Thing 3: Write a blog post about social media

Before we talk about what to write on your blog, let’s talk about why to write. If you already have your own blog and are a confident blogger, feel free to jump down to the the ‘what to write for Thing 3’ section of this post.

Why blog?
People blog because they want to share something. For some people, that ‘something’ is cats or holiday pictures, but blogging can be a great development tool for sharing research and professional insights. It’s a great way to incorporate reflective practice into your work, and it also helps you share your work with others, making professional contacts and extending your online network and presence.

Before you start, it may be helpful to think about what kind of things you want to share and what kind of blogger you want to be. Do you want to share research? Connect with those in your field? Increase your online presence? Develop an online presence for a project? Simply reflect upon your 23 Things experience? The answer to these questions will help determine the tone you take and what kinds of things you want to share on your blog.

What to write for Thing 3
For your first 23 Things blog post, we’d like you to write a short piece about your experiences with social media and what you hope to get out of the 23 Things for Research and the Engage: Social Media Michaelmas programme. If you’re new to social media, do you have any ideas about how it might help or affect your work? If you’re using it already, what do you use? What are you hoping to explore?

Note: Please ‘tag’ or ‘label’ this post ‘Thing 3’ so that others can easily follow your progress and find specific posts. For each post you make in the 23 Things programme, please make sure to label or tag it ‘Thing [?]’ for the number of the Thing it relates to. You’re welcome to add other tags if you would like to. If you’d like guidance on tags and labels, there are instructions online for Blogger or WordPress. If you are using another service, have a quick Google or feel free to ask the 23 Things team.

Thing 2: Set up a blog

Throughout the programme, we’ll be exploring issues of publishing online; blogs are key to 23 Things participation as you’ll be using them for your regular reflective posts on the tools you explore. Thing 2 asks you to get one up and running. At the end of the programme, we’ll think about what you want to do with your blog next: keep it, change it or delete it.

We’ll be asking you to write a blog post in Thing 3, but first you’ll need to decide on a blogging platform and set up the basics. If you already have a blog, you can skip to Thing 3.

Setting up your blog
You can use whichever blogging platform you like, though the most popular ones may prove easier to use and find support for. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most common; Tumblr is often used for primarily visual posts, but it can also work for text. If you wish to explore further, others such as Posterous or Typepad can give you an idea of the full range of on offer. Here are some rules of thumb about what service might be right for you:

  • If you just want an online scrapbook to post thoughts, ideas, quotes and multimedia then use Tumblr. It also suits if your blog is going to be more personal than professional – though it’s worth pointing out that the two categories can sometimes get blurred.
  • If you want to disseminate your research, connect with researchers internationally or raise your profile then use WordPress or Blogger.
  • If you want to set up a collaborative writing project then use WordPress. Though the amount of functionality can be confusing at first, it has very powerful tools to facilitate multi-author projects and extend the functionality by moving it to a private hosting service.

There are pros and cons to each, and we’ve provided a short summary for some of the well known services as well as step-by-step guides to using them.

WordPress Blogger Tumblr
Pros • Easy to register a domain name for your blog
• Extremely powerful and flexible
• Supported by large and active community
• Easy to setup with multiple users
Owned by Google and convenient if you already use other Google products
• It’s easier to use than WordPress
• It’s possible to build your own templates
• Visually attractive
• Easy to use
• Social networking functionality built into the platform
• Great smart phone functionality
• Excellent for multimedia
Cons • Degree of flexibility can be confusing for first time users • Many people think Blogger sites look less professional than other services
• Sites hosted by Blogger are sometimes slow to load
• Limited customization
• Designed for ‘micro-blogging’ and less suited to larger pieces of writing
• Generally more effective for multimedia then writing
Step-by-step instructions WordPress for Beginners
How to blog using WordPress (video)
Getting started with Blogger Getting started with Tumblr
Beginners guide to Tumblr (video)

Once you’ve decided on a service, follow the instructions to set up your account and move on to Thing 3!

Content credit: Parts of this posts have been adapted from text by Mark Carrigan on the 23 Things for the Digital Professional blog.