Post-Posterous: Incremental Tools and Obsolescence

ObsoleteNot convinced that you should own your own content, somewhere, somehow? Did you use Posterous as our content platform because it was easy?

Just recently, Posterous went and did it: they shut down. Posterous, which I refer to as a “mini-blogging” platform – somewhere between the micro-blogging of Twitter, the company that bought it, and full-on, often longer-form content blogs (such as this one maintained using WordPress software), somehow lost its niche.

But how?

It could be any number of factors:

  • Twitter bought it but then just didn’t see a use for the platform as we know it (which is different from saying the talent and technology behind Posterous was of no use);
  • “Mini-blogging” had no niche: Facebook, Google Plus, and other niche networks such as Instagram and Pinterest served the need just as well, making Posterous irrelevant. Of course, competitors such as Tumblr still thrive as of this writing, which brings us to;
  • Tumblr got the users, the views and the attention. Even if you liked Posterous better, it didn’t matter if the people stopped flocking there and went to Tumblr instead
  • The utility of Posterous became superfluous. I used Posterous as a mobile posting platform, which then directed content to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or my blog. As it turned out, the mobile posting functions of those networks, and newer ones such as instagram, improved greatly. Posterous, not being a destination but rather a means of distribution, became irrelevant. Was that the case for most users? I’m not sure, but I am certain it was a factor.

Will other “in-between” platforms fail as the more popular networks gain more features, and the niche platforms get more spread? Perhaps. Perhaps Posterous just fell victim to its own success (its acquisition) and the popularity of its biggest remaining rival, Tumblr.

I do know that if you used Posterous as a primary content outlet, you might be screwed, unless you had a migration plan. Every platform carries that danger. The more you own the platform (like a WordPress blog), the easier to recover, but the dangers of depending on someone else’s platform to support your important content are once again on display. For your indispensable tool, obsolescence could be just around the corner (remember cassette tapes?).

Photo credit: Obsolete by practicalowl, on Flickr

Being There (on Social Media)

I have read about people taking breaks from social media. Pew Internet has even tried to make it a trend, pointing out the significant percentage of users who have taken some sort of respite from Facebook (my reading that one represents a welcome return to a break from Pew I didn’t know I was taking). There are valid reasons for dialing back social network use: stepping away from trolls and contentious political or other arguments, getting distance from people you don’t really care for or about, privacy, or simply trying to shed a time-suck from your life. At times, it makes sense to change use or simply get out altogether.

Being There

Some of us don’t have that luxury – not completely. It’s our job to be on social networks. Even if we limit our personal use, quitting Facebook is not an option. I have seen instances where a person wanted to tap a corporate Facebook presence for a project, but that person had actually quit Facebook, so would not be able to get access as an administrator to actually do what was required. So, many of us in the social media industry come to some sort of accommodation; either we become ubiquitous public posters (easier but sometimes obnoxious to others) or we take a quieter approach, using privacy settings so that we remain familiar with the tools we need in our work, but without so much personal exposure.

A quick look at my social presences tells you the path I chose (the “self-editing” part of that path is another topic altogether). Simply put: I want to be available to put Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et al to work for my job, and for me that means maintaining an account at the very least, and quite often an active presence. To each his own, but that works for having knowledge at hand and an ability to move quickly to determine the worthiness of a platform for a task or program.

Oh – and I like to watch.

Photo credit: an untrained eye on Flickr

Reading Social Media “Research”

data drive researchWe see a lot of studies and “research” in the world of social media. What is the most popular social network? What is the best time of day to Tweet? Do images draw more engagement than text or vice-versa?

We see studies come out from a variety of sources, and we use these sources to inform how we proceed in social media marketing. But do we know how real the numbers are? Are we being critical in our reading? Are we exercising the “responsibility of the audience?

I ask that not to cast aspersions on the survey data being published in various publications and blogs. I want to make sure that if we are repeating data, we are understanding its limitations, it biases and its real value.

Most recently, I noted that Google was touting that Google Plus was now the second-most popular social network. But what was the sample? What were the definitions of “active use?” Knowing who was asking those questions is more valuable to me than the data itself. It tells me who is taking this seriously and who is just lapping up data delivered to them regardless of the quality of the source.

In the case of the Google Plus data, I would want to be sure we are talking about intentional actions rather than the passive robotic motions of people who merely have Google accounts- are people really active? That is the biggest question to me. Google tried to answer those questions here, with some success. Even without complete answers, the trending data seems to show that there is growth in Google Plus, regardless of whether “second place” is accurate.

Years ago I worked for a research company. what I learned there was the value of a “statistically valid” sample in order to project authority. Even when I used our resources to produce research for marketing purposes (a valuable and worthwhile lesson), I had to make a strong effort to put together a survey sample of great enough variety and demographic to represent something meaningful. Even then, the methodology needed to be published alongside the data to let the audience account for some possible biases or errors.

More than knowing what data purports to tell you – question the source, Not because you will debunk the numbers, but because you need to know what you’re talking about if you want to be taken seriously.


Photo credit: verbeeldingskr8 on Flickr