Are bloggers shifting to Facebook and Twitter?

Checking and re-checking blogs for the Directory of Best Indian Blogs, we keep discovering trends in Indian blogosphere. In the present survey of the Indian blogosphere, which will result in the 2013-14 edition of the Directory, we’ll come up with some new insights.

What provoked us to write this piece is a post on ipatrix website [link dead now], titled ‘How I Killed DesiPundit’. In this post, the blogger gives details of what forced him to abandon a popular and indeed an excellent blog-curating site DesiPundit. One interesting observation he makes is that Facebook and Twitter contributed to it as these “took people away to easily accessible publishing platforms with a much wider and quicker-reacting audience”.

We have come across a dozen blogs (some so good they were included in the earlier editions of the Directory), which have been closed and the bloggers have started Facebook accounts / pages to reach their target audience.

In the ongoing election season in India, people are talking about Facebook likes and Twitter following statistics, however misleading it may be. Nobody talks about blogs, even about respectable blogs of serious politicians.

Yet, blogs are being maintained and new blogs are being created. We are not in a position to know whether the births are more or deaths, but the blogosphere is still buzzing. On one hand, the digital world is getting numerous [billions a day!] tweets, retweets and facebook postings, and on the other hand high-value content is being created on blogs and other websites. Quantity and urgency – like fast food and booze – will always appeal more than quality stuff – like home-made and healthy food – but that does not mean the latter is irrelevant, insubstantial and dead.

Bloggers have started making good use of Facebook, Twitter and social bookmarking sites in promoting their blogs. Many youth bloggers have reduced posting on the blog and have opened Facebook accounts, and have talked about the matter of shifting focus from blogging to Facebook. Most of them have integrated blogs and social networking accounts using apps / widgets. Twitter is being used for following others more than promoting one’s blog.

With Facebook emerging as the blog-promoting platform of choice, the use of feed and email to reach new posts to people has gone down. 

Complete shift to Facebook has happened rarely. It seems to happen mostly when the blog was being maintained (i) to instantly share personal information with friends and relatives only and (ii) for selling one’s product such as book or craft and the blog was not generating enough buzz. We haven’t found proof [by way of departing posts on blogs or Facebook postings] whether bloggers are happy with complete shift to Facebook, or they would like to return to blogging.

In terms of long-term value and engagement, blogs score over Facebook and Twitter by a huge margin. We do not have statistics to prove that, but we did check about fifty posts that were linked or pasted by bloggers on their Facebook accounts and found that overall engagement and quality of comments was much higher in blog posts than Facebook postings.

We will share more observations in the days to come. The 2013-14 edition of the Directory is slated to come out on 30th May.

Avoid these 9 inadvertent mistakes while blogging

Some people take wrong actions deliberately; they are crooks and criminals. But some do wrong things inadvertently; they are innocent but are not so in the eyes of the society and the law. This post is to caution such innocent bloggers who inadvertently break a law, offend people, hurt the blog’s reputation. 

Do not copy. Do not copy others’ content be it text or graphic or a/v content. In case you must copy, attribute the source but in many cases this will not be enough, e.g. copying a song or photograph or a research document available only to members.

Do not use untested widgets and codes. Putting such matter on the blog could harm the blog in many ways: spurious activity such as stealing private information, key-logging, annoying visitors by forcing them to commercial sites, linking to bad sites, etc. In any case, put only such widgets that will add value to the blog.

Do not give personal information about others. Unless it serves a special purpose and the information given by you will not in any way harm the person’s reputation or privacy, desist from giving information about a person’s family life, kids, schooling, hobbies etc. If the person is known to you, seek his / her permission beforehand.

Do not get personal when criticising others. You may have strong views about an idea being propagated by a person or the person himself, but do not make personal comments or criticise him / her on your blog or any other social media account. 

Do not recommend products unless you are sure. You may review  products on the blog, but ethics demands that you declare whether you have any obligation to the company. You should, for the sake of your credibility if nothing else, not recommend a service [e.g. a course] or product unless you have tested it. Desist from recommending medicines or diets or treatments unless you are qualified to do so. If you are satisfied with something [e.g. service of an airline], do share your experience but in most cases it is better to leave it at that.

Don’t lose civility. Feelings are very important in any form of communication, including the digital one. Be careful about sensitivities of different religions, racial groups, ‘weaker sections of the society’, and regions. Do not use expletives and racial expressions though these might look witty. Avoid four-letter words.  

Do not brag excessively. A bit of self-aggrandisement is OK, but not too much. Don’t assume a fake identity with fake achievements and expertise. Don’t put an artificially bloated stat-counter on the blog. These might not be illegal, but fakes do not shine for long: there is high probability that the fake persona will be exposed one day soon and then he / she will lose all their reputation.  

Do not solicit. Generally speaking we should not ask for favours from visitors or ask for doles. It also looks stupid to ask other bloggers to ‘promote’ us on competition sites, put us on their blogrolls or make favourable comments.   

Do not blog what it is not legal. Blogging by children below 13 years is illegal in most countries. There could be instances when blogging on certain topics is prohibited by governments due to security reasons. In some countries, too personal criticism is taken as libel, and sharp criticism of religions is seen as spread of hatred. In most places, religious and national icons are required to shown due respect, and their inappropriate depiction is a criminal offence. So, be careful.

Why should businesses blog?

It is often seen that businesses are guided by their IT advisers to go for large portals and have their presence on social networking sites [right now, very fashionable]. Anything that is more sensible but not ‘in vogue’ soon loses importance in the eyes of such star-grazers. Blogs fall in this category.
Yet research by international social-media sites as well as marketers themselves have shown that blogs give lots of value to the blog, which websites and social networking presence do not give.  

  • Blog content is more permanent than that on social networking messages. Social networking sites, especially Facebook and Twitter, create content so fast that unless you are always creating content or are repeating your content again and again (and this could be irritating), your content will be swamped by content that is constantly posted by others. 
  • Blogs have more authority and higher credibility than other platforms. Research shows that a significant number of online purchasers or searchers take blog content as more reliable than information and recommendations on other platforms. Similarly, a post on a company blog looks more credible than the company’s press release, and it is unobtrusive. 
  • Blogs are very easy to maintain. Businesses can have blogs as part of their big portal or as standalone sites. Some good companies even have blogs on Blogger or Wordpress platforms that are mapped to independent domains. [Though Indian Top Blogs is neither a company nor big, is an example of very cost-effective way of running a blog.] You can have many interactive functionalities on the blog freely, by way of widgets. In addition, you can easily bring about design changes while retaining the content and its basic metadata such as date of posting, links and geo-tags.
  • Blogs are a cost effective means to reach people. In addition to the free blogging aspect we mentioned above, blogs pay back much better than other means of reaching prospective clients. It has been found that blogs produce many more leads from the unit cost, as compared to social networks, organic search, tele-marketing, direct mail, paid search and trade shows.
  • Blogs act as long-term resource-base. What you create keeps adding to the resources. 
  • Research shows that your overall presence on the web grows up well if you maintain a blog. Blogs act as magnets for traffic as they have a large number of fresh pages which are indexed by search engines. Research shows that blogs not only drive traffic to websites, they generate inbound links and are better amenable to action by visitors. 
  • From non-traffic perspectives too, blogs complement all other web-places seamlessly, including websites and social networking sites. While too much of email pushing, Tweeting etc can look obtrusive, you won't generally be disliked for too much blogging (unless you are suffering from narcissus complex or such other psychic disorder). 
  • You can connect with your clientele in a very friendly and mutually beneficial manner. You can carry articles to educate consumers about your industry, provide advisories, give them free solutions to routine problems, help in grievance-redressal and in meeting government regulations and so on, without trying to sell your product. You can use the blog to showcase your socially-relevant,  philanthropic, visionary self and generate goodwill for yourself (your company). We find that when CEOs maintain a blog in their individual capacity, it helps in generating enormous goodwill for the company.

You might like to read our earlier post related to this subject: Blogs score over Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

A request regarding blog directory compilation

We are forced to write this post of no long-term value; do forgive us for that.

After we published a post announcing the compilation of the Directory of the Best Indian Blogs by May, we are flooded with email requests for inclusion of blogs. Though we have made our selection criteria very clear and also announced a pause to detailed review of blogs, we get numerous requests of various kinds. 

We request blogger friends desirous of seeing their blogs on the Directory of Best Indian Blogs for 2013-14 not to send requests of the following types, as it does not help you in any way and makes our task difficult:

  • In this Directory, we include only the blogs that are predominantly in English and are maintained by Indians [or if not by Indians, are on India]. We include Hindi blogs in another directory that we bring out later in the year. At present, we do not have directories for blogs in other Indian languages and non-Indian blogs. 
  • We suspended detailed review of blogs last year after we found submerged in the heap of requests. If we start it again, we'd announce that on ITB.
  • Please do not mix your request for showcasing your blog on ITB with the request for inclusion in the Directory. For showcasing a blog, we need the blogger to write a small USP about the blog. We are unable to showcase blogs unless they have a minimum standard and are updated regularly.
  • Please do not ask us to include the blog in the Directory if the blog does not fulfill the criteria mentioned in this ITB post.

A simple way to share maps on your blog

This post tells you how to put maps on your blog and also how to share maps elsewhere to help people [e.g. visitors] relate to a location.

Thanks to Google Maps, you can easily put your own markings to Google maps and share these with your blog viewers by following the steps given below. But before going to the steps, let’s set your imagination on a roll about the ways in which maps can be used on blogs and elsewhere.

The possibilities are many. Some could be like these:

This map was made in Google 'mapsengine' and its screenshot pasted here.
Did not remove edit/delete guides just to show how it looks on mapsengine.
  • You may want your invitees to know the driving route to your wedding or your daughter’s birthday function or a seminar in which you are to speak.
  • You may want to guide a visitor to a city, giving him routes and glimpses of what to see.
  • You might want to tell your visitor how to plan his trip to your area, depending upon the likely traffic.
  • You can also use maps on presentations, slide-shows, videos, etc.
  • You can use these all to suit your blog. You can use maps on almost all types of blogs including personal blogs, blogs on history / geography / geology / culture / photography, even research blogs. You might tell people on your blog which all places you visited during your recent excursion. Or you might plan an excursion and seek others’ views on it. As a travel blogger, you can ‘illustrate’ the location, settings, nearby landmarks, driving route etc of a destination. As a blogger providing tour facilities or travel advisories, you can use Google maps imaginatively to provide value to your visitors.