Friday, April 18, 2008
2. You enjoy writing
3. In grade school, you were the kid who had to be given a time limit during show and tell
4. You have a message to share with the world
5. You want to leave something for people to remember you by when you're gone
6. It warms your heart when you really connect with someone who reads one of your posts
7. Where else are people going to find pictures like you have discovered
8. It helps you keep in touch with people you've lost touch with due to time and distance
9. Three words - Pickled Pig Lips
10. It's a blast!
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Where do we begin?
Every time I write a post, I have a dilemma.
It matters, of course, because I can take shortcuts, it changes the perception of my tone of voice and I can skip a lot of the preliminaries.
Or am I writing for you, the first-timer, the person who found this post on Digg or Delicious? If it's you, then I should take my time, write a bit more, put some background links in, etc.
Now, of course, you have the same dilemma too.
You have it when someone friends you on Facebook. Maybe they found you cause you're cute, or because you just joined a new company or because you're a friend of Tom's. Or maybe they've known you since summer camp and you just need to reconnect...
I think this dichotomy of experience raises the level of responsibility for the reader. Without knowing who you're reading, it's hard to judge the tone of voice of what you're hearing. More important, it changes the posture of the writer.
Sometimes, the web is more of a cocktail party than a club meeting.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Mr. Jones: “I had a bad day today.”
Ms. Smith: “What happened?”
Mr. Jones: “We missed a deadline.”
Ms. Smith: “Why.”
Mr. Jones: “Jimmy was just off.”
Ms. Smith: “Do you mean off work, or he was not very productive?”
This conversation is an example of interpersonal communication. The process works something like this: Mr. Jones starts with an idea that he wants to communicate to Ms. Smith. He goes through a process called encoding. That’s the process of changing ideas to symbols (symbols can be spoken words, written words, body language, etc.) Ms. Smith heard the words or symbols and decoded them into meaning for her. Because Mr. Jones’ symbols were ambiguous or vague, Ms. Smith provided necessary feedback. Mr. Jones continued encoding symbols until he and Ms. Smith achieved effective communication.
In mass communication such as with newspapers and radio, the sender of information and the receiver of information usually lack the opportunity for immediate feedback. If receivers don’t understand what they read in the newspaper or heard on TV, they often just put down the paper or change the channel. The lesson here is that in mass communication, the sender must chose the best symbols to be clear the first time or risk losing the attention of the receiver.
Blogs are unique. Communicating through blogs is similar to interpersonal conversation in terms of the casualness of the conversation and the opportunity for comments. Communicating through blogs is also similar to mass communications in that there is one sender and numerous receivers, and while the feedback opportunities exists, relatively few bother to take advantage of the opportunity. Even when receivers leave remarks seeking clarification from the blog writer, it is often too late to benefit everyone involved because bloggers participate in online conversations sporadically.
That said there is ample opportunity for miscommunication through blogging, especially as it relates to the writers’ tone, inflection, and connotation. Emotion is difficult to convey online. Bloggers may choose to use emoticons such as smiley faces to indicate emphasis and emotion. However, careful attention should be used for noobs or new bloggers, who may be unfamiliar with the less common emoticons. Some emoticons are easy to misinterpret.
Then there’s the abbreviated, text-message carry over to blogs. I remember years ago when I received a message with “lol” included. I wondered why my student was responding with “lots of love.” Fortunately before responding I discovered “lol” stood for “laugh out loud.” Another potential for miscommunication for writers and readers of blogs is a word in ALL CAPS. To some a word in all caps means an important term, to others it connotes shouting.
Because of the numerous opportunities for misunderstanding, those who write for blogs might consider how each word could be received by the reader. If, for example, sarcasm is intended, the blog writer might consider a parenthetical expression, ie (sarcasm). While this may seem cumbersome, the alternative is the potential for misunderstanding. If the goal is effective communication, blog writers should be careful to avoid vague, ambiguous terms or terms that may have unintended consequences. With all the online competition, attracting readers to your blog or website is difficult. But getting frustrated readers to return is a steeper hill to climb.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this.
Find this and other interesting posts on Rob's Megaphone
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
For a newbie blogger finding your voice will happen once you start committing your thoughts and ideas to be published. Focus on expressing yourself in a way that feels comfortable. Work at developing a personal style. Try not to jump around and copy everyone else’s technique, but instead work on language that feels like you. Once you start articulating messages on the topics that interest you, that fit your blog, and fit your style you are ready to take the next step towards fame…or at least towards lunchtime conversation.
Audience of A Few
Now that you are beginning to feel comfortable with blogging and your own style, it is time to start getting the word out. A great intermediate step is to recruit friends, family, and colleagues to start reading your blog. Explain that it is new. Explain that you would appreciate and value their thoughts and suggestions. Pay careful attention to the comments of people you trust. Now is the time to proactively request criticism. Let them know that you consider them part of your team. Part of your challenge is to embrace criticism and not become defensive. Trust your instincts when evaluating input to incorporate that which is valuable and discard what does not seem to fit where you are heading. Don’t worry if you put out a few clunker posts. The next great post is just about to happen!
Audience of Many
So you have started to find your style and you have received some good input. What’s next? You are ready for prime time! In coming post we will talk about an number of ways increase readership. Meanwhile, remember that Audience of a Few? Now is a real good time encourage those friends, family, and colleagues to start spreading the word about your blog. Ask them and remind them occasionally to let others know about your blog. It’s called viral marketing and it’s effective. You are on your way. Enjoy the ride.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
How often is too often? How often is not enough?
Ultimately it's up to you how frequently you update your weblog. Some update once a day. Others update once a week. I, personally, like to update on average twice a day. My goal is to keep the site fresh for my target reader. He/She is tech-savvy, works hard for a living, checks in during his/her coffee break at work, and then checks in again after dinner before spending time with his/her family or perhaps even before bed while checking the day's email at home.
Your target reader might be different. Again, no pressure. Here's the thing though. If I am checking your site daily, I don't want to read the same post for four out of the five work days. I also don't want to have so much information put forth that I feel like I am left out of the loop if I miss a day or two. So pull the reigns back if you are posting nine times a day.
Rule #1 for posting says that frequency is left to your better judgement.
Don't leave us hanging for too long and don't bury us with too much content and you will be just fine.