Saturday, August 28, 2010

If an RSS feed falls in the forest

Barton Creek is flowing
Image by shainelee via Flickr

If an RSS feed falls in the forest of millions of websites, and nobody mentions it, does it mean nobody noticed?

This is a bit of a late post, insofar as Internet speed is concerned. It's so last week. Well known tech guy, Leo Laporte, had a bit of a meltdown after realizing that his Google Buzz had not been updating ( his twitter with his latest posts.

This caused Leo to question whether his social media presence is all in vain; because nobody noticed or mentioned it to him.

This, in turn, has caused others to question how valuable social media is in terms of reaching audiences.

Just to give you some perspective, Leo Laporte is a one-man media machine. He does the following:

  • Live broadcast radio show The Tech Guy (

  • Podcasts: This Week in Tech, iPad Today, This Week in Google, Windows Weekly, MacBreak Weekly, Security Now, net@night, Daily Giz Wiz, Munchcast

  • Blogs at

  • Live video streaming.

Leo is on every imaginable social media website. All of them carry his content to his audiences. His blog alone has more than 223,000 subscribers. Many of those subscribers also subscribe to him through other services like Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku,, Youtube,, and you get the idea. The point is, for his fans, Leo is available everywhere they turn.

If one of his channels drops off the map, it doesn't mean that nobody cared. In his case, it means that his other means of reaching out picked up the slack.

Leo Laporte is EVERYWHERE. His thousands of fans don't need Twitter updates to know about his latest broadcasts. We subscribe directly to his feeds.

Now, for somebody who is just starting out in social media, and relying entirely on Facebook or Twitter to reach their audience, it may seem like, "if nobody noticed Leo Laporte's content wasn't posting, nobody will notice mine."

You are right, but not the way you think.

If you are just starting out, firstly, you haven't an audience to notice such a thing. If you are starting off without an audience, you can't have negative subscribers, fortunately.

Secondly, once you do have an audience, they'll know where to find you. You do have a website, right? If you don't have a website and rely entirely on outside social media to interact with your audience, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Don't let Leo's experience make you think nobody is listening. One thing I learned early on is that there are a large number of people who consume your content; but don't interact. You could go for months and years without having known they were there, except in your website stats; but they like your work.

A vast majority of people will not interact with you. One thing that many of the big names in social media do is post their mobile numbers on their websites. They will tell you that they hardly get phone calls from their audiences. I've experimented with that as well, putting my phone number as my website subtitle. I've had two calls in 3 years, of which I'm aware. Most people are happy to remain anonymous.

I see my web stats. I have an audience. But most prefer consumption to interaction. Leo has a larger audience; but if you scale my stats up, you might see that a majority of Leo's audiences consume more than they interact too.

There are plenty of cases with hard data to show that people are listening on social media. But, you can't expect your audience to do your job of monitoring your content distribution for you. For all they know, a dropped channel was intentional. They won't take the time to notify you of something you may have done on purpose.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Editorial Calendar

Part of the problem I face is that I blog whenever it strikes me. To develop an audience, however, you need to be consistent. I have not.

I am working on an editorial calendar. I have several “projects” that require updates.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Creating an Editorial Calendar for Your Social Media Presence

A calendar like a clock
Image via Wikipedia

Magazines, especially the ones that print once per month, have pretty much laid out what their content will be from month to month far in advance. It takes a great deal of work to write the articles, hire the models, shoot the photos, design the layout, and all that. Unlike your blog, on which you can basically pound out an update whenever you feel inspired, magazines require a great deal of lead time. So, they have editorial calendars.

We are not talking about personal blogs where you talk about your cats and pet peeves. If your blogging has a business purpose of some sort, then this is whom I intend to reach. Trying to come up with something creative and original every day or every week can be difficult. It is especially so without a plan in place.

I realize it sounds contradictory to say that you need to have a plan in place so you can be creative. It really does help. Many times, when we don't know what to write about, it is because there are too many options. If you narrow it down to certain topics or even points far in advance, it gives you time to formulate your blog post. This way, when the time comes for you to sit down to write, it just flows out of you. You know what needs to be said, it's just a matter of saying it creatively.

Even if your editorial calendar does not change too much from year to year, there are many ways to say the same thing. The value in this is that stated one way, you may reach certain parts of your audience; stated another way, your content will reach another part of your audience. You can vary the tone, style, relate it to a recent experience, and so many other options.

Planning ahead can keep your social media message on track; but furthermore, gives your creativity some direction. Yes, we all have days in which we don't particularly feel inspired. This can be overcome by not having to make things up out of thin air, through an editorial calendar.

So, how do you get one started? The easiest way is to create a spreadsheet with months and days ahead. Start filling in the blanks with ideas. You can be as granular as planning every single day. Or, you may want to give each day of the week a theme. Some people even give a theme to the whole month.

Whatever your preference, having a plan can help you churn out content consistently and at high quality.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Finally Settling on an eBook Reader for the Family

The debate whether to get a Nook or a Kindle has been somewhat settled in our home. My wife decided to go for a Nook, which complements our lifestyle, given that we visit Barnes and Noble frequently. The free coffees, exclusive content when visiting a store, and other considerations of the hardware make the Nook a more family friendly option.

Now the question, or questions, are whether to get a Kindle in addition to the Nook, or to make a complete commitment and get another Nook.

Both readers have computer versions and Android versions, which evens the playing field in terms of access anywhere. In fact, we technically don't need a reader at all, except that reading a book on your phone is murder on your battery and not as cozy on the computer as it is reading in bed.

So, let's discuss the first question, whether to buy a Kindle or not. Now that we have the Kindle's main competitor in our household, it weighs heavily on the decision. Getting another device means that we would have electronic books in one account or the other. Not a major disaster. In terms of adaptability, there may be a situation in which Amazon has an exclusive on a book not available to Barnes and Noble. And there are such situations. There are some books on social media that are only on Kindle, not Nook.

Yet, even if we do not purchase the Kindle, we could still read said exclusive book on our phones or on the computer. So, the reasoning is a bit weak there.

The next hurdle is, is it justifiable to have more than one eBook reader at home? There are some clear advantages to getting a second reader in the home, eventually. We are budget conscious, so we're not going to splurge on two devices right away. Maybe down the road. We are a family of readers, so one device isn't going to cut it.

If we were to get a second Nook, it would be for the ability to share our library. This presents a question of whether we should get an account per device, as sharing books is possible on the Nook; or, if we would be better served by sharing one account for the whole family.

Sharing one account for our whole library has the advantage that it doesn't matter which reader we choose, our books would be there. We could use one of the Nooks, a phone, or the computers. The same reasoning applies if you put all your chips on the Kindle. One account for the household rather than an account per person.

The problem with this is that purchases are tied into one account. So, whomever's credit card is listed for default payment can expect to bear the brunt of purchases. If you share one financial account, this might not be so bad. Agreeing on a purchase would go a long way towards curbing impulse buys, not to mention that it would bring family expenses under better control.

If you have separate Nook  or Kindle accounts, then the library tends to be more of a personal library than a family library. There is nothing wrong with having a personal library; but it basically means that there will be times when you can't use your own ebook reader. That is, of course, if you're not single. In that case, knock yourself out.

So, in the course of writing this blog post; I came to realize that I'm better off sharing an account with the family. There is no cost savings beyond the purchase price of the reader. What makes it worthwhile to me is that it is much easier to share books with my family. It's the family library. One purchase benefits 5 people.

Of course, this makes me wonder how such libraries will continue on beyond the lifespan of the account holder? Does somebody take over the account, or does the license to the books lapse with the account holder's life? Interesting question, which is beyond this post's scope.

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