Category: Social Media for Bloggers
A recent article on ZDNet posited that Google will continue to be the primary search engine of choice for the foreseeable future. With competitors like Bing clamoring to get a slice of the “search pie”, and Facebook’s experiment in social search, it’s not easy to predict the future of search engines. The data, however, leads to interesting questions on just what it means to be the top search engine on the new Social Web.
No matter where you are on the web, you’ll hear it eventually: Search and Social are merging. The introduction of Google+ Local Pages is a prime example of search giants merging social networking with search results – using logged-in user information for better places results. The challenge to competitor search engines is first convincing people not to use Google, and second, competing with the vast array of product Google offers. On the whole, most average internet users are just fine with Google’s services, making the search juggernaut a household name – “Just Google it!” Since that’s where the majority of users are, that’s also where the advertisers are.
Another challenge competitors will face is to offer a search index as extensive as Google. It would be hard to provide better search results, better user interface, and better integration with all the other applications users use – Gmail, Youtube, Maps, and documents (Google Drive), for example. Even those who say that mobile apps and vertical portals will weaken Google’s search profits have to consider the iOS6 Maps debacle. One article claims that the “Giants [are] fighting a war for shrinking territory”, but even mobile apps are distributed via Google Play – which can be found on both Android and Apple devices.
But what if there was an insidious search option that’s used by over 845 million active users– 425 million users on mobile alone, each day?
What if there was an unsung search giant with over 100 billion collective connections – accounting for 1 out of every 5 pageviews on the internet world wide?
What if this search giant already had access to all the data a search engine would need to curate results based on interests, event attendance, app activity and social interaction – that was willingly given by users to the search engine, and updated constantly, making it some of the most in-depth and ACCURATE data available?
What if that Search Engine was Facebook?
Users may not like the idea of a Facebook Search Engine – but Facebook doesn’t strive to be a search engine. Facebook has the power to develop a social search option, which provides accurate results based on user profile and social data already provided.
The difference between Facebook and Google is the relatively little time it takes Facebook to crawl pages and glean information, versus the time it takes Google crawl lines of code and guess everything about the search user based on a meager amount of information. Where Google searches are all weighted nearly equally (with the exception of +1 votes for pages), and rely solely on search terms, Facebook likes, in app activities and “action links” help prioritize pages. Facebook users actively identify the types of content they share, allowing businesses to personalize content and driving engagement.
Of course, Google offers profile personalization, and with Google+ the search giant has taken steps towards becoming more social. Still Google+ posts on average have less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share. Users spend on average 3 minutes a month on Google+, whereas they spend over 400 minutes on Facebook. Google+ engagement levels are so low that they actually rank BEHIND MySpace.
All these things are changing the current search paradigm, to create new social searches that provide better results with better data. Since Facebook has tried extremely hard to keep from competing directly with Google, Bing and Facebook have partnered to give Bing’s search results a more social aspect – this may have helped Bing’s Search Market Share, which has been slowly, but steadily increasing. Of course, where privacy is concerned, Google still has more authority than Facebook. Google claims that 50 million users make use of Google’s “enhanced” products each day – including Gmail. Where search is concerned Google still eats up 66.8% of the Search Market Share. That leaves Google as the reigning king of search… for now.
For bloggers, consider what this would mean for your search results – having a branded Facebook page for your blog, online store, or web presence may make you easier to find in search results. This is especially true if you have a good-sized FB following. Encourage your readers and commenters to connect, and then engage them for best results.
I read the fantastic IFB article on freelancing today – it had a great tips for gals and guys who want to make the move from blogging to freelancing (to, of course, supplement their blog income – because really, who makes all that much from their blog? Not meeee. And I have NO problem with that.)
I’m pretty sure blogging helped me get the job I have now. Of course, by that, I mean: all the things I learned while learning to be a blogger helped me into my current position. I freelance – it’s a long-term contract position with a fantastic Social, Marketing, and Web company. I work from home, so the premise is much the same. I have assignments – long term. I pay my own self-employment taxes. It’s adult.
The IFB tips are great, and they are just the tip – of the freelancing iceberg, that is. Freelancing is tough, but it’s totally worth it. Here are 3 things to remember:
1. Get up in the AM like everyone else, get ready for, and go to work. AKA: Why I Won’t Work in My Pajamas.
It took me a WHILE to figure this one out. “Really? I have to get up and go to work like everyone else? But I work from home!”
That didn’t work for me. I’d wake up at 9:30, sometimes even 10. It would take forever to get moving. I would schlep around in my pajamas… And I didn’t feel nearly as productive as if I would have gotten up at a set time, got dressed (or really, brush my hair + teeth, and put on NOT-pajamas), had breakfast, and started work at a set time.
Now I do this. It’s important. I do make a point to get up at a set time each day. I make sure that I eat something, and that I put on real clothes instead of sitting around in my underwear and a sleep shirt. Sometimes I’ll even put on tinted moisturizer (nothing crazy here) because it makes me feel like a real human being. And when I feel like a real human being, I’m more productive.
Side note: Some people can’t freelance because they’re at home. There are a million things you need to do at home – like clean your bathroom – and it can be hard to prioritize your work. Alternately, you might be tempted to slough off – like eating bonbons and reading trashy novels – instead of working, because you ARE at home. If you struggle working from home, do the cafe thing, until you get into a set rhythm in your routine. Alternately, look into something like Loosecubes where you can find co-working spaces. Set yourself up for success from the start.
2. Get up periodically throughout the day and do something COMPLETELY different.
Sometimes when the Mr gets home from a long day at the office, I feel a little manic. He’s the first person I’ve seen all day! It’s exciting! Sure I’m talking to people from work online, or I’m blogging, or I’m communicating in general, but the truth is that when I’m parked at my desk for 8 hours, nonstop, I start to feel a little crazy. You know what helps? Taking a damn break.
Wanna hear some science on that? Taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity, while skipping them can lead to stress and exhaustion.
I make sure to take a lunch break – where I’m not at my computer. For my sanity (and for J’s sanity when he gets home from work) it really helps if I get up, get away from my PC, and do SOMETHING. Walk the dog. Eat a sandwich and read a book in the sun on my porch. Hit the gym. Do a load of laundry. Ultra glamour – I know – but I have realized that I need to make time to pause throughout the day. Not just lunch breaks either: I have to write in those breaks that would be normally scheduled if I worked for anyone but me. And it works. I feel better about my work, and I feel like I get more done.
It also helps your brain reboot. Working on a frustrating project? Take a time out, do a 3 minute dance party in your office where you dance around like a damn fool to whatever floats your boat. When you sit back down to tackle that thing that was bugging you, you’ll be able to look at it with a fresh set of eyes.
3. Make to-do lists. Make to-do lists of to-do lists. I like lists.
When I’m done in the afternoon, I like to write myself a list of “shit I need to do tomorrow”. These are usually prioritized, so the big big tasks (or sometimes the repetitive stuff, depending on what it is) get written down first, and then lesser tasks.
Lists are perfect for freelancers because a) crossing stuff off gives you a sense of accomplishment in a medium where your end result isn’t necessarily tangible and where there’s not really anyone to congratulate you on – you know, transferring 1100 products from one site to another or whatever it is you’re working on, and b) lists help me stay organized in what I need to do and what I’ve been able to do. They help me for billing purposes later – so that when I’m invoicing, I can type all the stuff I’ve crossed out into my time sheet. Bravo!
Bonus: Get better at managing your own time.
Yeah, lists will help. And being productive because you know when to get up and dance out your frustration will help. But the best thing you can do for yourself as a freelancer is to get into the habit of documenting and estimating how long it’ll take you to do things. Your boss wants 3 blog posts done for this client in an hour – do you know how long it ACTUALLY takes to do that?
As a freelancer, time management is CRUCIAL. My friend David SWEARS by the Harvest app, saying that it’s great for tracking time, adding notes, and estimating time. If you’re not ready to schill out the $50 to get it, use Excel and a stopwatch. Note the time you started, how long it took you, and what you did. Start this now. Do it for your blog posts (I’ve been working on this post for exactly half an hour – which is pretty good for a 1000 word post). Do it for your laundry. Do it for your morning routine (didn’t Fabulously Broke write about that?).
Just don’t beat yourself up when you go over your estimate. Adjust your estimate, and maybe find ways to shave off a little bit of time here or there, until you can become accurate. Really REALLY accurate.
So that’s that. Tips for freelancers. Do you have any super great tips for freelancers that I didn’t write about? Put ‘em in the comments!
Recently you may have noticed the crickets chirping all by their lonesomes here at Bonne Vie. This bird has been busy, buying textbooks, cleaning out cobwebs, and writing a lot of really insightful stuff for clients. Learning, growing… you get the idea. I’ve hardly had time for outfit photos, let alone a good afternoon of window-shopping.
What, you may ask, have I been writing about? Here’s a little slice from Rorymartin.com:
The top 10 social media mistakes your business is making: You need to sit down and create a social media plan, you need to engage and listen, you should address negative comments – in whatever manner you see fit, and you should research ways to measure the time you’re investing in social media. Whether you’re a business or a fashion blogger, it’s a good idea to flip through these tips, and think about ways to improve your social media strategy.
If you’re asking, “Why do all my visitors only stay for a moment, and how do I keep them on my site?”, you may need to delve into your visitor bounce rate. It could be your industry, it might be your content, or you may not be using target=”blank” in your URLs. Whatever it is, this cool KissMetrics graphic shows you the factors that keep people on your page.
Are you properly using keywords? I know for a FACT that I am not – and as a fashion blogger who wants to maintain an audience, using the right keywords on posts can make a world of difference. Build a great keyword strategy that utilizes both specific and broader terms to really get your blog out there.
Not sure how to use Facebook as a blogger or as a business? There’s this little thing called Edge Rank that will make or break your page, and to beat the algorithm you need to find new and better ways to connect with your users so your content is seen by more people. Edge Rank determines the relevancy of your posts, and then decides whether or not you’re relevant enough to show to a Facebook demographic. How do you become relevant? Ask questions, use polls, link your blog to your Facebook page with a simple like button. Get involved, interact and have fun. Most of all, do more listening than self-promoting.
All this information is definitely useful, no matter what sort of website you’re running. Stay informed and stay ahead of the curve. And never fear, we’ll have more fashiony posts again, before you even know it!
So often I find myself walking a fine line between posts that are *~FLUFF AND FASHIONZZ!~* and meaty, essay-style articles. Straddling the line between serious-blog and fun-blog can be a little daunting, but I feel like it takes a delicate balance between fun and thoughtful to make a blog successful.
It’s those meaty, well thought out posts that I feel most proud of, not a post about cute shoes, or an outfit post. The writing that really matters to me are those posts I’ve worked on, and thought about, and deliberated. Sometimes it’s hard to continue writing that type of post of when there’s very little feedback, and I know that’s also the case for many other bloggers. I’m guilty of shooting off a quick Twitter response, or commenting as I share a post in Google Reader. I sometimes feel bad about doing that instead of going to the actual site for a well thought out discussion.
I also feel like it’s better to have zero comments than to have spam comments, or follow requests – comments that don’t have much to do with what I’ve written (more on that from Ashe Mischief). If your comment is thoughtful, it takes me about 30 seconds to pop over to your site and see what you have to say. I know the ball bounces both ways. Ultimately, it’s up to me to make conversation happen in my own webspace.
The trick is to not be discouraged, but to realize that those essay pieces are complete as they are – comments or no. They were complete when I hit post, and I’m truly graced with being part of a great community when I get twitter replies or actual comments. It’s not really about the comments, but about speaking my mind. As Jamillah of made-to-travel said to me yesterday, “There is a quote … that says, ‘Speak, even if you think no one will listen’, so I do.”
However, as a blogger, it is important to strike the balance between oration and conversation; between yourself and your audience. Write for you – of course – but realize that what people most respond to isn’t self promotion. Your readers want to respond to something that engages them. They like to read posts that are real, and include situations they’ve experienced. That means that blog success often comes from connecting with your readers.
This doesn’t just apply to your blog. Do you have a Facebook page for your blog? I know I do, and sometimes I’ve struggled at knowing exactly what to do with it. Even more discouraging: I recently found out that a very small percentage of Facebook page updates are actually visible to fans, because of an algorithm called EdgeRank. EdgeRank gives every post a quality score – measuring the number of comments, likes, and shares per post against the number of fans a page has. To be more visible and build up your EdgeRank, a page has to make posts interaction friendly – with polls, tags, questions, relevant links, and a whole lot of community. It’s kind of a Catch-22, but you can do it by asking questions, engaging other bloggers, making vlogs, and just generally becoming an active part of the community.
That Facebook algorithm is relevant, because that’s kind of the way blogging works. If you build up your interactions with your readers and bloggers you admire, you’ll be more visible. I believe we’re all here as part of a community. And as I mentioned on this great post from Jamillah on Beautifully Invisible:
Sometimes fashion blogging may seem like a tight knit circle of people who all blog/tweet/talk together. But it’s not – all you have to do is add value. Thoughts, links, laughs – those are all value. That’s the easiest way to break the ice, and break into that circle. Once you make that conversation and connection, it’s a very inviting and easygoing community.