Wading through social media waters as part of your research chores? For me, 1½ (😏) networks cemented their usefulness.Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Social Media OverView within the Research Context
As a blogger /writer, you decide to tackle a particular subject. After completing your draft, you’re on the prowl for relevant quality links. Or, the screen plays Enemy #1, revealing frozen brain cells immune to a new idea.
Needs trigger a research mission. Google remains the elephant in the search room, but a few social media networks present a huge plus: human curation. While not a guarantee of quality content on every social network (hi Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest… 👋🏽), the human element increases the odds of time-worthy visits to links populating certain social sites.
Not all popular social sites appear within the meat of this post.
I left LinkedIn years ago, on the heels of published verified details about their (abhorrent) handling of a massive breach.
During roll-out and for months thereafter, Google+ tried to cram membership down the throats of every gMail user, guaranteeing my refusal to touch that network.
InstaGram remains hostile to links within postings.
Other irritants left me with a short list of potentially viable social networks within a research context, each explored in this article.
Facebook: ummm, me no think so 😖
Links aplenty live in the Facebook ‘hood. So too does the handiwork of social media marketers and their gullible me want money crew. Add: many of this network’s most active users worship at the altar of chain letters, the #1 reason I blasted the Messenger app off all machines.
End result: one heckuva polluted links pool. For that reason, I crossed Facebook off my research-source list years ago. Subsequent periodic spot checks continue to confirm the wisdom of my Bye Felicia! stance.
Twitter: research strength = dated info, e.g. free webinars 🤓
As with Facebook, spam runs rampant. Twitter serves well as a search base for locating soon-to-expire information, such as free CLE or writing webinars. Beyond that, the advanced search process proves more cumbersome than useful.
Pinterest: research strength = unleashing ideas 🤗
Admission: Because my loathing of user-hostile Pinterest remains intense, I begin EVERY Google session with
- -site:pinterest.* -pinterest
Why do I dub the site user hostile?
✦︎ I can’t toss a pin into a new tab, despite the desktop norm. Hitting the back button may or may not return me to the desired square one.
✦︎ Google spoiled me. Pressing and holding a link in its result list reveals the source url. Pinterest requires a mini clickfest to secure that vital info.
✦︎ Don’t get me started on it’s full-screen download-app! command when accessing the site with a tablet.
✦︎ Yes, I do have the app loaded. My kindest one-word review: crippled.
In terms of the data added to Pinterest, it’s far too easy for folks to repin a resource without reading the source page. And, site owners love pinning their own content, including funnels masquerading as valuable content.
I define a funnel as a mechanism designed exclusively to pull site visitors, typically to a landing page. Cough up an eMail address, and you’re fed a freebie book, chart, or whatever. If you’re not using 33mail or a similar service, your eMail box will belch as time goes by.
Funnel pages, more frequently than not, come in one of two designs. It may be short, with the eMail field prominent. Or, the page may incur near-infinite scrolling. The latter begins with an ain’t-I-great section, brimming with “testimonials.” It continues with numerous assertions of uniqueness. Next comes the “limited time” blaring. Finally, the bottom-line, i.e. price, appears at the end of the page. The one thing I do enjoy: the pricing invariably produces knee-jerk milk-through-the-nose laughter.
As a direct result, when my search focuses on finding quality links to add to a blog post, I ignore Pinterest.
But when I’m on the prowl for ideas, I take aim at the Pinterest search bar. I don’t care about the underlying content. I simply want idea boosters. For that limited purpose, Pinterest reigns supreme.
StumbleUpon: research strength = quality content 💃🏽🕺🏽
The good news: I consistently “stumble” onto juicy links otherwise destined to remain elusive. The beauty of this network’s system? Users determine what’s worth your time via a thumbs-up feature. The more positive votes, the more likely I’ll see the resource. Result: a mere 5 minute stumbling session yields dozens of ooo baby! resources.
The bad news punches twice:
- StumbleUpon kidnaps visitors, transforming find-the-url quests into 🎵Mission:Impossible.🎵 (But y’all know me, Lady Determined.)
- You can play hide & go seek til the 12th of Nevahhh. You will not find a search-site bar. StumbleUpon restricts searching to your personal stash of “likes,” that is, every item you tapped with the thumbs-up icon.
So why do I tolerate these infirmities with StumbleUpon? Because of its sheer wealth of quality data not seen elsewhere.
The data stash so impressed, I resolved to find a fix. Success, as outlined below.
Escaping StumbleUpon Jail to Secure Usable Research Results
The desktop Chrome browser, unlike its I’m cute so don’t hafta play nice with others Safari cousin, offers unique relief for links-related StumbleUpon hassles.
I visited the Google Chrome Store, intent on creating a ChromeBook version of my efficient yet otherwise comprehensive iPad surfing workflow. On the iPad, when I want to capture an url with its page title, I
- tap the Share Sheet icon
- select the Drafts app
- add a note
- append the url, title (and note) to a related Drafts file
It takes much longer to describe than perform —we’re talking mere seconds.
Switching to my (Dell 13) ChromeBook, trial and error pushed two Google Chrome extensions to center stage:
With both extensions active, I use my middle finger — er, I mean the middle button of my Logitech m570 Trackball to tame StumbleUpon. Configured to double-click, a tap on that button opens a link in a new tab, hosting the source page. StumbleUpon’s jail cell disappears, with the source URL visible in the address bar.
Aside: I’ve been using that exquisite mouse model on every desktop and laptop since mid-2011.
After opening roughly a dozen links/tabs, I right-click anywhere within the Chrome browser, then choose Copy URL + Title → Copy All URLs → Page Title + URL.
That list lands in my clipboard. I then paste it into a SimpleNote file, close the tabs, rinse and repeat.
This process ensures every device’s equal access to the raw urls, with respective titles and notes.
Why subject myself to this research procedure on my ChromeBook?
The best explanation lies in an example.
Within the first few minutes of my “writing” focused (category/interest) stumbling session, I discovered a dozen info-rich pages, including
- a resource devoted exclusively to punctuation niceties
- Stop Plagiarism in 3 Easy Steps (an October 2008 gem)
- 67 Freelance Niche Writing Markets You May Have Never Considered (July 8, 2008)
Changing to the “Law” interest duplicated the über satisfaction. This I know for sure → StumbleUpon’s consistently unique treasure trove earns the extra effort!
Summary: Twitter and Pinterest sit as fast-food on my research table. StumbleUpon offers a Thanksgiving-level research feast.
✦︎ If you approach StumbleUpon, do so with a virtual drill in hand. Each category hosts sub-categories. It pays to explore each top category, because goodies lie in dem dere hills. Logic, it turns out, is in the eyes of the beholder.
✦︎ In addition to, or instead of, tapping the thumbs-up/down icon, you can save a page to a list. You set each list to public or private. Like Twitter lists, you can subscribe to public lists of others.
✦︎ Unlike the latest Twitter craze —unfollow down to zero— stumblers focus on pinpointing glorious data finds, all else swept under a lumpy rug.
✦︎ The more you stumble and thumbs-up/down pages, the higher the ratio of genuinely interesting pages plopped before your retinas.
✦︎ No one sends <cough> donkey dust </cough> to an inbox. No one trolls. Certain political names do not appear, unless you’re stumbling within a directly relevant interest or a stumbler focused on that politician. Cliff Notes version: it feels like adults are in charge, banishing the silly by keeping the hallmarks of ignorance out of view.
Adding Your Site Pages / Blog Posts
You can upload your own pages / posts. Can does not equate with should.
Rule of thumb: at minimum, stumble through 10 pages for each “my” post you add. If you do add them, consider creating a list to hold your pages alone. That’s for your convenience.
How to add your own stuff? Three optional methods:
- Visit your site with Chrome and the official StumbleUpon extension. A thumb-up tap, while on the page, adds it to the StumbleUpon database. BUT, the toolbar provides no mechanism for assigning an interest (category).
- Stash your links in SimpleNote or similar. Turn off the Copy URL + Title extension. Visit StumpleUpon.com, and use its Add Page mechanism, allowing for more detail.
- In an ideal world, someone outside of your domain submits your page(s). I’m told this gives your page more inherent pizazz. Think: a stranger visits your page and is so impressed, s/he adds. That impresses StumbleUpon. Remember: StumbleUpon is serious about avoiding the varmint links infesting other social media sites. Play the reciprocity game or suffer the consequences. Not bunches at a time, and no rapid-fire serial additions. Both ring StumbleUpon’s spam alarm bell, activating spam treatment. Translation: the site will promptly bury your pages.
Call to Action
Despite using my bullet journal to map out a month’s worth of blog entries in advance in the Editorial Calendar, some days remain blank until 24-48 hours before the date. An idea sparked by Pinterest searching provides a late-breaking idea to fill the void. Or, my stash of StumbleUpon “likes” gifts links to round out a draft post.
Either way, I’m in and out of both resources lickety-split.
Your preferred emergency writing-food-please! research source(s)??