Category Archives: social networking

Where You Can Find Me Online, September 2015 Edition

This blog hasn’t been quite as active as it once was, although I am doing my best to change that. But just because the blog has not been as active, that does not been I haven’t been active online. Let me take this opportunity to point out the various places you can find me online for those who might be interested.

And I really am working to return things to normal here in the meantime.

20 favorite Twitter follows in 2014

It is clear by looking at my Twitter profile that I don’t follow a whole lot of accounts. But every now and then, I’ll find something on Twitter that stands out from the crowd. Here are 20 of the Twitter accounts I enjoyed in 2014, and I would certainly recommend them if your tastes align with mine.

People_followed_by_Jamie_Todd_Rubin___jamietr____Twitter Leo Widrich
Joanna Stern 99U
Damien Walter on Twitter Abandoned on Twitter
Michael Harren on Twitter Upshot on Twitter
Shroud on Twitter FiveThirtyEight on Twitter
QuantifiedSelf on Twitter Michael Rich on Twitter
ThinkUp on Twitter Stephen King on Twitter
Anil Dash on Twitter 27 Good Things on Twitter
Mara Wilson on Twitter Buffer on Twitter
Stacey Harmon Little Red on Twitter

Any recommendations? Drop them in the comments.

Where you can find me on social media in 2015

Given that I recently wrote a post about how I update and manage my social media profiles, I thought it might be useful to have a post letting people know where they can find me on social media.

Like many people, I started out on a wide variety of platforms, but in recent years, I have whittled it down to just a few on which I am regularly active.

Twitter

My primary social media presence is on Twitter. I like Twitter, I like that it forces me to keep my updates short, and I generally like its interface and features that it provides. It is to Twitter where I make the majority of my updates. You can find me on Twitter at @jamietr.

Facebook

I maintain a Facebook page that I update fairly regularly with blog posts and many of the same things I post on Twitter. I try to respond to all comments left there. If your preferred platform is Facebook, and want to connect with me there, you can do so via my Facebook page.

Ello

I am on Ello, although I don’t know how active I will be there. It is easy to keep Twitter and Facebook up-to-date because I use the Buffer app to help automate updates there. Ello requires a separate action on my part. And while I like the interface, I just don’t know, from a practical sense, how often I’ll update there. But if you want to connect with me on Ello, you can find me at @jamietr.

Other social media

While I have a presence on other social media, I don’t regularly update or make use of it. I just don’t have the time, and three social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) plus experimentation with a fourth (Ello) is more than I handle. But, if you are interested, you can also find me on:

I look forward to connecting with you in 2015!

Charting Twitter Follower Counts Over Time

There was a time, two or three years ago, when I paid close attention to Twitter statistics, and in particular, that ever important Number of Followers. It’s a number so in vogue that I’ve seen in mentioned in half a dozen TV shows. Somewhere along the way, I pretty much stopped paying attention. The last time that I can remember really watching the number was nearly a year ago, when I was about to head off on vacation. The only reason I kept an eye on it then was because I was about to it 2,222 followers.

Well, it’s a year later, and for some reason, the number caught my eye today, probably because it is creeping close to 3,000 followers. The thing is, it has been a climb, but a very slow one. When I looked at my follower count today, it stood at 2,975. That’s an increase of 732 followers over the course of an entire year! Wil Wheaton I am not.

Back in August, I was playing around with the APIs of many services, including Twitter. I decided to write a little script that would capture changes in my Twitter follower count over time. My script grabs my follower count once per hour–24 times a day–and stores the data in a comma separated file. With more than four full months of data, I thought I’d plot it out today. Here is what it looks like:

Twitter followers over time

The chart begins with me at about 2805 followers and ends with me at 2975 followers. That is a change of 170 followers over 4 months. Or about 1.4 new followers per day on average.

In August there is a big jump–due in large part to my articles at The Daily Beast and 99U. But then things pretty much smooth out and go sideways. I wanted to see if I could predict if I would hit 3,000 followers (I have 25 more to go) before the end of the year. But generating a trend for this chart doesn’t work well because the data is skewed in August.

Still, I can predict a range. The difference in follower counts over the last year is 732. That is about 2 new followers per day. Over the last 4 months, that number is 1.4 new followers per day.

Starting with the low number, and considering that as of today there are 27 days left in the year, then 1.4 * 27 = 37.8 new followers by the end of the year–which would put me over the 3,000 follower mark, with 3013 followers.

If we take the larger number, we get 2 * 27 = 54 new followers by the end of the year. This also puts me over the 3,000 follower mark, with 3,029 followers.

Of course, the trend is volatile. The number can go down, or it might go up significantly. In any case, now I have reasonable confidence that I will pass the 3,000 follower mark by the end of the year. And with that I can stop paying attention once again–until January 1, of course, when I will just have to check to see how my prediction panned out.

How I Use ThinkUp for a Better Quantified Social Self

Something about social media metrics makes me antsy. How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many friends on Facebook? How many likes did you get for that post? How many times was that clever tweet retweeted? Perhaps these are useful measurements for a brand or business, but for the average person–me for instance–they aren’t particularly meaningful.

Of course, I like the data. It’s the approach that makes me uncomfortable. To better understand my quantified social self, I use a service called ThinkUp. ThinkUp is the brainchild of Gina Trapani and Anil Dash and touts itself as “analytics for humans.” It takes the bland numbers out of social media metrics and provides fun, useful insights that help to tell a story about my social media behavior. I’ve been using ThinkUp ever since it first appeared, and based on my experience so far, the insights ThinkUp provides fall into four categories.

1. Personal insights

A perfect example of a personal insight is one I received one morning back in August, when ThinkUp let me know it was my 6th Twitter birthday:

ThinkUp Twitter Birthday

ThinkUp also looks at how frequently people interact with your tweets and posts, and provides interesting metrics on the ones that do particularly well:

ThinkUp Twitter Favorites

These insights are personal. Unlike some services which compare you to others, this is simply comparing me to myself. In this same way, ThinkUp will provide you with a summary of your week:

ThinkUp Week

2. Fun insights

ThinkUp has a growing collection of fun insights that pop up from time-to-time. I recently encountered this one:

ThinkUp Exclaim

Trust me when I say that seeing that insight made me more sensitive to the frequency with which I use! exclamation! marks! in my tweets. I have also seen insights for how frequently I’ve used the term “LOL” in a tweet or Facebook post.

3. Paying it forward

Social media often seems like a race to the highest number of followers–or likes, or retweets–as possible. The number is the end as opposed to the content. One of my favorite parts of ThinkUp is what I call its “pay-it-forward” insights which take those numbers and puts them to good use. Here is one example:

ThinkUp Thank You

Seeing this insight encourages me to thank people more often, because it’s nice to be nice. Then, too, while I don’t have an audience as large as Neil Gaiman or John Scalzi, I do my best to signal boost things that I find interesting besides my own stuff. ThinkUp acknowledges these kinds of activities as well:

ThinkUp Boost

I like this because it emphasizes that the number of followers you have is not just about how popular you are, but expresses the degree to which you can help boost the signal on other people’s messages.

4. Improving my social media behavior

For me, the most useful insights that ThinkUp provides are those that help me be a better person on social media. Here is one example where ThinkUp finds plenty of room for improvement in my behavior:

ThinkUp Me

While worded in a perfectly friendly manner, the message is clear: I talk about myself quite a bit, as opposed to pointing folks to other interesting people and thinks. Some of this comes from the fact that I write articles from my perspective, but the insight is still telling. And while my behavior hasn’t changed overnight, I use this insight as a benchmark for my behavior, and have been gradually trying to reduce the percentage–with mixed success so far.

Being efficient with tweets and posts is also important. You can reach more people if you know when more people are listening, and ThinkUp helps with that by looking at when your friends and followers are posting, and suggesting those times as ideal for posting and tweeting yourself:

ThinkUp Time

As ThinkUp is providing new insights every day, the times may vary and can be adjusted accordingly. Using a tool like Buffer, I can schedule my most important tweets and posts during the suggested time window.

Finally, ThinkUp will occasionally remind me how long it has been since I last updated my profile on Facebook or Twitter. Things change fast on the Internet, and I often forget to update my profile when something new comes along. Now, ThinkUp helps remind me of this:

ThinkUp Profile


ThinkUp currently provides insights for Twitter and Facebook. It is an evolving service with new insights being introduced all the time. You can elect to receive a daily email message summarizing your insights for the previous day. I like this feature. I can review the insights in the morning, and immediately make adjustment that day based on what I find. If I’m talking about myself too much again, I’ll dedicate the day to focus on others.

It is also worth noting ThinkUp’s data philosophy. As they say upfront on their home page, they don’t have ads and they don’t sell your data. They have a clear, simple, and refreshing values page that goes into more detail into the overall philosophy behind the service.

I was an early-bird user of ThinkUp. The service costs $60/year (that’s $5 month, and remember, no ads!), but a 14-day free trial is available for folks who want to see what the service is like. ThinkUp recently introduced an option for $5/month, for those who want to go month-to-month. Finally, ThinkUp is also available on GitHub for those who want to run the service on their own, or contribute to its open source development.

Since I started using ThinkUp, it has become my primary tool for gauging my social media behavior, benchmarking that behavior, and using the insights to improve my behavior. I find the unique insights an invaluable way to more closely examine my quantified social self.

I’m Giving Ello a Try

The social network Ello has been getting some press lately, and thanks to good people, I got an invite last week, and have been giving it a try. I haven’t done much there as yet, but I see that a lot of folks in the science fiction/fantasy world are over there, too, making it feel almost like our own private social network.

In any case, if you’re looking for me on Ello (I know that the search there is awkward at the moment), I’m @jamietr, just like on Twitter.

ETA: Since I’ve been asked a few times already: I’m out of invites at the moment. If Ello gives me more, I’ll make an announcement.

Original Thoughts

Yesterday, I had this thought and decided to share it, thinking I was being both original and clever.

According to ThinkUp, it was a pretty popular Tweet for me:

Popular Tweet ThinkUp

and it drew a lot of response, certainly more than I usually get for any one tweet. Someone made the connection to the fact that instead of using the #amwriting hashtag, I’ve been going with the #iwrote hashtag. I responded that was exactly why I did it. At the same time, I offered that I couldn’t complete credit for it:

I couldn’t remember the exact context of how this came up with Joanna, but she chimed in and reminded me.

When I went to see the link she’d pointed me to, what I saw was this, from back in December:

And thus I was reminded of one thing and learned another:

  1. I am not nearly as original or clever as I like to think I am.
  2. Joanna Castle Miller deserves all of the credit for any insight and cleverness in yesterday’s tweet. But blame me if you found it unclever or annoying.

I really did think I had an original thought yesterday, and I was disheartened to learn that (a) I didn’t, and (b) I basically stole an original thought Joanna had. I’m sorry about that. Fortunately, making mistakes is how I learn best.

How I Use Facebook is Changing in April

Late last year, I wrote about how I use Facebook less and less. I’ve used the last few months to figure out what works best for me and I’ve come to the conclusion that the easiest thing for me to do is divide my Facebook activity into two parts. My personal Facebook page will be for personal updates. These updates are fairly infrequent and rarely include anything about writing, reading, automation, Evernote, paperless, etc.

On the other hand, my Facebook Page is the place where the bulk of my Facebook activity happens today. This is where I post about writing, blogging, reading, automation, going paperless, and just about anything else that most people who follow my stuff seem to be interested in.

With this divide in mind, beginning in April, I’m going to begin removing people from my personal Facebook account who don’t meet one of the following categories:

  1. We are family (or extended family)
  2. We are friends outside of Facebook.
  3. We work together, either in the day job or in the science fiction world.
  4. We have met in real life.

If you don’t fall into one of these 4 categories and want to continue to follow my updates on Facebook about the kinds of things I post about here on the blog, I recommend going to my Facebook Writer Page. The updates will continue there, but I will be removing people from my personal Facebook account who don’t meet one of the four criteria listed above.

On the flip side, if you are family, a friend, a coworker, or we have met in real life, and you want to see updates about my writing, blogging, automation, Evernote, etc., then you will also want to follow my Facebook Writer Page, since my personal Facebook page will be focused on personal updates (kids, family, etc.)

The truth is that since December, I have been far more active on my Facebook Page than my personal Facebook page. It’s where the action is. For instance, notices of new blog posts here go to my Facebook Page, but not to my personal Facebook account.

These changes will start in April and I hope that by the end of April, the transition will be complete.

Bottom line, if you are not sure, and want to continue following my updates on Facebook, follow my Facebook Writer Page. That’s where the bulk of the updates will be happening.

One Way ThinkUp Has Already Started to Change My Behavior

I have been using ThinkUp since it was released to its early supporters back in January and I really like it. Unlike some tools which try to make your online activity into a popularity contest, ThinkUp provides insights that are fun and useful. As they say on their home page, “ThinkUp makes you feel good about the time you spend online.”

I’ll give you an example of one way that ThinkUp’s insights have already started to change my behavior. One of the insights I see from time-to-time looks like this:

But enough about me

I think my reaction the first time I saw this was “ouch!” But I gave it a lot of thought. I considered that the message here was that I should do a better job of sharing all kinds of things I find interesting on the Internet, not just stuff that relates to me. Slowly, I’ve started changing my behavior. The result, so far, has been that while I still see the “But enough about me” insights, they tend to look more like the one above. Note that phrase that I highlighted. Even though I doubt this will ever be down to zero–after all, I use social media to keep in touch with friends and colleagues, as well as spread the word about my posts–I think I’m doing a better job at making my tweets less self-centered1.

And I have ThinkUp to thank for this.

It seems to me, this is and example of the very type of change that ThinkUp was attempting  to bring about with their insights: allowing users to take useful information (and hints!) from the insights and use them to improve the quality of their online social presence.

  1. Yes, I recognize that the tweet that goes out about this post will contain the word “my” in it, but I think my intention is clear.

15,000 Tweets

Earlier today, unbeknownst to me, I made my 15,000th tweet. Nothing terribly dramatic. I was responding to my Launch Pad pals, Christian Ready and Jeri Smith-Ready telling them I’d send them details of the upcoming Daily Science Fiction book launch this Saturday at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Hint: I’ll be there!

For posterity, here is my 15,000th tweet.

Gee, I wonder what my 30,000th tweet will be?

Social Media Updates

I mentioned the other day how I was backing away from Facebook in order to give myself a little more peace of mind, better focus the time I spent on social media. I’ve gotten a few questions about this, and so I thought I’d provide some clarifying points:

  • I am not quitting Facebook, I am just not reading my Facebook “stream” the way I used to. Instead, I am looking at my Facebook Writer’s Page and using that as the primary outlet on Facebook for stuff about my writing, my paperless posts, and technology stuff in general.
  • Therefore, if you want to keep up with posts about my writing, going paperless or technology posts without the clutter of personal stuff about the kids, etc, go follow (or like) my Facebook Writer’s Page.
  • Twitter is still my preferred source of social media. Everything that ends up on my Facebook Writer’s page can also be found on Twitter (thank you Buffer!). If you want to keep up with everything, writing, technology, or otherwise, follow me on Twitter (I’m @jamietr).
  • Google+ seems to be picking up steam, and I’m keeping an eye there at least once a day, but it is not easy to automatically relay posts to Google+, at least not when you have 2-factor authentication enabled. That said, I try to post a link to all of my blog posts over on Google+ for folks who mostly use that. You can click here to find me on Google+.

I will continue to make some posts to my personal Facebook page, but these will be mostly for friends and family, sharing photos, etc. They will rarely have anything to do with my writing, technology, or paperless posts going forward.

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Backing Away from Facebook

Over the next two weeks,  I will be dramatically dialing back my day-to-day participation in Facebook. There are several reasons for this.

1. Facebook has become a generally negative place. If I am going to spend time browsing, I don’t want to do it in a place where the vibe is generally negative. I look at my Facebook wall and the vast majority of what I see is people complaining, or people ranting, or people deriding one group or another. I see enough of that in the real world. Facebook seems to act as a magnifying lens for negativity and I’ve had my fill.

2. Increasingly limited time. With my efforts to write everyday, coupled with the day job, and the family, my time is increasingly limited, which means the available time is increasingly more valuable. I don’t want to spend that valuable time in a negative place.

3. Twitter is better. My opinion, of course, but I’ve really grown to embrace Twitter, and now like it much better than Facebook. Much of what I see on Twitter is duplicated on Facebook, or vice versa, but at least on Twitter, it is limited to 140 characters, and often far less.

So what does this mean from a practical standpoint? Well, it means this:

1. My blog posts and Tweets will still be posted to Facebook. Mainly because this function is completely automated. I don’t have to take any additional action. However, beginning very shortly, not every Tweet I make will automatically be relayed to Facebook. I’ll only relay selected Tweets (like notices of new blog posts). And more and more, I’ll be shifting my Facebook presence to my author page instead of my personal profile. If you want to keep up with the day-to-day stuff, follow me on Twitter.

2. If people are just interested in my writing or paperless/technology posts, I’d encourage you to “like” my Facebook Writer Page instead of my personal profile. I’ll be more active there than on my regular Facebook Profile. If you are not married to Facebook, you are better off following me on Twitter, where I am more active.

3. My more regular social interactions will take place here on the blog, or in Twitter. The former because it is my playground, and the latter because, as I said, I prefer the compactness of Twitter to the sprawl of Facebook.

Enjoy these posts? – Tell a friend

Recommending readers is one of the highest compliments you can pay to a writer. If you enjoy what you read here, or you find the posts useful, tell a friend!

Or use one of the share buttons below. Thanks for reading!