• Facebook and Blogging: Good for Me? Good for You?

    Note: This blog is now available by “friending” me on Facebook and tweets of new posts are sent to Twitter. Both include announcements of blog posts (~one per day) and News & Links posts (~5 per day).

    I’m very late to Facebook (FB). For years I didn’t understand how or why I’d use it. Now that I am using it I get it (well, a little). FB has some value, even for me. “Friending” me on FB may have some value for you, as I explain below. Also provided in this post is some advice for bloggers wishing to provide their content on FB. Lastly, those of you who are friends on FB and are puzzled by what I’ve been trying to do there, this post explains.

    The perception is that FB is predominantly used to enhance and augment one’s social life. That perception is likely valid but also misses the other uses of FB. Obviously one can use it to increase one’s career network and many do. No doubt others use FB to promote their enterprise or business and increase reach and sales. It is the cyber equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising. I’m sure FB can be a powerful business tool for those who know how to use it.

    My motivations for FB participation are to increase the visibility and availability of this blog and to intereact more with its readers. Since I enjoy writing I might as well write what I know, and it might as well be made available to the greatest number of people for the greatest possible good. I also like readers for their feedback, comments, and questions. The more readers, the more dialogue, the more I am challenged, and the more I learn. Those are my simple motivation for boosting readership.

    Here’s something I now know about FB that may be of value to other bloggers. (If you’re not a blogger you may want to skip this and the next paragraph.) FB has a tool for integrating one’s blog called NetworkedBlogs. It places your blog in a sort of yellow-pages of blogs, provides a page to list your blog’s information and control its FB feed, allows you to have an attractive icon for your blog, and provides a “place” of congregation for blog followers (people who sign up with your blog on FB), among other things. One can find step-by-step instructions on how to use NetworkedBlogs online. However, they stop just short of explaining some important facts and limitations, which I’ve only learned by experimentation and contacting the application’s creator. (I spent many frustrating hours Googled-ing for the details I’m about to reveal; I can only conclude they’re not online.)

    With NetworkedBlogs only your FB “friends” can receive your blog’s feed in their FB stream. FB users that sign up to be “followers” of your blog but who are not FB friends do not see your posts in their stream. FB doesn’t allow publishing to the streams of non-friends, though they’ve promised to provide that feature in the future. Your blog’s FB followers (who are not FB friends) can see your posts by clicking into NetworkedBlogs, however. It is too bad they have to take that additional step. While I still think it is of value to put one’s blog on FB (because it will reach one’s friends there), the fact that followers have to take additional steps to see it really limits NetworkedBlogs’ benefits.

    So, now that I’m on FB, what’s in it for you? Well, frankly, not that much. On my own I don’t add that much value to FB. You can already see my posts on my blog and can get them by e-mail or RSS feed if you want. However, if you are on FB anyway and prefer to get my blog that way, the best way to do so is to “friend” me (see the About page for a link to my FB profile). I appreciate if friends also become followers but I don’t think that confers any special benefits to you. I also appreciate if friends (and anyone) share my posts and encourage others to subscribe.

    What you’ll also get by friending me on FB (or by following me on Twitter) is the content of my News & Links list. This is a rolling list of the half-dozen or so items of interest I find online each day but about which I’m not likely to write in a blog post. I share them using Google Reader sharing technology (which is wonderful, by the way). The News & Links list appears in the far right sidebar and is available as a separate RSS feed (see my shared Google Reader items page and subscribe to it via Google Reader if you like (RSS, Atom).)

    I had a lot of trouble getting the News & Links feed to appear on FB in a form I liked. Despite the variety of applications on FB that seem to support sharing of Google Reader content, none are satisfactory. They don’t refresh the feed frequently enough so the content comes in big globs of posts. Also, the link to the original source is buried in an obscure place. The solution is to have FB pull in my Twitter feed. (The way this actually works is the Google Reader sharing feed is piped through Feedburner, then sent to Twitter via twitterfeed.com and to FB using the Twitter app.)

    So, perhaps FB has some value beyond the social and particularly for bloggers. But it also has some annoying quirks. It is easy to do stuff. It is harder to understand what you’ve done. It is harder still to do something specific and slightly off the beaten bath. Will my life (and blog) be enhanced by FB? Will yours? We shall see.

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    • It is not just you. I’m also have a hard time to figure out many Facebook features. But I’m more embarrassed because I’m in web and IT field and suppose to know these things well.