Social updates: another blogger killed, Facebook's downvote button, Twitter makes money, social media fights

Another blogger pays with life, this time for angering goons

A well-known Mexican blogger, Pamika Montenegro, has been shot [perhaps] for her writings against organised crime. Known as La Nana Pelucas (= Grandma in Wigs), the satirist blogger ran an online maagzine, a Facebook page and a YouTube channel where she often mocked politicians and drug lords.

Screen-grab of Pamika's recent YouTube show
Investigation is still on to pinpoint and apprehend the murderers. Mexico has a long history of murders of social media activists and journalists in the hands of criminals.

Ugly social media war likely in UK elections now on!

Tories are hiring tweeters to fight social media war against Labour in the UK.

According to Telegraph, the Conservative Party of the UK is hiring a big number of people to tweet to outbid the opposition Labour Party which has been able to garner good support on social media, especially among young voters, through its campaign group, Momentum. 

Reports say, the Conservative Party is far behind its major opponent on social media. The new Chairman of the party says, its supporters are facing vitriolic attacks from the left supporters and it needs to be firmly countered.

We are likely to witness three things here, one legitimate and two ugly:

  • a social media campaign, putting forth one's views and countering opposition campaign;
  • creating fake persona and trolls to abuse and provoke others and derail public discourse; and
  • bloating one's social media numbers falsely.

Social media is being used vociferously in previous national elections across the globe. India, the US, France... we have seen this happening in a big scale in the last 6-7 years. All social media campaigns have suffered from the ugly aspects of use of social media for electoral politics.

Twitter becoming a tool in fight between politicians and bureaucrats too!

Social media is adding to the on-going friction between politicians and officials in Delhi.

India's capital New Delhi is located in a state called Delhi. This state is governed by an elected government with limited powers. There has been a tussle going on between the political rulers of Delhi and its bureaucrats for some days after the highest official of the state was called for a meeting at midnight at the Chief Minister's residence and was allegedly beaten up.

The ruling party, AAP, has been active on social media, broadcasting that the federal government of Modi is trying to destabilize Delhi government by provoking officials. What has added to the friction is opening up of two Twitter accounts by employees where they express their views and share photos and images of wrong-doings by members of AAP.

AAP has also questioned these Twitter handles  following just @NarendraModi, AAP's bete noire. 

Facebook tests 'downvote' but is wary of implementing it?

Facebook has been testing a downvote button on comments, so that people can show their disapproval for comments that are inappropriate or just useless.

The social networking giant has clarified that it is not going to implement 'dislike' but has been testing the 'downvote' feature for some time on a small number of US timelines. 

The feature has not been rolled out or even expanded after a month of public testing. Does it show, Facebook does not have guts to implement it?

Twitter makes some money, finally!

Twitter may be one of the most popular social media and micro-blogging platform but unlike Google and Facebook, it has made no money for 12 long years.

Hopefully, the dry days are over for Twitter. It made a small quarterly profit in the December 2017 quarter, the first ever, and has shown progressively better results in the last few quarters.

Modern layout and design concepts for photo blogs

A photo blog [also written as photoblog] should not be taken as a collection of photos on a website but a professionally presented portfolio. It must show the talent and best creations of the photographer, look visually appealing, make it easy for the visitor to find what he is looking for. If the blog is used for selling the photographs, the blog should help in the buyer easily find the right photo, know the terms, easily make the payment and instantly take possession of the photo.

A proper layout helps the photo-blogger achieve his goals, as much as a bad layout confuses visitors or makes them unsure about the photographer's terms and the quality of his work.

Before you choose layout that would suit your blog the best, keep in mind that the design must achieve easy navigation (= taking a path to find something) and quick finding of resources.

For achieving intuitive navigation and resource discovery, the back end work of tagging photographs is very important. Many bloggers ignore this aspect and have to spend much more time later on in fixing problems. What you need to do is to make a list of tags which you will use for categorizing your photos. Tags should generally tell the genre of photography, type of photograph and location. (We'd come to the display of categories later, and discuss various content-related matters in a subsequent post. Please visit this post if you are interested in the best way to put tag and make use of them.)

Nothing can beat the 'menu bar' when it comes to navigation. Menu bar is a strip or a list of items that help visitors in finding resources. 

There can be two types of menu bars on photo blogs:
  1. a menu bar with links to photographer's details, other services, terms of use, etc; and
  2. a menu bar with links to various categories and sub-categories of photographs.
Menu bars can be placed on the blog at various places: 
  • A horizontal menu bar at the very top of the visual area. This area suits contact details etc. more than categories, which need a better placement of menu bar.
  • A horizontal bar under the title. If the title is in one corner, this menu bar can be on the side of the title. This is the most visible and desirable place to have a menu bar.
  • If one type of menu bar is kept on top portion of the blog, another can be placed in the lower part - just below the main photo area or as a semi-transparent strip over the photos.
  • A vertical list of menu items in the left side bar is another good place to show the main menus. The vertical menu bar can accommodate many more menu items than a horizontal bar.
    Title, though very important for any website, need not bother you as far as its placement goes. In most cases, the title goes either on top and is centrally aligned or is located on one side.

    One must choose the number and placement of photographs in relation to one another very carefully, because this is what is the main content of any photo blog. I have given three layout ideas* here, with different sizes and placements of photos. There can be more combinations based on placement of menu bar, title and image areas.

    Please have a look at the first and third diagrams. Many professional photo bloggers choose a big photo or a big photo with a few asymmetrically arranged small photos covering a big area of the blog. Mostly the photos (if more than one) are on the same subject. 

    Care is taken that even though photos cover the screen, menu bar is clearly visible.

    When a big photo takes up most of the space, other photos can be used as thumbnails, so that other types of photos do not get completely ignored. If the photographer deals with many types of photography, he can use the main area for the dominant type and use thumbs to give samples of other types. If the photo blogger has a narrow niche (e.g. bird photography), thumbs can be used to give the rich range of photos (e.g. different types of birds, in different actions/moods).

    Some bloggers prefer to place a mosaic of photographs, as shown in the second diagram. Sometimes thumbs representing different categories are displayed and sometimes each photograph shows its story when cursor is hovered over it. This type has the advantage that one can put a very large number of photos. But this makes the blog look a bit cluttered. 

    Though these arguably are the most efficient layouts for photo blogs, a photo blog's layout can be much different. A flip-card style arrangement of photos in a grid, magazine style display in which each photo gets good display and has a big caption and a front-page with a big photo that opens into a proper homepage are some other popular examples.

    The photo blog, even more than other blogs, must be designed with patience. The wire-frame or sketch must be filled with different photographs to see the best visual impact. The play of photos and space must be studied so that while there is no wastage of space, the screen should not look cluttered or suffocating. 

    Finally, it is a matter of choice. Almost all types of layouts that can display photos well - especially the three shown above - work well if these design principles are applied.

    *: If you like a more detailed discussion on the topic, please visit our photo blog series a the given link.

    6 reasons why most social media influencers are fake

    People make money fooling the gullible - and this has been there since ages. You can call such people cheats but a better definition of most such people will be that they are 'guys who arrived there before others'.

    If thieves and outright fraudsters are coming to your mind, forget them. I am talking about smart guys on the www.

    Take the example of old SEO people. The made huge money by just repeating a keyword ten times in the 'keyword meta-tag' of their website/ blog because search engines thought that such websites/ blogs were highly relevant for that keyword and thus placed them on top of search results.

    There are hundreds of such examples. Let's take a fresh example before we come to 'influencers'. Fake news has spread on social media to such an extent that Facebook, Twitter and others are blowing their horns to tell what great actions they are taking against it. Before the tech biggies can take credible actions against the fake news spreaders, the fake-news would have served its purpose well.

    Now, social media influencers. There are thousands of social media practitioners who show off their new-found identity on the www and also in the real world. You visit a class on making money through blogging and you'd find them; they are there on tutorial sites teaching their techniques; they are even in social gatherings, flashing their visiting cards as social media influencers!

    Good or bad, the social media influencer is a 'big' guy!

    Who is really a social media influencer?

    A good working definition to go by will be like this: A social media influencer is the one who has high reputation on the web and has a big number of followers who believe him and therefore their  opinions are likely to be influenced by his recommendations.

    By this definition, big bloggers who get a good number of comments and social shares on/for his blog, Facebook entities with multi-thousand followers and thousands of 'likes' on their posts,  Twitterati with enormous number of followers, and similar big guys on other social networking and bookmarking platforms are indeed 'social media influencers'.

    But there is a catch. No, many catches! Let's now count them:

    1. Most followers are fake.
    It has been found that a good number of followers of many world leaders are fake. Most politicians have fake follower numbers on Twitter. During the last general elections in India, some politicians' followers rose overnight from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands and most of them were found to be from Ujbekistan and other countries least relevant for Indian elections!

    2. Many followers have been bought or are mutual back-scratchers.
    People who want to show the world they are social media influencers work on many fronts, and buying followers is part of their strategy. Besides outright fake followers (discussed above), one can buy 'real' followers whose accounts have been created at the back-end of tech teams. They keep creating a large number of accounts and even keep maintaining them once in a while so that they look natural and real.

    Many links also come just by following others. Many of the guys who claim millions of followers on Twitter also have millions of people followed by them. The idea is to keep following others so that some of them follow back; and later on unfollowing those who did not follow back.

    3. Most followers are dormant.
    People follow celebrities when they visit their accounts by chance or by way of curiosity or when there is some controversy or big news about them. After than the followers lose interest but they do not 'unfollow' them. Moreover, only a small percentage of people on social sites visit their accounts regularly.

    I did a small check just now: I picked up 10 top world leaders and checked their 50 Twitter followers for number of followers they had and how active they were on Twitter. As apprehended, over 90% of all of them had lower than 10 followers and had not tweeted for the last 20 days.

    4. Messages are lost in the crowd.
    Some genuine followers might be visiting their accounts regularly. But, if they follow thousands of accounts, they will be able to see only the messages of a few people which are current at that time. Other messages would have gone down the drain.

    5. Some statistics does not mean much.
    Some people add all types of numbers to show their 'influence', and these numbers include hits and visits on their blogs over time (hits are just junk; visits would include own visits and also spam), numbers on stat counters on their sites or blogs (their base can be artificially kept at a high figure and they can be tweaked manually now and then), and so on.

    6. Numbers are OK but do the followers care for his opinion?
    Finally, even if their numbers were big after all discounts, do the 'followers' listen to them? Followers are generally people who are interested in the person's activities and views, not his disciples. They care a hoot for that person's recommendations unless the person in question is their political leader or religious head.

    I have also found that a large number of politicians and journalists are followers of politicians of all hues. This they do so that they do not miss any statement made by that politician, not because they like his ideas.

    When it comes to political decisions, I do not think followers matter much. One, because of the reasons given above, and two, because not all genuine followers also belong to his constituency or will go to vote for him.

    Buying decisions are also seldom taken based on following, except in rare cases.

    The only social media influencers who seem to have influence on a section of their followers are the preachers, highly credible thinkers, top politicians and celebrities with real fan-following (charismatic actors, players, singers etc). But here too, such social media followers are already their true followers and the followers are already influenced - and in their case, social media is just 'preaching to the choir' or influencing the already influenced.

    10 blogging actions that will succeed in 2018 and beyond

    Thanks to new developments in web technologies, the pressure to be on top, rising competition from fellow bloggers and social media, and search engines' changing perception of reputation and relevance, success in blogging is becoming that much tougher by the day.

    I will like to be crisp and to the point and therefore, instead of repeating things I would give links to other resources on ITB itself or elsewhere for further reading.

    Before I go any further, let me hasten so say that in this article, we'll judge success of a blog in terms of popularity and earnings, though as a philosophy IndianTopBlogs sees success in terms of overall happiness that an enterprise brings.

    Take these actions and succeed as a blogger in 2018 and beyond


    1. Gift yourself a nice domain name and host the blog on a reliable server. If you are an old blogger, I need not preach you about the importance of these two basic actions, but if you have created a new blog and not taken care of these, take these actions right now. You will need to place the blog on a web host if you want to have an independent blog. (On free blogging platforms such as Blogger and, they give you a free domain name and host your blog too.) You can visit this post for more on domain names.

    2. Before hosting the blog, you must create it. I will recommend It is a very blogger-friendly content management system, which makes it easy to set up the blog, and all major web hosts have some facility to put the blog on the host easily, without knowing much of technology.

    3. Design is even more important now. Blog's design has assumed more importance because your blog must stand even among professionally designed blogs. Design should not only be appealing, it should be highly functional. Visitors must be able to find content in one or two clicks. Go for a good theme. There are numerous in-built and free themes for blogs but you might prefer to buy a premium theme. One word of caution: recently there have been many reports of hacking of Wordpress blogs through vulnerabilities in themes.

    4. Write good, write big. If you want to earn from the blog, you must write well - good language skills, no mistakes, logical thoughts, well-researched article, supported with graphics/ images/ video. It has been proved in studies that well-written long posts score much better in terms of traffic, re-visits and actions by visitors. Listen to what Google says on what constitutes site reputation, and how content plays an important role in it.

    5. Don't ignore promotion. However good your blog is and however good you write, the blog must also be promoted by way of talking about it, linking it on social networking sites, placing it on reputed webspaces such as genuine and good directories and bookmarking sites. It also is a good idea to promote the blog through AdSense or Facebook ads. Since many professional bloggers have established themselves in all niches, a new blogger has to promote his/ her blog to catch up.

    6. Don't ignore SEO. Search engine optimization is necessary for getting traffic through search engines. But the old SEO tricks are not effective any more, and SEO has to be genuine and ethical. Google has released this fantastic guide on this subject: SEO Started Guide

    7. Pay if need be. Every blogger does not and cannot have all types of skills and time enough to do everything relating to blogging. If you need to pay for some part of blogging, e.g. SEO or designing or adding useful codes or implementing receipt of payments or photographs or something else, don't hesitate to hire services or products.Consider the blog as your business, and like other businesses it needs investment to succeed and prosper. Leave rare exceptions aside, the rule is that a footpath seller remains that throughout his life while one who sets up his store decently in a mall ends up owning a chain of stores.

    8,9,10. Keep blogging!  👍👍👍

    Are slow blogs and websites going to suffer badly on Google search?

    There was no doubt among ethical SEO practitioners ever that Google and other search engines look for content that is relevant to the search query and serves the best value.

    However, Google recently posted on its blog that from July 2018 site speed is going to be an important signal for mobile searches and it was reported by some as becoming a very important signal.

    No way. Google itself clarified that hardly one percent of websites are likely to be affected by speed considerations; relevance and value still are the biggest search signals. Of course, if a blog or website is woefully slow, it would be spoiling the user experience and needs to be downgraded - but it should not worry most bloggers. 

    Not only that, Google refers to this video that was issued way back in 2010 and is still current!