Social Media For Your Community

Social Media For Your Community
Photo by John Cameron / Unsplash

I came across this post on Mastodon today.

Nebyoolae (@[email protected])
The words that @[email protected] used in this blog post over 10 years ago are still true to this day

In the linked blog post, Scott Hanselman says:

You are not blogging enough. You are pouring your words into increasingly closed and often walled gardens. You are giving control - and sometimes ownership - of your content to social media companies that will SURELY fail.

That was written in 2012, by the way.

Twitter seems to be inevitably heading for that cliff as its CEO continues to execute on a number of potentially-questionable business decisions. (Frankly, I'm surprised the platform is still online given all of the SREs that have been let go; perhaps that speaks to how good their former SREs were!)

This got me thinking about what I write here, or my posts on Mastodon, or my streams on Twitch or YouTube, or any content I put out into the world.

Hell, even my code on GitHub falls into that. (Can you imagine if GitHub failed? Yikes.)

I think Scott's point about owning the content you create is a valid one, and one that shouldn't be taken for granted. From that perspective, I'd like to aim to write more here and then distribute via social media rather than the other way around. Or, at the very least, Mastodon becomes the place where I hash through rough ideas to coalesce into better content here.

Here's the part I struggle with, though: discoverability.

Hypothetically, if you get enough users on a social media platform, there's opportunities to have your work discovered. Without that discoverability, how do people find what you make?

I suppose search engines help with that. Write something useful, someone searches for it, and readership can grow from that. That's worked for me in the past (on a now-lost-to-the-ether blog I used to write on, my post "Ruby Documentation Sucks" was the top-viewed post by a wide margin. Apparently I struck a nerve!)

If we go one level deeper, does discoverability even matter? Who are you writing for: yourself, or for others? For fame and popularity, or to help someone else out?

Ultimately, helping others is a good enough reason to contribute. Contributing in your own place means that you maintain the ownership of what you produce, a point in which Scott and I both agree is important. Does that mean you shouldn't use social media? Not at all. But it's worth thinking about what would happen to your works if your social media platform falls off the face of the earth.