What if, instead of feeding free content to corporations like Twitter, we started blogging again?

I’ve been thinking of using this platform for microblogging–posting “tweets” here instead of on Twitter.

It’s difficult to shake the idea that blog posts are permanent and tweets ephemeral.

And admittedly I am hosting this on WordPress, not on my own host, and ads are part of the package.

This is my first post using the WordPress app on my phone. The tiny keyboard promotes brevity.

There is also the concern that on Twitter there is a chance of an audience. Here? Not so much.

Auto-posting from WordPress to Twitter is tacky, imo.

Uaing “imo” in a blog post felt wrong.

I still say blog “post” instead of just “blog.”

This concludes my twog of the day. I tried and failed to keep it under 140 characters.

The Bloggess Bump

Recently, thanks to a retweet from the Bloggess, one of my tweets went viral:

The tweet gained further steam when Buzzfeed embedded it in an article.

First, the story behind the tweet:

It was 1999 and I’d just moved to New York City to try to be a writer-musician-something-or-other. I didn’t have a job yet, so I visited a staffing agency that specialized in editorial work. They had me fill out a job application and one of the questions was “where are you willing to work?” Easy question, right? I wrote that I was willing to travel to all five New York boroughs.

EXCEPT. I had never actually written the word “borough” before and did not know how to spell it. So my answer came out like this:

“Any of the five boros boroughs bouroughs.”

Remember, I was seeking an editorial job — something writer-y that would require basic spelling skills. The nice lady interviewing me took one glance at my application and I knew I was toast. We went through the motions of a “job interview” and then she stood up to shake my hand and say goodbye. (In my tweet I might have embellished the number of people I shook hands with; it’s hard to remember exactly.)

And that’s when I tried to make a hasty exit, only to open a door and be confronted by a closet full of coats. There was nothing to do but back up and close the door.

“I bet that happens all the time!” I said.

“No, you’re the first,” the nice lady said.

Thinking back, I am pretty sure that the coat closet was very clearly a coat closet. It was not a door that was adjacent and identical to the actual exit. It was more like a freestanding, wood-paneled wardrobe, and I walked right on in.

I did not get called back.

Now… the tweet. Previously, none of my nearly 8,000 tweets — since 2007! — had gained the attention of more than a few IRL friends and Twitter acquaintances. I’m (mostly) fine with this, although I have a big enough ego to secretly long for Twitter fame and feel like a failure for not having achieved it.

It was surreal when I started seeing my notifications go haywire. The first thing I did was turn off email notifications, because I’d seen what can happen to other suddenly-Twitter-famous, as I was sure I was destined to be.


Overnight, the retweets poured in. At work the next day, someone posted to our team Slack channel a link to the Buzzfeed article — and only afterward did anyone (myself included) notice that my tweet had been embedded there. That led to TONS more activity for about a week. (Side note: Twitter changed their stars into hearts right in the middle of this. It was weird.)

I’d always kind of hoped something like this would happen, but I was mostly detached and numb to the experience when it actually did. It was a throwaway tweet, composed while my son was talking my ear off about dinosaurs. (Bad daddy!)

I was more interested in the data behind a viral tweet. Do retweets attract new followers? Was I going to finally be Twitter-famous? (Not really, and hell no.)

We’ll start with the raw data, as of today:

Impressions 58,151
Total engagements 2,260
Detail expands 913
Likes 899
Retweets 338
Profile clicks 88
Replies 18
Follows 3
Link clicks 1

The “Follows” row means that someone followed me directly from the tweet. That’s uncommon; people are more likely to view your profile and then decide whether to follow. In reality I picked up approximately 35 new followers.

So, less than one tenth of one percent (0.06%) of people who saw the tweet followed me as a result. (0.01% followed directly from the tweet itself.)

3.89% of people who saw the tweet “engaged” with it in some way. This could be a fav/like, retweet, reply, mention, etc.

1.55% of people who saw the tweet favorited or liked it.

0.58% of people who saw the tweet retweeted it.

0.15% of people who saw the tweet viewed my profile.

The tweet is still getting several engagements per day, but the trajectory has slowed considerably.


It was fun for awhile, but now I’m much more excited when a tweet other than this one gets any kind of activity. It’s taught me another lesson about the value of having a tight circle of friends compared to a mass of strangers.

However, the momentum may get another boost. Someone from Buzzfeed contacted me to ask permission to use it in a video. I have no idea what that means, but I said yes. I’ll update this post if anything happens. Also, thank you Bloggess!

Don't give us stuff. Give to great causes instead.

Since our first child was born in 2004, we’ve had a Christmas policy:

  • DON’T give us any  stuff.
  • DO give stuff to our kids.
  • DO donate to a good cause instead of giving us stuff.
  • We’ll do the same for you and your kids.

For the most part, our family has adhered to this policy, although a few cable-knit sweaters still sneak under the tree each year.

This year we’ve given to several organizations, and I thought I’d zoom in on those we gave to via Help Attack!, which enables you to pledge to nonprofits every time you post something to Facebook or Twitter. Below are the organizations we supported in 2011. The links go to a pledge page on the Help Attack! website.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians

Mobile Loaves & Fishes

Sierra Club Foundation

Southwest Key Programs

St. Baldricks Foundation

Sundt Memorial Foundation

Wikimedia Foundation

Help Attack! was not the only means by which we gave to charity in 2011, and none of our donations through Help Attack! were large (the median was around $20). But by using Help Attack! we definitely gave more than we ordinarily would have, and to a greater number of nonprofits.

However you choose to give, as you check off those last-minute gift lists, consider giving to a great cause in lieu of wrapped gifts that ultimately wind up in a landfill. (Not that I don’t love cable-knit sweaters, Grandma.)

Happy New Year!

#But #seriously. #Enough with the #hashtags.

I was being snarky when I created this pie chart, posted here on July 11:

Infographic: Twitter Hashtags

But I was also being serious. Hashtags are overused, especially by marketers. Too many hashtags will make your tweets unreadable and will alienate your followers. You should ask yourself these questions before adding a hashtag to a tweet.

Is anyone ever going to search for information based on that hashtag?

And by “anyone” I mean “anyone sane.” There are lots of useful hashtags, especially those that identify a shared experience like a conference or live TV show. But overly broad hashtags like #web #marketing #guru only clutter your tweets. Anyone clicking that type of hashtag is clearly insane and you don’t want them in your life.

Tweet from @imthq

Follow @imtheq

Tweet from @bryanAndaya

Follow @BryanAndaya

Is it funny?

 You be the judge.

Tweet from @TheSulk

Follow @thesulk

Tweet from @meganamram

Follow @meganamram

Is it part of a meme?

Tread carefully: If you’re trying to start a meme with a hashtag you will most likely fail.

tweet from @_snape

Follow @_snape_

Tweet from @satellitehigh

Follow @satellitehigh

Any questions? Did I miss anything?