How to Get Your Facebook Page Posts Seen

Manage a Facebook page and wondering why some Facebook posts appear high on your followers news feeds, whilst others reach very few?

Meet Facebook’s EdgeRank:

EdgeRank is an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed—and how high—on the News Feed.

via What Is EdgeRank?.

You can read a graphical and fairly accessible on what EdgeRank is, and how it works on this one-page overview here.

Also, you can calculate your own page’s EdgeRank using the very useful EdgeRankChecker.com.

(Links via @Mayaruss)

imported posts

How to install WordPress easily

In the last blog post, I suggested that…

If you’re new to blogging, register a free WordPress.com website (e.g, www.brummiedave.wordpress.com), dive straight into blogging and posting regular content and managing the website.

Once confident with your own blogging abilities and the direction of your site, purchase your own domain (e.g. www.brummiedave.com) and hosting space, and then transfer everything over. This will provide you with greater flexibility along with a more professional-looking website (e.g. no ads, your own web address, etc.).

So, let’s unreasonably assume that in the 24 hours or so since the post was published, you’ve become reasonably confident in your blogging abilities, and you’re now ready to move onto the next step; moving your wordpress.com site onto its own web domain with a ‘WordPress.org’ installed site. Here’s a good explanation of the difference between the ‘com’ and ‘org’ versions of WordPress:

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Installing a WordPress.org site will mean you have your own URL (i.e. ‘www.BirminghamEastside.com‘) and have the freedom to transform the site into pretty much anything, by installing whichever themes and ‘plugins’ you feel like.

To begin with though, all websites need the following:

  • A registered domain; to provide your website’s web address (e.g. 123-reg.co.uk)
  • A hosting server; a website is basically a big folder of files (like your My Documents folder on a PC), so a hosting server (e.g. BlueHost, GoDaddy, etc.)
  • A content management system (CMS); e.g. WordPress

Historically, domain name and hosting providers were separate, and fiddly settings had to be fiddled, and files uploaded using something called ‘File Transfer Protocol’ (FTP software)  in order to get everything to speak to each other, and work.

However, these days such companies tend to offer everything, and include automated methods for installing WordPress as a single package.

WordPress.com in fact allows users to simply upgrade their plan for their own domain name, and some of the features a self-hosted system offers, but it lacks the flexibility for you to ever install your own themes or ‘plugins’ to give your site extra functionality.

Now, my original plan was to show you how to setup separate hosting and domain name providers, install WordPress, and publish your site, but doing so, will involve fiddling with ‘.php files’ and ‘Advanced DNS’ in various settings pages, which seems to run contrary to the whole ‘introductory-level’ nature of this blog post.

So, I’ve tried to keep things relatively simple and non-technical by showing how to do everything through a single example, GoDaddy.com, whilst avoiding often unnecessary additional services they’re keen on selling to you.

My super-short guide to installing WordPress with GoDaddy

  1. Go to GoDaddy.com
  2. Search and ‘Add’ the web address you’d like, choose ‘Domain only’, proceed to checkout.
  3. Choose Web Hosting [only] and the package that suits your website plans/budget.
  4. Check the durations are suitable for your needs, don’t add the ‘search engine optimisation’ offer, and complete the purchase of your site.
  5. On the next screen, click the option to ‘Install WordPress’, and enter a username and password for yourself. GoDaddy will automatically install WordPress for you.

That’s it, it’s installed. You’ll now have a basic WordPress website if you go to the URL you set up. Next up – assuming you’ve started your blogging life with a wordpress.com address, let’s transfer all your old content to the new site.

How to transfer your posts to the new site

  1. Login to your old WordPress.com Dashboard, then go Tools > Export
  2. Click the basic ‘Export’ option (however appealing the Orwellian ‘happiness engineers’ sound).
  3. Select ‘All Content’, then ‘Download all content’ to download a file ending ‘.xml’ to your computer.
  4. In a new tab, open the Dashboard for your new WordPress website, then go Tools > Import > WordPress, and ‘Upload and import’ the file you’ve just downloaded (you have to click through a few steps to install a plugin first).
  5. You should now have all the pages and posts from the old site on your new domain, however, the site theme is likely to be different to the one you’ve been using. So either Google the previous theme or choose a new one based on recommendations (e.g. search for ‘best responsive wordpress themes 2013‘ for a ton of well-informed  recommendations).
  6. Download your chosen theme (e.g. Gridly is a free download here), then on your new WordPress dashboard, click Appearance > Themes > Install Themes > Upload, then upload the theme you’ve just downloaded as a ZIP file.
  7. Once installed, activate the theme.
  8. Unfortunately, you’ll now need to replicate some of the work done when you set up the wordpress.com site to tidy up any formatting issues, etc. So it’s probably best to follow my WordPress setup checklist.

So, you should now have a self-hosted website/blog with your old site’s content and its own theme. Unfortunately, the only (user-friendly) way to automatically redirect old users from your old blog to the new one and keep any SEO you’ve built up is to purchase a WordPress Off-site Redirect for a year or two, which will redirect users for a fairly low annual subscription.

Have you found this post useful? Leave your comments below.

why blog

How to set up your first blog or website

Looking to set up your own professional website or blog with your own domain name but have little technical knowledge?

The easiest-to-find guides on the web to installing free website platforms such as WordPress, emphasise words like ‘simple’ and ‘easy’, yet many are not and often plunge newbies into a complex world of managing databases, editing ‘.php’ files or push them to purchase unnecessary services.

So, here’s the first part of my little guide to getting started with blogging – or setting up your own news, events or other website for that matter (interestingly, 69% of surveyed WordPress  users  use it primarily as an all purpose ‘content management system’ rather than a blogging platform), if you’re completely new to it.

What I’d suggest

  • If you’re new to blogging, register a free WordPress.com website (e.g, www.brummiedave.wordpress.com), dive straight into blogging and posting regular content and managing the website.
  • Once confident with your own blogging abilities and the direction of your site, purchase your own domain (e.g. www.brummiedave.com) and hosting space, and then transfer everything over. This will provide you with greater flexibility along with a more professional-looking website (e.g. no ads, your own web address, etc.).

WordPress to do list

Got yourself a free blog at WordPress.com now? Good.

In this post, I’ll cover a few basic things you should do once you register a WordPress blog. First of all, make sure you’re in the ‘Dashboard’ view of the site (you can reach it by going to ‘[yourblogtitle].wordpress.com/wp-admin’), then:

  1. imported postsClick Posts > All Posts. Then delete the default ‘Hello World’ (if it’s there)
  2. Click Settings > General. Then edit the Site Title and Tagline so they’re how you’d like them to appear (potentially) at the top of the homepage.
  3. Click Pages > All Pages. Edit the default ‘About’ page with something that describes the purpose of the website. Click ‘Publish’.
  4. Click Pages > Add New. Enter ‘Contact Us’ for the page title, then click ‘Add Contact Form > Add this form to my post. Click ‘Publish’.
  5. Click Appearance > Themes. Browse the themes and choose a theme that suits your website’s purpose and its target audience. Fiddle with the various theme options and layouts if you feel confident.
  6. Click Appearance > Widgets. Depending on your theme click and delete any ‘widgets’ you don’t wish to appear in the sidebar to the left part (e.g. Search, Meta, Archive, Recent Comments). Then click and drag any widgets you want to appear in (e.g. Facebook Likes, Twitter Timeline*, Follow Blog, Gravatar, etc.).
  7. Go to Settings > Sharing. Connect every social network that you have an account for. Doing so automatically shares your posts to these networks and improves the chances people will see your post.
  8. Click Posts > Add New. Write and publish a blog post (for instance, a short post about why you’ve just set up the blog).

There you go. You’ve now got a website with all the basic foundations in place, and it didn’t cost anything, nor did it require looking at or changing any code anywhere along the way.

If you try blogging for a while and find it isn’t for you, you’re not tied into paying for a domain name or hosting subscription for 2 years, and you haven’t lost anything besides the short time it will have taken you to do the above checklist.

Next, I’ll be posting a short guide to the next step, transforming your WordPress.com website into a proper, ‘self-hosted’ website with its own hosting and domain name.

*To set up a Twitter Timeline, you’ll need to set up a Twitter widget first.

Reinventing the Email Newsletter

In these days of government-toppling tweets, 8-second feature films over Vine and Facebook’s steadily assimilation of the planet, the unfashionable uncle of social media; email, seems a tad neglected. Like LinkedIn, it’s often seen as a professional necessity for work, rather than the multi-purpose, tantalising playground offered by Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr et al.

So it’s somewhat unusual to see a digital publishing start-up basing its entire business model on the platform. As part of the part-time MA in Online Journalism I’ve recently started, our class met Tom Cullen, former FHM and Shortlist writer, who’s recently relocated to Birmingham to set up a new, daily digital ‘magazine’ distributed and accessed exclusively by email, iCHOOS_Birmingham.

Describing iCHOOS_Birmingham as an “email mini-magazine of sorts, that doesn’t have a parent magazine”, Tom’s plan is essentially to “publish fremium content to the Birmingham market” about things to do in the city to affluent men and women, entirely via a daily email.

You can listen to the audio, recorded by Paul Bradshaw, on this Audioboo board. The nasal, brummie questions that tail off towards the end of sentences are asked by me.

Interestingly, at a time when anyone can publish their own content via their own website or blog, and so competes with everything-else-ever-written-ever, Tom’s plan was to avoid publishing articles online (although an email archive will be present on the site), and instead publish micro-articles of around 100 words each, just to subscribers. In doing so, the idea is to ‘reward’ subscribers with good quality content through – somewhat unusually in 2013 – what is essentially a closed off, non-public domain; an email newsletter.

“It’s really important to make people feel like they’re part of a club,” says Tom, who formerly ran Shortlist Magazine’s daily email, Mr Hyde, which boasts over 100,000 subscribers. “So you sign up for it and you’re one of a very few people who receive this very cool thing that keeps you in the know.”

“The more I learned about email the more I saw that it’s a beautiful crossover between the old school magazine publishing, in that you hit send and it’s published, but that it’s also online in that you have a website to drive traffic to sign-up, so it’s a cross-over of the two worlds.”

As someone who used to run an email newsletter to 1,000+ animators for Animation Forum West Midlands (AFWM), I can sympathise with the often-underestimated value of a humble email newsletter. Members of the AFWM group at the time (around 2008-10) would sometimes tell me how much they valued the email newsletters – which contained a round-up of local animation industry news and jobs – but would rarely mention the website’s news feed or Twitter feed. After all, anybody could access the publicly posted content, it wasn’t just for those outside of the ‘club’.

Sadly, the time-consuming nature of having to hand-code HTML, Outlook-compatible emails at the time, eventually meant the Animation Forum WM email newsletter become too inefficient to compile (this was before the brilliantly simple MailChimp – which Tom intends to use – really took off). The ‘club’ part of the group however, still remains on the Facebook group.

In an age where everything is open and accessible, it’s interesting to see local-content geared publications attempting something new, by reinventing something seemingly old-fashioned, the email newsletter.

Do you run an email newsletter? What type of content tends to get the best user engagement?

Getting Started with Blogging

I’ve been delivering introductory training sessions on blogging for staff at Birmingham City University of late.

The sessions are mostly interactive, often utilising the super-cutting-edge, high tech platform of post-it notes, however, as several trainees have asked for the presentation that accompanies my ramblings, here it is:

Interestingly one of the recommendations for blogs that came out of today’s session via the trainees, was that blogs, like all websites, have to be clear and usable.

In other words, bloggers had to be easily identifiable and contactable in any accompanying ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ pages, and text should be easy to read in the way it’s laid out. It sounds obvious, but many blogs online seem to make finding out more information, or contacting a blogger, a challenge.

Is Twitter Now ‘Old Media’?

Food for thought: Is Twitter now ‘old media’ and becoming ‘a traditional channel’?

Twitter, that Old Media Darling – Scott Berinato – Harvard Business Review.

For starters though, what do these terms even have meaning anymore? The term ‘new media’ felt outdated a decade ago, whilst even the most ‘traditional’ or old-fashioned publications tend to have all sorts of social media integration going on these days.

Yet, the article’s central argument, that Twitter will become dominated by professionally produced content, is already happening. More and more, I find myself using Twitter simply as a content accumulator, replacing the void left by RSS readers such as Google Reader.

With Twitter’s impending stock floatation and subsequent commercialisation, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.

What Makes a Good Blog Post?

I ran an ‘Introduction to Blogging’ training session for some staff at Birmingham City University yesterday, so thought it might be worth sharing their findings on what they thought did or didn’t make for a good blog post, based on a number of samples I provided.

First – my misspelling of ‘authoritative’ aside – here’s what generally tended to work well in the blog posts they read:

Things that don't work quite so well in blog posts, according to my blogging trainees.
Things that generally worked well in blog posts, according to my blogging trainees.

….And now for the elements that didn’t work so well in the sample blog posts they read:

Things that generally worked well in blog posts, according to my blogging trainees.
Things that didn’t work quite so well in blog posts, according to the staff trainees.

*N.B. The ‘Blog Connected to Social Media’ post-it is attached to the wrong page. It should obviously be on the ‘what worked well’ page*

Are there any they’ve missed/couldn’t fit on the A3 sheet? Give your thoughts on what makes for a good blog post in the comments below.