I Will Not Be Baited

Yesterday, I read a series of tweets that made me mad. They weren’t directed at me, but they did attack something I value. I had this huge, long post written where I called out the tweeter and defended my stance. I have a rule that I never comment or write blog posts when I’m initially upset; I wait at least a few hours before publishing anything I might regret. So I waited. Then I looked at my post again, and I still felt strongly that it should be published.

So why aren’t you reading that passionate post right now?

Because this tweeter isn’t someone you can win an argument with. He doesn’t know me and don’t know know him, but what I do know is that anything I say is only going to make him feel like his own points are justified. He’s a troll, plain and simple.

And I will not be baited.

You cannot win an argument with a troll, because they aren’t interested in a debate. They’re only interested in shouting their opinion as loudly as possible. A post opposing them does not encourage healthy debate (which I enjoy). It only tells the person that whatever they said got to me.

It did! Get to me, I mean. But it’s my choice whether I want to express that to the other person or not. Ultimately, is my response going to make him look like a fool, make him rethink what he says, do some kind of greater good? Maybe. But it also opens me up for a shitstorm of negativity. No matter what, it doesn’t make me a better person. He wants a reaction from people.

And I will not be baited.

My readers’ time is worth more than a self-indulgent, angry post that champions what I think is “right.” After all, my readers, you guys…you all are smart. This isn’t a matter of me giving someone advice or debating a point or talking about my personal opinion. It has no value to you guys. I’m not even standing up for the little guy in any way. It’s just patting myself on the back for making some guy sound stupid. That’s not the type of community I want to build here or anywhere I write.

Whenever you write something truly honest, you’re opening yourself up to people who will be upset at what you write. It will be okay. That’s a lesson I learned from Pace and Kyeli at Connection Revolution. But you get to control what you say. If there’s a lot of negativity in your life, on your blog or otherwise, take a look at what you’re doing and saying that’s inviting that crap in. You can voice your opinion and have interesting debates and even stand up for your passions without engaging the trolls. You don’t need to fight every fight out there. It isn’t always worth it. It doesn’t make you weak if you walk away from a fight.

I will be vocal about what I believe and I will be unafraid to speak my mind and I will do my best to change the world for the better. But I will not be baited. Will you?

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Five Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Make Blogging Better

One of the main take-away messages here at Blog Zombies is that if we work together, we’re going to make blogging better for all of us. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be my bff Jill with everyone out there, and you certainly don’t have to keep quite when you have opinions, even dissenting ones. What it does mean is that if you stand up for what you believe is right, no matter what is the trend of the moment, and support the bloggers you enjoy, no matter how many rules they break, it’s going to make this little world of ours a much better and more productive place. We’ll all make more money, we’ll all have more enjoyable jobs, and we’ll all survive the blog zombie apocalypse. Together.

So, with that in mind, here’s my list of things you can do right now to make blogging better for everyone. I hope you’ll leave a comment to add to this list!

1) When you read a guest post you like, visit that blogger’s site and leave some comments.

Everyone talks about how awesome guest posts are, but you know what? I’ve been a guest on some decent blogs and the traffic their sites drove was next to nothing. It’s not a great traffic strategy if you’re looking for those big numbers. It definitely helps with name recognition; guest posts aren’t worthless. Just know what you can expect before you spend time guesting everywhere under the sun.

The next time you read an awesome guest post at one of your favorite sites, don’t just comment or share the post. Actually go to the blogger’s home site and read some stuff on his/her blog. That’s the whole point, yet a lot of us don’t take the time. Tomorrow, it is unlikely that you’ll remember what you had for lunch today let alone the name of that new blogger you were meaning to check out. Click through right now, show some support, and, if you like the blog, bookmark it, subscribe, or add it to your feed reader before you forget.

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How Triberr Turned Me into a Zombie (and it may not be what you think)

Oh, Triberr. I had such high hopes for this blogging tool when I first looked into joining.

I compiled a list of links to people talking about Triberr on the BlogWorld blog earlier this year. Lots of people weighed in with their opinions, and Triberr’s founders stopped by to say thank you, which was really nice. Still, I hadn’t tried the platform myself. I wanted to wait and use it with this blog, when I started in on October 1. So I waited to sign up.

In the meantime, I watched what other people were doing and learned a bit about how Triberr works. If you don’t have experience with this platform, let me give you the quick-and-dirty rundown:

Triberr is invite-only. When someone invites you to join their tribe, you can sign up and link to your RSS feed. Every time someone in your tribe updates their blog, everyone else see it in their queue to tweet out. Some people tweet automatically. Others manually review posts and decide whether or not they want to tweet. The concept is to build your tribe with people who produce awesome content that you’ll likely want to tweet anyway.

The majority of the negative reviews I’ve seen about Triberr have all been against the automation of tweets. I actually don’t think automation is a bad thing in some cases, and this is definitely one of them. The manual setting allows you to avoid tweeting out lots of stuff that isn’t relevant to your readers, but the entire concept of choosing who’s in your tribe very carefully should make automation ideal. If I tweet out your links every day anyway, what does it matter if I do it manually or Triberr does it for me?

So in other words, the automation of Triberr isn’t what turned me into a zombie. I can respect the opinions of people who hate automation, but I personally don’t.

What concerns me more is the stupid process of getting involved in the first place. I have a real problem with Triberr’s policies for newbies, to the point where I quit today after spending several hours yesterday trying to make sense of the platform. Triberr turned me into a zombie with it’s invite system, and while I wish it’s founders and users the best, I definitely won’t be going back under the current policies.

So here’s a run-down of the problem:

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Why Your Klout Score Doesn’t Matter (but you should track it anyway)

Today, everyone is in a tizzy about Klout. Like an old lady fidgeting with her non-supportive dollar store bra, they’ve done some readjusting, and the results are not good (for most people). Scores have dropped left and right, and people are freaking out. Most of the people throwing a fit are people who claim that they don’t care about their Klout scores anyway, but that’s perhaps a post for another way. What I want to talk about today is the idea that your klout score doesn’t matter.

Pay attention to what I’m saying so you don’t miss the point.

It’s your SCORE that doesn’t matter. Klout matters. A lot. The service is the best in the business for measuring just how influential you really are online. It can help advertisers make decisions and it can help bloggers understand where they need improvement. I love Klout.

But the score they give you is just a number.

Today, your score probably dropped. And it didn’t just dip down, it retro-actively dropped, so you can actually see how you’ve really been doing over the past several months. But even though your number is lower, you haven’t changed. It didn’t drop because you’re “engaging” any more or less. It didn’t drop because your fans suddenly hate you and the horse you rode in on. It didn’t drop because you’ve been doing anything wrong. It just dropped because the system recalibrated.

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Please Don’t Engage Me

“Engage” sounds like we’re heading to battle. ENGAGE MISSIIIIILES!

“Engage” sounds like you’re presenting me with a ring. Mom, Dad…we’re engaged!

“Engage” sounds like I’m a cog in a machine that you’re operating. Engage the lever to lower the bucket.

Please don’t “engage” me online.

I think that when people first started using this word, they had all the right intentions. The concept was that you needed to stop spamming your customers and actually talk to them. It’s a good concept! I like that when I complain about my flight, Delta’s customer service team will pick up the tweet and ask me how they can help. Of course, as with anything good in this world, blog zombies got hold of the engage idea and smashed it to bits.

Today, when someone recommends “engaging” on social media, I feel all slimy and yuck…because what it has come to mean is this: pretend to form friendships with people so you can use them to your advantage.

People use “engaging” as a way to hide the fact that they want to make money, like it’s some kind of shady secret. Listen, I’m here because this is my job. I’m not trying to hide that. I’m going to send you affiliate links, tell you about the products I’m selling, and try to convince you to whip out your wallet as often as possible. You and I? We’re not friends. This is a business transaction. You’re here reading my blog post because I have advice that will help you become a better blogger. And I’m giving it away for free because later on, I’ll have not-free stuff that I hope you’ll want too.

I don’t have to engage you to make a sale. In fact, I won’t engage you to make a sale.

I’ll engage you because I like you.

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Automation doesn’t have to be a Four-Letter Word

Automation.

Did that word just send a shiver up your spine? Let me say it again: automation. (Do it again. Automation, automation, automation!)

I personally don’t think that automation is the problem when it comes to Twitter and other social media sites. Rather, like with most things, I think it is what people have done with automation tools that is the problem. It’s like blaming guns for people who shoot other people. Some bloggers rely on these tools or base their social media strategy almost entirely on automation, and that mindset has pretty much ruined it for the rest of us.

I have a confession: I don’t mind a little automation. I know that some of you are shuddering at the thought, but let me explain.

First, to me it makes sense for you to set up things up so that your link is automatically tweeted or updated to Facebook when you initially post it. I mean, if everything you write is awesome (and it should be), you’re going to want people to know about it. Why not cut down on the work you have to do and just automate it? You’re going to post the link anyway, and frankly, people are following you for a reason. I don’t follow a blogger if I’m not interested in what he or she posts. If they don’t post links, I might not remember to read their posts. I’m a busy girl.

So to me, automatically posting your link to Twitter or Facebook is just like your RSS subscribers being automatically notified when you update your blog. No big deal.

But the blog zombies have warped that notion of automatically updating social media. Instead of tweeting a link once, they tweet it multiple times – and they set up automation tools to do it. Dude. I saw your new post the first thirty times you tweeted. I think we all can agree that some bloggers overdo the automation to promote new posts.

And then there’s the bloggers who use automation services (like the Tweet Old Post tool) to automatically promote old posts. I’ve seen this done well and I’ve seen this done in really crappy ways.

In all honesty, I don’t mind if you send out some old links. I peruse Twitter mainly late at night when there’s not a lot of activity, and automating your tweets so that when you’re sleeping you send out some links to awesome posts doesn’t bother me. I like to explore and find links I might have missed the first time around. But here are a few things to consider:

  • I don’t need a new link every 15 minutes even at night and I certainly don’t need that kind of link density during the day when you’re also tweeting status updates and sending out links to other bloggers’ posts.
  • When you automatically tweet links to time-sensitive posts, like site updates, you look stupid. Use the options to prevent this from happening.

Seriously, automation of old posts isn’t right for everyone. Don’t be a schmuck. If you’re going to automate your old posts, be intelligent about it.

But let’s talk about the worst type of automation of all…the auto-DM.

Talk about a shiver going up your spine! Auto-DMs are something that everyone rants about. They’re the devil! They make you look really bad!

So…why do some people still do them?

I think, sometimes, we forget that as bloggers, we expect different things than our readers might expect. Now, if you blog about social media, blogging, internet marketing, etc. and your followers are professions in the online field, an auto-DM probably isn’t a good idea. But if your followers are a different group? Well, I’m not saying that it is a good idea, but I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea. It depends on your audience.

Don’t auto-DM people because you’re too lazy to connect with your followers. Consider it if you’re using it for another purpose. Once, I followed a company that had a very active social media manager. I got an auto-DM, which surprised me. But it wasn’t the typical “Thanks for the follow! I’m too lazy to actually say thank you, but here’s a bunch of spammy links.” I can’t remember it word-for-word, but it was something like, “Thanks for following. This is an automated DM, but we wanted to make sure all of our followers got a coupon, so here it is: *link*”

Heck yes, I want a coupon! They were transparent about the DM being automated and they had a good reason for doing it, so I approved…and I’m a social media person. I bet that most of their fanbase (non-social-media-people) eat that sh*t up. Seriously, if my mom was on Twitter, she would love  that.

The point is, automation doesn’t have to be bad. You just have to be smart about it. Don’t try to trick your readers. Don’t use it because you’re lazy. Don’t be annoying with so much automation that people get sick of you.

Like with everything, do what makes sense for you. Don’t be like the zombie who abuses automation, but also don’t be like the zombie who isn’t open-minded enough to understand that automation can make sense in some cases for some bloggers.

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