Monday, June 29th, 2009
Although I have had these thoughts about this many times before, I never placed pen to paper to convey my thoughts. I began this version of this post while sitting outside of Laidoffcamp/Freelancecamp in Miami. I was watching the afternoon monsoons about to come down on me. I was sitting alone in a garden of hedges and walkways watching the passersby. Everyone seemed to be busy buzzing by. The cool breeze just washed in from the approaching rain. I can feel the electricity in the air. The energy created by everyone that attends social gathering of large magnitude is incredible. The energy feels like the change in the air as a storm rolls in. I also have a sad disturbing feeling of what is about to happen.
photo credit miamisunpost.com
Unfortunately in the past once the excitement of the event dissipated the attendees often fall back into their daily grind and lose their zeal. The positive drive is taken away by the dream stealers and opposing elements. The mega builders in the MLM industry have spoke of this for as long as I can remember. They were always looking for a paradigm shift. Looking forward from where I am at, has technology brought this downward spiral to an end? Can the mix of an online presence keep the energy going?
Let’s look at online social networking; we have so many places to congregate. Every day I am approached by someone new with an idea or thought on how to make communication online one step easier. Although most of the concepts are spun over and over, often there is a spark of true imagination that pops into view. The main downfall of so many ideas is the lack of true open communication. It is difficult to pass the same feelings over phone, let alone a keyboard. If you lack communicative skills you may feel that your voice may never be heard. Video and webcams do help to transfer the visual imagery to a point. If there was a way to capture the intimate relation of one on one conversation like that of being in person, online long distance communications would also see a parabolic leap in growth.
I am one of the biggest supporters of both online and offline congregative tools. Conferences and Barcamps are great for connecting with your online social graph, but only occur over large periods of time. Refresh Miami and Social Media Club of South Florida hold monthly meetings that I have attended for close to a year now. (Both organizations are opening events, some may be near you.) Before that I was also very active in the local Meetups that are held here in South Florida. Now there has been a great surge in Tweetups popping up all around me. Some are even specializing these Tweetup events. Craig of Worst Pizza has taken this idea even further with starting Pizza Tweetups. These events are great sources of support for your online endeavors. They help you to cement your online bonds with the brick and mortar world that many of us are quickly leaving behind. Plus they are a great source to build your social graph with users that would ordinarily not friend you till a physical connection has been made.
I wrote this post to quite some thoughts on what needs to be addressed about online and offline social networking. Do we really need that physical connection to build our networks or is a virtual world something that we are all going to embrace in the future? Tell me, do we really need to attend offline events to grow? Are these events something that will advance the online world? Are these offline events dragging back the innovations that we need to make the next leap forward to a truly virtual world?
What is your view?
Friday, June 26th, 2009
What is a #blogchat?
The idea of group learning has fascinated me since high school when I realized how much faster and better I could prepare for a test if I studied with friends.
Maybe that’s why when I happened upon the first Plurkshop last spring, I was hooked. And then when I heard Mack Collier (of The Viral Garden and the new MackCollier.com) was leading a weekly workshop on blogging, I knew I had to check it out.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve been to workshops where someone “leads” (ie has complete control of the conversation) and the only real communication that happens is when the leader asks a question and allows the participants to answer it.
When you attend a blogchat, forget that idea. Instead, picture a giant round table discussion, limited only by the number of people who are interested in the subject.
To enter, all you have to have is twitter, although it’s handy to use a chat program such as Tweetchat to make the tweets easier to read. Tweetchat will also append #blogchat to the end of every comment you send from their page, so you won’t forget to add it.
I also recommend bookmarking What The Hashtag to easily be able to read the transcript from previous blogchats and even subscribe via RSS.
Categorizing and Tagging Blog Content
Sunday’s night’s blogchat was one of my favorites of the ones I’ve attended so far. Not just because the topic is one I’ve wondered about before, but also because it seemed to have a more relaxed feeling (or perhaps I’m starting to feel more comfortable and “among friends” at them so I’m relaxing).
Sunday night was also the first chat that I really noticed splitting in several directions at times. Last year when we were having Plurkshops, that would often happen, with one person wanting more info on a subject while someone else had an entirely new question.
As a result though, I’m only going to share some of the discussion on the original subject. If you’d like to read all of the chat, you can find the transcript here.
As usual, Mack started us out by announcing the topic and who suggested it. “Tonight’s #blogchat topic is from shannonrenee, we’ll be discussing categorizing and tagging your content. Strategies and tips.”
As a blog reader, how important are tags & categories to you?
Shanan_S: Pretty darn important. If I’m a new reader chances are I came to your blog for info about something specific.
ad_web: Sometimes a quick look at categories and tags on a blog tells me what the blog is about or what is normally posted there.
Eric_Urbane: I tend to follow bloggers, not tags or categories.
hacool: I find it easier to find older entries on blogs with categories for broad topics and tags for more detailed topics.
GrantGriffiths: Consumers don’t use RSS, bloggers do and that is why categories will continue to be important.
Mandy_Vavrinak: I start with categories to browse new blog, tags for finding specific content.
GrantGriffiths: Very important when you look at the big picture. Easier for reader to find content.
GrantGriffiths: Categories are and should be used as the index to your blog. Much more important than archives for that purpose.
markalves: When reading a blog for 1st time, you get a quick sense of scope (types of categories) and depth (# per category)
What’s the difference between categories and tags?
Teeg: I haven’t quite figured out the purpose of tags, it seems a repeat of categories often.
3keyscoach: What makes best presentation so tags are useful to people?
markalves: Categories are table of contents, tags are the index.
30lines: I tend to agree with that approach. Categories= more general, tags = more specific.
Teeg: Why not use nested categories for that? I guess that’s why I get confused by having both.
hacool: I’d think of categories as broad topics: produce, meat, canned goods and tags as detailed: lettuce, bacon, chicken soup
Teeg: So tags can be things I might only use once, while categories are topics I’ll cover again and again? Okay, I can see that.
hacool: I might have unique subcategories that could pull a unique menu, but use tags across multiple categories.
MackCollier: So then we should go for fewer categories, and be liberal on tagging?
AngEngland: If you cover several food categories but wanted $5 dinners in several “Chicken, Beef” categories, use tags.
hacool: The categories are like topic funnels and tags can connect across channels.
How important are categories and tags in terms of SEO?
FreshPeel: Categories and tags definitely add to SEO. Indirect benefit to readers?
AngEngland: If tags/keyword lists don’t match content Google can penalize u.
FreshPeel: In my blog, tags are only visible in the code and used for SEO and recommending similar posts to readers.
Eric_Urbane: Our blog, NOT related to our company and our tags have now brought us to page one, number one to three on Google search
MackCollier: Which has more SEO punch on a blog, tags or categories?
FreshPeel: I’d say Google gives more value to content, but as with all things SEO, it’s not an either or.
GrantGriffiths: Content written for the human reader and not the search engines is most important for the SEO. If human likes, Google likes.
hacool: I think it depends on how one codes the tags and categories. (IE semantic markup, H1, H2, H3, p, etc.)
Eric_Urbane: So should Blog Content have keywords and phrases laced within the body of the blog post?
MackCollier: Eric, my view is when you start trying to place keywords in a blog, you dilute the content’s impact. Not worth it, IMO.
Eric_Urbane: So should categories align with keywords?
hacool: If keywords and categories align naturally I think it makes sense, but I think we must write for humans 1st bots 2nd.
How many categories and tags?
Eric_Urbane: So how many categories should each blog post have for optimal SEO?
GrantGriffiths: Use 1 category and try to limit tags or keywords to around 5 for SEO.
FreshPeel: Too many categories can make it seem like your blog has no focus.
MackCollier: So each post should only have ONE category for maximum SEO benefit?
FreshPeel: I think 8 is a good number. AT 17 categories, I need to slim mine down.
markalves: Make blog categories list fit on 1 screen
I always come away from blogchats with a new list of links to check out. Here are some that were mentioned Sunday:
Organize your categories: 5 practical tips
Tags and Categories – SEO and Usability
Five Essential Elements of Good SEO
Are Your Stumbled Pages Sticky?
Everything I Need to Know About Twitter I Learned in J School
List of Twitter Chats
In closing, let me apologize for anyone who was at Sunday’s chat that I left out. Even after all the times I’ve reread the transcript, I’m still noticing new items.
By the way, if you’re free Sunday evening, we’d love to see you there. 🙂
Teeg is a Social Media Explorer who has been exploring the social part of the web since 1996, when she first discovered chat rooms. She details her exploration of various social media sites on SU Comments and Social Media Mom.