Maybe It’s Not a Numbers Game After All

WordPress

Well, this is awkward.

I’ve been gone for a bit. I’ve tried different things, and now I’m back. Can we just leave it at that?

I suppose we could, but that would make for a very short post indeed.

I ventured forth into the world of social media sure that there were adventures to be had. People to meet, connections to make, interests to share… you know the deal. I decided that I would check out what Facebook was all about, and I’d stake my ground at Google+ as well. Neither of those things were proving to be very effective at putting me in contact with like-minded people, and as I contemplated my Klout score (which is bullshit, and I’ll explain why momentarily) I came across the following Infographic:

Let’s look at that, because it’s good information. 82% of people who are friends on Facebook know one another in their real lives. 60% have a person in common. Those were some pretty staggering numbers in the face of my “stay anonymous but try to make some friends” idea.

So, I decided… fuck it.

I closed my Facebook account that I had amassed an army of three friends on, and I closed my Google+ account as well. I told you that Klout was bullshit before… let me explain why. Like I said before, I didn’t really do anything with either of those accounts; the just kind of were. Keep in mind that on Facebook, I had three friends. It’s not like I was at the center of a flurry of activity. Simply closing my Facebook account caused my Klout score to drop over ten points. Nevermind that I didn’t do anything with it. That leaves me with one thought… maybe I shouldn’t look at numbers. Maybe I shouldn’t look at Google Analytics on my Tumblr site, or how many followers I have on Twitter, or even how many pageviews I get here. Maybe I should just do what makes me happy, and take comfort in the fact that I’m doing this for myself.

So that’s it. A new year starts soon, and I’m sticking to WordPress (for lengthy shit like this), Tumblr (for funny and artsy shit), and Twitter (for pretty much everything… I’m pretty active on Twitter) for all of my “social life on the internet” needs. This is also the only blog post I’ll be doing about social networking, because that subject is tired. I’ve blogged about it enough. For now, I have to say… I’ve missed WordPress somewhat.

It’s nice to be back.

 

Google+ and What It Needs to Survive

Circle_Me_Google_Plus_Logo

Image by The Daring Librarian via Flickr

Ladies and gentlemen, I like Google+.

There.

I said it.

Wow, I just got the strongest feeling of déjà vu… weird.

Anyway, I find myself really liking Google+ lately. I still know practically no one on it, but that’s kind of the point. Thanks to a retweet, I’ve found myself being added to the circles of strangers. I add them right back. There was a time, however long ago it might have been, that your best friend was a stranger to you. You met somehow, hit if off, and you’ve been friends ever since, right? That’s what I’m hoping for from Google+. Not to mention that it’s infinitely easier to look at than Facebook is. Ultimately, that’s what this is. A fight between two titans that I think can be summed up in two links.

On one hand, you have Google.

On the other, Facebook.

To quote a great imaginary American, that’s all I have to say about that.

What I would like to discuss are the things that Google needs to do to come out on top.

Out of the gate, I think they’re more ahead than people realize. Who doesn’t have a Gmail address these days? Well as of yesterday, you’ve got a Google+ account, too. All you have to do is activate it, and away you go. People are looking for something new… something that isn’t Facebook. Google can offer that, while still maintaining a similar (and thankfully trimmed down) user interface.  It will be easy for people who want to use Google+ to do so. Google has achieved metonymy… we don’t search, we Google. So they’re a well-establish brand that reaches absolutely everywhere, offering a service that’s similar to its main competitor while still feeling fresh. What do they need to do?

Despite Google’s proliferation of the internet at large, they’ve got an uphill battle as far as the like button goes. I’ve noticed more and more +1 buttons showing up (on this very blog, for example) and I think that’s a tremendously good thing. Saying that you “like” something is natural and ingrained into us almost as soon as we learn to speak. You don’t see many kids running around saying that they “plus one” cookies, after all. Google has an ace up their sleeve in this area, though. Once you Like something on Facebook, you’re done. Button clicked, interaction complete. With Google+, if you +1 something you then have the option of adding it to your stream with comments about why you +1’d it. It’s so painfully simple in its execution that it becomes elegant. “I enjoyed this. I want to support it and share it with people I know. Oh, I can do that all from one button? Thanks, Google!” When we see the +1 button being spread a little further, I truly believe it will start to gain ground. For now, they’ve still got a way to go.

Another thing that Facebook has on Google is saturation. Practically everyone has a Facebook page. I mean, for crying out loud, Sears has one. Sears. You can log into a bajillion (rough estimate) services using your Facebook account. Google needs to develop that type of market saturation. If I take a cool picture with Instagram, for example, I can share it straight to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter… but not Google+. That’s simply got to change. Google has to develop the same level of connectivity and interaction with these services that Facebook has to stand a chance. They’ve got to make it simple and easy to get content to them, and they’ve got to connect with other social networking sites like Twitter. If Google+ can become a hub for sharing social media, they’ll be on the right track.

It took a while to grow on me, but I like Google+. I really do. I hope that ultimately, it gets down to a bare-knuckle brawl with Facebook and emerges victorious. If you’d like to add me to your circles, and I’d love it if you did, you can find me here.

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Gooble Gobble.

Well, I finally did it. I broke down and gave in. After months of ridiculous agonizing and attempting to stand in opposition of what I had decided was the 21st century’s version of “the man”, I relented.

I now have a Facebook account.

I’m going to say that I was just being fashionably late, if for no other reason than I really don’t want to be called a Luddite. So now that I’ve made the leap, I’m finding that honestly, I don’t quite get it. I guess not having any friends in real life means you won’t automatically be assigned friends online as a concession. Nevertheless, I have indulged myself by meting out a multitude of Likes with a dedication I can only call forced. I do have to say that looking for things to admit to liking is making me a little more positive. After all, it’s more fun to find things you like than things you don’t. The actual liking of things feels empty, though… I can love a band or what have you intensely… and all I can to is click “Like”. To further cheapen things, I found that after the button is clicked, it disappears. Nothing happens that makes you feel like you’ve actually done anything or shown any real support. You click a button that says “Like” and then said button gets the hell out of Dodge.

So you find something else you like, and do it again.

And again.

And again.

What you’re ultimately left with is a profile that… well, says you like stuff. That’s about it. You don’t really have much to show for it other than the fact that someone could look at your profile and glean from it that you like Mountain Dew and iTunes. Somehow, though, you feel like that means something. You feel like there’s a little piece of you out there that you decided to put on Facebook, and now everyone will know of your love for Mountain Dew and iTunes. No one can doubt your commitment to these things, because you Like them. It sounds so silly, but I’m going to be honest… it’s kind of fun. It’s fun to go to a page for something like MST3K, and see people posting various quotes from the show and being replied to with other quotes. That, to me, was when it started to make sense. It’s about finding people who like the same stuff you do and engaging them, using your common interest as a starting point.

So this is how you make friends, he thought to himself.

I’m sure eventually I’ll have friends on Facebook, even if I don’t have friends in real life. I’ll meet people who like Doctor Who and Skrillex. I’ll meet people who are parents and love subwoofers. I’ll meet the people that I know exist somewhere, but that I can’t seem to find… people who like the same things I do, and will like me, too.

For now, though, I’m going to go “Like” the living hell out of some stuff… this Luddite has some serious catching up to do.

The Social Network(s)

I’ve created an account with almost every social media outlet I can think of, with the obvious exception of Facebook, in what seems to be a never-ending quest for friends. I’ve played around with a few of them, trying to find the ones that suited me the most.

I’ve had quite a love/hate relationship with Tumblr, as many of my earlier posts will show. I still love how easy it is to use, but a few things about it bother me… first, there’s no genuine interaction. Someone can like and reblog a post without any interaction at all with you, the poster. Someone reblogs it from them, someone reblogs it from them, and your content is now a few generations away from you without so much as a word being spoken. Lots of tumblogs are also notorious for stripping away any credentials attached to content and posting it as their own. I don’t much like that.

I’ve also dipped my toe into the water that is Google+ (thanks to an invite from Mr. David Spira) and haven’t really been impressed so far. Google+ is… well, I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s pretty much nothing. It’s a thing that I don’t know what to do with. It’s polished and very Google-looking, and there are all these circles, and… yeah, it’s pretty stupid. I mean, if that’s what’s supposed to take the place of Facebook when it inevitably dies a slow, painful death, then I’m pretty happy with the fact that I don’t feel like I’m missing much.

I briefly considered going with Blogger or Blogspot or whatever in the hell they call it (it seems to change based on where you read it) but ultimately decided to go with WordPress. Back in the day — can I say that without it being ironic? — Blogger/spot was the place to start a blog if you didn’t want to self-host. It’s still a remarkable open platform that gives you far more freedom than WordPress does, but the backend is painful to me. I prefer the WordPress way of setting things up. No code is really allowed, but none is really required, either. Still, many bloggers have been successful with it, so it must be doing something right.

Posterous also makes the list, but barely. I don’t know of a single blog that actually uses Posterous as a platform. Their main claim to fame is the fact that you can publish to Posterous and it will turn around and post everywhere else… Blogger, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, WordPress, Twitter, etc… pretty much any social media outlet you can think of. The problem with that is that while you’re getting your stuff out to a wider audience, it becomes harder to interact with and know that audience. You’d have to check multiple blogs multiple times a day to keep up with it, and to me that defeats the purpose of having Posterous auto-post to all of those various sites. I’d rather blog in one place and have that be home.

I decided earlier today that I would be abandoning all of these various endeavors and focusing solely on WordPress and Twitter. I think that with those two platforms I can do pretty much anything I have in mind to do as far as blogging and networking.

What services to you use to put yourself out there? What do you like or dislike about the ones you use? Tell me why I’m completely right about everything I’ve said or why I have no clue what I’m talking about!