I’ve talked a lot about my love of RSS. RSS is the outgrowth of a content logic that’s very much in-line with my old school blogger brain: show me all the posts, with the most recent at the top. I started blogging in 2000 (aww, look!), and that’s just how my brain works: the most recent stuff is the most important. When it comes to how I think about content, it’s basically the homepage of a blog. Most recent = most important, and then everything else is listed beneath in descending order of recency. That’s how I read everything. That’s how I think about everything. That’s how my editorial brain works.
I’ve become increasingly aware however that, thanks to the popularity of Facebook and Pinterest, that’s not how many Offbeat Empire readers think about content. These two social media tools are changing the way my readers learn about our posts, and as I adapt to the shift, it’s changing the way I think about my social media broadcasting strategy.
Tens of thousands of Offbeat Empire readers use Facebook as their primary way to follow our blog posts, and while that confuses the hell out of my RSS/blogger brain, it’s clearly working for a LOT of you. Sure, it means that you don’t always see every post, but when I’m watching my real time stats, I can always tell when a new post has syndicated to our Facebook page — there’s an IMMEDIATE spike, even if only 10% or so of our Facebook followers see any given post.
What I’m learning here is that unlike RSS followers who, like me, want RECENT posts… Facebook followers don’t really care about recency. I’ve been experimenting lately with linking posts from our “archives of awesome” on Offbeat Bride’s Facebook page, and followers see them and click them — often with higher engagement rates than our new content!
Offbeat Bride has a transient Facebook readership, and chances are if you’re planning a wedding in 2013, you don’t remember a really great advice post we did in 2010. Nor do you care that the post was written in 2010 — does the title make it clear that it’s relevant to you now? Then you click! Facebook is a platform based on relevancy. They have a lot of algorithms based on trying to figure out if a given post is relevant to your newsfeed. Recency is not relevancy.
My RSS brain feels like I’m cheating somehow… “But these aren’t new posts!” my blogger brain says. “Why would anyone want to read them?” The answer is that with our transient readership on Facebook, no one cares if the post isn’t brand new. They care if it’s relevant to them. The end. My RSS blogger brain is starting to understand.
Fuck, man. I’ve written before about the crazy rise of Pinterest in our referral logs. It’s intense watching something like this take over the web, and I know that this isn’t just my stats — Pinterest is supposedly driving a HUGE amount of traffic across the web right now. Over the last couple months, thanks to Pinterest’s new analytics tools, I’ve started looking at what other people are pinning from Offbeat Bride, and repinning non-stop. These pins are typically NOT from recent content; I’d say about half our recent pins are from old posts. What I’ve seen from my repins is that our Pinterest followers don’t care if it’s new — if the pin is pretty and relevant, then you click it.
What I’m learning here is that unlike RSS followers (who, again, just want to see the most recent posts), Pinterest followers want to see pretty shit. Sure, some of them want practical information or great advice, but Pinterest is a platform based on compelling visuals. Does this photo inspire you or make you curious? Then you click!
Again, my poor Web 1.0 RSS blogger brain feels like I’m cheating somehow… “But these aren’t new posts!” my blogger brain says again. “Why would anyone want to read them?” The answer is that with our transient readership on Pinterest, no one cares if the post isn’t brand new. They care if it’s pretty and inspiring. The end. Again, my RSS blogger brain is juuuuust starting to understand.
What does it all meeeaaaaan
It means that while much of my work and business expenses go toward producing NEW content, ultimately when it comes to people following us via social media like Pinterest and Facebook… no one cares. Ok, ok, I’m being a bit hyperbolic: if we stopped producing new posts, people would notice quickly and the Empire would fall down. But I’m starting to understand that when it comes to social media, the Offbeat Empire’s enormous back catalog is hugely valuable. We have tens of thousands of posts going back to 2007… most of which are still relevant, and lots of which are super pretty.
The challenge for me is shifting my RSS blogger brain into curator mode. At this point, I have to start treating my own back catalog as a powerful and productive harvest. When it comes to social media strategy, I have to break out of blogger brain, where NEW = MOST IMPORTANT and into curator brain where “relevant” and “pretty” reign supreme.