E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Reclaim Blogging – On Why Your Blog Still Is Your Best Personal Branding Social Tool

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves in the WinterOver the course of the years Hugh MacLeod has always been posting some of the most amazing content available out there on the Internet Blogosphere on various different topics, specially, related to Social Networking. One of the articles that I have enjoyed the most though was one he shared just recently, a couple of weeks back, under the title ““Reclaim Blogging”: Why I’m giving up Twitter and Facebook“, where he is stating, out loud, and very clearly, the main single use case of why blogging still has got a place within today’s Social Web: Your voice… Your blog *still* is your main personal branding tool!

Interestingly enough, plenty of people have been questioning whether, now that we have got Google Plus as well, it makes sense to dump your own blog in favour of your social activities in the various social networking sites. And Plus being the latest one joining the already existing crowded club. A few prominent bloggers have jumped the shark and eventually dumped their blogs and moved the conversations, and further insights, into G+. And a few people have been asking me for a little while now, on whether I’m ready to do that myself and move over to Plus as well … or not. Well, the answer, right now, as we stand, is No.

Yes, it’s true that I have dumped a good number of social software tools out there on the Social Web in favour of G+ itself, or, at least, thanks to it I have reduced my involvement with those social tools quite a bit. But there are two of them that I am not ready, just yet, to kiss good-bye and move them into SNS. One of them is my Flickr account and the other one, of course, is my blog. This blog. And Hugh explains it very very well how I, too, feel about it overall on why I still think there is a place and a time for blogging out there on the Internet, as well as the Intranet, by the way. Here are a couple of noteworthy quotes from his blog entry I thought were worth while sharing across:

The content on your blog, however, belongs to you, and you alone. People come to your online home, to hear what you have to say, not to hear what everybody else has to say. This sense of personal sovereignty is important.[Emphasis mine]

Which he then develops beautifully with this other noteworthy quote:

And as I’ve said many times over the years, Web 2.0 IS ALL ABOUT personal sovereignty. About using media to do something meaningful, WITHOUT someone else giving you permission first, without having to rely on anyone else’s resources, authority and money. Self-sufficiency. Exactly” [Emphasis mine, once again]

And I couldn’t have agreed more with that couple of rather inspiring and thought-provoking quotes. Blogging, indeed, does require a lot of hard work, lot of energy and effort about being constant, authentic (i.e. The real you!), honest, insightful, willing to learn and share plenty more, etc. etc. However, the returns have always been tremendously powerful. Blogging is your own personal voice (Whether internal or external), your own opinions on those subject matters that you are truly passionate about, your own real self. The individual that the world would need to figure out whether you are worth while reading or not depending on the nature and the insights of the stuff you share across. Blogging, in short, is your own personal branding tool. Your digital footprint out there. Your digital eminence in a place where your voice is heard loud and clear and where you call the shots on owning the conversation initially, inspiring others to improve your own thoughts and ideas over time, making it a tremendously empowering learning experience. Call it your own essential personal Knowledge Management / Sharing System, if you wish…

Very soon, in just a couple of months time, my blogging experience will make 8 years and, as you may have noticed, it’s still going rather strong, with the exception, of course, of those hiatus that I seem to embark on every now and then, specially, when I am travelling. Yet, I still feel as if it were my first few weeks of blogging. The excitement is there, the energy, the effort and the willingness to start a conversation and invite others to chime in, as they may see fit, are all still there, just like back in the day, because, a long time ago I realised that my blog, more than anything else, became my online business card, my dynamic and ever-growing curriculum vitae, my own virtual community of folks who care and are truly passionate about the same stuff as me. And that’s just priceless!

But if there would be a single reason as to why I still think blogging is worth while doing big time, picking further up from Hugh’s rather enlightening blog entry, is the fact of how of those last 8 years of blogging, my blog has managed to provide me with some pretty unique opportunities, both in a personal and work levels, including the last three of my own jobs, while at IBM, one of them being my dream job where next month will mark my 4th anniversary there!

That’s just one of the many many reasons out there why I, too, wanted to take this opportunity to remind people, like Hugh himself did on that article, “on why we all got into blogging in the first place, all of those years ago…” Perhaps it’s a good time now to remind folks about it and, just in case you may be new to blogging and would wonder how you could get things going to help you start finding your own blogging voice and blogging style, allow me to recommend the one single resource that has taught me over the years a whole bunch of hints and tips, tricks, good practices, and blogging techniques: Darren Rowse, the one and only, ProBlogger. It’s probably as good as it gets to help you get off to a really good start in building further up your own personal brand and digital presence out there on the Social Web.

Oh, and if you are in Google Plus, allow me to point you as well to this thread by Darren himself under the heading “Traits of Successful Bloggers” where he has shared plenty of insights and various different links to 12 different characteristics of (successful) bloggers:

  1. Playfulness and Creativity
  2. Innovation
  3. Connectors
  4. Community Builders
  5. Information Mavens
  6. Communicators
  7. Interest
  8. Entrepreneurial Spirit
  9. Originality
  10. Perseverance
  11. Focus
  12. Curiosity

Now, on to the final reflection that I am sure most of you folks out there are thinking about already… With this blog post on reclaiming blogging am I implying that I’m about to leave the various social networking sites where I used to hang out at? Well, I don’t think so. I don’t think I’m ready, just yet, to dump it all, just like Hugh himself. What I can tell you though, and share across happily, is how both this blog and Google Plus itself have allowed me to become thicker, instead of spreading thinner over and over, at my social interactions to the point where it looks like I may have reduced my online social activities out there on the Social Web to these magic three: my blog (with my Flickr pictures I keep embedding here and there…), my one single Twitter account over at @elsua (I’m in the process of deleting all other alter egos, so feel free to connect with that account or add it to a Twitter List near you) and Google Plus itself. And so far it looks like I’m enjoying it quite a bit. How about you? Does blogging still play a key part in your social interactions? If so, please do let me know! Would love to add you into my daily blogroll … Yes, I do still have one and maintain it as well on a regular basis! 🙂

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  1. “Personal sovereignity.” I love it. My sentiments, exactly, and I’ve recently taken steps to use my personal blog more like home base than ever before.

    I see the larger social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ – like parties. We go there and we participate because that’s where everyone congregates; that’s where we discover new ideas, make new connections, and build relationships.

    When all is said and done, most of us need to find personal space, away from the din, where we can collect our thoughts, adjust our perspectives, and stand on our own.

    Google does lend itself to a greater sense of stability and longevity than, say, MySpace or FriendFace, but while I plan on spending a great deal more time socializing in their living room, I think I’ll hold off on moving in for a while longer.

    Cheers, Luis.

    1. Hi Brian! Thanks a lot for the feedback comments and for dropping by! Indeed, and that’s where I think the main issue lays ahead for most of us… That plenty of us would want to stick around at the party, and have all the fun, and by the time we realise it’s just far too late to make it back and make some sense into it, because we are no longer used to those periods of reflection and solitude reflecting on what we learned while at the party… hehe

      That’s why I wanted to get this blog post out, so that it would help me get a reminder, or two, and, hopefully, other folks on working your magic away from the party by making what you learned much better for everyone else to enjoy!

      Thanks again for the feedback and look forward to catching up with your blog posts! 🙂

      1. You are exactly right, Luis. It’s fun to go to the party, to meet all the people, to have a few drinks, and to enjoy the conversations, but what happens when most of the attendees pack up and move on to another party? Now you’ve got to decide to go along with them, or stay put. In the end, you’re left with little to call your own.

        Such is why my Facebook profile merely tells people I’ve moved on to G+ and will be more actively sharing on my own sites. Could it be the personification of push vs. pull? Hmmm…

        Buenos noches, amigo.

        1. Ha! Interesting follow-up, Brian, and I have got another one for you along those very same lines… What will happen, and what would folks do, when all parties are gone, done, deal with? And there aren’t any more planned for the next while? That does sound scary, huh?

          I guess it’s all in finding and striking a balance, as usual, as to when to party and when to withdraw from the party to reflect on new ideas learned and make them better hehe

          Good stuff!

          1. Ha, indeed! I am right there with you, Luis! To me, it makes no sense for anyone – individual or corporate – to invest heavily in building a presence on third party social networks. Setup an outpost to help passersby find what they need and get to know you, but direct them back to your home base on your own digital property. So many businesses miss the whole point. You want to show up to the party, make an appearance, contribute to the good time and atmosphere, but you don’t want to relocate to the kegger.

            I don’t think there will ever be a shortage of parties, but we’ll never put down deep roots and grow if we keep early adopting a digital gypsy life.

  2. Agreed. Although I have tended to blog a lot less frequently since using Twitter, I still value my blog as the place where I can set out my thoughts on any topic of interest.

    I use Twitter – and have only ever used a single identity – as my main “gateway” to other social media tools, feeding all my tweets to LinkedIn and Facebook. I can then engage in discussions on all three platforms. I now use Instagram for photos, which feeds into Twitter – and to Flickr.

    I also tweet every blog post, and (someday) will add a Twitter feed plug-in to my blog.

    Google seems to be a great platform – but I have not seen any easy way to connect it in to everything else that I do, so I am just not actively using it. I don’t want to spend time hopping from one platform to the next (except when actively engaging, as above).

    Social media – the way I want it to work – is all about simple connection and integration, not about creating more islands.

    1. Absolutely spot on comments, Keith! And I don’t think that Google Plus plans on fostering and encouraging more islands… Quite the opposite! I am starting to think that its main aim is to become the continent within the Social Web that helps connect, and stay connected with the various other islands. It’s probably just a bit too early to see that long term vision, but no doubt I am sure that integration will come along at some point, perhaps as soon as the API opens up a bit for developers to start hacking some pretty cool integration points! A matter of time, I am sure.

      By the way, really enjoyed the description you shared above about your social flow and how you share and reshare content across to match your needs and those who may be following your various social interactions. Way cool!! Thanks for sharing it across and much appreciated, once again, all of the feedback!

      1. 🙂

        No problem! Thanks for the feedback.

        Some have pointed to all of Google’s “failures” in social media – Wave, etc – but it could also be said that they are taking the appropriate approach to complexity: safe-fail (cf Cynefin). Although I’m not sure how cheap some of those failures have been. In the overall scope of Google’s investments, probably cheap enough!

        However, until there is a bit more obvious integration available with Google+, my time investment there will probably be minimal.

        1. @Keith, and that’s just fine! I think that experimentation phase of trial and error that Google has experienced has served them well to come up with a good solid entry point with G+, that, although may be lacking a bit more integration with things, there is no doubt that it will eventually be coming along and perhaps we will see the true final potential being reached when G+ integrates fully with Google Search, something that most other social networking sites haven’t done properly just yet. That, to me, is going to be G+’s competitive advantage and why I think it would be rather interesting to see how things would pave out eventually…

          And not to worry, take your time, we will still be here, I am sure, whenever you would be ready to make the move! 😉 hehe

  3. Luis, While I have not gone all in to G+ as you have and in fact don’t find the pull of it that others do but maybe in time I will.
    The blog survives because it is the owner’s. For better or worse, we have something to say and maybe it’s to be heard, maybe to remember, maybe to impress or maybe just to do something different.
    Twitter did not diminish my blogging efforts, in fact I now have 3 others plus a guest blog site or 2.
    As I explain to my kids, almost daily now, most people are sheep, be the shepherd or the Lion, lead, don’t wait for someone to tell you what you should do.
    Doesn’t always mean jump first but it means take action, blogging is action. If I put as much in to my unfinished novels as my blogs, I’d be done already.

    1. @Keith, great follow-up and glad you have shared these thoughts over here on why blogging still makes sense for you and your community of folks around them! Exactly! It’s a journey, not a final destination, it’s that time of reflection about the things that matter that Euan Semple blogged about earlier on this morning over here. It may not have the lowest common denominator, but it surely has got one of the most powerful and influential to date!

  4. Thanks @Brian for the follow-up! Good stuff!! Indeed, I think you described it quite nicely and I am surely hoping folks would shift gears and realize about it, before it is just too late to come back! Yes, indeed, there will always be parties and all, but it would be a matter of picking up the better ones, stay for a while and … leave :-)) hehe

    1. Hiya, Samuel! Thanks a bunch for dropping by and for sharing across that comment on G+! Right back at ya! Left a follow-up to your commentary as well. Thanks for keeping the conversation going! 🙂 hehe

  5. Fabulous insights Luis; many thanks for sharing. I so value your opinion and G+ is a topic that I had previously been on the fence with…no longer now.
    Hope all is well Luis!

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