One of the things I didn’t anticipate when sites like Twitter and Facebook first came out was how much I would like microblogging. This may sound odd coming from someone as verbose as me but while there is some content that can only be expressed as an article, for many of my websites, I find it much simpler to keep them active and updated with daily microblog posts and only the occasional full blog post. Especially when it comes to my niche sites, for the last few years, I’ve found it easier to update the Facebook and Twitter pages that corresponded for each of those blogs than the blog itself. I tried to bridge this gap with digest posts, weekly recaps of whatever I was posting on Facebook or Twitter, but this was never quite right. Why couldn’t I have the best of both worlds: a constantly updated microblog and the flexibility to do occasional long posts as the topic warranted all on my own blog?
I struggled with this for a while but I finally come up with a solution that seems to fit my needs. The latest version of WordPress allows for custom post types in one of these custom types is called an aside. An aside is essentially a status update or microblog post such as you would see on Facebook or Twitter. You can opt to have asides appear alongside normal blog posts or segregate them to their own page. I’ve implemented this functionality on several of my sites (not on The Whine Seller, obviously) and have found it much easier to update these sites on a daily basis with tiny posts where I was struggling to update them weekly with full blog posts. You can see examples of this in action on The Cult of Cummings (a fan site for voice over actor Jim Cummings, which is a hobby of mine) and, to a lesser extent, MyLittlePonyCollecting.com (guess what that site is about ;-)). As I find interesting links about either of those niche topics in my travels around the web, I can simply share them with a sentence or two of additional text in a couple of clicks. This lets me keep readers updated without taking more than a few seconds to compose the update. When something comes up that warrants a longer post, I can write that up article style and posted as a normal blog post and both types of posts appear side-by-side on the main site.
If you’re already happy with your theme and it isn’t set up for custom post types, the absolute best plug-in for introducing any custom post types, including asides, into your blog without a lot of fuss is AsideShop. This powerful little plug-in allows you to specify templates for any category within your blog. If you don’t want to have to muck around with lot of code and risk messing up your theme, it’s a great alternative.
Not using WordPress? Tumblr already has the functionality for status updates and more platforms are adding microblogging options every day.
As big a part of our lives as Facebook and Twitter have become, they’re both third-party services that could go away at any time. Now, instead of relying on either of them to host my microblogging posts, I’m posting them directly to my site (which I have complete control over) and then having those microblog posts import to Facebook and Twitter. Even if you just wish to use it as an archive for your old Facebook and Twitter posts, it’s nice to have all that content under your control.
My only fear is that I’m making some trade-off in SEO. While I’m sure there’s a benefit updating the site more often, many of these microblogging posts have shorter titles and less keywords. Is the short-term effect of having a constantly updated site dwarfed by forgoing the usual blog format? Only time will tell. Right now, I’m focused mainly on the convenience of the thing. As a blogger, I’m loving the freedom that microblogging can give me and it enables me to update my websites more frequently than I ever had time for before.
As a blog reader, how do you feel about microblog posts? Does a blog which is a mixture of full posts and microblog posts turn you off?
If you’re a blogger who does both blogging and microblogging which you prefer? What advantages and disadvantages have you found?
- Nobody Blogs Anymore — They’re All Microblogging (businessinsider.com)