The TechMeme Factor – is it Good for Blogs?

techmeme.pngI received a lot of criticism for my post recently stating my reduction in use of the service Twitter towards other services like Identi.ca and FriendFeed. In a series of personal attacks through both Twitter and the comments on my blog, people called me names, said I was pompous, and almost seemed offended as to my proposal to reduce my use of Twitter in hopes to eventually move away from the service. (Ironically, the discussion on FriendFeed was much more constructive)

Well you know, sticks and stones will break my bones and such, but I did begin thinking as to why these attacks were occurring and what I may have done to bring them on. In a discussion on a post on Dig, I suggested the following in response to why I had written the post to begin with:

“vmarinelli I wrote this mostly for those that were existing readers of my blog and followers of mine on Twitter. I had people asking why I was doing it. I didn’t expect it to make headline on Techmeme, so wasn’t writing it for an external audience. Had I been prepared for that I would have been much more 3rd person, and I would have written it entirely different.”

That post was intended to be a personal post, to the readers of my blog, and possibly some of my followers who had already asked as to why I was and why I was not posting much on Twitter any more. The post reached TechMeme, and soon many more people completely unaware of who I was or what the context was were reading the post.

This post wasn’t the first of mine to be a headline on Techmeme – I definitely heard my share of criticism as to my post on developers bailing on Twitter. Ironically, there wasn’t much criticism at all on the guest post I wrote on LouisGray.com which made it as a headline on Techmeme – it seems with him being on the Leaderboard, people might be more used to who he is and what his blog is about.

It has gotten me thinking however, when you reach that status where you are being indexed by Techmeme, do you need to watch what you are writing, or even write differently, as I was suggesting on Digg, to speak to that audience? Is it even possible to keep your posts personal as you used to when your blog is reaching a much larger audience?

My brother, Luke, had a great argument when he mentioned on FriendFeed:

“I don’t get it, why can’t you talk in the first person if you’re featured on Techmeme. This was an editorial of sorts and most editorials are written in first person even if they’re written for the New York Times. Could also be considered a review of Twitter. Reviews are also often written in first person.”

I think many blogs may be getting corrupted by Techmeme, becoming too “newsy”, in the 3rd-person, and less personal when they begin to get indexed by the service. I’m wondering in the end if Techmeme really is a good thing for blogs. It certainly has an effect on any blog it begins to index. Many blogs do seem to be influenced.

However, I’m pretty sure there has to be a way to stay personal, reach that larger audience, and stay interesting at the same time. In the end you can’t abandon your existing user-base, so a strong balance is important.

My goal is to keep this blog personal, stay myself, and be informative at the same time. I don’t think you should have to change your writing style completely (note I said “completely”) when you start reaching that larger audience. Being yourself is important, and I won’t abandon that.

I’m curious though – have you seen any other blogs reach this stage, and how do you see them adapting? Do the majority of them lose their “personal touch” in order to be able to adapt? Let’s discuss via comments and FriendFeed below.

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6 thoughts on “The TechMeme Factor – is it Good for Blogs?

  1. Whether it's Techmeme or Digg or any other service that can bring a good amount of traffic, most bloggers like attention, from # of visitors, # of comments or what have you. But if getting traffic becomes more important than writing good content, there will be issues, and if you find yourself writing to get Dugg, or Stumbled, or on Techmeme, then you're off the beaten path. The best thing I'd recommend is just be yourself, and not worry too much about trying to get more attention, or wondering how algorithms work. Sometimes, a post you didn't think was great will get attention, and your masterpieces will die without comments. It happens to everyone.

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  2. Thanks Louis – you know it's interesting that most of the posts (not that I
    have a ton) that I've written and have ended up on Techmeme were just what
    you mention – those that I didn't think were that great. They were worth
    mentioning to my readers, but I would never have guessed they would have
    been Techmeme-worthy. It's important to keep focus – I wonder how many
    bloggers lose that when they see a little traffic.

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  3. Jesse, don't mean to be harsh, but this line has a touch of fail: “It has gotten me thinking however, when you reach that status where you are being indexed by Techmeme, ” There is no “status” of reaching Techmeme other than being on the good side of Gabe and his mates. Don't confuse the concept of merit with the failure of the Crunchmeme clique.

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  4. Thanks Duncan – my wording was bad on that. I wasn't meaning status by
    merit but rather state or phase (still thinking of what the best word would
    be). It was late last night so I may not have gotten that out clear enough.
    I don't think there's much merit at all in being on Techmeme, other than an
    opportunity for a little more exposure and traffic. Does that make sense?
    Please be harsh though – I look up to your advice, so if I'm wrong let me
    know.

    Like

  5. Thanks Duncan – my wording was bad on that. I wasn't meaning status by
    merit but rather state or phase (still thinking of what the best word would
    be). It was late last night so I may not have gotten that out clear enough.
    I don't think there's much merit at all in being on Techmeme, other than an
    opportunity for a little more exposure and traffic. Does that make sense?
    Please be harsh though – I look up to your advice, so if I'm wrong let me
    know.

    Like

  6. Thanks Louis – you know it's interesting that most of the posts (not that I
    have a ton) that I've written and have ended up on Techmeme were just what
    you mention – those that I didn't think were that great. They were worth
    mentioning to my readers, but I would never have guessed they would have
    been Techmeme-worthy. It's important to keep focus – I wonder how many
    bloggers lose that when they see a little traffic.

    Like

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