I’m a firm believer that, when it comes to starting a blog, your first post should set out your stall on what you hope to accomplish, and what you’ll be talking about.
After all, you’re looking to (hopefully) attract an audience and build a community (in whatever shape that may be) – so it’s not a bad idea to start as you mean to go on.
Looking back at my first (short) post, I think I’ve blogged in the way I set out – talking about emerging/social media and its effect on people, business and communities. So as far as stall-setting and follow-up goes, I think I passed my test.
Which made me curious about the main social networks and how they fared when it came to setting their stall out on their first (public) blog posts. So I did some digging, and here’s what I found.
Probably my favourite social network, the Twitter blog’s first public post was back on August 03 2006. Posted by co-founder Biz Stone, the post was about Biz feeling an earthquake and how it was his friends tweeting about it that confirmed he wasn’t imagining things. So, almost 5 years ago and Twitter was already being used to break news and report on natural events – I think it’s safe to say it’s continued to live up to its early promise.
Fast becoming my second favourite network, thanks to a certain Facebook Group and some great banter and interactions on various Pages, Facebook’s first blog post was also in 2006, on Tuesday August 15. This inaugural post talked about the launch of the Facebook Development Platform, enabling developers to build apps for the platform. With apps being a huge part of the Facebook experience, again, like Twitter, this first post seems to have been a perfect primer.
Although LinkedIn is the oldest of the main social networks, its blog started after Twitter and Facebook’s, with the first public post happening on April 24 2007. Written by the ever-present Mario Sundar, it was a simple enough post that promised to help users find their way around LinkedIn, and asked for feedback to be constantly shared. A normal enough post, but nothing that showed what LinkedIn’s potential might be.
Before Twitter and Facebook decided to start blogging, YouTube was already posting regularly, with its first one being written way back on July 07 2005. It spoke of wanting to make YouTube “the digital video repository for the Internet”. Additionally the post shared tips on browsing and linking videos – something that’s a key part of today’s experience on the channel. As a lesson in setting your stall out from the start, YouTube’s first blog post is perfect.
One of the perceived newer networks, Slideshare has actually been active for a while, and its first blog post appeared back on September 25 2006. It was a pretty vague post – unless you were an alpha tester of the new platform, for which the post thanked you for feedback about the software. There was nothing that suggested Slideshare would become one of the best resources for information, presentations, ideas and statistics on the web. It’s also kind of funny to see the URL for the post still keep the standard WordPress one for first posts – “Hello World”, indeed.
The oldest post of the ones I looked at, Flickr’s blog first posted on February 04 2004 – and there was absolutely nothing that indicated what was to come. Instead, the Flickr post welcomed GNE players – a nice touch from the company, who created the Game Never Ending (GNE) that made way for Flickr. Like Slideshare, it too asked for comments and feedback as it advised of graphical overhauls in the coming days and weeks.
So there you have it – six of the better-known social networks, and how they started (at least from a blogging point-of-view). I didn’t include Google+ since that had a more visible start than most networks.
I think it’s fair to say that YouTube and Facebook offered the clearest take on direction, while Twitter showed the real-time potential of its service. LinkedIn kind of tried, while Slideshare and Flickr simply added to the buzz that was building around the platforms.
As for MySpace? I tried finding their official blog, but got lost on their “wonderful new layout” and landed on a bunch of different developer blogs instead. And with no archives readily available to get to the first blog, I wasn’t going to start digging for the first one. Confusing and not user-friendly – kind of like MySpace, then…
Your First Post
Looking at how each network fared when it came to setting out their stalls, it’s clear that some did a better job than others. So how can you take away the good examples and use them for your own blog, when/if you start blogging?
- Be clear and concise. While there’s no set rule for the amount of words a blog post should have, you probably want to make your first one reasonably short, and a quick introduction to you and what you’ll be blogging about. Share your experience (or direct your reader to your About Page) to offer why they should read you, and leave it at that.
- Make it sticky. There are millions of blogs, and yours is just one of them. So how do you grab attention? Make your blog sticky – offer up topics you’ll be discussing. Show you won’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and challenge established ideas. People love individuals – show your blog is going to be one.
- Start as you mean to go on. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers change their writing style (or voice) as they’ve gained more readers, and then lost those they had started with because of it. Set your stall out with the tone your blog is going to be, and stick with it. Growth and change is good, but at least stay true to who you are.
How about you – what does your first blog post say, and how have you fared in building on its promise?