It’s called MICROBLOGGING, okay?

by Alexandra Sokoloff

I was going to call this post “Is blogging dead?”  but that just sets up a conundrum I can’t wrap my head around, not after the week I’ve just had.

But this question has been on my mind a lot lately, for a lot of reasons.  

Promotion and social media exposure, a strong internet presence, is absolutely mandatory for an author. Blogging used to be THE primary method of getting yourself out there, and if you had a personal blog and participated in a group blog like Murderati, or several, even better.

But so many group blogs have shut down, and authors seem to be burned out on personal blogging.

And then there’s Facebook. 

I hear from a lot of people that FB is on the decline but it seems to me that the conversations that used to be had in the blog comments, and the large communities of “backbloggers,”  a lion’s share of that action has moved to Facebook, and that that aspect of FB is growing.

Blogs are in-depth entities. The joy of a blog is that you can really explore a topic (as well as sometimes do some virtuoso writing), and the comments that follow deepen the conversation, and there’s something compelling about the FEELING of a closed, fixed space that a blog is that makes it a sort of virtual salon. People return to their favorite blogs. I think of Murderati as a PLACE, where I can find people I know and where other people can drop by and join the party.  I love that virtual reality aspect of it.

But blogging takes a lot of time, not just for the blogger. It takes actual effort to read a blog, in that you have to go to a particular place to get to the conversation.  If the conversation there isn’t what you were looking for, you have to look elsewhere.

Facebook is a different kind of experience.  It’s all right there in front of you. You throw a topic up there and whoever happens to be passing by on the endless river of “feed” may or may not jump in.  You never know who or what you’re going to get, although I do notice a base of regular commenters coming back to my Facebook page over and over, so there is an aspect of place to it as well.  

FB has tailored a social media expereince that is either still a novelty, or possibly more suited to the kind of social media experience that we are looking for – quick, fun, convenient interaction that gives you a buzz of relevance without much work.

I’ve heard it referred to as “microblogging” and I think that’s a perfect description.

Now, I’m speaking from a very privileged position of being part of an established and respected group blog and also running a very popular blog of my own – my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog is getting more traffiic than ever (though far fewer comments these days), and a great deal of that traffic is for much older posts that are constantly reposted and linked to as people discover the blog and read the accompanying workbooks.  It’s a hugely important selling tool for my nonfiction books.

But lately I feel like I’m casting a far wider net with FB than I can with blogging.  Any post I make I get comments from people I don’t know at all. It’s a quick interaction that introduces me to a huge number of people who may remember me and the fact that I’m an author, which is the groundwork of all promotion – name recognition. And I enjoy the format of Facebook.  It’s so visual – which puts it light years ahead of Twitter, in my opinion. There’s an aspect of improv to it, in that I can always find something fun to say about something someone else has posted. I am, for better or worse, a social butterfly, and I love to have random conversations with large groups of random people.

I know, I know, it’s sounding like I’ve just discovered Facebook (Where exactly has she BEEN for six years?you’re asking). But that’s not exactly true. I was on it before it went public. It’s only recently that I’ve felt that I can use it properly and that it’s at least for the moment being a form of social media promotion that gives me the most bang for my time.  Time being always of the essence – not just for writers, but for everyone who reads them.

So today, I’d love to hear what you have to say about it. Do you think blogging has moved to Facebook? Have you had luck microblogging over there?  

And while we’re on it, where does Twitter figure in? If people ARE leaving FB, where are they going? I’m really interested in what you all have to say about it.

And for comparison of the two media, here’s my Facebook page, where you can find the same discussion topic (third topic, full page.)

Alex

20 thoughts on “It’s called MICROBLOGGING, okay?

  1. Reine

    Um… yeah. And well… I was just going to say that. Facebook, though, is very adaptive with an ever-changing central focus that brings in everything like a tornado. Remember My Space? When people went FB, MySpace went entertainer centered. How far did that get them? Today's issue of Forbes features an article, "MySpace Attempts To Rise From The Ashes." Here http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelecatalano/2013/01/17/myspace-attempts-to-rise-from-the-ashes/ take a look. It won't work, because people are already doing that on FB with pages. Maybe the sound piece is missing, but people link to songs if they want to hear them. I suspect FB will be coming up with their own sound options soon.

    And Twitter is just a feed mechanism.

  2. Sarah W

    I started tweeting maybe two years ago as a way of touching base with long-distance friends, a few of whom live in radically different time zones, then started a Facebook account when it was pointed out by one of those friends that conversations longer than 140 characters were fun, too. Now, I've all but abandoned Twitter because I'm offline too much to make it a decent news source. I can catch up on Facebook a little easier and, as promised, it has Chat without the limits.

    But I like blogs. I like reading them and commenting (obviously), and I've been blogging for about seven years (with a brief hiatus and focus switch) and I enjoy that, too.

    Blogs provide a way, as you say, to explore or discuss things a little more deeply, though it's perfectly fine if depth isn't one's schtick. I think it's a far more versatile format, too, and much easier to search and to share–you have to love links and archives! I still post stuff on Facebook, but I first ask myself whether I could make a full-length post out of it.

    I'm part of a blog circle that was created when we found each other on another blog and started visiting and commenting. That would be enough for me, but my blog following is growing slowly, too, and new people have been commenting lately, either on posts or through e-mail, mostly positive, or at least civil. The sense of connection is nice, and so is the feedback.

    My blog isn't a professional one–it's a bit of a hodgepodge, really–but the posts are linked to Facebook and Twitter, and a significant amount of traffic has been directed from both, lately, so I think using them together is still the best way to go.

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Reine, I think you're right that FB will come up with its own sound options. One of the many things that FB did brilliantly is to keep page design absolutely minimalist, but allow for visuals and links and all of those things. You don't have ANY upkeep on a FB page, as opposed to Myspace, and the traffic is right there for the asking in the feed aspect. Thanks for the article!!

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Sarah, I think blogging is still VERY viable to someone who blogs as well as you do. You're hilarious on FB, too. I'm not sure all bloggers are good at FB and I'm absolutely positive that not all FBookers are good at blogging. So maybe it's a question of what format works best for any individual.

    When I see the pie graphs of how many people use FB as opposed to Twitter AND EVERYTHING ELSE, I can't really see the relevance of Twitter. But I could be wrong.

  5. Reine

    I think what's happened to Twitter is related to people juggling for followers. If you follow someone they often follow you. But people tend to want to be followed by more than they follow. If you start following people to get followers, even if they follow you in turn, your tweet feed soon overwhelms you. You get the Tweet Deck to sort it all out. Then it gets unruly.

    If you don't tweet all the time, your followers forget about you, and you have to tweet more frequently with ever more catchy tweets.You realize you can't do this, so you start finding other twitterers' catchy tweets and retweet them. People now advertise their twitterpertise by pointing out that their twitters are all original like this, "No Retweets!"

    Then… there are those who friend everyone on the planet, to seduce new followers only to turn around and unfollow most, giving them a huge followed/follower ratio advantage. Twitter with it's massive numbers of tweets gives the illusion of lots of exposure. Forget it. It just isn't there. I tweet, but mostly it's like tweeting in the wind or tweeting up a rope.

  6. Lisa Alber

    Facebook accommodates my moods. I think that's why it's my core social media outlet over Twitter or blog-browsing. If I'm in skimming mood, I can…If I feel like connecting, I can join a conversation. If I'm in the mood for a little meat, I can click links to articles and blog posts. I any given instant, I can message a far-flung friend on the fly. And since my Facebook friends aren't a completely random crew, I know that I'm going run into things that interest me.

    One-stop shopping — it's the WalMart of social media!

  7. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Reine, LOL!! My God, no wonder I avoid it! Yeah, if you're following anyone at all there are way more Tweets than you want to scroll through, and so few gems. I just don't get it, really. But the no visuals is the dealbreaker for me.

  8. David Corbett

    I've just started tweeting and almost anything of interest I could say about it has already been said beautifully by Reine and Alex. It's a way to bark to get people's attention but if all the dogs in the nieghborhood are barking, who cares? I like following Sarah Weinman, for example, but digging her out of the twitter avalanche becomes a chore.

    On the other hand, my FB posts get tweeted, so I'm more conscientious about making my first remark pithy.

    As to Alex's point about visuals and just the ability to share content, not just a few choice words — FB is far superior. And enjoyable.

    Meanwhile my web page has become HQ. Not so much a way to reach out as a place anyone can come.

  9. Margaret Maron

    I couldn't agree more, Alex. If and when we redesign my website, I may not continue those mini-essays, just use it for informational purposes as David proposes. I love the feedback I get with FB, but even though you set me up with a twitter account at Weymouth a couple of years ago, I've never once used it. FB seems to be all I can handle on a regular basis.

  10. Barbie

    I think blogging is time consuming because you actually have to sit down and write everything. You have to stop and think and do it eloquently. You can't just blurt out the words like you'll do on Facebook and Twitter. Also, I'm a bit of a comment whore, and if I write a post and there are no comments, I'll feel like a failure, lol. Like my latest post, super cool. A few comments, that's okay. I was expecting more! :/

    I LOVE Twitter over Facebook because you don't expect much for it. When you say something funny, weird, scary, bitchy, complainy, you're not under the expectation of people liking it, commenting it, it's more like a public diary. Or you comment on something someone said. Or you chat with people. I absolutely do not follow anyone I'm not interested in what they have to say, because of what you said, so I won't clutter my timeline.

    Facebook, on the other hand, you say something funny, "WHY DID ONLY 5 PEOPLE LIKED IT?" Last week I said something less funny and 10 people liked it. What's wrong with this? (Or maybe it's just me! I'm sure that since you're an author, you have a million likes for everything!). You post a new profile picture with your new hairdo? It's a whole day of biting your nails waiting! Especially when your mom's last profile picture (my mom's this super popular hotshot professor) had like 95 likes on FB.

    Get me?

    I know, I have issues. And, yeah, 24 years old? They're like teenagers. We're ALL like that. And teenage boys? They're obsessed with likes, too. I'm gonna blog about that, soon! πŸ˜‰

  11. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Barbie, that is hands-down the best explanation I've EVER HEARD of why someone would prefer Twitter to FB. Thank you!!!!

    You couldn't be more right, there is an ego risk to every FB post because we're all counting the Likes and Comments. On days (or months) we don't want that kind of anxiety, Twitter is a way to communicate but avoid the counting obsession.

    That had absolutely never occurred to me, but of course it's a factor in anyone's comfort level. Brilliant!

  12. Alexandra Sokoloff

    David, yes, the "twitter avalanche" is absolutely how I feel about it, but you raise a good point – I also try to make the first line of a FB line comprehensive enough to make sense in the Twitter feed.

  13. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Hey Margaret! Next Weymouth I'll check and make sure that your FB posts are feeding to Twitter, but aside from that, you don't need it.

    And yes, I'm still warming up to the blog I started for my new website, but it seems to be working to keep my website very current.

  14. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Lisa, I am SO sorry. But it illustrates a point – I think the proliferation of spam and the maddening necessity of spam filters that make blog commenting more time-consuming is another nail in blogging's coffin.

  15. KDJames

    I enjoy blogging, or I wouldn't do it. Although, after six and a half years, it seems like I've said everything there is to say and I certainly don't post as often as I used to. But I'm still getting a response, sometimes from strangers, so I guess I'll keep on with it.

    Twitter can be overwhelming, but I don't follow many people because my head would explode. Still not sure why anyone follows me at all, but several do (including a few who make me nervous). I like talking to other writers, but one big benefit for me is following people who link to industry news. Well, and just world news in general.

    I suck at FB. I keep forgetting it's there. But I do send a link to my page when I put up a new blog post, and that prompts a few people to go read it. And my daughter has friended me on my personal account, so that's really nice to be able to see her pictures.

    People have such different personalities and various comfort levels of communication, it's good to have different options.

    And David, I'm sorry, but I'm completely cracking up at the thought of you saying anything in 140 or fewer characters. I might have to track you down over there, just to see whether you can actually do it. πŸ˜‰

  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    KD, hah! You're right, Corbett in 140 characters?

    I agree with you, it's great that there are different platforms for different personalities. Practically, though, until any of the others have FB's market penetration, if that's what you'd call it, I'm determined to make FB work for me.

  17. PD Martin

    Facebook can be a black hole for me (plan to only spend 15 minutes on there and an hour later…) but maybe I'm just not as Facebook savvy as I'd like to be! I have been spending less time on FB since getting back from Korea with Liam but that's to be expected! Not sure if my author 'brand' is suffering from my absence or not. On my cynical days I wonder if anything other than new books and word of mouth (can be on FB but probably not actually generated by me) will bring in new readers anyway.

    But definitely prefer FB to Twitter.

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