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Social Networking Cons

Interesting article here Social Networking loses Friends – about how reliance on social networking sites and internet is leading to a worrying decline in social skills such as meeting people and getting to know them face to face.

So many friends on Facebook but people still feel lonely.

Is It Worth Using Twitter?

Why I Don’t Use Twitter

I noticed recently one of my blogs getting a good amount of referrals from Twitter. I started to feel slightly guilty for not jumping on the Twitter bandwagon and making the most of this potential traffic source. Problogger has been talking a lot about Twitter recently, so it must be giving some people benefits. However, I don’t use Twitter because:

  • I doubt I would have much to say apart from: “please come and visit my blogs”
  • I don’t particularly want to invest the time in growing a network of followers. (Interestingly I gained 6 followers, despite not adding any thing since I set up the account 4 months ago)
  • My principle is that it is always better to spend time creating blog posts on your own blog, rather than working on third party products. This is a similar reason as to why I reduced the amount of comments I leave on other blogs.
  • Many people say Twitter can become a bit of a time waster and you get distracted from doing other things.
  • Note:
  • Just because Twitter doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it can’t work for you. I have several blogs, so there are always blog posts to do. If you only had one flagship blog, it would make more sense to work on promoting the blog through things like Twitter.

Why I Don’t Use Twitter Very Much

Well I couldn’t resist testing what I was criticising, this is my first ‘twit’ in the past 6 months. Tejvan Twitter Profile

Q. What is the plural for people who use Twitter? A bunch of twits? (sorry, poor joke alert)

What is the Real Value of Digg? (2)

Our recent article – Is it worth trying to get on Digg gained some interesting comments. The comments are as useful as the post. Since writing the article, I’ve become more aware of some other points.

Quite often people can get over 100, or even over 150 diggs and still not get on the home page.

Some people have said that being on Digg actually gives less traffic then you might hope. (some less than 10,000). The number of visitors Digg can send varies alot it depends on factors such as:

  • how long you remain on home page. (e.g. do you sped along time on the highlighted section on right)
  • how attractive your headline isĀ  to diggers – Does the topic of the article appeal to the digg home page readers
  • The time of the day and week.

Digg still has the capacity to make a blog, check out The Art of Manliness

You’ve got to digg Digg to get Dugg by Skellie (example of how 173 diggs is still not enough to get home page

Continue reading →

10 Reasons Why I thumbed you Down on Stumbleupon

I probably spend too much time using stumbleupon, but, because I use it quite a lot I want it to give the best results. Therefore I frequently vote both up or down. By voting both ways you can help stumbleupon send the pages that you like. Voting down doesn’t mean the site or article is necessarily bad; it just means you would rather stumble different kinds of pages. If you don’t vote down pages you will keep seeing similar pages. Note: I never write negative reviews because I don’t see the point. One thing I like about stumbleupon is that, in my experience, it has a lot less negativity than other social bookmarking sites.

Since I spend a lot of time voting up and voting down, I would like to share common reasons why I vote down.

1. Where’s the Content?

Quite often I stumble a page and I can’t see anything useful. Often there is just an introduction and perhaps a link to articles. But, if the article is elsewhere, why not stumble that page? I want to see the useful page, not an introduction or ‘welcome page’

2. Too Many Ads.

I am not opposed to ads (I have them on my own site). But, if there are too many banners and google ads, it is much more likely I will vote you down. Like most stumble users, I am lazy and give a high weighting to the content above the fold. If 70% of your content above the fold is ads, there is a much higher chance of getting thumbed down.

3. Weak design.

We are told ‘content is king’ but actually, this is only half the story. When stumbling I often decide in a few seconds. If the design is bad, weak or unprofessional, it is much more likely that I will vote an article a day. Perhaps this is unfair, perhaps I should ignore the content and read carefully. But, experience suggests there is often a correlation between design and quality of content. If the design is weak, I assume the content is more likely to be weak. However, I should also say, that some of the best stumble pages are completely basic and seem to have no CSS at all. However, these pages usually have the content right at the top; in other words the lack of design makes you focus on the content which is good. Bad design is often ugly, too many jarring colours and distracts from the content.

4. Blog Carnivals.

I often submit to blog carnivals and I can understand why people stumble them. This is an example of a good blog carnival because the blogger has taken the time to write intelligently about each entry. However, if a blog carnival is just a long list of 100 entries with no explanation, I often vote them down. I would rather have a stumble showing a selected article.

  • BTW: I really don’t know why people bother trying to submit blog carnivals to digg. Digg is never going to have blog carnivals on the home page. It is just a waste of time.

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Is it worth Trying to Get On Digg?

Since I began blogging a few years ago, I have always been in two minds about whether it is worth trying to get my articles submitted to Digg. On the one hand, Digg can be a way to gain huge amounts of traffic and build up your blog, on the other hand the effort required to get a Digg homepage can leave you wondering whether it is really worth it?

How Much Effort is Needed to Get on Digg?

To get on Digg home page you need a way to attract at least 20-25 votes to give the article a chance. If an article is just submitted, it will in all probability disappear without trace.

One article, I wrote received over 50,000 referrals from Stumbleupon (over a 4 week period). From Digg it received 2. There are so many submissions to Digg, that most new submissions just get lost without anybody looking at the article.

To have any chance you need a submission to attract 20-25 votes pretty quick. This means it will then show up in the upcoming section of your chosen category and then at least you have a chance.

To get 25 votes means you will need to ask friends for favours to vote for you. This can be done through either digg shout system or emailing friends asking for votes. Alternatively, you could become a power digg user, who gets loads of friends and so people are more likely to vote for your submissions.

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Making the most of Traffic from Social Media

It is one thing to get 10,000s of visitors from Digg, Stumbleupon e.t.c; it is another thing to keep and make them regular readers. These are some suggestions for making the most of any surge in traffic that may come your way.

Content Not Ads above the Fold.

If you really want to maximise the traffic from social media, it is best to sacrifice the optimal ad positions. Sometimes I am stumbling and the only thing I see on the screen is a logo and a 330*300 Google adsense block. Invariably I mark the content thumbs down, without even seeing the article. This is not to say you can’t have ads at the top of the screen, but, if the only thing that is seen by the viewer is ads, what impression does that give? It is helpful to view blog traffic as investment. The small return from short term advertising is worth much less than the potential benefit of attracting long term subscribers who will help grow the blog. If you really want to have ads dominating the top, you could at least remove them from articles that are targetted at high traffic.

Easy to Subscribe.

It is important that it is easy to subscribe. In my opinion this is the most significant benefit of getting traffic from social media. Visitors will not click on ads, most will never return. But, if you can get even 0.5% to subscribe then it’s all worth it. The obvious thing to do is to place an RSS subscriber link in a prominent place. Some people like to make a feature out of it and place it at the top of a blog post. This probably has a good conversion rate, although it does have the drawback that the content is pushed further down. Email subscription is also worth having.

Best Articles

I have found that on a strategically designed blog a stumble visitor can visit an average of 2.3 pages. (this may not sound a lot but, it does disprove a theory that stumble visitors have a high bounce rate. However, to get a low bounce rate requires an effort to keep readers. An excellent way to do that is highlight your most popular articles. You can do this with a plugin or manually add the articles. Recent articles are also good to highlight as long as they are not just average page fillers.

Continue reading →

The Stumbleupon Effect

Recently, I had two articles which received 1,000s of visits from Stumble’s. These are some observations from the experience.

The first article was Top 10 Financial Products to avoid at personal finance blog. This received about 1,500 stumbles in a short space of time and appeared on Stumblebuzz – a list of the most popular current stumbles. The benefit of being on stumbleupon is that it led to creating links from other sites. Gaining links is something that rarely happens from ordinary Stumbleupon traffic.

The second article was Effective ways to get out of a negative mindset at my self improvement blog. This started off slower, but still received 1,000 on the first day. Since it went down well, I sent it to a 3 stumbleupon friends who I thought might like it. This created a second wave of stumbles and this second wave seemed to create a momemtum which has kept the article being stumbled throughout the week. In the past 7 days, the article has received over 10,000 stumbles and seems to be going strong.

On this blog Why Stumbleupon is Better than Digg has also done quite well

Things I learnt From the Experience

  • Stumblers don’t bounce straight away. One of the best results of this experience was looking at my Google analytics to see that stumble traffic actually stays for much longer than expected. On average readers from stumbleupon saw an average of 2 pages per visit. The bounce rate was 66%. Not amazing perhaps, but it does refute the myth that Stumblers only ever stay 5 seconds.
  • Do Ask Friends for the Odd Favour. I wouldn’t want to overdo it. But, it does seem worthwhile finding friends who would appreciate your content and using the stumbleupon toolbar to ask them for the occasional stumble. I assume it is also good to look for new friends and not just rely on the same few for favours. I believe stumbleupon give less weight to votes from people who repeatedly vote for the same website. Continue reading →

How To Benefit from Digg

Some bloggers look upon the Digg homepage as the holy grail of blogging. I don’t think this is true, but nevertheless, social bookmarking sites can be very helpful in raising the profile of your blog and generating the interest of new readers. If you really have enticing, original content, then there is no reason why it can not do very well on popular social bookmarking sites. These are some suggestions to make effective use of Digg and related social media.

1. First Impressions Count

The visual impact of the site does matter. People don’t just vote on the article, but their subconscious opinion of the site. Make it clean and attractive and don’t go over the top with ads and banners. It is also important that you have the content above the fold. Don’t have huge headers and graphics which makes it hard to see any of the actual content.

2. Be Focused.

Every week, try to create 1 or 2 outstanding posts / articles. These should be original and offer something of real value to visitors; it these 1 or 2 articles that you will focus on promoting. Be prepared to take time to write the best article that you can. Don’t be half hearted in creating content – it is better to have an attitude of all or nothing. It is also important that the articles have a clear focus. Don’t get sidetracked into relating unnecessary personal experiences.

3. Headlines are everything

Quite often people on Digg will vote for a submission based on the title alone – without ever reading the actual post. Because of this it is vital to hone your headline writing talents. A good starting point is to just look at the kind of headlines that get to the homepage of Digg. A good headline has the following characteristics:

  • Grabs people’s attentions
  • Is Descriptive
  • Is Original.

A title like “How to Increase Your Traffic” is so boring and repetitive it has absolutely no chance, no matter how good the article. Try, “Secrets of Increasing Traffic to a new Blog” “10 Powerful Tips for boosting Your RSS readership”

See: Ideas for Eye Catching Titles

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Why Stumbleupon is Better Than Digg

I have used various social bookmarking. In my own experience I have had a much better experience with Stumbleupon than Digg. These are some of the reasons I prefer Stumblupon to Digg. I would be interested if people have a similar or different experience.

1. Stumbleupon Rewards the Best Articles

Stumbleupon seems more democratic. You can submit a good article to digg but it can fly off the new section as quickly as you submit it. Generally stumbleupon is better at picking up on good articles. At digg everything counts on the 24 hour window after first submission, and your network of friends. At stumbleupon it seems less important who are your friends and most stumbles I receive are good quality. Spam doesn’t seem a real problem at Stumbleupon.

2. Stumbleupon doesn’t ban the best sites.

Many times I have seen my favourite sites getting ‘banned’ by digg, usually because they are ‘too successful’ Examples that come to mind include Pick The Brain and Copyblogger. (true sites can come off the banned list, but it can take a long time)

3. Stumbleupon has more Positive Pages.

It seems that on Digg stories that do best are the negative ones. See article at We The Change on Digg At times, the negativity can be overwhelming. When browsing the internet, I like to see some positive stories and articles of inspiration.

4. Stumblers Like Stumbleupon

Whenever I goto Digg the top stories seem to be complaining about Digg, which I find completely uninteresting. At Stumbleupon you aren’t bombarded with articles complaining about rigging of Stumbleupon e.t.c.

5. More Diversity of Interests

Stories that do well at Digg tend to be fairly narrowly focused on a small number of aspects. Stumbleupon enables a greater diversity of topics, it is also easier to choose the topics you are interested in. If you like topics like self improvement or minority interests you will find greater coverage at Stumbleupon. Continue reading →

Pick the Brain Banned By Digg for False Reason

I have been a regular reader of pickthebrain for several months. It provides a good selection of articles on self-improvement. Recently, I have also contributed a few guest post articles of my own.

Because of the consistent quality and variety of articles, Pick the Brain, has seen its RSS readership reach over 10,000 in just over 12 months. Several articles from the website have also reached the front page of Digg.

I was rather bemused to find that when I tried to submit an article to Digg it gave the following message:

URL blocked

This domain has been consistently flagged as an intermediary to the direct source of news and/or video content. Please link directly to the story source.

The first thing to point out is that Pick The Brain has never used ‘recycled’ content from elsewhere on the web. All articles are original and uniquely written, they are also written by a variety of authors. Therefore, there is no good reason for Digg to block the URL.

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