Thursday, December 27, 2012

And what a year that was

As you can probably tell by the frequency of my posts here of late, maintaining an online presence takes a lot of time and effort, and I really need to do better. However, I have an excuse: I was busy building, and then moving into, a new house; a process which, in this country, takes about a year.

The trouble — or part of the trouble — is that not only are there so many different places on the web you need to be active, but they’re constantly changing. A few short years ago, MySpace was the site everyone had to be on. MySpace was then eclipsed by Facebook, and Facebook in turn is being challenged by Google+; each performing approximately, but not exactly, the same sort of service. Around the edges other things pop up and either grow (Twitter), get bought up (Instagram) or vanish (DailyBooth).

As it is, I find myself switching around between YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and, of course, Blogger. Of course, some of these services can share things with each other, although that doesn’t always make things easier. I don’t let YouTube automatically send tweets, because the tweets always turn up in German (a language most of my followers don’t understand). On the other hand, Twitter will post tweets to my Facebook profile, but not to my Google+ profile; Blogger will share with Google+, but... Well, you get the picture.

It’s a bit of a mess, which takes quite a bit of sorting out. And one of the benefits of not being active so much recently is that I have had the chance to take stock and try to work out what I want to do with all these different platforms.

My YouTube channel, of course, is for video uploads. And I think my relatively recent idea, to concentrate on videos specifically about Germany and life in Germany for the benefit of non-Germans, was probably the right one. I’m thinking of refining it a little further, and giving people a feeling for the village I live in: a more... intimate insight, I suppose, enabling you to get to know the village in its own right. I already have a few ideas about this: we’ll have to see how it goes. This won’t be to the detriment of videos about other places — my “Destination” series, for example, has had a bit of a hiatus not because I’ve retired it (I haven’t), but because this year I simply haven’t had time to go anywhere.

I feel I should make better use of Twitter, with more updates on what’s going on around me. I don’t want to be one of those bores who tweets about every inane thought that pops into his head and every little chore he’s doing, but something to hold interest and enlighten or entertain in 140 characters should be doable, even for me.

My Facebook profile is for more private contacts, for keeping in touch with people I actually know. For networking with my audience, my platform of choice at this point is Google+ — don’t take this the wrong way, but having a Twitter-like system where people can follow you without you having to follow them back makes Google+ a far better platform than Facebook for this kind of thing. I’m still not sure exactly what shape this networking will take, or what I’m actually going to post to my profile, but I’m sure that will crystallize in due course.

I have recently started one of those new-fangled Google+ Communities called Germany for non-Germans: it’s a place where Germans, foreign residents in Germany and people expecting to visit or live in Germany can swap help, advice and tips. There are several Facebook Groups doing the same, mostly for military, but as far as I can tell, mine is the first Google+ Community doing this. It’s had a surprisingly good response so far, given that it has only just got started.

And finally this blog. I think that what I’ve been using it for so far — from video production notes to thoughts on current affairs — is right, but I obviously need to do it more often. In keeping with the whole “rewboss” theme, I ought really concentrate on things relating to Germany, but I feel I can be more flexible. For example, I probably could have said something about the Sandy Hook shootings and gun violence in the US in general, comparing it to the situation in Germany and seeing what light that can shed on the issue (Germany has had several very bad school shootings in the past, for example).

In any case, I hope to be able to improve and expand on my online presence from now on. Not having to spend every weekend plastering and painting is going to be a big help, there. If I were the type to make New Year’s resolutions, this would be it: but I’m not, so it isn’t.

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