blog – Stay N Alive

You’ll Always Hear it First on Google+

I’m starting a new experiment. From now on every post I make to will originate on Google+. This goes in line with my earlier post where I suggested that the Blogging landscape is significantly changing, and the blogs that want to survive will need to embrace social means of publishing and discovery. You’ll recognize this trend immediately as you visit my blog and see the ability to automatically share the articles you read on to Facebook, and today I’m going to continue that trend with the strengths that Google+ provides.

The Power of Google+ Circles

One of the coolest features of Google+ is the ability to not only target posts by Circles and groups of people, but also the ability to send updates to specific email addresses and people. This opens up the ability for some really cool hacks. For instance, want to archive a post? Send it to your Evernote email address (Evernote allows you to send content to an email address and it archives right inside Evernote).

For all future posts on I’m going to use this same hack. One of the advantages to hosting on is that I can post to an email address, and it will post automatically to the blog. I’m going to set it to save my posts as a draft so I can go in afterwards, add links and pictures, etc. But you’ll immediately receive updates on Google+ the minute I hit share. All other social networks will have to wait for the blog post to go live because I’ll need a link to share those with.

The Best of Both Worlds

Now you can get the immediacy of Google+, while at the same time getting the RSS Feeds, and customized interface of the blog. If you want to subscribe via Google+, you can subscribe via Google+ (Go to to subscribe). If you want to subscribe via RSS, or receive updates to posts via Facebook or Twitter, you can go to I still have a home base, and you have the option of getting real-time updates via Google+.

So come follow me on Google+ if you want real-time updates from the blog, or subscribe right on the blog – it’s your choice.

How to Replace Your RSS Feed Automatically With Facebook’s Like Button

As I seek to make this blog more and more a part of the social networks you participate in (I call this “From Fishers to Farmers” – something I speak about in my talks), I’ll be documenting my progress along the way. I just showed how I’m doing this with Facebook’s Frictionless Sharing on this blog (just click through to the blog, and click the link over on the right to start adding these posts to your timeline). There’s one more piece though which I think is dwindling. Some call this the “RSS is Dead” argument. I actually talked about the RSS Subscription problem here. What’s happening is the subscribers to RSS feeds such as the one on this site, through analytics sites such as Feedburner, are either slowing or diminishing.

This process is natural as more and more people receive their news on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and away from sites such as Google Reader or traditional RSS Readers. Those tools simply aren’t social, and much less interesting than a typical social network. Therefore I argue content owners need to be looking towards more social ways of distributing their content. I’m doing this specifically on Facebook with an app called RSS Graffiti.

Enter RSS Graffiti and Facebook Open Graph

RSS Graffiti is a Facebook app (it also integrates with Twitter) that will apply any RSS Feed to a Facebook Page you specify (see why I say RSS isn’t dead?). The cool thing about it is on Facebook I can make any website a Facebook Page.

On this blog, if you view the source, do a search for “og:url”. This, and a series of other meta tags (og:site_name, og:description, and og:image, as well as fb:admins are all useful for this) tell Facebook that this URL is also a Facebook Page. To register it with Facebook, just make sure the “fb:admins” tag is in place and lists the id of your Facebook Profile as the value, and go to to register your URL.

Once you do this, your Blog is now a Facebook Page as far as Facebook is concerned. Now all you have to do is add a Like Button Social Plugin to your website as you see at the top of this site above, and people can “like” your website! Seriously – click through to this blog and go click “like” at the top!

Here’s where it gets cool though – now that I’m listed as an admin of that URL, I can send posts to the fans of that URL. Every person that clicks “like” above I can send my articles to. It’s the same as subscribing, but much more social!

How to Create Your Own Social Distribution Channel Using Facebook and Open Graph

Here’s what you need to do to make this happen:

  1. Add the following HTML within the tags on your website or blog – fill in the “content” sections with the appropriate values for your site or blog:

  2. Go to and click “Insights for Your Website” (the green button in the upper-right) – enter the domain you specified from the “og:url” meta tag above, and click on the “Get Insights” button. Your site is now registered (and you can go back here to see stats around your domain!).
  3. Now go to and find your website on the left (it will be under the name you specified in “site_name” above). Go there, and add your site’s RSS Feed. Save it, and it will automatically start posting content to your Facebook Page for every post you make! 
  4. Now you just need some subscribers. You’ll do this with a Facebook Like button, just like you see at the top of this blog. Go to – click the “Like Button” link. Now, just fill out the form – be sure to add the URL you specified in the “og:url” tag above! Click the “get code” button, and now copy and paste that code where you want your like button to go!
If you perform the above steps you should have everything you need to allow your site’s visitors to subscribe to your site through a simple Facebook “like”. Now, when they click “like”, not only do they subscribe to your site, but their friends see it too!
If you want to take this further, you can add the above tags to the other pages on your site, with an og:title tag to specify the title of articles. This will allow you to customize how Facebook sees each article on your site as it shares it out to the fans of your website. If you want to get more specific, be sure to see the documentation of the OpenGraph Protocol over here.
What about Google+ or Twitter? As I mentioned, RSS Graffiti supports Twitter, so you should be taken care of there if you wanted to add a “Follow” button at the top of your website. However, there’s nothing for Google+ at the moment. I think Google would really benefit from either allowing apps to publish to at least Google+ Pages so apps like RSS Graffiti could do something similar with the +1 button. Google+ currently allows you to tie +1 buttons (through Page “Badges”) to Google+ Pages, and if they just allowed apps to publish to Pages you could theoretically do the same with Google+. Maybe if they allow that I’ll post how to do that here as well.

My Official (and Obligatory) "Traditional Blogging is Dead" Post

I fought it – I even ridiculed people like +Paul Allen for moving towards it (for that I apologize). However, I think I’m whooped. My page views are down. Comments and engagement on the blog itself are lower than ever. Looking over other blogs I manage, some with even more frequent content than my own, I’m seeing similar. As sad as I am to see it, I think blogging really is dying. It’s a really tough way to make a living, and will become even more difficult in the future, in favor of more traditional news sites and people able to share and post personal opinion on social networks such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Does that mean that personal opinion and citizen journalism is dead? Does that mean that sharing is dead? Does that mean engagement is dead? In fact, it’s even greater than ever. I always preach to use the best tool for the job. The fact is, sites like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as bookmarking and sharing sites such as Pinterest allow us to share, and engage in ways we never have before! I’m seeing greater engagement than I ever have on my blog. I’m seeing more shares than ever before. My audiences have skyrocketed on social networks! All this while, despite at least weekly posts on my blog, my audience and engagement there has diminished to almost nothing.

Does this mean I’ll kill my blog? Of course not – it just means I have to adapt its focus. I have to make it more focused around the social network. I still argue you still need a home base. It does mean I likely won’t make much money off advertising like you used to be able to on a blog. It does mean it will be used more and more as a source for SEO, and helping people find interesting and useful content on search engines (which, in and of themselves are using social networks more and more to find content). It means you’ll see more howto articles and content-focused posts than breaking news. It means my blog is now becoming an extension of the social networks, and not vice versa.

I predict in the future blogging will be back in a more social form. Right now, traditional blogging is dying, and having fought this for years now as the subject continues to be brought up, I’m finally seeing what the other bloggers out there are seeing. That means something coming from me. Am I sad? Of course. That said, there is tremendous opportunity out there as we move forward. We just need to figure out what that is – I don’t know right now.

I can’t wait to figure out a solution that can bring it back into a modern state. How do you think blogging should evolve?

(Expect a future post from me on potential solutions for this problem, and where I see blogging still working really well, and where it won’t work – stay tuned)

Paying it Forward

Based on my last post I know you commenters and readers are out there.  My last post was all about me.  This post is, quite sincerely, about you and I hope I can see the same response from my commenters as I did that last article – I really mean that.  The Blogess recently wrote an incredibly heartfelt post that really inspired me.  If you haven’t read it yet, please go over there, read it, then read the comments for the article, which are the best part.  Because of one sincere offer by The Blogess to offer free gift cards to her readers, people are coming out of the woodwork, sharing such touching stories of poverty, need for this season, daughters who plea for their laid off fathers, wives who just want some groceries this season.  I admit I cried a little when I read it.  I realized I owe it to my readers to share, at least a little of what I have to those of you in need.  I’d love to see a Techmeme meme around other bloggers doing the same – we owe it to each other.  These are tough times.

I’m going to do the same thing as The Blogess.  I am definitely not wealthy, and I have a family of 6 (soon 7) to pay for this Christmas, but I want to give at least what I can of the good fortune I have.  I do feel really blessed, and a lot of that is because of you.  If you and your family are in difficult circumstances this Christmas, please let me know and I’ll give a $30 Amazon Gift Certificate to 3 of those who seem worst off in the comments.  If you don’t want to reveal your name, please use a fake one (I use Disqus, but you can create a fake Disqus profile – if anyone has difficulty with that please email me).  Just use your real email address, which no one but me sees, and I’ll email you the $30 Amazon Gift Certificate, no questions asked.

A lot of you are really in need this Christmas.  This is the best thing I think I can do at the moment – I know it’s not a lot, but I do feel like I need to pay it forward.  At the same time, if you, my readers would like to donate to any of those in the comments in need, please let me know in the comments (again, including your email), and I’ll arrange to have your gift sent to those who have needs.  Let’s help each other out this Christmas.  The economy is dismal at the moment.  I know many of you are struggling.  Please, let me, and my other readers help.

If you share any blog post of mine I beg you to share this one.  This, to me, is one of the most important posts I’ve ever written, and it’s my gift to you.  Please retweet it, share it on Facebook, Google Reader, or tip it on Techmeme. Please do it for those in need.

How will you give up your Christmas?

With the New Design, Twitter Kills RSS, Literally

The blogosphere is abuzz lately about the latest trend: “RSS is Dead,” everyone says.  Other blogs say “RSS isn’t dead.” (of which side I tend to agree with).  The debate lies with the fact that more and more people are starting to use Twitter, Twitter lists, Facebook, and other social means to just get the news from the streams they follow on these sites rather than typical RSS Readers like Google Reader.  For instance, even on my own Google Reader shares, you can get them right on my @jesseslinks Twitter stream if you don’t ever want to touch Google Reader (yet I’m still using Google Reader to provide those to you).  Whatever side you agree with, I just discovered one thing we’ll all be able to agree with: at least on its own site in the new design, Twitter has quite literally killed RSS.  Into thin air it’s gone in the new UI.

I talked previously about Twitter increasingly becoming less and less open and more and more a walled garden.  Facebook itself just added RSS to its feeds for Facebook Pages and opened its database so you can reformat their content, so long as users approve, in any way you like.  It appears, as no surprise, Twitter is moving in the opposite direction.  In the new design I can’t find an RSS feed anywhere.  Previously there was a link to the lower-right allowing you to add an RSS feed.  They also had a link to the RSS in the source of the HTML so your browser would automatically recognize the feed, and just entering the URL for the user profile into Google Reader, they could automatically detect the feed for you.

Currently the only way to find an RSS feed is to log out and visit the profile of the user when you’re not logged into Twitter.  This might also be why Google Reader still recognizes feeds when you enter user profile URLs in the “Add Subscription” box.  Firefox doesn’t recognize the feed when I’m logged in – it does when I’m not.  It does make you wonder how long the RSS feed will be in the unauthenticated version.

It’s hard to tell if this is intentional or not, but we do know Twitter wants to be a source for news.  Perhaps they think this is in their best interest – the harder they make it for you to read your news elsewhere, the more likely you are to come to to read your news from your friends.  One thing is for sure however – the new Twitter design is certainly less open than it was before.  Twitter, especially with the new design, is now a walled garden.

I’ve contacted Twitter about this and will update here with any response.

UPDATE: For some reason Twitter’s PR never responded.  However, even better, Isaac Hepworth, a developer from Twitter, responded on Buzz, inferring some of it was a mistake, while some of it was intentional to make things simpler:

“Hey Ade, thanks for the cc and sorry for the delay jumping in. I’ve been talking to people internally to work out what happened here so that I could untangle it properly.

Here’s the scoop: the RSS itself is still there (as Jesse’s roundabout method for finding it shows). Two things were removed in #NewTwitter:
1. The hyperlink to the RSS on the profile page; and
2. The link to the RSS in the profile page metadata (ie. the element in the ).

(2) was wholly accidental, and we’ll fix that. In the meantime, Jesse’s way of finding the RSS is as good as any, and you can still subscribe to user timelines in products like Google Reader by just adding a subscription to the profile URL, eg.

(1) on the other hand was deliberate, in line with the “keep Twitter simple” principle which we used to approach the product as a whole. Identifying RSS for a page and exposing it to users per their preferences is a job which most browsers now do well on their own based on s.

Hope that helps!”

Nobody Has a Million Blog Subscribers

BlogSubscribers-main_FullA recent blog post by Anil Dash has everyone talking about what I thought was a long-assumed fact that just because someone is on the Twitter Suggested User List (or SUL) and has a million followers doesn’t necessarily mean they actually have all of those followers listening to them.  Dash, who recently had the opportunity to be on the Suggested User List himself, cited examples of various other Twitter accounts put on the list that saw absolutely no additional response after being added to the list.

I’d like to take this a bit further though and suggest something that, because of its open nature as compared to Twitter, just hasn’t been talked about much. That is the fact that, just like Twitter followers, a blog’s subscribers is also subject to this phenomena.  I’d like to suggest that despite that number in the upper-right-hand corner, it means absolutely nothing in the sense of how many people are actually reading that content.  It’s just a number.

Speaking From Experience

Let me start with this blog, since I vowed to be more transparent.  If you read the Feedburner number in the upper-right section of this blog it says I have over 7,500 subscribers.  Let’s start right off with the fact that 6,030 of those are because FriendFeed includes its subscription counts in with my Feedburner stats.  I have 6,030 subscribers on FriendFeed, and those are part of that 7,500 you see above.  If you subscribe to me on FriendFeed, that increases the number.  Still, that 6,030 still has potential of seeing my content.  It’s still just a number though.

Now, let’s assume those FriendFeed numbers don’t count.  That leaves about 1,500 subscribers  that assumedly subscribe to this blog through some sort of Feed Reader (Google Reader, Newsvine, etc).  I don’t believe that number at all.  I’d bet that at most, half of those actually read the articles I publish, as I usually average between 2 and 5 comments on each blog post I write.  As for traffic, any time I post I get around 200-500 additional visitors per post.  On a really good day that could be in the thousands.  The thing is that most of those come from Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed, as well as other blogs that provide commentary. Those numbers aren’t even reflected in my subscriber count!

The Big Guys

If that’s my experience, I can only imagine the accuracy of those with hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers.  I know their numbers can’t be accurate, not only based on my experience on this blog, but also after being linked numerous times by them.  I must admit that, directly, I usually average 100-300 visitors from the millions of subscribers on each of these blogs.  I’m very grateful for this traffic, and that they’re talking about me – the fact that they’re writing about me has much more impact and influence than just traffic (as I’ll show later).  However, the fact that only 100 out of over a million subscribers are clicking seems to imply a very similar truth to what Dash is implying with Twitter subscribers and what I’m seeing on my blog: while a few hundred thousand may be reading each and every article, the rest are simply casual bystanders skimming headlines if anything at all.

Let’s add to that how many of these blogs are on FriendFeed’s default list and other services, adding to their numbers there, along with how many are the default on the Kindle, or many RSS Readers out there.  Many users just get subscribed to these blogs by default.  Sure, some casually discover the blogs and start reading, but there is a strong possibility that many of those subscribed to these blogs never even read them, some perhaps not even aware that they’re subscribed!

Yet, Numbers Still Do Matter

As Dash implies with Twitter, the number still has an effect.  He mentioned the possibility of brand managers getting raises because their bosses see the number of new subscribers they were able to get for their brand.  From my own personal experience, I’ve seen this on both Twitter and my blog.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been introduced as “influential” because I’m one of “the most followed Twitter users in Utah”, or “he has over 7,000 subscribers to his blog!”  Like it or not, many opportunities have opened up because of this.  All that and I don’t even have a million subscribers!

Let’s add to that the fact that I can sell it for money too.  On my blog I can sell ads for more because of this.  People are more likely to subscribe and tell their friends because beyond just content, they see that number as “influential”.  I’ve been introduced to many consulting opportunities because of this.  Of course I insist on proving myself beyond the numbers (I sincerely hope no one would hire me or anyone else based on numbers alone!), but numbers do matter!  For instance, if you have more subscribers than anyone else you get to say you are the top blog on the internet – that’s a powerful statement!  You bet it works.

Numbers also lead to better content.  As I consult for others I can’t tell you the number of people that want to pitch to blog X or blog Y because they have more subscribers than the others.  Having more people pitch to you means you get the scoop on more and better content, and you’re given more control.  The articles written may not bring much traffic, but the fact that “a big blog wrote about you” also means you can feature this in Press Releases, on your company blog, or more, giving the entrepreneur more attention from VCs, big businesses deals, and potential acquisitions down the road.  But if you’re looking for traffic some times it’s better to pitch to numerous smaller blogs than one or two big blogs.  If you want influence pitch to the bigger blogs.

Organic vs. Inorganic

There are many bloggers like Scoble, Chris Brogan, Louis Gray, and others that have built their audiences by working to build relationships with their readers, one-by-one.  Yet, others that have built their entire business model around blogging do it by creating business relationships, signing contracts, and then interacting with their readers as they have time.  I think both types of bloggers have similar trust with their readers.  Producing lots and lots of good content vs. building relationships with content are both good strategies, and both can produce similar results in how they affect those that read their content, as well as individual opportunities for the bloggers.

I think in the end it comes down to which is most rewarding.  I’m not going to say which one that is as that’s a matter of opinion – can a pure focus on numbers and subscriber counts vs. building relationships and organically building your audience be more or just as rewarding?  In the end we know one thing – that little number up there doesn’t mean what you think it says.

Or does it?

SocialToo Has a Blog!

Some of you may have noticed from my Tweets and FriendFeed posts, but I just wanted to notify others here as well. now has its own blog, and I’ll be doing more SocialToo-related posts there now. I still may re-share a few announcements here, but most SocialToo-related posts will now go over there. Be sure to subscribe to get all of our updates, news, and announcements!