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Blog Creation


Brief Instructions on how to create your own blog on Posterous and instrument with Google Analytics/Feedburner to see the number of visitors to your content.  Choose a topic that interests you.  I highly recommend using a Gmail account as this will ease the setup of Analytics and Feedburner.
 
Updated February 2012 by Dahlia Hajj

Generate the Blog URL

While there are many websites that allow you to create blogs, the easiest is Posterous.  You don't have to edit the pages ... just email your posting and any content (images, videos, etc.) and the blog posting will automatically be created.

1.  Go to
Posterous website and get a user account.  You will be asked for a username - choose something appropriate to your blog as this will be the username in your URL.  For example, http://nelsonki.posterous.com/.  Make sure you verify your account creation request (an email is sent to you).

2.  Set up your blog profile.

Blog Content

Add Content

3. The best way to create posts at OSB (to avoid slow network) is to email your blog posting from the email account you designated (see Posterous instructions).  The subject line on your email message is the title of the post.  The body of your email is the body of your post.  For videos - just put the URL to the Youtube page.  If you use images put the URL of the copyright-free image and add a photo credit line (include web page URL it is from). You can attach images (but they better be your own) and these will automatically be displayed.  Photo credit is you.  See example and more details on images below.

Keep in mind that a blog is not like a micro-blog (SMS or Twitter) so your writing should be professional - at least check your spelling.

DON'T upload images (or send as attachment) unless they are absolutely your own.  I will make you remove anything uploaded and that means redoing your entire blog post.

4. Posterous sends a return email to confirm that your content has been received.

You can also go to the Posterous website and create posts directly but not recommended for creation of a post - just editing.
5. In order to more easily manage your posts you can view the posts tab by clicking "Spaces" then clicking the subtitle in the middle of your screen that says "Posts," this is where you can change the settings of every post and see their likes, views  and comments.


Example of the posts tab

 
6. Since you will be managing your blog for most of the semester, this is a good opportunity to enjoy it and express yourself. Create a hub of your interests and share it with your friends, track your progress in something, practice your writing skills, or share anything else you want.  

Theme Templates

1. There are several options for how Posterous will display your content (i.e., theme).  Experiment with these themes using Ginza by Posterous.

2. Make sure you reduce the number of posts per page to 2 or 3 (for this assignment).  Go to
Change Number of Posts per Page on Posterous Blog for instructions.

3. Make sure your selected template has a link to RSS: either the text (w/ Link) "Subscribe via RSS" or an RSS icon.

The RSS icon looks like:

Adding Images

If you want to use a picture that is not yours, it is IMPORTANT that you make sure to cite your sources. For images/videos make sure you give them a citation by including a caption like the following under your picture, "Photo Credit: INSERT USED URL OR WEBSITE HERE" - even better just link to the original image. 
 
Link to copyright-free images. NEVER upload an image to your blog unless it is your own.  There are instructions on how to find copyright-free images using a creative commons image search engineFor Posterous, just put the URL link in your email or the body of the blog post.  Do NOT upload the image as this implies it is yours.

Student code of conduct applies to this website project as well. Don't plagarize materials.  Link to copyright-free images (above). 
 
Photo credit should be given even to copyright free images.  For guidance visit this tutorial called All Right to Copy.  Some image websites like Wikimedia Commons provides the specific attribution you are supposed to use - see post on course blog.

Photo credit applies to your own pictures.  The credit goes to you (or your blog/company).  The source of any photo on your blog should be unambiguously evident.  When the cursor hovers over an image the originating URL for the image should show - NOT the name of the blog.  Similarly the photo credit is the web page (NOT the web site) where you found the picture and should appear as a link.

Photo credit goes to the actual web page.  Search engines index websites and their images but don't own those images.  Photo credit URL with search engine name is incorrect.

Adding Links

When you want to link to content like an article - looks unprofessional to put the url http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/changepower/201010/why-diets-dont-workand-what-does.  Put the title of the article Why Diets Don't Work ... And What Does and then add the link.

Tracking Visitors

Tracking analytics of social media are at the heart of a business.  Make sure you activate Google Analytics and Feedburner to your account to keep track of your visits.  There is an Analytics area on your Posterous account - click the Settings tab to see your available settings.

1.  Go to the Posterous link How to add Google Analytics to your site
2. Follow the instructions to create an Analytics code for your website.  Each UA number is unique to the website your created.
3. Find your tracking code (begins with UA-xxxxxxxx-y) and copy it to the appropriate box on the Posterous Settings page.   The UA number is found in the middle of a block of text. That looks like:

<script type="text/javascript">
var_gaq=_gaq | | [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-12345678-1"


4. Set up your Google Analytics page.  It may take a day or two for your UA number to become active.
5. Watch the video to understand what information GA is providing.

 

The screen capture on the left shows the Google Analytics data for the Previous Student Work page from 22Jan10-21Feb10.  You can see 39 unique visitors visited this web page 45 times.  They spent about 4 minutes on this page.  But this is obvious and hardly worth mentioning in your reflection.  What you really want to say is that the data suggests that students work just-in-time.  A day or two prior to a deadline they view the pages needed - then stop once the assignment is over.  You should be realizing in this course that being last minute is risky when it often takes a day or two for your data to be reported on GA.

There are a number of analysis tools that can be used to see where the traffic came from (navigation analysis, landing page optimization, etc.).  If you want to generate traffic from Google Search, here is a good article by Rob Brown on what to do. (link)





6.  Finally, add RSS tracking via Feedburner. Feedburner will allow you to view the countries your subscribers are from, when they subscribed and other interesting information. 
In order to active Feed burner, see the following blog post on Posterous activation in Feedburner.  When you activate your Posterous tracking on Feedburner, you'll be given several options - see the post.   Note your original feed looks like: http://king2know.posterous.com/rss.xml.  It is NOT the blog URL.  Make sure you click the "I Want More" option so you'll be able to track reach as well - seeTracking Options with Feedburner.  If you happen to miss this screen, you can go back later to the Analyze tab on dashboard and  "Configure Stats".
 
Note: If you can not locate the RSS Subscription button on your page it may be helpful to change the theme you are using, as some themes do not allow the RSS button to be visible. Make sure you and your followers follow through with the RSS feed subscription process of selecting your e-mail provider when subscribing to a blog or else the RSS subscription will not work.

Example of Feedburner activity (see detail page

Make sure you click on "Configure Stats" under Services and tick ALL the options: item views, item link clicks, item enclosure downloads, etc.


Optional: getting your Posterous blog sitemap on Google.  You'll need some knowledge of html editing but there is a way to get your Posterous blog indexed directly on Google Search (rather than letting them find you which takes time).  Here are the instructions I found (also reposted by a Posterous user).  See my recommendations.

Optional.  Blog Grader by Hubspot (set to Gino's Blog who is an AUB student).  See how your blog compares to others.

Autoposting
 
How will friends and other potential viewers know to view your blog once you have updated it?
The autoposting feature on Posterous automatically programs your Posterous page to repost your latest post to any other social media service including Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr, You Tube, and many more. Link your posterous page to Twitter or Facebook.
 
Instructions for activating autoposting to link your posterous page with either Twitter or Facebook:
Click the tab that says "Spaces" on your Posterous page then click "Autopost Setup" on the Settings dropdown menu, click on the "Add a service" button and choose Twitter or Facebook. After you choose one of the two services, posterous will ask you to sign in to the chosen website to finalize the link between posterous and the social media site. In order for this to be successful you must have an account with the  website (Twitter or Facebook) that you want to active autoposting on, so Posterous can automatically repost your blog post.
 
 
 
Example of your posterous space after you have activated autoposting from your posterous page. You must create an account and login in order to properly link the two sites. Notice that you should have a link to your chosen site above the "Add a Service" button.

Minimum User Generated Content

Add enough content to make this site worthwhile to ask friends to visit. 
1) Generally one post per week, each being at least 100-150 words, is a bare minimum. 
2) Expecting a total of 600-900 words minimum for a typical six week project.
3) Posting aesthetics - Posterous blog posts are automatically created so there isn't much you can change.  But do make sure it looks nice - this is your work - be proud of it.  Remember use your own images, those you have permission to use, or copyright-free images,  Images that say "sample" (or equivalent) look unprofessional and likely to be considered plagarism.  Posterous added a theme generator called Ginza - go to Settings and "Edit Theme".

Minimum Involvement

There must be the following to get an average mark:

a) at least a dozen substantive comments (keep a log as you'll need to include in final submission)
b) half a dozen tracking you via RSS (e.g., will show on Feedburner)

Reflect

The creation of this blog is more about what the technology means (how you can use it) rather than how to build the site.  You will be asked to reflect upon this experience.  You will need to provide screen captures on the key elements of your blog and the all-important Google Analytics and Feedburner data (see examples and how to interpret).  Follow the instructions on the page How to Create A Screen Capture.


Reminder on Fair Use

(added January 2011)
Despite numerous warnings about plagarism, students continue to do so.  If the threat of an honor code violation isn't, consider the likelihood that a copyright troll will catch you.  They troll for plagarized content and images (see Wired article).  Consider the individuals on the Righthaven Victims website who were sued for up to $150,000.  These include bloggers with as few as 20 hits per day (see article).  It could be you.  So don't take a chance and don't plagarize - abide by principles of "fair use".



Why Posterous?

You are welcome to use any blogging software where you can collect data from Google Analytics and Feedburner.  You will likely find Wordpress and Blogger much more sophisticated but also a steeper learning curve.  So why not Tumblr that has shown a huge growth in page views in late 2010?  Posterous has at the moment better connections to the social world.  See Tumblr vs Posterous Thunderdome: Two Blogs Enter, One Blog Leaves and Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ...  I chose the simplest blog that gets analytics data.  If you follow the instructions, it takes 10-15 minutes to set up Posterous, Google Analytics, and Feedburner.  If you don't, then it will take you hours (and waste my time trying to find out what instruction you did not follow).  Blogger also has an easy way to include Google Analytics.