I’m A Twitter Citizen, Work In StumbleUpon, Occasionally Travel To Reddit

Last month StumbleUpon had around 7 million registered users. Twitter is coming up pretty close, with around 4 million registered users, while Facebook watches all this from a distance, with more than 200 millions registered users. Why are those numbers important, apart from dry media statistics? Because they are not just numbers, they represent populations.

One of the most surprising and most important effects of social networking is the creation of a new type of country. A country which is not defined by physical borders, but by domain names. A country which is ruled by Terms Of Service, and not Constitutions. A type of country which, in some cases, is far more rich than most of the traditional, physical bordered countries.

If you’re surprised by these affirmations is good. It means you are from the old fashioned generation which thought email is the final frontier. If you’re not surprised, I bet you are one of the happy citizens of those new countries. You are already an active member of that population and help the economical growth of that specific country.

Well, for those still surprised, I will try to uncover in this article why and how the social media is shaping the new digital-political structure of the world, the structure that will overlap in the end the familiar geo-political structure.

Traditional And Digital Countries

A traditional country model is defined by borders, physical borders. A citizenship is defined by a special identification document, by which you are recognized. The traditional model of a country is territorial. You can’t really DO something outside the physical borders and your citizenship. The value is defined inside a territory, where there is a currency which you can trade for value. A traditional country is defined by fixed factors, like geography.

On the other hand, the digital countries are defined by interactions. Your citizenship is your username. In the Amazon country, you interact by buying things. In the eBay country you can do even more, you can sell your stuff too. And in the Monster country you can hunt for a job. All of these are interactions. And all digital countries are defined by interaction, instead of physical borders. Interactions performed over the internet.

Read moreI’m A Twitter Citizen, Work In StumbleUpon, Occasionally Travel To Reddit

The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Promotion

The first 6 months of serious blogging are crucial. In today’s post I’ll share my experiences with one of the most ignored activities by the beginners, and that would be promotion. This is the second post from a bigger series, so I recommend you to read the introductory post, if you came here directly. If you want to know more about the first post in the series, you can go to The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Writing. And keep in mind that this post is also pretty big, over 2000 words, so you’d better book some free time to read it at ease.

Broadcast Your Message

Promotion accounts for at least 40%-45% of the overall time I spend “blogging”. If this sounds surprising, I must confess that I feel I’m not promoting this blog as I should. I feel I’m not doing enough for it.

I cannot stress enough the importance of promotion in the early months. As always, I learned this the hard way, from experience. In the first 3 months, my traffic was constant, but low. Shamefully low, as opposed to my expectations. The vast majority of traffic came from search engines and since the blog didn’t had a significant number of inbound links, my page rank was low. It still is, by the way, only this doesn’t matter now anymore. 🙂

Here’s my traffic breakdown for the first 3 months:

Search Engines – 58%
Referring sites – 28%
Direct traffic – 14%

During the first 3 months I didn’t do anything to promote this blog. I waited to be picked up by search engines. It happened sooner than I thought, only the traffic I received was extremely low. I was indexed almost instantly but the traffic was not as expected.

So, after 3 months of stagnation I decided it was time to actively involve myself in promoting this blog. I realized something extremely important: the world of blogging is really crowded. There are literally millions of blogs out there. Tens of millions. The vast majority are low quality, it’s true, but even if we accept that 1% of the blogs are really good, 1% of 50.000.000 of blogs is 500.000. You have an enormous competition: 500.000 sites! If you have a little bit of decency you realize that you really cannot wait for the search engines to pick you up and send you in the first place. You can’t afford to do that. You have to actually control the process. At least until you can automate some parts of it and assess some progress. If you do nothing to promote your blog, your chances for a steady, growing traffic are extremely low. You act on a field with enormous numbers.

So, after I started to actively work on my blog promotion, my traffic breakdown changed dramatically in the last 3 months. Here’s how:

Read moreThe First 6 Months Of Blogging – Promotion

Twitter Downshifting

Three weeks ago I deleted my first twitter account @edragonu. At that time I had more than 1000 followers and I followed around 800 people. After a few days of silence, I decided to restart my twitter experience, on another account, @dragosroua, which happens to be me real name. I restored the first account but let my followers know that I’m on a new account and invited them to follow me there. During that silence period I learned a lot about how Twitter works and about myself. Here’s what happened.

Real Followers On Twitter

After I announced that I switched accounts, I experienced a flood of new followers on the new account. Those were the real followers, the ones who were listening and had a real interest in follow me. In 2-3 days I went from 0 to 100 followers. And then it slowly started to stop. I have around 1-2 new followers per day right now.

As you can see, the “core” of the followers was less than 10% of my actual numbers. Out of 1000 listed followers, only 100 were actually listening to my tweets and were interested in following me. It’s a little bit sad. And also unexpected. I was convinced that my followers are interested in what I write. At least, I was interested in what people I followed wrote.

Fewer Followers, Better Experience

The feeling I had in the first few days of having only meaningful followers were terrific. And I still experience the same feelings now. I feel relieved, authentic, useful and true. No more dumb numbers chasing, no more empty performance metrics, just authentic interaction.

I used to spend around 2-3 hours each day only in reading my timeline. I had to find ways to filter the content and cut down the noise. Somehow I took for granted that “noise” is something that Twitter has by default and I have to get over it. After I started the new account it was like the noise never existed.

Twitter doesn’t have any associated noise, it’s you who create the noise, by succumbing to the numbers game.

Read moreTwitter Downshifting

Social Networking Versus Real Life Relationships

We live as cells of a giant body: the society. We have rules to manage this body, rules we learn very young. The whole giant structure is sustained by an invisible yet so powerful web of rules about when, how and why we interact with each other. Relationships.

I think the first rules of real life relationships are learned around the age of 3. After that age we know how to act and react in order to integrate in the society at the very basic level. Of course, after that comes school, job and other social interaction games that we learn along the way. But the core is learned at a very young age and so we act almost unconsciously when it comes to real life relationships.

But the last 10 years of history created another layer of relationships, on top of the traditional way of interacting, a layer powered by the online revolution. Right now most of our relationships have a strong online component. Either we met somebody online, either we keep interacting with somebody exclusively online, fact is a larger part of our relationships pool is now over the web. World Wide Web.

My approach with what we call social networking was a little slower. Although I had my share of enthusiasm and hype toward every major social networking service, I haven’t had the time, nor the curiosity to go deeper. I only started to immerse myself deeply in this new web only several months ago. And what I found there really surprised me. In this post I’ll share with you the differences I found between social networking (as in digital social networking) and real life relationships.

Consistency

One of the first differences I noticed was the higher degree of consistency needed in  social networking. One must be very strict about his identity and message in order to gain some attention. If you present yourself with an image of a blogger, you should closely stick to this identity. If you chose to be a environmental activist, by all means, stick to it.

If your presence is not consistently reinforced your identity will weaken. The only thing by which you are known is what you say and do about yourself. That will also ignite what others are saying about you, but the first spark is always you. If you change course just a little bit, your identity will be skewed.

In the real life you don’t have to do that. As long as you correctly channel your change, people will know about you. For instance, if you change your job and announce all your friends, they’ll know you’re doing something different now, but it is still you. You don’t lose identity if you change your message. The real life rules are strong enough to keep your identity solid.

Social networking is still a fragile medium, the rules are to a minimum level. This is why this medium is still so vulnerable to various infectious factors, like identity theft. In a space with loose rules you have to be the strong factor, hence consistently push your identity until you create what you want.

Read moreSocial Networking Versus Real Life Relationships

Getting The Best Out Of Twitter – Introducing MrTweet

My Twitter mood is continuing these days. After a general post about twittering heights and a more technical one about hashtags in Twitter, today I’ll write a short review of one of the most useful applications you can try to enhance your Twitter experience.

The application is web-based and you can find it at mrtweet.net. MrTweet offers two simple, yet powerful features so far – the app is very young, 4 weeks at the date of this post, if I’m not wrong – and those are

  • listings of your followers that you should follow back
  • listings of the key influencers in your network

In order to measure the quality of the followers you should follow back and to define the “influencer” MrTweet uses a few ad-hoc metrics.  Based on what you already have in your network of followers, MrTweet will harvest a report, in fact, just a simple list. The report shows near each person their ratio of following / frollower, the number of tweets per day and the recipricity: how that person replies or not to non-follows. On top of that, it shows a list of the persons in your network who are already following that person, and, if you really want to know more, it also shows you the latest tweets of that person in your browser. And of course, if you like the guy, you can follow him on Twitter from within MrTweet website.

Read moreGetting The Best Out Of Twitter – Introducing MrTweet

Twittering Heights

It’s not a secret that Twitter, the 140 characters blogging service has become mainstream. For those of you living on planet Mars, who haven’t yet heard about it, Twitter is a place where you can communicate in a very short way -  140 characters maximum – the answer to a very simple question: “What are you doing?”. Other people may follow you, meaning they will actually see what are you doing / writing. And you can follow other people too, meaning that you can see what they are doing. Simplicity at its best.

But out of simplicity the best things in our life came. And out of simplicity you can create some of the most interesting and challenging things in your life. In today’s post I’ll try to share my opinions on using Twitter in the last few months. I’m approaching my 1000th update on Twitter and that will be one important milestone in my Twitterer career. Joking, of course.

All About Me Versus Sharing Others

Being on Twitter and being engaged in social interactions on this media is a surprisingly interesting activity. Most of the time you’ll be inclined to respond to that fundamental question: “What are you doing?” and unveil your life and day to day activities in short, yet compelling pieces of informations.

But after a while and after reading other people’s timelines you’ll find the need to share some pieces of other people’s life. You’ll start to re-tweet (quote) other people ideas, links, quotes or findings. You’ll start to be a broadcaster for others. In fact, you’ll soon find that one of the key metrics in being a successful twitterer is the “me versus other” ratio. And by “successful twitterer” I don’t mean a popular one, but a person who extracts the best value out of this.

Read moreTwittering Heights