August 9, 2013

A New Social Media Challenge

I am just retired, not dead. I don't work for a paycheck anymore, but I still work...at lots of things that interest, amuse, stimulate, and excite me. I also make changes to my retirement lifestyle when needed. That time has come.

For the past three years I have depended on Twitter to help me promote this blog. Maybe because my readership was so small during the first year or so, but I could see a direct correlation between the promotion of a new blog post on Twitter and an increase in readership. I would tweet a link to satisfying retirement and watch the traffic jump. So, I put all my social media energy into Twitter, adding new followers and adding fresh tweets five or six times a day.

For the past year that positive effect has not been there. Even though I dutifully schedule the same number of tweets each morning, there is no noticeable impact. It finally occurred to me just before I left on our vacation to Portland that Twitter was no longer worth the time I was giving it. Obviously, the social media landscape had changed but I had not.

Blog promotion is important. With tens of millions of them clogging up the Internet and thousands dedicated to some part of the retirement journey, to simply write posts and hope for the best isn't good enough to be noticed. I have the type of personality that wants to always move forward. I don't want to make lots of money with satisfying retirement (unless Huffington Post wants to buy me!) but I do want the widest possible audience to know I'm here.

So, I have begun a study of four major social media outlets (other than Twitter) and their usefulness to me. I have dabbled in each up to this point, but have never done the reading, studying, and development necessary for any of them to prove their worth. Your feedback will be important as I try to pick the one or two that will do this blog the most good. I don't have the time to maintain five social media outlets, so help me focus on the ones with the biggest bang for the buck.

Facebook

One of the choices that Facebook offers is to develop a page for Satisfying Retirement. Unlike a personal page with all sorts of timeline entries about what I am doing, or what my "friends" are up to, photos of the grandkids, and so on, a page is meant to help a business or organization promote itself.

If you have a Facebook account and click on the underlined link above you will be taken to my first, rough attempt at a page. As you will quickly see I have a lot of work to do. But, you can help me at this very early stage by liking the page. I need a certain minimum number of likes to be able to do more with the page, so please click.

At the moment I am not sure quite where to go with this page or how to use it to promote the blog and books. If you have specific suggestions or ideas, please fire away. In the meantime I'm reading and researching.

Google+

According to Wikipedia, as of May 2013, Google+ had a total of 500 million registered users, of whom 235 million are active in a given month. That places it ahead of Twitter but still way behind Facebook. Google Plus is a social media platform that attempts to integrate various parts of what Google offers, like Blogger, Gmail, and Documents  With streams, circles, hangouts, messenger, and hashtags, Google is attempting to be the 800 pound gorilla in the social media field.

Because Google search results can make or break a blog, anything that Google touches needs to be considered. They say that Google+ activity does not affect search results, but that may change in the future.

Again, I have a book on using Google+ effectively, plus lots of web sites that are helping me understand this site and its potential.

LinkedIn

With over 200 million members, LinkedIn seems to have captured the high ground as the place for professionals to meet to network, to find and fill jobs. Reports say that all of the Fortune 500 companies have a presence here, along with influential firms in every field of endeavor.

In a book I am reading to help me understand this site and whether it has any value to this blog, I am learning that LinkedIn is becoming a place where companies and individuals can build a brand identity. In my case that would mean I could strengthen Satisfying Retirement as a leading "brand" for information and advice in the field of retirement.

Of course, that leads to an obvious question: so what? Does establishing me and the blog as a well known brand with Fortune 500 leaders help me? I'm not looking for a job. I don't want to start traveling all over the country speaking at seminars, do I?

As I noted at the beginning of this post, I want to devote only so much time to social media. The payoff for my effort must be worth the input. The jury is still out on LinkedIn's effective for my purposes

Pinterest

As the new kid on the block Pinterest has rapidly added members because it has staked out a a very different position from the others. 25 million members "pin" photographs to various boards on their site. Pinterest users are heavily female, though male use is slowly increasing, and are above average in income. Not surprisingly, highly visual businesses like fashion design, photography, and tourism are some of the heaviest users.

From what I gather Pinterest's primary appeal to a business is the ability to show a product or a service being used. Folks are much more likely to show interest in something they can see. The site also has a very easy system of linking from a photo back to a web site, and linking everything to Facebook and Twitter.

I don't sell a product that is easily captured visually, except for the cover of one of my books. But, to keep things fresh and engaging my blog doesn't seem to "fit' Pinterest's goals. If I had a craft site and sold quilts or jewelry, or even my own photographs, that would be a different story. But, I'm pretty sure a retirement blog targets an older and less visually inspired person.

All that being said, I am reading a book about using Pinterest for business purposes and how to maximize the loyalty its users seem to be. So, for now, Pinterest remains in contention though not high on the list.



So, there you have it. The four social media sites vying for my attention, time, and energy. As I continue to learn more about each during this vacation I am sure my path will be clearer. But, I am just as convinced that many of you have insights and feedback that would help me.

Do I Tweet, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Pin myself?

33 comments:

  1. Personally, I have accounts on all 4 of the social media outlets you mention. However, I am FAR more active on Facebook. I guess that's because I can see all of my interests (family, friends, "professional" network, activities and interests) in one place. I will go "Like" your page :)

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    1. Thanks for the "like" Kelli. So far I tend to agree with you regarding Facebook but I want to give all four options a fair trial.

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  2. Bob, you are wise to keep updating your "brand". I follow your blog daily and have taken many of your ideas to heart as I prepare for retirement in ten years or so. I also am involved in some way with all of the social media sites you mention.

    You mention your own concern about choosing the best social media for your message that is worth your time investment. Is that because you want to have unique information on each so they drive everyone towards your blog with no cannibalism of their message? Otherwise, why would you not create an initial presence on each and track which gave you the most traffic and then capitalize on those?

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    1. My understand is that each has its own "purpose" and attracts different types of people looking for different things. LinkedIn in particular is probably not appropriate for lots of blog links, but I haven't really started on that choice yet. I have an account but have done little with it.

      I am at the very beginning stage of each though Pinterest seem a bit far afield for my purposes. My wife, on the other hand, should be all over Pinterest, Her photography is well worth sharing.

      Thanks for being a regular reader and helping me focus on what I need. I spent enough years helping radio stations establish their "brand" that I know how important it is.

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  3. I would say, as someone who does everything BUT twitter that facebook would be the best choice. I do have two facebook accounts for my businesses and while they do require some time they are well worth the effort, both to merchandize and to communicate with others. You have the ability to invite. Also, frankly, it is a perfect place when you dont have time to write a full blown post (such as while traveling?) to write a quick paragraph and perhaps insert a picture so your followers can keep up with you. I'll add here that although I realize you have family all near you, your regular facebook page is a great place for communication with long distance friends-much easier than email and you can share with all at one time.

    Now, I think Pinterest has value as well, and I think Betty might like pinterest just for its own sake, blogging benefits aside. It is a wonderful place to share pictures, so I would not rule that out as a backup.

    I have a linked in account as a purely business standpoint and I never use it, my son has one as a job hunting tool and it has not been beneficial to him. I personally have done absolutely nothing with google plus. I understand it is supposed to be the "new thing" when it comes to blogs, but I have not seen that from my blogging friends, including those who are more active than I.

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    1. So far Facebook is "winning" in this unofficial poll and several have mentioned Pinterest for Betty. Google+ is still struggling to achieve top of mind awareness. I know they'd love to be the new Facebook but that has yet to happen. But, with Google being Google, I would never count them out.

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  4. I'm involved in all four to some extent, but the only one I really spend time on is Facebook. I've "Liked" many of the business and organizations I want to stay involved with, and appreciate fresh, relevant content when it's pushed out by them. The more interesting the content, the more I pay attention and consider sharing it with others.

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  5. Hey Bob
    I found you a couple weeks ago and have been reading like crazy !!!!! I just liked you on Facebook . I am only involved with Facebook at the moment. Really enjoy your blog so count me in !!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Welcome, hello, and thanks, Judy! Drop me an e-mail if you ever have any questions, concerns, or issues I haven't addressed.

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  6. Bob - I would think that the choice of which social media outlet to use would be driven by what demographic group do you hope/wish to grow. If you're most interested in impacting those of already retired, I would think that Facebook would provide the greatest impact these days. If you're interested in those still working that may be most impacted by your thoughtful issues and suggestions, I would think that LinkedIn would be best as that is used to a much greater degree by those still working and networking. From my perspective, it won't matter for I, like many of the others noted above, simply make following your blog a routine diet for my own personal growth and development. Mike

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    1. Thanks, Mike. Now if you can convince about 900 million people to forgo Facebook and just read my blog I think all my problems would be solved.

      I think my primary target is both retirees and those that are in pre-retirement mode, meaning they are getting close enough to really get serious about planning and thinking about it. With that definition then LinkedIn is probably off target.

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  7. I do LinkedIn and Facebook. I post my blog to Facebook.

    But I don't have an economic stake in my blog. My goals for the blog are different from yours.

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    1. My ultimate goal is for a company to pay me $1,000,000 for the name Satisfying Retirement.

      No, not really, If I can sell some books and write I'm happy.

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  8. I have a personal page, a Zero to 60 and beyond page, and I manage a friends page for him, on Facebook. You can link your fan page to twitter, so every time you post on that page it will also post to twitter. That is the only reason I have the followers I have on twitter, because I do not give it much time, at all.

    I dropped linkedin a long time ago, because I'm not looking for work connections. I have all the work I can handle, and I am the boss...can't beat that!

    I just started getting a wee bit more into google+, primarily because I went to a SITs conference and they said, "Google LOVES Google, so you need to have a presence there." I don't actively do anything on it, but I may in the future as I get more familiar.

    I view pinterest as just a big time suck. I know that may be unfair, but there are only so many hours in the day!

    One thing I'm exploring more is Instagram. That would be a fun social media outlet for Betty! I wasn't aware of how much people interact until recently. I'm learning more!

    Hope that helps. I'm going to go to your fb page now!
    b

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    1. I think you have identified the main attraction of Google+ at the moment: Google owns it and they rule Internet page rankings and search results, so being involved can't be a bad thing.

      Google is also not hesitant to dump something that isn't working for them, like Google Reader a few months ago. The jury is out so I'll stay seated at their table to see how their hand plays out.

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  9. Pinterest could be a good vehicle for Betty. I wish FB would just go away. I thought it was losing popularity but I guess not.

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    1. Based on the comments, Betty may have Pinterest in her future. She has a FB presence that she does enjoy, but I agree with you that her pictures belong on a photo-oriented site, too.

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  10. Hi Bob - I still don't get the whole twitter thing. Everyone I see has hundreds if not thousands of people they are following. I don't know how anyone can possibly keep with the steady stream of tweets that come in by the minute. I do tweet new blogs because there are likely some out there who can successfully manage the flow of information. Tried my hand at Facebook and post new blogs there but not every one. I was a late-arriver at Facebook and short of seeing what my kids are up to have not found much value relative to my blog. Google+ does seem to help visibility with searches so I am starting to use that more regularly. No idea about Pinterest except my daughter uses it for gifting ideas and recipes. Good luck with your decision - I am sure there will be additional options before too long now... :)

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    1. There is already a new one that has been mentioned above: Instagram. I have no idea what that is and am afraid to open another door at the moment!

      BTW, I noticed that Newsweek has been sold. I certainly hope the new owners keep your articles coming.

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  11. Interesting problem (blog brand) looking for a solution (social media tools). Often, a series of general to focused simple Google searches is my method to find information. Not at all unique. Just saying, I don't currently use any of the social media tools you mentioned. Regarding “brand,” LinkedIn seems to have the most appeal personally -- although still not enough incentive to have an account at this time.

    And here's my (attempted conservative humor) throw away: “Huffington Post”

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    1. Huffington Post has a "brand" I wouldn't mind emulating, though I don't agree with everything they post. But, if I only read what I agree with how will I ever learn anything new, or know what I don't like? !!!

      Frankly, I am very much in your camp: I use Google search constantly for everything. I don't know how we'd function anymore without it.

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  12. Hi Bob, I'll be interested in seeing what you learn from this informal research. I have been resistant to social media because I don't want to spend the time on it. For my garden blog, I have been active on a social media site (Blotanical) that is specific to garden bloggers and which really creates a community of garden bloggers. Joining that site really increased my readership by making my blog known to other gardeners who blog. I have not been able to find a similar community of retirement bloggers. I did open an account on Google+ in an attempt to connect with other retirement bloggers, but I have not been particularly active there. I will note, though, that when I was invited to be on HuffPost Live, it was because they found my blog on Google+ -- so if you are even a little serious about being discovered by the Huffington Post, a Google+ account would probably be worthwhile. -Jean

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    1. Huffington Post picks up the articles I write for Next Avenue, the PBS site for 50+ folks, for which I am very thankful.

      I can't find any on-line community for retirement bloggers that doesn't include almost all financial and retirement community sites. So, I'll keep plugging away.

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  13. I have a facebook page under Tom Sightings, not Sightings Over Sixty. I've met a few new friends, but haven't seen any noticeable pickup in readership. I also have google+, but haven't really figured out how to use it. Never had a twitter account. The whole thing seems so pointless to me ... or maybe I just don't understand it.

    Anyway, no matter how we get to you, Bob, we love reading your blog ... which is the main point of it all, isn't it?

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    1. I have a personal page too, but then established the Satisfying Retirement page because a book I'm reading said to do it that way.

      Writing the blog and having great folks like you read it and like is the point. You are absolutely correct.

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  14. I recently created a Facebook page separate from my personal account. Afterwards, I was disappointed to learn I cannot like from my Facebook page. This has limited the time I spend there. I have occasionally been surprised to see someone like my page and comment on my posts there. I think it is important for me to be where my readers are even if I can't play along.

    My twitter usage has slowed down. I find myself only checking my tweets once or twice a day and then only staying on twitter for a few minutes. I think others are doing the same. I replied to a tweet recently where the tweeter responded how surprised she was someone actually had read her tweet. She thinks people don't read tweets anymore. They just tweet stuff.

    I was really into Pinterest for a while, but don't spend much time there anymore either. To be honest I now only log on when I want to pin something and then only spend a few minutes looking at pins.

    I actually spend a lot of time on Google+. Since I can't follow blogs from my Facebook page I follow them on Google+. It is easy to read them there since I’m already signed on to Google instead of logging onto another feed site like Bloglovin. This is actually how I came across this post. I'm sure many of you will hate this, but I wish more of you would post your blogs on Google+.

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    1. Your experiences mirror many of mine. I think Google+ probably has the most long term potential for me even though Facebook is generating comments and feedback since I passed the "magic" 30 likes.

      Your Twitter reaction is probably the same as many. It is really not a two way street anymore, just postings.

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  15. I find google plus to extra work, unfortunately. I'm confused about your facebook trouble (sorry if I am misunderstanding). You cannot follow blogs from facebook, that is not the purpose. However, you certainly can "like" and share from your secondary (or fan/business page). However you can only like those people who have posted or commented on your so called fan page. Those likes will not appear on your main facebook page like posts you make. did that make any sense at all?

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    1. I'm not sure what Savy's exact problem is, though I know you cannot do the "friend" thing with a page like I have for Satisfying Retirement. I have to invite people to "like" the page.

      At the moment I am trying to be active on both my personal (Bob Lowry) page and my Satisfying Retirement page until I figure out the best way to go.

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  16. Bob, I am a fan of Facebook only because it is a great way for me to connect with friends and family who are not in my immediate area. I am not one of those folks who has 452,000 followers and am very selective as to who I "friend." I did make an exception for you and have enjoyed your contribution. :)

    I downloaded Instagram to Malcolm's Iphone, but don't see any way that it can promote interest in a blog. We use it to share photographs. My 20/30 something nieces and nephews are getting away from Facebook and onto Instagram.

    Pinterest has been an addiction for about two years and I have recently convinced Malcolm of its merits. He collects recipe "Boards" there instead of renewing subscriptions to cooking magazines. I collect - well everything! The demographic would not be looking for retirement blogs.

    I have been on LinkedIn for a while (since one of my daughter's business professors required that all his classes register). I really shouldn't be there since I am no longer interested in "working," but its great for folks who are. I receive a lot of activity from the site. Exposure there might get you speaking engagements, which would help you sell books and promote your web-site.

    NO to Twitter. It is a colossal waste of time.

    Google+ may or may not be the wave of the future - jury still out.

    I agree with everyone else regarding Betty and Pinterest. She should set up a photography blog, then PIN her photos for exposure. Let your light shine!!!

    As far as promoting a blog on social media - not sure that it is worth the effort. Your writing is your best asset.

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    1. Interesting that Malcom is using Pinterest instead of cookbooks. I'd never thought of that possibility.

      Betty opened a Pinterest account yesterday, but since we are supposed to be on vacation (!) I doubt she will do a lot with it until we get home in September.

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  17. Hi Bob....I just stumbled on your page for a couple of other blogs and thought I'd throw in my two cents. I have a FB page for my blog and it brings in the most of all....I do get some from Twitter and Pintrest too and I also post on Google +, just not able to track how many come from that area. Another site that brings me good traffic is Stumble Upon...it's very easy to add your posts and people find me that way. Hope that helps. I look forward to reading more on your site and seeing which way you decide to go... ~Kathy

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