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Archive | February, 2011

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Morning on Twitter

I spend more time on Twitter than should be allowed by law. It’s an addicting, unhealthy look into the matrix of human communication that’s limited to 140 characters.

I love every minute of it, except for the things that make me want to scoop my eyes out with a spoon.

People act as stupid on Twitter as they do in real life, and they do it the worst in the morning. For some reason Twitter users have to tweet things in the morning like everyone mysteriously forgot who they were in the 8 hours of sleeping.

Most of us just have to deal with someone who is much more excited about the coming of daylight and the work day than the rest of us.

Good Morning On Twitter - The Anti-Social Media

The rest of us, however, still have to deal with people who needs coffee to deal with humanity.

Feed Me Coffee - The Anti-Social Media

I love coffee, and I hate love my Twitter followers, but just because it was dark for 12 hours where I live doesn’t mean my followers forgot me and need to know about my crippling caffeine addiction.

Twitter in the morning is no different than Twitter in the afternoon and Twitter at night. People don’t need to know your literal waking moment. When you wake up, join the conversation. Don’t force the rest of us into your waking dreamland.

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F*#k You Friday! Lazy Bloggers

Lazy Blogger - The Anti-Social MediaThere is no reason to be a lazy, uninformed  blogger in 2011.

There are more blogs on blogging than should ever be written. You can find tons of free advice from people who have made more money from blogging than they would have had they kept a normal career. Their free insight is out there for you to find at any time so that you can read it, absorb it, and use some of it to express yourself better through writing.

It kills me that so many bloggers don’t even do a half-assed search to find resources on blogging. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse for this. If you have the ability to blog, you have access to a search engine that can find good resources on blogging. Whether you’re blogging to entertain or inform, there is always something you can learn, and people are constantly discovering new ways to find readers, write better, or just have more fun blogging.

And I’m not even talking about the stuff you pay for.

So stop being lazy. Get on Google and learn something about blogging you’ve been meaning to learn more about, whether that is marketing your blog, learning to write better, or finding a better theme for your blog.

So fuck you lazy blogger. There’s no room for excuses in blogging. Stop making them and get to work.

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The One Reason You Read So Many List Posts

Easy List Posts - The Anti-Social MediaBloggers love to write list posts. How many times have you read a headline this week along the lines of “The 5 reasons you suck at Twitter,” “8 Tips for being a YouTube SuperStar” or “14 Reasons You Should Use Quora to Ask Any Question You’ve Ever Had?” 5 times? 10 times? More?

Why is that? What makes these posts so popular, and why do bloggers write so many of them?

  1. It’s easy.

It doesn’t require deep thought to write a list post. You just throw out a small introduction, write your list, give some details to each point, and then wrap up the post. It takes less time. The headline practically writes itself.

With a list post, a blogger doesn’t have to think about transitions and the overall structure of the post. Unless a blogger works very hard to incorporate a story into the list, there is no narrative or story arc. People expect however many gems of information there are and no more. The points don’t need to be connected beyond the loose theme introduced in the headline and the introduction.

Likewise, it doesn’t require extended brain power for a reader to absorb a list post. Readers look for the bullet points and quickly gobble down the information. They don’t have to dig through paragraphs to find the one nugget of information.

List posts make us stupider readers and writers. They are easy and they bring in traffic, but they sacrifice the quality and depth of our writing. True knowledge and wisdom doesn’t come in lists and bullet points, but through extended arguments and deeper thoughts. When was the last time you read a list and thought, “That was beautiful?”

You can write better. How many years did you spend in school writing? Put those to use now when you blog.

Hold yourself to a higher standard when writing. Use lists and bullet points as supplements, rather than structural elements. Will you blog like you learned how to write, or take the easy way out?

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Can I Trust Your Blog?

Trust Me, My Blog Doesn't Bite - The Anti-Social MediaWhen I come to a new blog, I look for clues as to whether or not I can trust it. Sometimes these clues are clear, other times it’s much trickier.

Is the design sane or something that looks better suited as a means of torture? Are there a lot of ads, and if there are, what are they for? Does the page load quickly, or is it bogged down? What is the author prioritizing with his or her layout? Was I sent here by someone’s recommendation, and was that a good recommendation or just a toss off?

These are all the questions I’m processing before I even start reading your posts, just from looking at the layout and what you’ve chosen to plaster around your blog.

It’s easier than ever to make a site that looks and reads legitimately, but is actually total crap. Between “free” WordPress themes that are corrupted, shady folks, and people who just don’t know better, the internet is a huge slurry of articles and websites that range from complete shit to pure gold. The trick is figuring out the difference between the two of them.

What kills me most though are the bloggers who are trying to run their blog like a legitimate business or as a source of trusted information, yet treat their readers like cattle they can slaughter for cash. These are the bloggers who use way too many ads, buttons, and weird pop-ups in the name of building a “business.”

When the first thing I encounter on your site is a pop-up asking me to sign up for something, before I’ve even digested any of the information you’re trying to share, I start thinking you’re shady. When did it become acceptable to bloggers and marketers to do this? How arrogant are you to think that you are so awesome people don’t need to know what you’re about to sign up for your crap? Legitimate businesses don’t do this on their websites.

If you invited people to your house for a party, would you ask each of them for their e-mail address as soon as they entered the door? No. You wouldn’t, because that’s insane.

Similarly, you can’t expect me to click the hundreds of ads you’re plastering around your site. How often do you click a banner ad, especially if it is completely irrelevant to what you’re reading about? I go to a blog to read or consume information, not to click ads.

I’m all in favor of bloggers making money from their work, but at the same time, you need to control what you’re advertising on your blog. If you’re blogging about liberal politics and allow any old ad, what are you going to do when the ad for “Vote Sarah Palin in 2012″ shows up right on top of your site? Advertise for products and services you can stand behind, not just the whims of whatever Google AdSense thinks is appropriate.

If you want to make your blog into a serious business or be taken seriously as an author, you need to make your blog trustworthy. Invite readers into your blog without crushing me under your attempts to make money and exploit my data.

With most readers you only get one chance to prove your honesty. Will you blow that chance?

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How Will Your Blog Die?

Dead Blog - The Anti-Social MediaHave you ever thought about if and when your blog will end?

Will it fade away into the twilight of the internet without warning, or will you give your readers notice that you’re going away?

I’ve deleted several of my blogs, all without warning. I’ve even gone so far as when I got my last friend request on MySpace, I deleted the entire account realizing how little I used the service.

We write all the time about how to interact with people, how to do it right and how to do it wrong, but we never tell you how to end it.  We get so excited every time we start some new blog and a new account on yet another network. Still, we rarely think about “What is the lifespan of this blog?” “What will I do when I close this Twitter account?” or “What will I do when I lose interest in this blog?”

All good things have a start, a middle and the end. You may not need to approach the end for a long time, but you should have an idea of what will happen then. Your readers, fans and followers deserve a conclusion.

Don’t leave them hanging.

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Why No One Reads Your Blog

Blogs I Can't Read - the anti-social mediaYou’re blogging about your cat Fluffy, and it’s so awesome. You’ve got adorable pictures, cute writing, and even a video where you you say something and she meows back at you. Still only 5 people are reading your blog, and one of them is your Mom. What are you doing wrong? Should you make Fluffy jump through a flaming hoop?

Unless you are running a mega-blog with lots of daily posts that have a wide, general appeal, you will never have a huge audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice big readership, you just shouldn’t get you  hopes up that you’ll have millions of hits a day.

So what are you doing wrong? Why are your readers fleeing at the sight of your blog, rather than hanging to your every beautiful word?

Here are 5 reasons I cower when I start trying to read a blog that’s new to me:

  • Your blog looks like shit – It’s not hard to make a blog look decent these days. If I roll into your URL, and you have a theme that looks like you murdered a neon yellow tiger that was covered with banner ads, I’m more worried about clicking on the wrong thing than absorbing the information you’re writing. People come to blogs to read, not to go blind. Choose a layout that’s clean and easy to read, and add your personality to it. Just make sure I can still read it without burning out my retinas.
  • Your writing doesn’t make sense – We all make typos, spelling and grammar errors. We’re human, we don’t have editors, and we all spend so much time looking at the post we’re working on. That happens. Still, take the extra two minutes when you are done writing to read your post out loud. You’ll catch anything that sounds funny, and you’ll make sure it has the voice you want.
  • You’re obviously trying to sell me crap – You have a decadent life of iPads and HDTV’s to support. You want your blog to help pay for that. I get it. Still, you can’t expect every single person on the internet who’s coming to your site to sign up for your half-assed newsletter, buy your ebook, and throw money at you to give them a bunch of half-baked blog topics. If you’re going to sell something from your blog, go for it, but make sure it is an awesome product you are willing to stand behind 100%. Don’t just sell crap because you can and you know some sucker will buy it.
  • You have the personality of a piece of cardboard – People read blogs because they like perspective from other people. No one wants to read a text book or a scientific paper. That takes work and brainpower we just don’t have. Write like a human being. Again, read your post out loud. If it sounds like a lecture, you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • You have no information or entertainment value - Your readers’ time is valuable. Are you making your blog worth their while? Entertain them, inform them, or stop blogging.

Think about what scares you away from reading a blog? What about your blog or your writing is keeping people from actually absorbing and enjoying the information you share?

Stop trying to make your cat play with fire, and start sharing your experience in fun, informative and human ways. You and your blog deserve readers.

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Winner of The Now Revolution Giveaway!

So, between the controversy and the comments on a certain book review, you might have missed that I was giving away a copy of the book for you to read.

I had two entries because everyone else was busy arguing about me being controversial. Then one of the entrants contacted me to say that he didn’t want the book.

Sad Bacon Cat by Patrick KentSo, a hearty congratulations to Patrick Kent! A win by default is just as a good as an actual win by beating the competition in my book.

If you don’t read Patrick’s blog, I Fight Dinosaurs, you should, if for nothing else than the adorable drawings he puts up with each post. Patrick’s blog is like if the graphics design team from Yoshi’s Story got together to write a blog on old people who are stuck in their ways. Fun, thought provoking, and filled with delightful imagery. You cant ask for more from a blog.

So congratulations to Patrick, and next time I do a giveaway, I promise to cause less of a ruckus.

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F#*k You Friday! Facebook Relationships

Facebook Rainbow Puke - The Anti-Social Media

Facebook relationships are serious things.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the number of people who will kill over a change in their relationship status. We may joke it’s not official until it’s “Facebook Official,” but Facebook relationships have serious consequences in the real world.

That’s why the new “LBGT Friendly” relationship options Facebook rolled out yesterday suck hard.

The new options include “In a Civil Union” and “In a Domestic Partnership.” These additions reek of politics. I can’t imagine a huge section of the LGBT community, which has been fighting for equal marriage rights, would go to Facebook and say, “Give us Civil Unions! We want everyone to know we’re technically married but can’t call it that because of political and cultural systems!”

Granted, LGBT people can still define their relationships as they want, regardless of these new options. It’s just sad Facebook is giving into these separate but not equal options.

So once again, fuck you Facebook. Fuck you and your relationship politics.

For now, I’m protesting. I’m now in a domestic partnership with my cat. Take that Zuckerberg.