November 23, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
Last week I published the most popular blog post I’ve written to date.
It was not a searingly honest or hauntingly lyrical bit of personal memoir. It was not a deep meditation or nuanced philosophical essay with the power to transform lives. It had no brilliant wit or ROTFLOL humor. It was a how-to post on using hashtag memes on Twitter to increase blog traffic.
The impetus for writing about hashtag days was an online course I was taking on blogging from Patrick Ross through the Loft Literary Center. I wanted to do a how-to post for peer review. While my classmates found it useful, I was actually a little worried the post would fall flat when I posted it. Most of my blog sharing already occurs within these hashtags, so the audience I normally get already knew about them.
However, the post did do well, not just on the hashtags days, but on Twitter generally, and among friends and followers I have who do not normally share my posts. That was a pleasant surprise.
Last week was also the first time I got significant search engine traffic.
I could credit reading up on search engine optimization using key words in blog titles. But the truth is that if I hadn’t been wanting to write a how-to post, I wouldn’t have been able to use those words in the first place. The memoir pieces I write, which are at the heart of what this blog is about, rarely lend themselves to the sort of blog post titles described in Twelveskip’s helpful article, with its pretty infographic.
The truth is that your most sharable content is not necessarily going to be your best writing.
Just get used to it. It’s not the stuff you sweat over for beauty of language or accuracy of detail. Not the Eureka moments of insight. Not what you find most meaningful, necessarily. It’s what others find useful.
This does not mean you should write poorly. It does mean that you may have to bring people to the writing that you are most proud of, that is most important to you, by giving them something they’re actually looking for first.
Meanwhile it’s fun to be Miss Popularity.
Part of my blogging journey – this year, at least – involves documenting my discovery process:
“To learn what I like and don’t like about blogging, how it differs from the writing I have been doing, how I can integrate it smoothly into the other responsibilities of my life; how I can make a meaningful contribution to the conversations I find intriguing.”
So expect a followup post or two in next few months on my process for making the most of these hashtags, and some of the inherent difficulties involved in relying on them exclusively. Because let’s face it: figuring out how to use the tools social media gives us is a part of what makes community within social media. We’re all truly making this up as we go along.
As it happens, some aspects of my process are about to change.
As I’ve explained in other posts, for most of 2014 I was juggling two half time nonprofit positions – one in public media, and one in social services. There are an awful lot more people doing this dance now than there were before the Great Recession. But in September of this year, as I was approaching my first anniversary at the social services job, my position in public media was eliminated. I wasn’t really surprised. In truth I had felt more needed at the other organization, where the job clearly should have been full time.
And so I made my case. It took almost two months, but on Monday, November 24, I will again be a full time salaried employee – not just Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday mornings, but five days a week. This means I will not have as much time as I have had recently for social media.
Because most of my hashtag interaction is scheduled, I will not have to drop out of #MondayBlogs or #wwwblogs; but I won’t be able to be as active or as immediately responsive as I’ve been in the past. I’ll do my best to reciprocate retweets on the actual hashtag day; if I can’t do so then, you can be sure I will do so later in the week.
This Thursday is the first holiday I will be paid for in six years.
That’s something to be thankful for. As are the good folks I’ve come to know through Twitter hashtags. Whether this is a day you celebrate or not, I will celebrate you.