Monday, July 27, 2015

Face the Face(book)

When I started blogging, I was part of a little group of like-minded bloggers who made the rounds of each others'  blogs every couple of days to catch up and have conversation. Once our corner of the blogosphere exploded, many of us started to rely on RSS feeds to tell us when our favorite bloggers had new posts.

It seems that things have changed since then, and to a great degree, Facebook has become the primary source for information and updates. My blog stats tells me that the vast majority of people who read my last two posts came to me via Facebook.

Another interesting change since I was last blogging on a regular basis: people seem to be a lot more comfortable commenting on the Facebook link, instead of on the post itself. That makes sense. If you're a Facebook user, chances are good that you're already in the habit of "liking" and commenting there. And the Blogger interface can be cumbersome at best. In fact, several people have told me that they have not been able to get their comments to post there at all.

So it seems like Facebook is a great platform.  But it's trickier than it seems.

Let's look at RSS feeds. RSS feeds work this way: I tell RSS that I like a blogger. That blogger posts something. RSS tells me a new post is up.

Simple. Clean. Reliable.

In contrast, if I understand it correctly, this is the way Facebook works: I tell Facebook that I like a blogger. Facebook files away that information for future reference (their own). That blogger posts a link to a new blog entry.

Facebook smiles.

Facebook adds the blogger's link to the news feeds of a small number of their followers. I may be one of those people, but there's a good chance that I will never see the link in my news feed.

Facebook tells the blogger that they would be happy to share the link with more people who would like to see it.

For a fee.

Right. As a blogger, if I want people who have "liked" my page to see the things I have posted there, I need to give Facebook a kickback. Only, my blog doesn't generate income. I don't have ads. I don't get paid. So I'm certainly not going to start paying to get readers.

From what I hear from people who know more about this sort of thing than I do, Facebook also uses some complicated algorithm to increase or limit traffic based on the popularity of a post.  So, if Facebook shares my link with 200 people, and many of those 200 people like it or comment on it, Facebook will plop it into the news feed of more people who have "liked" my page. If, however, those initial 200 people just kind of yawn, my link will die a quick death. (Which seems counter-intuitive to me, but, then, what do I know?)

So, anyway, what is my point here?

1) If you're on Facebook and you haven't "liked" my page yet, you may want to, because, as I've said before, one of the best parts of blogging is what happens in the comments, and a huge portion of the commentary is happening on Facebook. You can find the page here.

2) Even if you "like" my page, Facebook may never let you know when I've posted to it. I'm sorry about that. I don't have any idea what to do about it.

3) If you know a clever work-around to get Facebook to show you the stuff you really want to see, or if you have any greater understanding of The Ways of the Facebook (What, for instance, is the difference between "liking" and "following"? And why would anyone want to "like" me, but "hide all posts" from me? Can't they just avoid all posts by not "liking" me?), please share your wisdom with the rest of us.

And if you're reading this post because Facebook plopped it into your news feed, you can rest assured that I did not pay them to put it there.


Karen Isaacson said...

and you know even if you figure out the mysterious ways of FB, they will just go and change it again. Give me my RSS feed any day.
But speaking of that...
ever since the death of google reader, I have been unhappy.
what do you use as a feed reader?
(and have I said how happy I am that you are blogging again and I hope you keep it up because not only do I love what you write about your parenting journey, I just love your writing in general and would want to read it even if it was copy on a cereal box.)

MOM-NOS said...

Karen (and now I note that an additional benefit to commenting on Facebook is that you can tag people so they know that you have responded to them),

1. When I used a feed reader, I used Feeddler, but that was a long time ago. These days, most of the bloggers I'd followed closely have either stopped blogging or moved on to password protected sites that send me an email when a new post is up.

2. Do you think one can actually make a career out of writing copy for cereal boxes? Because, I gotta say, I would totally rock at that, being a fan of both writing and cereal.

3. Did you catch the Pete Townshend reference in the post title? I figured you and maybe three other people would.

Melissa F. said...

Karen, have you tried Feedly? I use that to manage a ridiculous amount of blogs and it has been working pretty well for me since the death of Google Reader.