As an online publisher for the first time I have come to realize many things as to having an online presence. To be a successful publisher, there are various aspects to take in to consideration. Before taking publication 101 at Simon Fraser University, I have always thought that a publishers main tasks was to write, write and write some more. Although a lot of what being a publisher requires is writing, I have come to realize how much design, engagement and statistics also come into play. All of these aspects work together for one to have a successful online presence.
My online presence was based through a WordPress blog and Instagram. I mainly focused on food and reviewed it for other readers who would be interested in trying something new. I targeted all of my content towards people in Vancouver, in hopes that they would visit the places I’ve posted about. After reviewing some of my statistics through instagram, most of my followers and engagements do come from people who are from Vancouver. Prior to creating this blog and online presence, I wanted to keep my tone on both platforms the same. Learning from other food bloggers I follow, I’ve noticed that having the persona of a friend and using a playful tone works the best. As I am giving food suggestions, to me, it feels like I am talking to my audience casually which allows for comments and feedback that opens to conversation.
The value I intend to give my audience is simple. I try my best to give honest reviews and answer any questions they have. Aside from the audience who come to my blog/instagram for food suggestions, I tag all the food stall owners into my posts. To my surprise, many of them responded back and appreciated the shoutout.
Accounts following my Instagram after posting a food review
Some of the food places who have an Instagram account even followed me back and reposted my pictures. To me, this was a success in the return of value for all three parties — me, my audience, and the food stall owners. Many of them also commented on my posts which increases my engagement. Other readers also comment and some even let me know that they would give my suggestions a try one day. This has influenced me to keep posting as when I see actual feedback from my targeted audience I know my blog is working!
Through comments, I get to express myself and use my online presence as an advantage. The fact that I do not put my identity out to the public allows me to be more expressive with myself. As psychologist John Suler termed the “online disinhibition effect”, he states that as you shed your identity, the usual constraints on your behaviour go too (Konnikova, 2013, para. 2). Although my anonymity allows me to fully express myself, I do not abuse this power. It encourages me to create a sense of community and be more proactive, whereas in real life I am more timid and worry about standing as an individual. Anonymity certainly boosts a certain kind of creative thinking for me as to other people. (Konnikova, 2013, para. 3). This allowed me to comment on other food blogger’s posts and start to make connections online.
One thing I would like to work on is to be more consistent. In the beginning of the term, I was more focused on the blog and uploaded more consistently. While I was doing this, I noticed a jump in followers, engagements and impressions. More people were visiting my blog/Instagram and it was at the peak. Though I tried to pick up my consistency again, it was hard to get back to my peak. I was not sure why this was the case, but I assumed it was because of the algorithm from Instagram. After trying to get back to higher engagements, I started to comment on other blogger’s content and my engagements started to increase as well.
Beginning profile visits vs. profile visits during inconsistent posting
Aside from all the numbers and back-end statistics, I also tried to focus on the aesthetics of my blog/Instagram account. “Good designs are intuitive” (Kaptelinin, n.d., para. 2), so I tired to make my blog as easy to navigate as possible for my audience. “Great, intuitive designs are those that allow us directly, and correctly, to see what we can do with a thing” (Kaptelinin, n.d., para. 7). The human attention span when landing on a website is 7 seconds (Bowshier, 2017, para. 1), — that is shorter than a goldfish’s attention span of 9 seconds! Because of this, I tried to use effective affordance strategies on my blog. As Norman, director of The Design Lab at University of California would say, affordances provide strong clues to the operation of things (Norman, 1988). I made sure all my buttons on my blog look like they were clickable and that all my in-text links were underlined. The user will know what to do just by looking: no picture, label, or instruction will be needed to tell them what to click on. (Norman, 1988).
For the Instagram aesthetics, I tried my best to edit the pictures so they look extra appetizing. As mentioned above, some of the pictures have also been featured on the food place’s official instagram pages. I made sure to keep my blog and Instagram as a whole unit by linking my blog in the description, and adding Instagram icons on my WordPress blog. My online presence with this blog has been fun, it was definitely cool to meet new people online. I was able to share my experience while gaining insight from others as well. Past the end of this course, I hope to continue my food blog journey and keep my engagements stable by being more consistent and proactive as a publisher and audience to my peers.
word count: (975)
Bowshier, L. (2017). You have 7 seconds: Grab website Visitor’s Attention in Moments. Tribute Media. Retrieved from https://www.tributemedia.com/blog/you-have-7-seconds-what-a-visitor-should-know-about-your-website-within-moments
Hambil, J. ( 2016). How to Talk to Strangers. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/08/civil-inattention/497183/
Kaptelinin, V. (n.d). The Encyclopedia of Human-Cimputer Interaction, 2nd Ed. Interaction Design Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/book/the-encyclopedia-of-human-computer-interaction-2nd-ed/affordances
Norman, Donald A. (1988): The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York, Basic Books