The Bet Mr. Everything Didn’t Take

It is said that those who do not study and learn from history are inevitably doomed to repeat it.    While Mr. Everything is a very intelligent (and certainly a very cunning) man,  he is very clearly new to the online world,  at least in relative terms as reckoned by someone who has been online for more than twenty years now.   I tried to teach Mr. E a bit of online history and share with him a few of the lessons I’ve learned over all these years.

I challenged Mr. E to a bet.    Would he try out every social network I could dig up?    His eyes lit up and he said sure!   I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes,  an aura of excitement passing over the man as he imagined discovering and conquering hot new sites before any of his friends heard about them.    That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.   I sent him this list of sites to join in what was to have been the first week of our little bet:

Blogcatalog.com
(http://blogcatalog.com/)

FriedEggs.com
(http://friedeggs.com/)

The CompuServe Forums

(http://webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com/forum_center/)

Vimeo
(http://vimeo.com/)

BrooWaha.com
(http://www.broowaha.com/)

Entrecard.com
(http://entrecard.com/)

I myself have accounts on some of these and have had accounts on others. I do not however actively participate on any of thse sites at this time. And there’s actually a good reason for that. By and large, having tried and tested these sites I either found no use for them, or after using them for a time found that between the changes I had grown through and the changes the sites had grown through, they no longer served by needs. Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s Compu$erve was the only game in town if you had a computer and wanted to “go online” and did not want to mess with finding a local bulletin board service that was a free call from your home telephone.

The fact that today the “CompuServe Forums” are actually a pretty lonely and poorly traveled corner of the Internet does not diminish what a huge game changing big deal they were in their hayday. And I am hardly going out on a limb to predict that some day, sites like Twitter and Facebook that really are essential for social networking to so many people today will too come to be passe, a shadow of their former selves or even taken offline entirely. An Internet community on a web site is actually a very fragile thing. You will see them start up at times or stumble upon them into their evolution. You will participate and help them grow at times. And at times, you will see them die. Sometimes death is gradual, as more and more users simply gravitate away to other diversions. Other times death follows a damaging flame war or series of flame wars that literally burn all of the life out of the group.

In my considered opinion it takes a great deal of time, energy and talent to create and maintain a good online group, which in some ways is really only as good as whomever chooses to continue participating there Today. I think you need to be selective about where and how you spend your time. I do think it is important to continually try new things and look for better ways. But I’m also dead set against trying to participate “Everywhere” and think that being able to find and examine available resources and figure out which ones to use and how best to use them, is pretty much a core competency of #socialnetworking or just about anything else you might try do for a living these days.

Next Week:  Mr. E’s reaction to my e-mail

Take Them On?

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with plastics or environmentalism.   This is actually a post about social media.    You may recall that I created Mr. Everything and Ms. Efficiency in order to share my real feelings about some real people whom I know and deal with in social media.    While I suppose it could be argued that fictionalizing them and trying to write only about my own feelings may be less honorable than engaging them and attempting to resolve our real differences,  I frankly believe that at the very least,  the fictional characters route was the best course for me.

But I was very struck by something that Saul Fleishman posted in a group I belong to for connect.me  Trust Anchors.    Saul wrote:

So, anyone with enough charm and interest in exhibiting prominence on yet another network, needs only connive three of us for a T.A. vouch, and then, the spammiest, most unworthy of the social media “be everywhere” clan become one of us? I see it already.

To which I immediately replied:

yep. they’re already here 🙂

What followed was an interesting discussion,  which made clear to me that the folks behind connect.me  do understand the problem with what I have taken to calling  “social media rock stars”.   But it brought home to me the inadequacy of my ‘turn them into fictional characters and only write about my own feelings’ approach.    Mr. Everything,  it turns out,  invited a friend of mine to stand in for me at his social media conference that is coming up real soon now.     That he did not discuss this with me before asking someone else to speak for me troubles me,  but frankly doesn’t surprise me.   (That my friend thought to notify me right away and discuss with me how I’d prefer she handle the situation,  speaks a great deal to the integrity of my friend;  that Mr. Everything still hasn’t mentioned a thing about it to me speaks volumes about him as well.)

I definitely don’t claim to be an expert in social media.   But I am more convinced than ever that no one can be everywhere online.   And that choosing your friends and taking care whom you trust is about the most important thing you do.

Random Support

Shhhh.   I tell you a secret that Mr. Everything just doesn’t get.    Being “random” with your friends does not actually, exactly come across as real friendship much of the time.   Of course randomly popping in unexpectedly and throwing real help is certainly a friend-winning move, but  being more likely to fail to show up when called, asked and needed is just not anyone’s idea of   “supportive”.     The further I go in social networking the more and more I find myself wondering if there isn’t really some upper hard limit of the number of Facebook friends one can have without turning into a Social Media Rock Star who just doesn’t get it.

I’ve long since realized that what really makes most things online go around is reciprocity.   The way to get links from nice people with great audiences is to consistently link to nice people who provide good content. This was true when I started my first blog way back then and remains true today.   Anyone who is serious about their blog will do all they can to encourage and respond to all comments to make the site a two way conversation with readers.    Consistently drawing comments and becoming known as a site where discussions will take place greatly increases page views.    It is in a sense so web publisher 101 that I remain a bit shocked that Mr. Everything  doesn’t even have comments on his blog.

But as I’ve said before it can take all kinds of FB friends to succeed in your goals on the Interwebz,  and I am genuinely proud to announce that Libdrone Books is signed up for Michael Q Todd’s #eavenar Social Media Conference,  to be held February 16th and 17th  from 12pm to 9pm  Pacific Time both days,   online.    Although the exact arrangements are not yet finalized as I write this,   the ticket will allow participants access to the teleconference website all hours on both days.   All paid participants will also receive a free copy of Walking Down The Avenue v 1.2,  the most comprehensive and up to date guide book there is for Empire Avenue.     The early bird price of only $4.95 for the two day conference and the eBook  is available only through February 8th.

Sticking To My Goal

Lots of my friends in the Social Media Rock Star world talk a lot about setting goals and having numerically quantifiable results.     And with this post I am most pleased to announce that I am fully one twelfth of the way through to my goal of publishing a new blog post every day this year.

This year of blog posts really has been written one at a time.   Mostly not one right after the other.   But most the afternoon or evening about three days before they go live.  (So far I’ve been able to mostly schedule posts to go live at 12:01 am server time,  which is in fact about 7pm the night before in Eastern Time– which Mr. Everything by way always refers to as “Internet time”;  it’s 4pm the previous afternoon for me here in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.)

In addition to insisting that a good social media man really needs to be everywhere and to referring to one particular time zone as “Internet time” (those of us who have been around the interwebz a while know that it really is a 24/7 kind of place where time is largely irrelevant).  Mr. E also has been known to make commitments that he doesn’t quite understand and then to break these commitments more out of ignorance than out of malice.   I want to make clear that Mr. Everything really is my friend and I do appreciate his efforts at promoting me.   And yet I’ve gone to the trouble of making him a fictional character so that I can write about how the relationship makes me feel.   Which brings me to today’s social media lesson.   How people are made to feel is actually a great deal more important than what you say to them.

Trying NOT To Be A Social Media Rock Star

They are my friends.   I need to make that totally clear.  And to give them their due,  I also have to say that they are sometimes,  in some ways approachable. And they do help to promote me and my work.  And yet.

Unlike my blogger friends of yore,  they don’t seem to notice or acknowledge when you link to them.   They don’t always notice when you are speaking to them,  even if you do tag them in a public post.   They are never rude, of course.   Except in that they sometimes seem to ignore you,   even when you are right there.    They are so different from you and me.   Except I sometimes fear I am becoming one.

Social Media Rock Stars.   I actually think there was a Facebook group with that name once,  but I’m pretty sure it never really took off.    S/M rockstars are usually quite friendly of course.   They tend to greet most new ideas with enthusiasm and most always pledge to help.   They are a bit less likely than most to actually follow through.   And as I struggle to keep up with the almost 700 friends I’ve made to date I do have to wonder how the folks with 2,700 friends manage without things falling through the cracks.  (Except of course that I know things DO fall through the cracks,  as they did when I had thirty friends and when I had 300 friends…it really is kind of human nature I think.)

I am both thrilled and amazed at the great new people I continue to meet (like Susan Davis Cushing— one of the founders of #Sustainchat and master gardener and organic expert June Stoyer, who is patient even with my very brown thumb) and at the same time painfully aware that I now have at least 100 shareholders whom I have somehow not managed to meet, greet or invest in.   It is so easy to be critical of others for the short-comings you perceive in their social media efforts.   And so difficult to keep up with an ever growing number of friends and acquaintances.   And I think the only is answer is the one that John Irving quoted in The Hotel New Hampshire.   (“And so we beat on,  and our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them.”).   It’s not really an answer to the time crunch of an ever expanding social media circle.  But it may serve as a reminder that even if you have (insert Your friend count number here) friends,  real communication is still more often than not a one to one experience.

Another One Bites The Dust

(was called:  The First Lesson You Need To Know About Social Media)

Today I note the passing of Forumlists.    I’m honestly not sure if this particular Twitter tool was ever recommended by Mr. Everything  (You may note that I’m now just using a fictitious name and not linking…to anyone.  See the explanatory page.)  In a very professional blog post  the company explains that they have run out of money and have to take the site down.   They also graciously point to some other resources for Twitter lists.     I have written before that web sites come and go.   I have come to believe that real relationships with other human beings are the only thing that is truly enduring.

I got into a discussion on Facebook today with a couple of users, one of whom is moving a blog from WordPress.com  to self-hosted,  and another who is contemplating starting a blog and is not sure which way to go.  Full disclosure:  I sell web hosting.   I explained that if you’ve never blogged before and are not 100% sure that a blog needs to be a part of your #socialnetworking strategy it is perfectly reasonable to start off using a free host like blogger.com  or WordPress.com.   I do however strongly advise buying your own domain name before you publish your first post.   If you later decide to do a self-hosted WordPress (or switch to WordPress.com from self-hosted or any other blogging platform),  you would still be able to simply and easily import all of your posts and all of your comments.   And if you already own your own domain name,  and don’t change the structure in the import,  all of the links you’ve gotten for those posts and all of the shares and Likes etc.  carry right over.

I don’t ever want to become a “social media rock star” who bleats boringly about the “latest and greatest” tools.   I want to be the guy who explains that many tools have their uses and if you have a busy schedule,  deciding which tools to focus your time on is one of the most important decisions you have to make.   Unless you’re Mr. Everything the fact is you don’t have time to be everywhere.  So picking and choosing where and how to spend your time is the first #socialmedia lesson you really need to learn.