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Hurdle 16: Making use of Social Media

DJ has grown from a little list of my favourite documentaries, to what i like to think is a fairly 'popular' and well respected justice blog. Over the months i have tested out all variety of social media, some good, some terrible, some that are just confusing. When choosing Social Media (SM) its important to ask yourself the question "Why?". I learned the hard way that just posting the same content all over the interwebz gets you know where, except to annoy people. You won't be successful in your SM endeavours unless you have a reason to use a particular type of SM. Hopefully you will get some ideas from this article.

I am going to share with you how i have answered the question "Why?", but before i do that i want to stress the importance of ORIGINAL CONTENT. You must give people a reason to venture beyond your blog. Regurgitated content looks crap, and people will just think your wasting their time...and people hate to have their time wasted.


The center of the DJ universe...My Blog


At the core of the DJ universe is my blog. It is the core, and it will always be the core. My time is spent  researching and producing original content for posting on the DJ blog and i often have to remind myself not to get distracted by some tasty new SM. Anything else i do is designed to a) build on blog content, b) give die hard readers a bit extra, or c) Give readers who are short on time a way of getting a bitesized hit of my original content.

Lets take a look at the SM that i use, and my answer to the question "Why?". Remember: the answer to the question can never be "to get more readers". That isn't good enough because its too diffuse. You need to identify exactly how you are going to use SM in order to widen your readership and give more to your current readership.


Twitter

Twitter is all about two way communication and networking. If you only use twitter to publish your blog updates, you aren't making the best of it. It's important that you track down industry leaders, fellow bloggers, journalists, news organisations, and other people who share your interests. I joined twitter and was astonished at the types of people i was talking to. I've met, and spoken to, industry leaders, barristers, lawyers, members of Parliament, senior police officers and a heap of people that have broadened my knowledge in a very short period of time. I have also met some people that have added to me as a person, and some i would consider to be friends. By following, and interacting, with these people you will be overflowing with ideas, enthusiasm and will write about things that you probably wouldn't have had you not met them.

Why Twitter? By discussing my areas of interest with a variety of people by blog content is enriched.

Facebook

It took me a while to get a good answer to the question here. Facebook is a great tool for networking, possibly even more so than twitter. Facebook is very 'friend' orientated. By 'friending' people on FB you potentially have a more meaningful connection as more information is shared by default...twitter *can* be quite fickle at times. But the real trick to FB is the unique way you can introduce some extra original content.

I have both a profile and a page on facebook, and they both play unique roles. My profile is all about editorials and short commentary. I come across interesting news articles all the time. Unless i am writing a full blog post about it, it isn't appropriate to use the blog to post a single link. Keep your blog for analytical work. I want to avoid posting too much on twitter as i am trying to avoid excess tweeting, which will annoy my followers and damage my reputation. So i use facebook to post the links, and i have a fairly large text area in which i can give my opinion or comment on it.

Why a Facebook profile? So i can post more links and comment on a wider range of topics. It's also short enough to be suitable for those busy readers who may not have the time to read the full blog.

We aren't finished with facebook yet...i also have a page. Just prior to writing this post i set up the page to be an aggregator for all DJ content. An aggregator is a way of bring together a lot of content from elsewhere saving readers time, and allowing them to focus their attention. I have set some content up to automatically publish to the aggregator, and some gets posted manually as it's created.

Why a facebook page? To bring together all DJ content, ensuring that readers don't miss developments in the DJ universe.


LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking tool and is not designed for the blogosphere. Careful profile creation and creative 'connection' requests can get your foot in the door, allowing you to see further into the professional world surrounding your particular topic. As a law blog i see a lot of barristers, lawyers and solicitors, as well as academics and fellow bloggers. Generally these people are welcoming and always seem interested in hearing about the DJ blog. What i think LinkedIn is most useful for is the 'Recommendations' section. I sent a round of recommendation requests a few weeks ago and got a couple in return. Not only that, i got some negative feedback along the lines of "i'm not convinced of its originality". Feedback like this can feel like a kick in the guts at first, but it gives you an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, you just have to respond in a measured manner. In my reply i acknowledged that the commend could be taken to mean that he thought i was ripping off content, or it could be taken to mean that the concept itself has been done before. In my reply i assured him about the originality of my content, and acknowledged that i am part of a large community of law/justice bloggers so i could understand why he may think that the concept is unoriginal. Unfortunately i never got any clarification as to what he meant, but i was pleased that i handled it well.

Why a LinkedIn Profile? It connects you to the professional world that surrounds your topic, and gives you an opportunity to seek feedback and have it recorded in a public place.


YouTube

The YouTube channel for DJ isn't being used to its full potential. I bring you back to what i said at the beginning of this article, original content is the core of the DJ universe and i try not to allow myself to be too distracted by gucci SMs. I am, however, missing a trick with YouTube. I can give a new dimension to the DJ blog by either sharing existing content, or creating my own.

Sharing existing content; Law firms, government departments, think-tanks, universities and police forces are all starting to recognise the advantages of having a presence in social media, and YouTube is where they tend to focus their content. Spending a bit of time picking topical videos for inclusion on my youTube channel would be a great way to supplement existing original content and give depth to my topic.

Making my own original content is an exciting prospect, and not something i have thought about until i started writing this article. It's not something i have ever done before, but i am sure that it would welcomed by my readers as a fun addition to the DJ universe.

Why YouTube? It brings together content from a wider range of organisations giving readers a wider range of content to enjoy. It also gives you the opportunity to create your own content which will add depth to your blog articles.


Paper.li

couldn't find a funny paper.li pic...
...so here is a giraffe pointing at a duck
Paper.li is something i joined about 2 weeks ago, and i love it! For those of you who have not come across it yet, Paper.li is an online newspaper containing content from the authors twitter account. For example; the DJ paper.li is called The Justice ePaper and its content is drawn from links i post on twitter, links my twitter followers post, and any twitter content that contains a selection of hashtags. It is such a great way to bring together a huge amount of content and display it in a really accessible way.  You can choose to have it published on a weekly or daily basis, and at any time of the day you want.

I love it because i get to share my friends' content, i get to find content that i probably wouldn't have, and i get to meet people who share my interests. The Justice ePaper is published at 0630 every day, and has so far been a great success.

There are pitfalls however, but they can be easily dealt with by exercising a bit of editorial discretion, and by tweaking the selection criteria. It is important that you view your published paper.li after each publication and ask yourself these questions;

    1. Is any of the 'Featured Content' inappropriate?
      1. If yes, does it need downgrading or deleting?
    2. Is any non featured content interesting / relevant enough to justify being upgraded to 'Featured Content'?
    3. Is there any non featured content that is inappropriate?
      1. If so, it needs deleting.
    4. Are you happy with the overall chosen content?
      1. If no, you need to re-examine how that content was selected and make regular tweaks to get the content right.
Those questions will make more sense if you actually have a paper.li account. 

The first few publications of the daily "Justice ePaper" were great, but i decided to do a bit of tweaking to see if i could improve on it. I did too much tweaking, and have not been happy with the content for about a week. It could be easy for me to lose interest at this point, but it's important to keep committed and focused. Its such a great way to share content that you would have otherwise not found, put the time and effort in and you will have a section of your blog universe that you can be proud of.

Why a paper.li? It shares content on a regular basis that you may not have even seen. This gives you more inspiration for your blog topic, and gives you readers a stepping stone to a wider range of content.