl’s life (long story). I made some major changes to my privacy settings after that incident by limiting my visibility to friends only. And by blocking not a few people.  Social media makes the world smaller. And indeed, my social media presence and participation is precarious.

Because of the various and sundry issues, my FaceBook strategy has always been a sort of “what they don’t know won’t hurt ’em” mentality–and further, “be very careful about what you DO let ’em know.”  I’ve let my hair down since I moved to Memphis, and because I value the “stage” aspect of social media more than ever before because most of my friends live over six hours away and because they’ve grown accustomed to my “performances.”

But the performance has had to be altered.

I used a FaceBook analytics program called Wolframalpha to actually get a handle on what is really going on with my FaceBook activity so I can be more sensible about how to best use it for my personal brand going forward.

The results were, to be conversational about it, very cool.

For example, it’s good genderto know my friends are largely female. They’re usually more comfortable with gay guys. And the ladies on my friends list have evidenced they’re by far bigger fans of #Bones. This knowledge will help me in going forward to know that I’m working with an audience that is almost 2/3 female.

I learned about my typical FaceBook activity from this metric analysis.  We read  more frequently all the time about what time of day is best to post on social minterfaceedia.
I clearly have trends in my personal use. And I believe my habits largely reflect what sources like The Huffington Post indicate are best practices according to time of day to post. This graphic also demonstrates that I largely use my iPhone to post–good information to know regarding purchasing/upgrading mobile phone service.

In considering how I will employ what I’m learning about social media best practices where FaceBook is concerned, I believe it’s also significant for me to consider the content that I post.  I’ve seen recently that by linking to my blog on FaceBook creates exponential susagepikes on my blog activity.  Clearly, I can utilize this technique to drive more traffic to my blog,
considering that I have 768 sets of eyes potentially looking at my FaceBook activity.  This makes it all the more important to think more seriously about the wording and writing that I use on FaceBook. My “audience” knows me as a writer. Many of my friends are FaceBook immigrants from back in the day when I blogged heavily on MySpace. They pay attention to my words.  And after looking at this word cloud from the analytics, I should pay more attention, too. Evidently I spend alot of time talking about “time” on FaceBook (not altogetwordcloudher in a positive sense most of the time now that I think about it). “Memphis” and” Chattanooga” are prominent words, as well as “new.” It’s easy to discern from just a glance at this that my FaceBook musings have been largely focused on my recent move to Memphis for grad school.  This is a compelling glance at word usage/content.

Further and regarding content, it’s clear I need to focus more on posting photos.  Studies continue to show that posting pictures is a very effective way to prompt engagement–especially the type of photos that are compelling enough not to warrant captions. As a sometime professional photographer, I understand this and I believe myself capcontentable in creating content of this nature that can be compelling.  These results prompt
me to be more enthusiastic about posting more photos in the future. Because curation is an important new trend (and because, considering the graphic to the right I hardly every do it), linking to my creative writing blog and other sites of interest is a needful area in my FaceBook usage. It’s a tendencyI’ve largely avoided in the past, but it is inevitable that I must improve in that arena so I can increase engagement with my FaceBook activity.

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It’s amazing how infographics and data analytics can create an entirely different perception of one’s activity online.  As with many other instances I’m encountering in this course and in graduate school at large, I’m new to alot of this.  It actually kinda strikes fear inside me when every week rolls around and some other new social media concept has been mine to tackle.  I feel like I’ve been largely successful and functionality in the online realm has increased significantly for my personal brand, for my online recreation and for promotion of my blog.

But when it comes to FaceBook, I’ve been very comfortable in that realm for a long time and have considered myself fairly savvy. But maybe not so much.  With increased privacy concerns and with a glance at the figures I’ve included herein, I see several easy activities I can increase on my FaceBook wall that will further my engagement with others. And armed with these new illustrations of that Facebook reality, I can do so with less concern and more wisdom about how to compose content that won’t create further drama where my personal life is concerned.

The goal is increased engagement–especially when I can feel lonely in a new city and when I want to drive people to my blog.  But the wisdom is not in simply more content, but the right kind of content–so that increased engagement is achieved but in the most positive way for everyone involved.

 

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Weekly Reading Insights–Week 8

For this week’s reading, we take a look at metrics and the various tools available to measure our online activity.  Indeed, in contemporary online society and especially for digital journalists, it’s not just about writing an article to deadline anymore.  The capabilities of online tracking, measuring, and analyzing engagement have added responsibility to not only write good content, but to be capable of positioning it and promoting it correctly.  Because the tools are there, they should be used.  And knowing how to do that is crucial.

Analytics and metrics are obviously something we never needed to contend with when I worked in the television news business. Ratings operations like Nielsen have thankfully handled that task for the television industry  for years.  And the work of Nielsen was pretty much the only way metrics could be achieved for television entertainment and news.  But alas, the times have changed. That is easily evidenced just by signing on to Nielsen’s webpage.  The first headline that pops up is “Online Measurement” and this quote: “Understanding how your brand is doing online is about more than clicks and page views. It’s about the audience.”

In the readings for this week, I perceived a couple of categories when it comes to metrics: how to achieve metrics and the growing science of metrics.

In the “how to” category, I can already acknowledge that I have bookmarked Leo Widrich’s article titled “A Scientific Guide to Writing Great Headlines on Twitter, Facebook, and Your Blog.” This article is gold and a significant and practical resource for anyone who needs to ramp up their online headline writing.  These pointers are especially useful for me in particular. With the bulk of my professional news experience rooted in television news, writing headlines was something I never had much responsibility for or experience with.  Headlines per se don’t really exist in television news (although skill in writing them is relevant to good lead sentence writing).  But now, headline writing–and really GOOD headline writing–is a requirement for anyone who endeavors online, whether that endeavor is as a digital journalist or a blogger or even just a Twitter user.  Indeed, these pointers are good for all of us.

Specifically and most notably, this article specifies the importance of using action words in online headline writing, as well as being bold to ask for downloads and retweets. And very akin to the best practices for writing a television news story headline, Widrich wisely recommends using “you” when writing headlines in an attempt to make stories seem more personally relatable.

Widrich also highlights the importance of using photos–but not just any photos. He points out that images significantly increase online engagement, but even mores when they are images that can convey meaning without requiring text. Self-explanatory photography is an art, and an incumbent photography skill for online engagement.  Widrich speaks to brevity, as well. We all know the 140-character limit imposed by Twitter and how a requirement on brevity as such can be a challenge. But Widrich suggests to impose that same brevity in headline writing on Facebook and elsewhere. He specifically suggests to keep it under 80 characters.  Indeed, shorter is more engaging online.

I liked the advice in this article that suggested using Twitter for A/B testing, especially with blog headlines.  Using Twitter statistics to establish validity before placing a headline on a blog or elsewhere is inspired and something I would’ve never even thought of doing with my own online platforms. Yeah, gold. The healthy list of resources in Gerry Moran’s piece is invaluable as well.  I also bookmarked this one. Tools, tools, tools. Especially free ones.  This is a good thing.

As to what is apparently a growing science about metrics, the article by data scientist Brian Abelson was an eye-opener. I’m aware and familiar with metrics, having previously built my own public relations dashboard for another class at the University.  And because we talk about it in our graduate student circles even pertaining to our own personal social media, I have a command on the necessity and importance. But to read to what extent academic and scientific research is foraging into the arena was really compelling. In the article, Abelson details his research into how pageviews on the New York Times website can differ with the implementation of promotion of content on social media platforms.  Through a statistical and visual interpretation of his findings that were as detailed and complicated as any academic research article, Abelson establishes his findings that promotion increases said page views.

The author also details the often-overlooked aspect of resource investment into attaining metrics.  Comparable to the origination of the term “horsepower” that this concept’s evaluation of the strength of a machine does not necessarily take into account the “resources required to generate a given amount of force,” Abelson explains that likewise, news organizations can’t simply count pageviews on a website. These organizations have to account for the resource investment (i.e. cross-promotion/advertising, etc.) that is required to accomplished those pageviews.

This is all such a new realm of thought to me.  I’ve investigated my dashboard on my WordPress blogs and have enjoyed seeing those static results.  I have my own Klout score (and a pretty darn high one I’ve heard at 59).  And I’m constantly monitoring my level of engagement on Facebook–if for no other reason than to see how my ‘fans’ are enjoying my ‘show.’ 😉

To gain perspective from this article on the importance of the level of investment in attaining these metrics,  I feel like I’m even better equipped going forward with my personal online endeavors at self-branding but even more so with my “beat blog” on gay male stereotyping on television. Even a little better understanding at the science of metrics and the factors that fold into it will help me decide what my best strategies are as I proceed to attempt to leverage my blog and its content for the highest levels of engagement.

Overall, the readings this week did indeed provide more information than just the importance of measuring online endeavor.  As summed up in the piece by Moran, reach is about more than counting.  It’s about who you can reach and to what extent you can engage.  Moran’s simple pointers as to considerations of what time is best to post online content, attempting to reach beyond just your followers, finding the right followers, finding influencers, and branding correctly all point to the new role of responsibility that journalists face in the online realm that goes far beyond mere content and deadline.