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According to LJ’s home page, there are currently more than 28 million LiveJournal blogs and communities around the world, with about 160 thousand blog posts made just yesterday. That’s an awful lot of people and an awful lot of blog posts. So (assuming that’s your goal) how do you get more of those 28 million bloggers to take an interest in your own journal?

Everyone’s different, and what works well for one person might not be suitable for another, but I do believe there are some blogging tactics which are pretty much universal in their effectiveness (or lack of it).

A good number of folks want to use their LJ blog (at least in part) as a self-promotional tool, so I thought it might be useful to do a series of posts examining some of those ‘tactics’ in more detail. We’ll start with one of my favorites: 

THE “LJ FRIEND” THING

Unlike (say) Facebook, where both sides have to agree, it’s possible for someone to ‘Friend’ you on LiveJournal – and thereby read all your blog entries (at least the ones which aren't locked) – without you ever having to return the compliment. However, from a self-promotional point of view, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take (what in the vast majority of cases is) a friendly gesture from someone and turn it (however unintentionally) into the online equivalent of ignoring the offer of a handshake.

When someone I don’t know adds me to their f-list, I take it as a compliment, I check out their journal, and friend them right back. If someone comments on my journal, or joins my FindAWritingGroup community, or responds to a comment I left on their blog, I almost always friend them too.

“Why should I friend people back? I didn’t ask them to friend me.”
True, but assuming they’re real people (even if they haven’t commented on your blog yet, a quick look at their profile and blog page will tell you if they’re genuine), where’s the harm?

“I’m doing just fine as it is. Besides, I don’t blog to make friends, I blog to keep people informed about my work.”
That’s your choice, of course, but remember those 28 million LJ accounts? Trust me, if all you’re going to do is talk at people, not only will you have a hard time getting folks to listen, the ones that do will get bored, fast.

For what it’s worth, I’ve enjoyed reading work by many of my online writer friends, but aside from r/l folks I’ve met through writing groups and conferences, I’ve yet to add anyone to my f-list whose name and/or work was already known to me.

“But I can’t keep up with the posts on my f-list as it is.”
That’s a valid concern, but if you’ve got a huge f-list, folks will understand that you might not be able to read their blogs, especially if you put a note to that effect in your profile.

Besides, LJ now has a brilliant f-list filter facility, which allows you to choose which LJ friends’ journal entries you want displayed on your friends page.

“What if we don’t get along? I don’t want to have to unfriend someone.”
Unless you really want to, you never need to unfriend anyone. Just filter them out (as described above). Let’s face it, if you don’t get along, you won’t be commenting on each others’ blogs anyway, so who’s going to know?

In case you’re wondering, I currently read all but about eight people on my f-list – the most common reasons for filtering people out are foul mouthed ranting, regular obscene language and/or consistently ignoring mine and other people’s comments. 

Of course, this is just my opinion.  What do you think?


Poll #1582705 To 'Friend' or not to 'Friend'...

When you friend people on LJ, then make regular comments on their blog posts, do you notice/care if they don’t friend you back?

Yes
11(20.4%)
Not at first, but as time goes on, and I keep commenting, it bothers me.
15(27.8%)
So long as they respond to my comments, I’m not bothered.
17(31.5%)
I don't care one bit.
11(20.4%)

Does it affect your opinion of him/her?

Yes, after a while I stop commenting.
13(24.5%)
Yes, after a while I stop reading their posts all together.
9(17.0%)
Not at all.
25(47.2%)
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments
6(11.3%)

Does it put you off reading their books/stories in the future.

Yes
2(3.8%)
Sometimes
16(30.2%)
No
31(58.5%)
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments
4(7.5%)


Next time on “Blogging Tactics”, we’ll take at look at comments and how (I believe) they can have a huge impact on both your readership and your f-list, in the meantime:

How about you?

What’s your policy on ‘friending’?




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Comments

( 124 comments — Leave a comment )
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amysisson
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
Unlike (say) Facebook, where both side have to agree, it’s possible for someone to ‘Friend’ you on LiveJournal – and thereby read all your blog entries – without you ever having to return the compliment.

This isn't quite true. When someone friends you, it puts only your unlocked posts into their "friends" feed. They cannot see your locked posts unless you friend them back. So both sides have to agree for all content to be visible.

It's an interesting discussion. What I'm finding troubles me, especially with writers, are the ones who sort of beg (panhandle, even!) for comments, with self-obsessed entries ending with "is anyone out there? is anyone listening? isn't anyone going to comment?" -- yet, they do not often comment themselves. Writers as a group have also had some unattractive insecurity issues. Blogs often seem to make those tendencies a LOT more apparent.

Sorry if that sounds harsh. I do enjoy the vast majority of the blogs I read, and it's my own fault if I continue to read a few that annoy me! (I do find that unfriending can be awkward if noticed, so I tend not to do it.)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
Re: Locked entries.

Good point, Amy. I'd forgotten about that option (I never lock my journal entries). I've changed the post accordingly.

As for panhandling for comments, I imagine that might work once in a blue moon, but it doesn't strike me as a good way to build a readership ;) And, as you say, all too often those same folks rarely comment elsewhere, which is probably why they don't get many themselves.

Thanks for sharing :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ideealisme - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amysisson - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amysisson - Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
asakiyume
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:49 am (UTC)
I don't mind if someone I friend doesn't friend me back; in fact, sometimes I'm relieved, especially if I friend someone out of some particular curiosity that's not evident in the way I happen to blog. However, if I'm involved enough in their blog to comment and they never or rarely respond, then I rapidly lose interest.

If someone reveals a personality on LJ that I don't care for, I'm much less likely to be interested in their book.

My own friending policy is continually evolving. I used to not know when people friended me, so I wouldn't friend back unless the person made their presence known by commenting. Now I do know. I still am more likely to friend back if the person has commented, but I'll often friend even if they haven't commented, if their journal seems appealing. If they haven't commented and I'm not so interested in their journal, then I may not friend back right away.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
If someone reveals a personality on LJ that I don't care for...

I know what you mean.
a_r_williams
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:09 am (UTC)
I think friending and the reactions to friending depends on the situation.

For instance, I once had someone friend me and then when I looked at their blog they had posts about "professional women/ working girls" and how they should be treated. And they had a lot of posts where they expressed similar thoughts/ideas. Very angry, violent, negative. I did not friend them back.

Then you have people who are pro writers(countless books published)and have a lot of fans. Sometimes if you friend them, they will not friend you back. So, that doesn't bother me.

It does bother me if I friend someone who is not a pro, yet they don't bother to friend back.

As far as commenting goes, I don't worry about that. When I first started blogging it was a few months before I got that first comment. And that was bothersome.

Now, I think if you consistently get comments it's not necessary to worry about--"Oh, my gosh, they aren't commenting!"

It's enough to know that people are reading your posts even if they only comment once in a while.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:41 am (UTC)
I'm not thinking so much about folks commenting on my blog, as when I comment on other folks' and they don't respond.

I confess it bugs me. I soon stop commenting at all.
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rowyn - Jun. 24th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mongrelheart - Jun. 24th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
rowanda380
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:19 am (UTC)
as you know I am always around trying to meet new friends, but I never add someone until they have added me or told me it is alright to do so. I never unfriend someone unless they are really big jerks...and I have all of my friends on my friends page, but the more often you comment on my journal...the more likely I am to not skip over your friend entry if I am too busy to read all of them.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:52 am (UTC)
never unfriend someone unless they are really big jerks

In the past I've unfriended a few folks (for the reasons I mention in the main post). I felt bad, because it's not their fault that they weren't the person I thought they were, and I know it stings when you get unfriended for any reason.

Now I just filter them if need be, though thankfully that's rarely necessary.
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
I also dislike the idea of filtering out people that I really have no interest in, other than swelling my f-list numbers. It seems rather disingenuous

I can understand why you might think that, but unless you have an f-list the size of (say) Jim Hines - in which case, any reasonable folks would understand the need for a filter - I personally think it's better than not adding someone after they've friended you, but as I said in the main post, that's just my opinion.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:53 am (UTC)
I try to find something to say on a somewhat regular basis because it is nice when you know someone is reading you.

It is at that :)
(Deleted comment)
asakiyume
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
When I joined LJ, I didn't even know that you could be notified when someone friended you! So I inadvertently caused offense by not friending back--but I hadn't even known the person had friended. Fortunately, everything worked out in the end, and then I did learn about the notification.

But sometimes I wish there weren't that notification. Sometimes I friend people, and I want them to know I've friended them--I come and say hi, tell them what I like about their blog, and so on. But other times I just might like to take a look at someone's journal--say a famous writer or something--without calling attention to myself.

I like the story of your accidental friending! That's great :-)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - asakiyume - Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eowyn_315 - Jun. 24th, 2010 10:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
eowyn_315
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
My LJ is primarily for personal/fandom use, not a promotional tool. I like making new friends, but I don't feel pressure to reach as many people as possible. In fact, I prefer a smaller, more intimate flist where I feel like I know most of the people.

I friend people whose posts seem interesting to me, and I tend to assume that people who have friended me did so because my posts seemed interesting to them. That means that I don't friend everyone who friends me, and I don't expect anyone I friend to friend me back, unless we have a previously established relationship.

Filtering rather than defriending has always seemed somewhat disingenuous to me. I think of filters as an organizational tool: if I'm too busy to read everything at once, filters allow me to prioritize. But I do intend to read all the blogs on my flist at some point. Friending someone and then filtering them out completely seems like a way of pretending you're paying attention when you're actually ignoring and/or avoiding them.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Friending someone and then filtering them out completely seems like a way of pretending you're paying attention when you're actually ignoring and/or avoiding them

Interesting. No one could fairly expect someone with a huge f-list to read everyone's journal, but not friending them at all seems a little more insulting to me.

Mind you, I'm looking at this from a self-promotional point of view, so if that's not the goal...

Thanks for sharing :)

(no subject) - eowyn_315 - Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
saetter
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:09 pm (UTC)
The only people I don't friend back are those with blogs that only spam. There's one person who friended me awhile back and a) I don't want to read their spam and b) don't want to promote their spam.

Conversely, it doesn't bother me when people who would draw a lot of readers don't friend me back (like authors or agents, which make up most of the blogs I read). If they do, great, but I don't take it amiss.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
Re: blogs that only spam

I've often wondered who actually reads those blogs. I mean, fair enough if you're Stephen King or someone, but I honestly can't see the point of doing nothing but touting your wares, as it were.
clarionj
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
Generally, I would love to friend back people who think my blog worth friending, and usually, if I take a look at their blog and feel comfortable, I do friend back. But when you've had a couple bad experiences and have worries about false identities, you become more cautious. I don't like that feeling, but right now I've two people who have friended without saying where they've come from, and without knowing that, I can't return the friendship yet. Instead, I have to be careful. Wish it wasn't so. I agree with everything you say here, and usually love welcoming people.

I really wish people included a message with their friend requests. I always do, saying where I read them and why I'm interested and asking whether they mind. But I know most people think that's unnecessary.
ideealisme
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
No, I'm with you; I prefer to leave a comment or have someone leave a comment on my blog. Especially since I turn off all the notifications to avoid swamping my email or getting involved in any drama.
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
slweippert
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
What I do in my journal.
If they're a real person, I friend them back, because I consider it a commpliment that they want to read my blog. I use the filter option you mention to keep my friends page readable.

Since I friend writers on LJ so I can learn from their posts, I don't expect to be friended back and am not offended if they don't. They don't know me. However, it does give me warm fuzzies when they do anyway.

This is different from Facebook and Twitter where I *don't* friend back, but I warn people in my bio that I don't.

You mentioned comments, responding to my comment makes me feel like the person listened to me. Even if they never friend me. This is something I need to work on in my journal; I most likely owe apologies to some posters there...sorry everybody.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
Re: What I do in my journal.
i don't know about other folks, but I tend to think of LJ as a much more intimate blogspace. Facebook just doesn't have the same appeal to me, and Twitter, while useful, seems more like having your very own town crier :)
Re: What I do in my journal. - slweippert - Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What I do in my journal. - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What I do in my journal. - slweippert - Jun. 23rd, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
msstacy13
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
I never friend anyone first.
But if someone I've met on someone else's LJ flists me,
I almost always flist them.
If I have no idea who they are,
I look at their LJ,
but have never friended anyone I hadn't already met elsewhere.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
I like to know a little about folks before I friend them. They're almost always avid writers ;)
heleninwales
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
There are different aspects to LiveJournal. I have friends who I've been friends with for over ten years, which is much longer than I've been on LJ. In this case I do expect mutual friending and if they friend me, they have every reason to expect me to friend them back. Because I trust these people, I'm also happy for them to have access to my locked posts. (I don't lock many and often it's just to avoid it being Googleable, but if I post about work or family, even anonomised, I don't want to post openly.)

Then there are people who I read because I find their posts about writing (or some other subject) interesting. In this case, if they're published authors or otherwise a Big Name, there'll be an imbalance in the friending. I'll want to friend them (I actually don't like the term "friend" and would prefer "reading list" or something more neutral), but there is no reason on earth why they should want to friend me, aka random stranger on the Internet.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
You know you're right, "reading list" would sound much better :)
(no subject) - mguibord - Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
mguibord
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
I like your idea of an LJ etiquette manual Jon :)
As for myself I friend those people whose posts entertain me, or teach me or inspire me, and it doesn't bother me a whit if they don't friend me back, I just enjoy reading what they have to say.
And I've only unfriended one writer- who was unendingly negative and foul-mouthed.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
I can see how some folks might find to helpful to have somewhere to unload all their negative baggage, but it does seem a little unwise to use your journal for it - especially if you're looking to develop an online presence.

As for foul-mouthed people, I really can't understand why people swear online. Then again, my old gran always said I was a delicate flower, or as she put it, "A delicate #^$*ing flower." ;)
(no subject) - mguibord - Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
musingaloud
Jun. 23rd, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
I almost always friend back. There's been a couple of instances, though, where I don't know the ones who friended me, and they don't seem to be authors, and when I peeked at their journal, it didn't look to be something that fit in with what I would want to read about, so I didn't friend back. But that's very rare. Maybe even a case of mistaken identity. There's lots of musingalouds on blogspot, for instance (maybe even here, I really haven't checked.)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. Would you believe there are two other Jon Gibbses with books out? One does Caligraphy books and the other is a photographer :(
(no subject) - musingaloud - Jun. 23rd, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 07:54 am (UTC) - Expand
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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