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Facebook: Becoming a Blog?

Facebook is always trying to find new and interesting ways to promote content and make it more easily accessible. Social share features have increased the reach of Facebook, by integrating them with websites and encouraging people to share sites on their wall and on their friends’ walls.  To further increase their reach, Facebook has announced that they are adding a new feature: RSS feeds for fan pages.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is usually reserved for blog posts. It’s what allows you to receive updates in blog readers like Google Reader, where you can easily see all posts by their headlines.  Many people use RSS readers for their favorite blogs, so they can keep up with them without having to go to the blogsites. Some readers allow you to receive blog posts in your email, sending you the contents of the posts. But why does Facebook want to add an RSS feed to fan pages?

Facebook RSSIn theory this will let someone essentially subscribe to a fan page. Not only will you be able to see updates in your news feed, you will also be able to receive posts in your RSS reader. This is good for people who need to monitor certain pages, like politicians or large corporations.  If you are closely watching what a competitor is doing with their social media, this creates an easy venue in which to do it. However, the RSS feature is not likely to be valuable to people who are not using Facebook for professional reasons.

Some of you may be thinking: Facebook had an RSS feed for pages already, so why is this news?  You are right, they did. But recently Twitter and Facebook quietly removed their RSS feeds. Now Facebook has added it back in, along with a link on fan pages to subscribe. Will Twitter follow suit and bring their feed back? Good question. I think they will. An RSS feed provides another way for people to consume content, and ultimately that is key to social media social media success.

5 Misconceptions about Blogging

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1. I am going to get rich!

Many people think that when they start blogging they will have created an entirely new revenue stream within a few months.  Set up some ads, maybe offer a product for sale, and BOOM! Instant income.

Of course this is not actually true.  Yes, there are the wunderkinds out there who have done just that. If it weren’t for the exceptions we would not have the rule.  They act as inspiration.

The reality is most blogs will never make any real money, and the great majority of bloggers will not make a living off their blogs. Even the most successful among us will tell you to blog because you are passionate, not to make money. Do it because it is something you really want to do.  Then, if you do manage to make money it is a bonus.

2. I am going to get a book!

When I was younger I was a poet. I believed that if I could get enough individual poems published I would prove my worth and get a book deal.  Many publications later, I still had no book.  Blogging is much the same thing.

There are a few bloggers out there who have created enough buzz and popularity that they got a book deal.  Most of us won’t.  Self publishing is an option, though that is not usually what we had in mind.

If you are a writer, blogging is a great tool for honing your craft. It can help create discipline and give you a forum to work through your ideas.  It can even give you a history of writing to show a publisher, which can demonstrate your ability to complete a project (if you are proposing an idea vs. a completed manuscript, the ability to finish a writing project is very important).

So blogging might help you create an opportunity to publish a book, but most likely a deal will not just land in your lap.

3. Everyone will read my blog!

Thanks to Kevin Costner, we all like to believe “If you build it they will come!”  Unfortunately that is not actually how it works.  If you want people to read your blog you have to post consistently. You have to post a lot and publicize it. You have to work the channels to get your blog out in the public eye.  At some point you will generate momentum and you will acquire organic traffic more easily.  But first you have to do the leg work.

4. I am a good writer, blogging will be easy!

Writing and blogging are not the same thing.  As writers we try to set ourselves goals. We will set aside so much time every day to write, and produce some number of words or pages. Of course, unless you have a publisher breathing down your neck for the next installment, the only person you are accountable to is you. Plus you can write about anything that strikes your fancy.

Blogging is not the same.  First, you have to choose and develop a topic.  You can waver a little bit, but ultimately you have to write within the same general area.  Second, you have to be consistent. If you blog three times a week, then you’d better get your writing done. You have an audience you are responsible to, and if you do not post regularly you will lose that audience

5. I will always have great topics!

The last big hurdle is coming up with regular topics. When you first start blogging you are ripe with ideas. However, as you turn up the volume and start increasing the frequency of your posting you might find it difficult to continuously come up with interesting topics to write about. Or you might find the topics, but are suddenly lacking in opinions on those topics or lacking in anything interesting to say.  This is just another form of writers’ block, but it is more like writers lag.

This is where discipline, focus and persistence come into play. Sometimes you still have to write, even if you think you have nothing to write about. You may throw out a couple of lousy drafts, but just doing it can engage you in the process and the outcome may surprise you.

My RSS Feed is Gone!!

cartoon man sitting on a bench reading an oversized magazine with an RSS symbol on the coverI was doing some basic maintenance on my blogsite and suddenly realized that my RSS feed subscribers dropped down to zero.  You can imagine my “WHAT THE F*%$!!!!” reaction.  Once I got a grip, I decided to leave it for a day to see if maybe it was just some horrible dream.  So I came back and checked and nope, it was real.  All of my subscribers were gone.

I checked my RSS address and it was no longer registering my RSS feed, which was totally confusing and frustrating.  I actually had to go into my wordpress site and eliminate my custom feed.  Then I deleted my feed on Feedburner and reclaimed it. THEN I had to assign a new feed url and redirect my wordpress to the new feed address! Thankfully I did not have many subscribers…

Ok, wait, not really -  I am thankful for every subscriber!  What I mean is that I just offered a subscription box on this site, so I hadn’t yet gathered many subscribers.  But for people who have been managing subscribers for a long time, having your feed url get tanked could be devastating!

I hope that by fixing the RSS feed the subscribers I had will find me again.

Of course after I did all this I started doing some research on feedburner, specifically for this post.  I originally wanted to talk about what feedburner counted and what they didn’t, and why it is not always the most accurate form of traffic stats for blogs.  I found out that Google has been doing some algorithm adjustments and my RSS tanking was most likely because of this.  A post was written talking about feedburner possibly being one of the sources to people having RSS issues. Apparantly Techcrunch and Mashable both had issues with their feeds because of this update.

If it can happen to Mashable, it can happen to me! and you!

So go out and check your feed and make sure that all is well in your blogoverse.