Day 11 of the A-Z challenge.
K is for Keeping Up To Date
Virtually ever blogger will tell you, the part of blogging they love most is the interaction with other like-minded people.
Following, reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts and connecting with them on social media is one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging.
As I said in an earlier blog post, engaging and interacting with other bloggers is one of the most important things you can do to attract readers to your own site.
But with thousands of blog sites and thousands more Twitter and Instagram accounts to follow, keeping up with all the updates is a nigh on impossible task.
Krista at TheBookish HedgeMom spoke for many of us when she commented on Twitter that this is one of her biggest blogging challenges.
I have the same challenge and it seems from comments on earlier posts in this A2Zbookblogging series, that Krista and I are definitely not alone.
The good news is that there are some strategies that can help us keep connected while making best use of our time.
Learn From Others
The blogging world is full of people who are generous in sharing their knowledge and experience. So I asked some of the bloggers I follow for their advice about managing social media interactions.
One point kept coming up over and over again: don’t try to do too much.
I don’t use multiple social media platforms – it’s too much! I’ve been on Twitter from the beginning and follow authors and publishers there but that’s pretty much it. So, I guess the tip is ‘don’t spread yourself too thin!’Kate :BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest
I agree about not spreading yourself too thin. I generally focus on my blog and Twitter, and though I do Instagram (IG) I don’t make it a priority and have a smaller IG following because of that. I worry that I miss things when I am at work. I probably do, but all you can do is keep up a daily presence.Ali Hope: HeavenAli
I stick to Twitter and blogs and don’t feel guilty at all if I get to read posts only at the weekend or later. I tend to stick to the bloggers I know and like, although am happy to discover new ones (in moderation)MarinaSofia: FindingTimeToWrite
Keeping Up With Blogs
Since I started blogging I’ve tried three different methods to keep abreast of new content from other bloggers.
My initial method was to get notifications of new posts sent direct to my email in box. I liked the ease of use and the fact I could read and comment on new material on my laptop or, when I was travelling on my iPad or phone.
It worked well in the early days when I was following only a dozen or so people. But as that number grew to more than 50 and then into three figures, I found my in box completely overwhelmed.
Other bloggers however find the in box option invaluable. A case in point is Paula who blogs at BookJotter.
I’m signed up to umpteen newsletters, notifications, message boards and goodness knows what else in order to stay abreast of all that’s happening in the online literary world. It’s time consuming but necessary for my weekly wind ups!Paula: BookJotter
Solution number two was to use the “Reader” feeder embedded with the WordPress platform.
This had one big advantage: it kept my in box clear. Plus it was also easy to use. But I found it frustrating that every post stayed in the feed even after I’d read it and there was nothing to indicate that I’d opened the post.
Even more frustrating is that I couldn’t find any way to sort or filter the updates. Each new post was simply shown in the order of publication. Since I follow multiple bloggers who are very active, some posts just get lost in the mass of material.
I know you can set up tags that enable you to track specific topics – I have one for the Booker Prize for example – but if you read a variety of genres and have multiple interests, your tag list can become unwieldy.
In frustration, last year I opted to use an RSS Feed Reader. In case you haven’t heard this term previously, it stands for ‘Rich site summary’. It’s essentially a family of web feed formats that are used to simplify the process of transferring information from blogs, websites and other similar platforms in an easy and readable form.
There are several of these available. I opted for one of the most popular ones, Feedly.
All you do is add the names of blogs or websites you want to follow, and allocate them to a category list you define. The list of those sites then appears on the left of the screen, making it easy to scroll. The updates appear on the main screen in an attractive grid style (you can change this if you prefer to see only titles).
There are several other features of this tool I really like.
One is that you get several options for how you can view content. I can select today’s new content, or click on a blog name to see all the posts from that site or I can view by category.
You can have as many categories as needed. I could easily divide my “book bloggers” category to make it more manageable if I wanted to, and I could create new categories for example, to follow specific publishers.
For each post you can save it as a favourite, book mark it for future reference or read it (you have to visit the actual blog site to do this). Once read, the item is greyed out so you can always track what you’ve opened.
I’m using the free version which is more than enough to meet my needs. It you want more, there’s also a paid subscription option which gives whistles and bells like ability to integrate the feeds on web platforms like Dropbox and Evernote.
Keeping Up With Twitter
I’m happy I’ve found an efficient way to keep up to date with blogger news. I wish I could say the same about Twitter.
It moves so fast that unless I am constantly checking my phone, I miss a lot of the tweets. I’ve deliberately kept the accounts I follow to a low number to make it more manageable but even so, I feel I am barely touching the surface.
Here are some tips from other bloggers and Tweeters.
If you’re a regular user of Twitter you’ll already know how to use Hashtags when you post a new Tweet. But have you ever thought about using them to find relevant content?
Here’s how two bloggers make hashtags work for them.
I follow mainly people who are bookish or who I know in “Real Life”. Hashtags help. If I know something I am interested in, is using a particular tag then I will search for it on Twitter so I can catch up.Ali Hope: HeavenAli
Jill who blogs at Jill’sBookCafe is also a regular user of hashtags.
I search for new book posts using the search box. I type in #newbooks to bring up posts with that hashtag. This principle can also be used to find giveaways etc. But, and it is a big but, it relies on the original poster using the relevant hashtags. This is maybe something we all need to think about – I know I often forget. But the hashtag serves as a valuable search tool to find, follow and contribute to a conversation.Jill: Jill’sBookCafe
Both these ideas are very practical. Adopting is certainly going to cut down on the amount of time I spend scrolling through my feed.
You can organize your Twitter feed into targeted topics (lists) so you can keep up with people who focus on that particular topic. You could have a list of people tweeting primarily about crime fiction for example, or about a particular literary prize.
This is how Marina Sofia manages her Twitter feeds; using lists for Publishers, Crime Lovers and Writers.
I’ve begun to play around with lists in recent weeks and can really see how it makes life so much easier. I’ve set up lists for Authors, Bloggers, Publishers and Welsh publishers/authors.
If you don’t know how to set up lists, here is a useful tutorial from HootSuite.
I only recently discovered that you can use the “mute” function to remove an account’s Tweets from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account. It’s certainly one way to reduce the number of items showing in your feed but I’m struggling to understand why you would do this. If you’re not interested in a person’s feed, why not just unfollow?
It makes much more sense to follow the practice used by Jackie Law who blogs at NeverImitate.
I use Twitter as a means to keep up with news. I follow mainly bookish people and mute topics that irritate. It’s easy to set up via settings / content preferences / mute. Any tweet containing those words will not appear on your timeline.JackieLaw :NeverImitate
This is a great option for dealing with one of the worst aspects of Twitter – the tendency of some people to use it as a platform for rants, strong political views and hyper critical comments.
A Final Thought
The importance of interaction is something we can all understand. But we don’t always have the time it takes to visit and comment on blogs and to keep up with Twitter.
The tips above will help but we also need to remember that we are only human. We can’t do everything. Life sometimes gets in the way. Bloggers understand that and know that even their most loyal followers can’t comment on every post. Ditto tweeters.
If you miss a few posts or a few tweets, it doesn’t matter that much. There will always be another in a few days.
Join The Discussion
How do you manage your social interactions? Any tips that you can share? Leave me a comment below to share some of your experiences.