In this post I’m going to explain where I see myself amongst the various types of bloggers there are, specifically as it relates to cruise and/or travel bloggers. Additionally, I’m going to explain how I use social media and my reaction to the social media etiquette I see being broken every day or that I see other people moan about. It’s worth noting, though, that these types of bloggers and this definition of etiquette are my personal ones as nothing official exists and it’s just a way for me to find my own niche and snuggle down in it when writing my travel posts and engaging with other people on the various social network platforms. If you’re reading this and are thinking “What!? That’s not right! That’s not what I am! That’s not what he is!” then consider yourself just given a Congratulations card from me with an inscription inside that reads “Yeah, remember that bit where I said this is my personal take on it? Well, that.”
Types Of Blogger
I’m only looking at this from a cruise and/or travel perspective for obvious reasons but I don’t doubt the same generalisations could apply to other blogging niches.
This is the type I mostly consider myself. I like to write. Always have. I like to write a lot. If you read any of my posts you’ll soon discover that the word “short” is barely in my vocabulary. Even this post is going to be long. I also like to read. In addition to writing and reading, of course I’d love to be read too but, importantly, only by people genuinely interested in reading for the same reasons. The types of travel posts I most like reading are diary accounts (old school blogging, if you want) that take you where the person is so you can experience some of the events and get a feel for a place. By all means impart some useful information but information has a way of getting out of date whereas a tale captures a moment in time forever. So, if a diarist blogger wants someone to read their content who exactly are they aiming for? Primarily, themselves. I mostly write for my memory and for my wife to recollect events too. If someone else wants to come along for an imaginary ride through our life then please do. When someone does actually read what I’ve written and lets me know about it I’m overjoyed (or just joyed; I don’t really express emotions that much) but I understand that people these days just don’t seem capable of handling longer form articles and I’m not changing to target them.
A diarist blogger assumes the only person who will actually read what they’ve written is themself. And usually just after publishing, when the typos become magically visible.
Update: And because I see myself as a diarist blogger primarily I’m not going to share this post on any social network. If it gets read then it gets read.
These are people who will almost share everything they see related to the topic at hand but it’s not for anything other than a love of the subject and perhaps the glory of becoming some kind of expert known to future historians. I follow a few accounts like this who post about cruises with a mix of content of their own experiences along with any news they find related to cruising and commentary on aspects of cruising that are coming to light. That mix can be hit-and-miss for the general audience coming to read the blog but there’s no doubting the honesty there. Some of what I post can definitely edge into this category on occasion because that idea of being a resource for the future appeals; when you think back to a historical record of an event or a place at a certain time I’d like to think that what I write would be a better source of information to someone unfamiliar with the thing in question than, say, a hundred words remarking what a lovely time you had and half a dozen photos of landmarks half-obscured by selfie photography. It’s that longevity versus transient aspect of blogging and there’s nothing wrong with the latter approach at all although it feels like blogging is the wrong platform in that case. To me. But then I’ve been on the net for a long, long time now and I’ve grown set in my ways.
The enthusiast blogger likes being a hub for information now and writes for themself and the internet of the future, always assuming there is an internet of the future and it’s not all gone emoji.
Numbers Game Blogger
I understand this blogger but I never want to be this type of blogger and never have. Let’s set the wayback machine to many, many moons ago. I wasn’t always a travel blogger. Before this I was an e/n blogger (everything and nothing; it really existed as a thing) and while I leant towards the comedy and satire end of that spectrum there were others at the time who were adult-oriented in their outlook. We were all part of the same online communities despite our varied interests and those who preferred to post porn to humour were also those who were after clicks because clicks meant affiliate advertising and that meant money. The money-making didn’t interest me then and it doesn’t now but I was happy to cross over to that side of posting on occasion and to write scripts for people to schedule posts, manage affiliate links, maintain and promote referral lists, etc. All for free. I’m a software developer and we were all friendly people happy to help one another out. The modern numbers game blogger is an extension of that but the sense of community has been diluted to a totally self-serving core and it’s all a far more selfish environment now. Whether it’s from straight advertising or affiliation or the ego boost of either being talked about right now or having a mass of followers that is enough to shift the focus from a personal thing to a broadcast mechanism that in turn leads to freebies from businesses the major, major driving force is clicks and retweets and getting those follower counts up. Quality is an arguable commodity. Honesty is rare. And as much as I don’t particularly like it, I do understand it. I know that for me it’s never been important because I’m not an extrovert and we’re okay financially. We don’t need to be the centre of attention (in fact, the very thought is abhorrent) and we don’t have to chase down every penny or gift online to augment what we have in the physical world.
The numbers game blogger doesn’t care if you read what he or she writes so long as there’s some metric that brings in some reward.
Is that harsh? Maybe. Fuck it, this is my site.
There’s also the type of blogger who posts formulaic posts. The top ten reasons why something is something. The best things to do in some place. Five incredible things you never knew about something. And so on. They’re more difficult to pin down to a specific blogger type in my invented categories as they can float between them. They’re still after the clicks – hence the search engine optimisation – but it’s not always simply for financial gain; sometimes it’s for the money-can’t-buy-this adoration of people saying they liked reading it. Sometimes I don’t even mind these sorts of posts. Other times – like the time I read a post where a company who’d helped a blogger travel somewhere were mentioned fourteen times in bold in just three paragraphs – they irritate me with their shameless pursuit of hunting traffic; that pursuit of quantity over quality that upsets my writer’s soul.
Social Media Etiquette
There is no official, universally-accepted etiquette for behaviour on social networks and yet, like many other people, I know when someone’s breaking an unwritten rule when I see it. The thing to always remember is that we all have our own ideas about what’s acceptable which makes etiquette very much like the types of bloggers I’ve just written about: a personal categorisation.
The biggest gripe I see on Twitter in particular, referencing both Twitter and Instagram (which doesn’t really have a public address platform to air these sorts of grievances), is the follow/unfollow game. You can easily see that this is an obvious tactic by the numbers game blogger to boost their apparent popularity but this raises one simple question in my mind directed to the people upset at it when they see it happening: why were you following them? You could argue – and I am – that someone who follows someone else simply because they were followed is themselves playing the numbers game. It’s not politeness to follow someone just because they’re following you when neither of you has any intention of reading what’s being written or promoted or engaging with one another; it’s clicking something for no reason other than to see those numbers increment. And if you unfollow just because you’ve been unfollowed then you weren’t getting anything useful out of that relationship anyway so you probably shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.
For me it’s all about engagement and interest. I’ll follow someone so long as they’re posting interesting things or they’re engaging and not simply self-promoting all the time. Engagement, of course, is a two-way street so when the engagement drops off from someone towards me then mine will drop off reciprocally. It has to, otherwise you’re just talking to an empty room. Some general rules I have regarding whether or not I will actually follow someone:
- I don’t follow back accounts with thousands of followers even if they’ve got a follow/followed ratio close to parity unless the account posts things I might want to read. They cannot be that interested in what the people they’re following are saying as they’ll never see more than a tiny fraction of it and that’s most likely at the whim of the social network algorithm.
- I don’t follow back any account that simply posts or retweets and never replies to anyone. That’s a broadcaster or a bot, not a person who might be someone to have a chat with.
- I rarely follow back anyone who starts following me who hasn’t also replied to or liked something. Experience shows they’re likely after follow-backs and aren’t actually interested in any engagement but for apparent newcomers to the scene based on activity or follower counts I will often make an exception to give encouragement and see if something blossoms as they might simply be following suggestions from the platform.
- I won’t follow someone back if I spot they’re a new follower through real time updates but upon checking who else they follow discover that in the minute since following me they’ve also followed fifty other people. The following list on Twitter is in reverse chronological order so you can easily see if you’re the latest person they’re following or just one amongst hundreds in a sweep they couldn’t care less about.
I’ve also got some rules regarding whether I’ll unfollow someone:
- I’ll generally unfollow people if they ask a question that it transpires they’re not really interested in hearing an answer to and which is really just a way to be the centre of attention for some engagement.
- I’ll unfollow people if I help them out and it’s not acknowledged. I won’t go into details but there are some people I will have nothing to do with any longer as they obviously think they’re too big to thank someone for assisting.
- I’ll unfollow people once I start following too many people to give everyone satifactory attention.
- I’ll unfollow people if I see them liking or sharing posts from right wing political arseholes (Hopkins, Trump, Farage, etc.) or in support of right wing ideologies (Brexit mainly).
- I’ll unfollow people if they engage in activity that shows they’re moving away from engagement and towards the numbers game unless I was following them because of interesting content.
Regarding that last point: I use Tweetdeck to view Twitter. It allows me to not only have multiple Twitter accounts (my general, original one and my travel-based one) active at the same time but also allows me to have on screen search results for keywords, lists so I can see certain groups of people, and notifications and activity columns, all updating in real time. That last column type – activity – is really useful. With that I can see in real time when anyone I’m following likes or comments on anything posted by anyone else. It’s quite impressive sometimes to watch people click like and comment on someone’s tweet about the great article they’ve posted when you can see they did the same thing to someone else seconds before giving them an apparent reading speed somewhere in the high thousands of words per second level. I can see when people click like against forty tweets in twenty seconds. I can see when people start following dozens of new people in the space of seconds. All of this behaviour forms an element of the numbers game and that’s fine, it doesn’t really hurt anyone, it may even make someone feel good to think someone else has liked what they’ve posted even though nobody’s looked at it at all. It’s just not for me.
As I said before, I categorise myself as a diarist blogger. This whole post is an essay that I’m fairly sure nobody else will read in its entirety, I wouldn’t blame them, and I’m completely fine with that; it’s not for anyone else really, after all. These are my thoughts on the subjects down for posterity.
I use social media to see the things that interest me and to engage with people who share interesting things or who ask questions I can answer. That’s why I keep my following numbers fairly low; I don’t want to miss someone posting something interesting or asking something I can help with amongst a torrent of posts from people who post drivel. That’s also why I don’t really get that upset with the unfollowers; I probably wasn’t following them anyway. My history on the internet is such that I’ve always been part of communities who help one another out. That’s less of a thing these days with people seemingly more inclined to try to be the altar around which everyone else comes to pray so when I see it I embrace it as much as my introverted self will allow but, similarly, when I see behaviour that’s the antithesis of it I’ll walk away.
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The featured image is a butterfly I once photographed because I mentioned the word social and that’s where my brain went.