When people ask me what’s the hardest part about having a blog, I say it’s choosing a theme. After that, it’s making the time to actually sit down and write.
I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say. I have plenty to say. There’s more going on my brain than my mouth and typing fingers can keep up with. I could tell you about my recent experience working in Melbourne, my brother-out-law’s 50th birthday party at the historic Pentridge Prison, my thoughts on social media and community management following Swarm Conference, and I could talk endlessly about politics. Coming up with ideas about what to write about is not a problem. Actually sitting down to write is another story.
There are also times when I come across great images and stories and think that I would like to share those here, but I don’t because I question if that’s the type of blog this is, which led me to ask myself about what kind of blog I want this to be. I’m still an expat, of course, but after nearly three years in Melbourne, this is becoming home, and I’m moving beyond travel tips and first-time visits to the local zoo.
Another thing that hit me is that this website may be the closest I come to owning virtual real estate. By now you may have heard of Ello, a new social platform that wants to be the anti-Facebook. It’s an ad-free, bare-bones, hipster, minimalist network. The usability and readability isn’t great, but it’s still in beta and more features are on the way. When I heard about Ello, the first thing I thought was, “Oh no, another social channel to keep up with” because Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and YouTube are not enough. I’m a social media junkie; of course, I jumped on Ello wagon. I have an account and have been testing the waters.
As a community and social media manager, I think about strategy. I’m on these networks because I want to know how they work, but I would not necessarily recommend that a client gets on all of them. I would ask my client where their audience is and suggest they focus there first. Then, slowly branch out to other networks to tap into a different audience or grow an existing one. Networks come and go and we go where the people are. I’m on Facebook because almost everyone on the planet is. If my friends and family where all on G+, I’d be there instead.
Thinking strategically, I ask myself why I’m on these networks. Do they serve a purpose? Do I really need them to accomplish something? People ask me how I use them. Here’s how. Facebook is where I keep up with family, friends, and personal interests. Twitter is where I keep up with my industry and the world at large. Pinterest is where I waste an hour or two looking at clothes I’ll never buy and dishes I’ll never make. On Instagram, I share visual bits and pieces of my life. Tumblr is my failed experiment. I’ve had a number of them over the years and never manage to keep up with them. YouTube is where, you know, I watch videos. LinkedIn is for professional pursuits.
Despite this social overload, it’s not enough. Not a single one of these platforms does everything I want a social network to do. I want a place to share a random image, a fleeting thought, and a long-form piece of writing, but developments in social have told us we need different places, that we need to compartmentalise because my mom cares what I had for dinner, but my friends don’t; my co-religionists care about my spring equinox, but my expat friends don’t; my colleagues care about social media and community management, but nobody else does. We did this with blogs too. Personal blogs used to be about everything. Now bloggers create multiple blogs for different interests. I’m guilty of this as well; I had four blogs: an expat blog, a spiritual blog, a birdwatching blog, and a Second Life fashion blog.
Another issue is that none of these platforms is ours. I may refer to my Facebook presence as “my Facebook”, but it’s not mine; Facebook belongs to Facebook. Tomorrow that college experiment could pull the plug and all my photos and updates would disappear, my connections would be broken. Ello is very tempting. It could be that clean, minimalist space where I share something in between Facebook and Twitter and I could dedicate it to art and the things I love and that inspire me. It could take off, but then again it might not. There are things about Ello that I don’t like and, again, it’s not mine. It’s remarkable that social media platforms have made fortunes by convincing people to freely create content for them.
It’s also important to remember that it’s called social media, not broadcast media. A benefit of joining and contributing content on other networks is the creation of communities and the expansion of your own personal network. You get to meet others, have conversations, collaborate, etc.
This blog is going to change. I need to find a happy medium. I’ll still write about the cool things I discover in Melbourne and Australia at large, but I’m not going to limit myself to expat experiences. I’m also going to write about social media, community management, art, design, advertising, photography, feminism, and who knows what else because these are things that I love and that I live. I want this website to be my hub in which the spokes of my social networks intersect. Meanwhile, I pare back on some of my existing social networks and communities (and probably join a few more).