Top blog posts of 2023 (and some social media)

In past years I’ve done a roundup of my best performing posts on social media and on my blog. This year I’m skipping almost all of my social media analysis, because Twitter/X’s analytics are broken (a real shame after years of providing interesting information, but it’s in catastrophic decline anyway) and Facebook seems also to have made it much more difficult to scrape useful data off the system. There seems to be no analytical capability for Bluesky at all, and I’ve not been on Threads for long enough for it to count. Thanks to MastoMetrics, I can give you my most liked post on Mastodon of the year:

And my most boosted post on Mastodon:

Instagram also tells me my most liked post there:

And LinkedIn, where I could be more active perhaps, also tells me which post has gained the most impressions:

But what you lose on the swings, you may gain on the roundabouts, and WordPress has given me a very good summary of the performance of my blog posts here over the last year. These are the top ten.

10) William Wordsworth, Annette Vallon and their daughter Caroline

Even though most of this blog consists of book reviews, this is the only book review in the top ten. Published in April, it had a surge of interest from August on, with a peak in mid-November. I assumer that someone put it on a university curriculum reading list, and it was then picked up by Wordsworth fans.

9) Social media in the age of Mastodon and Bluesky

This was my response to a friend’s query about social media after the decline of Twitter. He linked it from his blog, and we both linked to it from LinkedIn, which made a big difference. My top LinkedIn post of the year was my link to his blog post about it, probably because I tagged the other people mentioned.

8) 2023 Hugos: Best Series – why I voted No Award

One of several Hugo / WorldCon posts in the top ten, this got some traction among people who care about this sort of thing. NB that the vote for “No Award” in the Best Series category this year was higher by far than for any other.

7) The Oberkassel puppy

One of my own favourite posts from this year, published in early January. I boosted it on social media and it resonated for some people.

6) Chengdu Worldcon 1: Doctor Who in China

5) Chengdu Worldcon 4: The people you meet along the way

I think that both of these posts were boosted in China in places I can’t see, as well as by Westerners wanting to see what had happened at WorldCon. My two other WorldCon posts were both in the top twenty.

4) The 2023 WSFS Business Meeting

My analysis of the resolutions up for a vote at the WSFS Business Meeting in Chengdu. As it turned out I did not attend much of the proceedings myself, but this may have been the only detailed look at the agenda pre-meeting that was widely available.

3) Gallifrey One 2023

After some reflection, I boosted this on LinkedIn as well as the usual sources, and got a lot more views as a result. My link to it was my second-best performing LinkedIn post of the year. Also, cute pictures.

2) Hugo 2023 ballot – a couple of thoughts

At a point when some really outrageous things were being said about the 2023 Hugo ballot, this was my attempt to inject some sanity into the process. I suspect that the article was widely shared on Discords etc that I am not in.

1) What to expect in 2023, according to science fiction

Literally my first post of the year, with 600 views, 530 of them in January. Also featured on File 770, and maybe elsewhere. Somehow I caught the Zeitgeist. Will try and do another for Monday week.

So, I’ve learned two things from this. First, even though I put most effort into the book reviews here, it’s not what my public are especially reading. That doesn’t matter hugely, because in the end the primary target readership for my book reviews archive is myself in future years. Second, LinkedIn makes a heck of a difference. I posted very few of the above to LinkedIn – Gallifrey at #3 and social media at #9 – but it’s noticeable that substantial commentary pieces there do resonate, so I will be trying to cross-post there more often next year.

Threads, Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, WeChat, etc

Update from my previous thoughts:

Threads, the new platform offered by Meta as a rival to Twitter, is now open to these of us in the EU, so I have signed on. Slightly odd to find that I already had 199 followers from the get-go. Very disturbing that the default view on the iOs app is not the accounts you are following but those that the app selects “For You”, which had content that I’m not really in the habit of seeking out routinely. Anyway, I sorted that out, and it now seems much the same as the others to be honest.

So for now I’m going to largely post the same content across Threads, X/Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky and sometimes Facebook. Photo-led content will go on Instagram and Facebook first and then probably on the others. Professionally relevant stuff goes on LinkedIn, which is becoming increasingly important as a marketplace of ideas.

Also, when I wake up in the morning I try to remember to post last night’s blog to WeChat, for my 98 followers there, most of whom are asleep by the time I post most of my content. (If you want to add me there, go ahead.)

In a few months I will reassess and see which of them I find worth the effort. To be honest, if I were to drop out of just one of them right now, it would be Mastodon. As previously noted, I can’t find the conversations there that I might like to be in, and in addition, the app on iOs is clunky – rather slow to show me my updated timeline, doesn’t like uploading photos, crashes far too often. Mastodon’s advocates will earnestly assure me that it has been designed that way for Reasons, or that I am just Doing It Wrong. They have a right to their own opinions, but I work the way I do for Reasons too.

Social media in the age of Mastodon and Bluesky

Dear H,

You kindly asked me to contribute my thoughts on social media in the Brussels bubble following the decline of X/Twitter. I’m afraid I’ve missed your deadline – first week back after the hols – but you’re welcome to quote from the below anyway. I can’t speak for the Brussels bubble, I can only speak for myself.

X/Twitter is still going, but feels very much on life support. There have been some improvements since last October – most notably that the length limit for Tweets (as I still call them) has been drastically increased. I notice also that engagement seems to be creeping up again after cratering a few months back. But I get the sense that the ownership cares very little about providing a good user experience, and it feels like it’s just a step away from becoming MySpace. As Hemingway put it, the end comes in two ways: gradually, then suddenly.

I was a fairly early adopter of Mastodon, but I am increasingly frustrated with it. The lack of a search function – which is entirely deliberate – removes a lot of the point of social media for me; I want to find out what other people are saying about the political crisis in Grand Fenwick, and if people are talking about it on Mastodon, I won’t see it if they are not in my feed – or even if they are, and I happen to miss the twenty minutes when their toot about it is top of my screen. I am hanging on, because there are rumours that this will be fixed, but I feel it’s not being designed for people like me.

Bluesky is much more promising, though I have been there for only a couple of weeks. It’s easier to Find Good Stuff, and the tone of discourse is noticeably more civilised than on Twitter. However so far, it’s much more useful and interesting for my cultural interests (particularly science fiction) than for following politics. Perhaps this is a critical mass issue, and if in particular Bluesky can market themselves in non-English-speaking countries, we may see an uptick in political relevance for my local interests.

LinkedIn, that venerable beast, seems to me to be the winner for now of the decline in Twitter, at least as far as my professional interests are concerned. I personally find it rather an annoying platform – you have no idea of how the algorithm decides what you want to see, you get little information about how successful your own posts have been. But on the other hand, an increasing number of stakeholders are posting important content there – not just their own thoughts, but reblogging others. And, again, the tone of discourse is markedly more civilised and professional than on Twitter. Discussions on LinkedIn are very different in feel from Twitter threads, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Facebook and Instagram continue as ever, mainly as places where I read personal news and views from friends and look at their holiday photos respectively. Facebook has much less relevance for my work life than ten years ago, and Instagram never had much at all. Let’s see what happens when and if Threads ever comes to the EU.

And finally, we of a more venerable generation are getting completely left behind by the young ‘uns using TikTok. I know that there are concerns about its use of data, but there’s already a clear and growing demographic who are there and nowhere else. I myself featured briefly in a TikTok last month; probably not for the last time.

It’s all a work in progress, and I think my prediction is that LinkedIn will continue to grow at Twitter’s expense, and that none of Threads, Bluesky or Mastodon can become what Twitter once was (and neither can Twitter). But who knows?

Edited to add: I was not in fact too late for H’s deadline, and his piece quoting me and others is here and here:

My top social media and blog posts of the year

Both Twitter and Facebook have made it much more difficult to extract the data about how successful my own posts of my own material have been. A bit of manual number-crunching leads me to the conclusion that my top post on Facebook for the year, with the most likes and the most comments, was my birthday celebration at work (in fact, three days after my actual birthday).

The second highest number of likes was on a photo with my half-first-cousin-twice-removed:

And the third highest number of likes was on a virtue-signalling post about getting vaccinated.

The second highest number of comments was on a post about trans people in sports, which unfortunately turned very nasty; I was disappointed in a number of people who contributed to it, and won’t link from here.

The third highest number of comments was on a post commemorating another calendar milestone, when I turned 20,000 days old.

In previous years I was able to state for certain what Facebook posts of mine had been shared most. This year I note that the following were shared three times, but I am not sure if that was the most. One is about my family connection with the death of Rasputin, one about rescuing your data from Twitter.

And as for Twitter; well. I used to be able to extract all kinds of information about what sort of content had worked well. But they have now restricted that data to posts published in the last ten months, which is not much use if you want to do a twelve month retrospective. At least we can still check engagements and impressions from the Twitter Analytics page, from which it is clear that my top tweets in general were during and after the May 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. The tweet with the most impressions was this:

And the tweet with the most engagements – people disputing whether particular groups or individuals could be counted as Nationalists or Unionists – was this:

I remain an occasional visitor to Instagram. As with Facebook, my top post of the year related to my birthday.

And as with Twitter, my second most successful post was related to the Assembly elections, a week later.

My third best post by likes was the same COVID-related virtue signalling that did well on Facebook:

The Instagram video with most plays was a little bit of art for Ascension Day brought home from school by U, here put into action by her mother:

LinkedIn is getting better at showing how successful your posts are. You can easily see how many impressions and likes you have received. My top post by impressions was a job advertisement (which gives you an idea of how the algorithm works):

My top post (again by impressions) with content by me was a Guardian piece that quoted me:

And my top post by likes was a piece on this month’s elections in Tunisia – in which I totally failed to foresee the main headline, that the turnout was so pathetically low as to cast the credibility of the whole process into question.

One of the many advantages of having moved this blog from Livejournal to WordPress is that I now have much more satisfactory statistics for user engagement. So the three top posts on here since I moved in March are, in third place:

In second place (now updated with the actual results):

And in first place, by a long long way:

See you next year!