Thanks, Bloggers, for all that #SundayBlogShare Love

When Suzie81 asked me to host this week’s #SundayBlogShare, I was torn. On the one hand, I was honored and wanted to jump at the chance. It’s an activity I enjoy. I love that I’ve watched it grow from nothing and have had a small part in building it.

SBS

On the other hand, I thought it might be a ton of work and that I would screw something up. I eventually decided to do it, and I am very glad I did. It did turn out to be a bit of work, but it was totally worth it. It got me a couple of good days on the blogs, I met some nice folks, and it put @Sourcererblog’s Twitter following above 5K for the first time. Needless to say, I am pleased.

Last week, I put out the word to my friends that I was hosting and invited them to join in. I also shared #SundayBlogShare with a couple of groups I am a part of on Facebook. Here’s an excerpt from one of the status updates I posted to those groups.

So, you might be interested to know that I am hosting #SundayBlogShare on Twitter right now. What being the host means, basically, is:

1. I retweet everything that is a legitimate blog post and doesn’t contain hate speech with my @sourcererblog account.
2. I look at most of the links. I comment on the ones that grab me, either on Twitter or on the blog itself.
3. I follow almost everyone who shares a link to that hashtag and they get a solid month to decide whether to follow me back.

Silly me.

Retweeting everything from that hashtag and following even three quarters of the bloggers who use it on Sundays is officially impossible, at least for an amateur like me. That’s how big it has gotten, and I had no idea. I promoted #SundayBlogShare hard the first week we did it and I join in when I can, but I wasn’t able to really pay attention for most of November. I keep up with Suzie, so I knew it was growing. I just didn’t realize how quickly it was growing.

I started monitoring the hashtag around 2 a.m. London time and just watched it. I retweeted the first few links and warned the first few people who weren’t sharing blog posts off. I typically don’t do that, and in general it’s not worth the time, but I didn’t want  to get overrun by non-blog related stuff before the bloggers started showing up. I did retweets and follows for awhile and had no problem keeping up during the early hours. At some point, I went to sleep thinking things were going fine, but it really wasn’t that busy.

When I woke up a few hours later, I jumped on my phone to see how things were looking. At that point, the hashtag was so busy it took me more than an hour just to get caught up with the retweets, and I had to give up on the following just to stay ahead. From that point, I just rolled for the next several hours, scanning blogs and retweeting links with my two Twitter accounts, and chattering as I was able. It was a lot of fun.

Sourcerer had a good day yesterday, but my personal blog, Just Gene’O picked up almost 40 referrals from Twitter, which is unheard of for me, and had its best day in a couple of months. As I was writing this, @Sourcererblog was up by a ton of followers from Sunday alone, and most of them are bloggers. I don’t manage my @JustGene’O account very closely for followers. It’s mostly there to establish that there’s a real person behind Sourcerer and to retweet my friends, but I am assuming it’s up as well and I’ll give a big bunch of followbacks with that account later this week.

Thanks to everyone who joined in with #SundayBlogShare this weekend, and thanks especially to those of you who showed up as a favor to me. I truly appreciate it. The early links and the late links that you guys shared were especially helpful, because the early ones kept the hashtag from being overwhelmed by non-blog content during the first few hours, and the late ones allowed me to extend the day.

The hosting was pretty hectic and it didn’t leave me much time to blog on Sunday. But it was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I’d do it again. Now that I’ve watched #SundayBlogShare closely for an entire day, I have a much better feel for the rhythm of it. I’m an even bigger fan of it now than I was before I hosted, and I hope to see all you friendly bloggers for it again next week.

You Still Have Tons of Time to Get in on #SundayBlogShare

I intended to have a social media post today. I’ve got a thing or two to say about what I have been doing on Facebook lately, because I think I’m on my way to making my account over there useful for supporting the blogs. That will have to wait, though, because I’m hosting #SundayBlogShare today. It’s going great, but my @sourcererblog account is so busy it’s taking most of my attention at the moment, and I am also doing retweets from my personal account.

If you’ve followed either of my Twitter accounts today, I’ll get around to following you back once the link-sharing madness is over. And speaking of that, you still have plenty of time to share links on the #SundayBlogShare hashtag and have a good chance of them being retweeted by me and possibly a few other bloggers. You can find the rules for the hashtag, along with some other Twitter activities for bloggers you might want to know about, here.

Thanks to Suzie81 for asking me to host. I’m having a blast, and the day isn’t over yet 🙂

Social Media Sunday: Twitter Revisited

Last weekend I started actively growing my Twitter following @Sourcererblog again. On Friday, Sept. 26, I was sitting at 2,789 followers. As I write this post a week later, I’m at 3,014 and counting. If I’m able to pick up another 75 before Monday, I’ll have gained 300 followers in 10 days. That’s the largest single bump I’ve seen, so it’s worth discussing. The lesson I’m taking from it is that once you’re able to gain a stable Twitter following of 2500+, Twitter gets easier.

Twitter analytics run a day behind, so this doesn’t capture my follower growth since yesterday, but it will give you an idea of how my account is trending right now. The top of the blue line represents 2,980 followers when the stats rolled over on Friday. The little spike at the very end covers the period from Sept. 27 (2,816 followers) through Friday. So about 170 followers added last week. Most of those are people I followed last Friday and Saturday.

TwitterGraph 2014-10-04

Here’s a little history for folks who have joined me since the last time I did one of these Twitterblogs; then I’ll talk about how I’m managing this account and give you some demographic info about who’s following me. I started a couple of Twitter accounts last November because they were simple to set up and I wanted to use the WordPress publicize feature to tweet blog links. I branded one of them @Sourcererblog and connected it to both Sourcerer and Part Time Monster. I also set up a personal one, mainly so I could link to it in the @Sourcererblog profile to establish that there’s a real person behind the sorcerer persona.

On January 10, two months after I started, I was following about 600 accounts with @Sourcererblog and I had only 60 followers. At that point I decided I was going to have to do more than publicize links if I wanted the Twitter account to be worth anything. I started spending a little time every evening retweeting things and also tweeting to Diana (@parttimemonster) and Jeremy (@quaintjeremy) about blog stuff. Basically, I tweeted them things about the blog schedule, what posts we had going the next day, etc. I used #blogs, #Wordpress, #writing, and a lot of made-up hashtags for comic effect in those tweets.

As I was doing this I also started having conversations with WordPress bloggers who had Twitter accounts and I started unfollowing accounts that I knew would never follow me back. I weeded out hundreds of accounts that hadn’t tweeted in years, big celebrity accounts, etc. All that took a couple of weeks to have an effect, but it paid off. Bloggers started to notice me on Twitter.

Sometime toward the end of January, I caught a real break. I had a conversation about blog-building with Vijay of Half Eaten Mind (@HalfEatenMind) on one of his pages, and he added me to his list of bloggers on Twitter. That list had about 250 bloggers on it at the time. It took me a few days to do it without risking suspension with my small account, but over the course of the next week, I followed the entire list. It turned out to be what I’ve come to think of as a “high percentage followback” list. Well over 60 percent of the bloggers I followed from that list followed me back, and I’m still interacting with some of the people I met though Vijay’s list. The follows and the interaction I gained from following that list gave me the boost I needed to get @Sourcererblog going and keep it growing.Twitter-icon-the-bird

I started paying attention to the people who were mentioning me in Tweets. I asked questions and studied the way people with thousands of followers were interacting. I did #FollowFridays religiously for a couple of months, and when others gave me Follow Fridays, I always took care to thank them, retweet, and look at the other accounts they’d included with me. At one point I was routinely picking up 50 to 100 followers every weekend just by doing that. So many people have helped me grow my Twitter account at this point, I can’t begin to name them all, but here are five whose interactions — along with Diana’s, Jeremy’s, and ViJay’s — have been absolutely invaluable. Not all of them are even aware they’ve helped me, but they have.

I spent the next five months working to get my following above 2,000, because Twitter caps the number of people you can follow at 2,000 until you have roughly that number of followers. I passed 2K the second week of June and grew it to 2,500 over the next month.  I also wrote an eight-part blog series about it and created a page to help other bloggers figure Twitter out. In early July, I stopped actively growing it for a few reasons.

  • At the time, I didn’t see what a following of 5K would get me that I wasn’t already getting with 2,500.
  • I was starting to be squeezed for time, and the blogs are more important. I had to cut back on the other social media to keep my blogs going.
  • I wanted to see what would happen if I dialed my account activity back. I needed to know how persistent the Twitter following is and to see whether or not my follower base would collapse if I just went back to publicizing links for awhile.

TwitterSuzieAs it turned out, tweeting for 15 minutes every other day along with publicizing links and following people back was enough to keep my account growing at a minimal level. Plenty of people unfollowed me, but I still ended up with a net gain of more than 250 followers between July and September without making any effort whatsoever to actually grow my account.

Now I’m finally in a position to grow it without a ton of work, because having 3,000 followers means I can follow up to 3300 accounts. And @Sourcererblog is large enough and active enough now that I can load up my unfollowers in Manage Flitter every Thursday evening and unfollow 100 at a time without tripping Twitter’s anti-spam system and getting my account suspended. I’ve also looked at the quarterly stats from this blog, which I will share and discuss next weekend. Twitter is my third-largest source of referrals over the last 3 months. It hasn’t brought me a LOT of traffic. It’s barely noticeable in the daily stats. But it’s grown to the point that Twitter referrals are a significant number now, and it’s happened since I got my account above 2,500 followers.

My basic rules of engagement for Twitter haven’t changed, but I can already tell that keeping this account growing, going forward, is going to be a much more smooth operation than growing to 2K was. Here’s my new-and-improved growth process.

  1. Every Thursday, I load my account in Manage Flitter (@ManageFlitter, blog) and view my unfollowers in chronological order. I unfollow the last 100 on the list — the 100 who have had the longest to follow me back and not done so, or who followed me for a while and then unfollowed for whatever reason. At some point I’m going to have to start unfollowing 200 every week, but for now, this is plenty of unfollowing for me.
  2. I spend Friday afternoon and Saturday morning following to within about 50 of my “following” cap, which I presume to be my number of followers plus 10 percent. I try and do at least a few Follow Fridays every week. Once I’m loaded up, I only follow enough new people during the week to keep my “following” number within 50 the cap. I do most of my following on Friday and Saturday because Twitter is busiest on the weekends, and that’s when people are most likely to be checking their notifications there.
  3. I interact as much as I can on Twitter on Saturdays and Sundays, then tweet with a couple of dozen people who I’ve been tweeting with for months during the week. I also share quite a few links from the browser for other bloggers, and I send a link to @Mondayblogs every Monday as often as I can.
  4. When Thursday rolls around, I begin the cycle all over.
  5. I tried out the “Who to Follow” function this weekend. Up to this point, I’ve been following other peoples’ followers and following from lists when I’m added to them. I’ve had good early results with “Who to Follow,” but I didn’t use it indiscriminately. I followed people who seem to share my interests, and people who a lot of my followers are following. But it’s worked. I followed maybe 175 that way Friday afternoon, and I’m up almost 100 followers since I did it.

And here are my rules of engagement.

  • Be genuine and be nice. Twitter has a dark side just like every other social media network. But my Twitter network runs on giggles and smileys. Aside from landing at the bottom of my unfollowers list when I need to free up capacity, there are only three ways to get unfollowed by me. 1) Posting things that are Not Safe For Work; 2) Flagrant spamming; and 3) Being mean. When I unfollow for any of these three reasons, I also block the accounts.
  • If you aren’t tweeting, you aren’t present. This doesn’t mean you have to tweet all the time, because tweets circulate for hours and sometimes days. It does mean you need to spend at least a few minutes every other day tweeting things other than your own links. And that you need active people to tweet with. Maintaining a few lists also helps. People appreciate list adds.
  • If you want a lot of people to follow you, you must follow a lot of people.

Finally, some interesting facts about my Twitter following for my fellow stat geeks.

  • My following is 67% male and 33% female, but anecdotally, my active, engaged following includes many more women than men.
  • Fifteen percent of my following is concentrated in five cities: Washington D.C., New York, London, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
  • The USA accounts for 51% of my following. Half of those are in five states: California, Texas, Virginia, Florida, New York, and Illinois. If you’re wondering why this is so, take a look at an electoral map of the U.S. These are all states with a both a lot of electoral votes and a lot of big cities, which means large populations and relatively strong economies.
  • Half of my followers outside the U.S. are from six countries: the U.K., Canada, Australia, India, Germany, and Brazil. These are all countries with large English-fluent populations and Internet schedules that overlap with my blogging schedule.
  • The rest (about 1500 followers total) are from the other 45 U.S. states or from other countries. So half my Twitter followers are from five U.S. states and six other countries.
  • My followers’ “interests” are dominated by books and writing. The only non-book related interests on my list are Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Photography. The most popular single interest among my followers is Romance Books, and it’s the only one that rates above 50%. I find this very interesting because I’m not that into romance books. But on the other hand, I know quite a few romance authors. I’ve also been pretty clear about the facts that I don’t discriminate by genre when it comes to judging artistic merit and I love to see writers succeed regardless of the genres they choose to work in.

I hope you’ve found all this intersting, if not helpful. I’ve watched my Twitter account on another monitor while I wrote this. I’m at 3,022 now. Eight new followers in the time it took to put together this post. That’s not bad at all for an two hours when I wasn’t even tweeting.

 

Suzie81 Speaks! (This is a social media experiment.)

Suzie81 is running an experiment. I’ve decided to join in. The idea is to answer seven questions, either on Suzie’s thread, or in a post, in which case it’s ok to share a link to your post on the thread. She’ll compile the responses once the deadline for the experiment passes. If you choose to answer the questions on your blog, including an image would be a smart thing to do, because that will allow me to pin your post 😉 And you only have a few hours to do it before the thread closes, because I am late informing you about it.

© Gene'O 2014; original photo by Vicki, 2013.

© Gene’O 2014; original photo by Vicki, 2013.

1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I was brainstorming blog titles, trying to come up with something funny and geeky at the same time. I came up with Sorcerer, and Diana suggested spelling it Sourcerer to make it into an Internet pun. I wish I’d googled both those terms before I adopted it, though. There are tons of web-based products and projects with that name, so it isn’t great for searches.

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

Stockpile content before you start — the more, the better. Blog for two months and just save the drafts before you ever publish a single post and when you go live, make a big deal out of it for a day or two before you kick off your blog. If you’re even halfway competent with a camera, this includes stockpiling photos. Having your own images saves tons of time, and if some of them are good enough to use as stand-alone photoblogs, they get you easy updates on days when you don’t have time to write.

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

Hmmm. It’s an ongoing thing for me. I live in a town of 50K, have been here since the 90s, and I’ve had a doppleganger the whole time. He looks like me and has similar fashion sense. We have no mutual acquaintances, but we’re so close together, geographically, that people get us confused. Now and then a person I’ve never met walks up to me and starts talking about a previous conversation that I have absolutely no knowledge of. When I say “hey, that wasn’t me, I was somewhere else,” they look at me more closely and withdraw in embarrassment. This has been going on for more than 15 years now.

Sometimes it happens only every six months, sometimes often. A year ago I was having one of these encounters every three weeks or so. The cashiers at my convenience store of choice told me they could only tell us apart because of the cigarettes we were buying (He smokes menthols.) Anyway, I have never once met this person, but he’s lived within a few blocks of me at least twice in the last ten years, and he looks just like me. Weird, eh?

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

“I love you.” There’s nothing better than that. People who love one another should say it more often  than they do.

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit?

I’d want to witness the Big Bang, and to see what the world looks like in the year 9,000 C.E. If I could only do one, I’d flip a coin.

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Portrait of Gentleman, aka Cesare Borgia.

Portrait of Gentleman, aka Cesare Borgia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, my first name is pretty cool. If I just had to change it, I’d go with Cesare and insist on the correct pronunciation.

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called?

Damaged Genius.