Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Breaking blog things again

Even those of us who are technologically savvy, as I like to pretend I am, can screw up technological things. Today was one of those days for me. It’s nothing serious, but it forced me to move ahead on a project for this blog.

For a (very) long time now, I’ve been planning to set-up a Facebook page for this blog, and when I suddenly realised that my podcast is basically the audio version of this blog, I knew I’d include that, too.

My hesitation was mainly the category. Silly as it may sound, I couldn’t decide what area best fit what I wanted to do. I looked to see what category my fellow podcasters were under, only to find they chose all sorts of different one, which wasn’t helpful for my dilemma.

In the end, I just chose “Blogger” because that’s really what this is all about. So, last night I took the plunge and set up the page. I uploaded the cover photo I’d made and the photo of the flag lapel pin that was my original profile photo when I started this blog. Then, I went to bed.

This morning, apart from seeing that Roger Green was the first person other than me to “Like” the new page, I set about getting ready to make the page the place on Facebook where my blog posts will go.

And that’s when it all went horribly wrong.

Okay, it wasn’t really horrible, but it was the mistake that changed my plans.

My blog posts have been automatically posted to my personal Facebook page for ages. I wanted to post them to the new page, so I went to Networked Blogs, turned off the target of my personal Facebook page—and only then realised that the free option was gone. There was no going back.

Networked Blogs has moved their syndication to a paid service called “Symphony”, and the lowest price for the most basic version was $14-$99 per month. That service was admittedly better than the old free service I had, but I’m not willing to pay for syndication that I used to get for free. Maybe someday if I ever make any money from blogging, or see the potential to do so, I might reconsider. But that’s frankly unlikely.

So, I looked for other options, but the first few hits referred to other paid services, all of which were clearly designed for more enterprise-level blogging. I’m not that sort of blogger and highly doubt I ever will be—certainly not with this blog, anyway.

A link to tips for using Facebook’s built-in features was promising—until I realised that those features were removed in one of Facebook’s “upgrades”. So, in the end, I used the built-in Blogger feature to share a blog post on Facebook (anyone can do that, by the way). In my case, I share it on the AmeriNZ page, rather than on my personal page.

I’ve had two motivations for doing all this—personal and impersonal, you might say. First, so many people are on Facebook that having a presence there is important for folks like me who try to interact on social media. It may or may not grow the blog or podcast, but it might. In any event, it will make it easier for Facebook users to share my posts, since anything posted to my personal page carries privacy restrictions.

I also have more personal reasons for the move. My personal Facebook page is, well, personal: I sometimes share things there that I wouldn’t necessarily share on my blog precisely because it’s not as public. There’s plenty I won’t share there, either, but there’s a difference, nevertheless.

And then there are my Facebook friends. I’m keenly aware that not all of my friends and family are interested in politics, and some don’t share my particular viewpoints. So, a couple years ago I decided to dramatically cut back on posting anything about US politics. Eventually, almost the only way things about US politics (apart from things about marriage equality) got onto my personal Facebook page was when a blog post was automatically shared.

Because of my mistake this morning, that won’t happen anymore: Unless I decide to share a blog post on my personal page, none will show up there. There’ll be a short-term problem in convincing the Facebook friends who actually read my blog to “Like” the page and follow it so post announcements will continue to show up in their timeline. My next post will go over how to do that.

This isn’t the first time that something I did related to Facebook caused problems for me and this blog. Back in 2013, I inadvertently caused havoc for myself. Even further back, in 2010, Google led me to break this blog, ironically, as part of the upgrade to get the buttons that make it possible to share posts on social media. I fixed all those problems.

This time, there’s nothing to fix, just a bit of mission explaining the changes. This post is part of that effort.

Meanwhile, the new AmeriNZ Facebook Page is now available. Feel free to “Like” and follow.


rogerogreen said...

$15 for Networked Blogs? Per month? Good golly. Mine is still free. And this is why - as someone who DOESN'T pretend he knows ANYTHING about ANYTHING technological,- I'm very slow to change.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I made a Typo that autocorrect to $14.99—it should have said "$14-$99 a month". That's now fixed in the post. In the end, it doesn't matter THAT much for me: I'd have eventually turned off the autoposts to my personal FB page, anyway, but it would have been nice to have it post automatically to the new page. Oh, well. It just adds another small step to the posting process. I guess the plus side is that I'll never have to fix it again when it suddenly stops working.

For anyone who's interested in spending the money: https://www.symphonytools.com/pricing