We need your help sharing our stories on social media – here’s why

If AMERICAblog, and other alternative media, are going to survive we need your help sharing our stories on social media.

I’d been asked by some readers recently why we ask folks to share our stories via services like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, etc.  Why did it matter, they asked me – how does it actually help AMERICAblog?

In a nutshell:

1. When you share our articles on social media, you help bring more people to our site, which lets us make more money on our advertising, and since this is my full-time job, you make it possible for me to keep AMERICAblog online.

2. People aren’t sharing our content nearly as much as you think they are, so your help matters.

I’ve always been amazed by sites that publish a story and suddenly 1,000 people are liking their story on Facebook, sharing it on Twitter, and up-voting it on Reddit.  I suspect some sites hire people to promote their content, while others are simpler larger than us, so per se more people are submitting content to social media.  At AMERICAblog, we never wanted to hire someone to promote our stuff.  It’s dishonest, and it’s also a good way to get those services to block your content – something we could never afford.

Social media buttons via Shutterstock

Social media buttons via Shutterstock

A lot of readers have moved to social media for their news

In the past, all of our sites could rely on a steady base of visitors to bring us our traffic, and our revenue.  But that started changing a good four years ago or so.  We started noticing more and more traffic coming in waves, from posts that went viral, rather than being traffic that came to the site every day as loyal readers.  A friend explained to me that the “problem” was social media.  People were simply perusing sites like Facebook and Reddit, and services like Twitter, for their news and information, rather than going to the content-producers (news sites) directly.

And I quickly noticed I was doing the same.  I’m not sure there’s any news site, or blog, that I read every day.  I do read Twitter, non-stop, to get my news updates and story ideas.  I also check out Facebook, to see if there’s anything interesting there.  And while I have a list of Web sites that I try to visit regularly to look for interesting stories, I don’t visit them religiously.  The only place I go religiously is Twitter and Facebook, and to a lesser degree, Reddit.

Why does this matter?  Because rather than visiting the same site every day to browse stories, I now browse those stories on Twitter or Facebook, where the content producers don’t get ad revenue.  When I finally find a story title or summary that sounds interesting, I click on the link and visit the original site – that’s when the site earns income on their story (and they get more money when you click on their ads – it’s complicated, but that’s in essence true).

And this increasing trend of visitors to “drive-by” rather than “regularly visit” is why you see more and more sites, mainstream media included, using fancy tricks in their headlines to woo you in (“You won’t believe what Donald Trump said about Mrs. Obama!”), and pursuing stories that you might not think interesting (the plane, or Justin Bieber’s latest whatever).  Those headlines, and those stories, bring them more traffic.  And in an age when media is still on financial life support, they need all the traffic they can get.

Facebook, Google and Reddit changing the rules

Another problem a lot of sits face is the ever-changing rules at places like Facebook, Google and Reddit.

Facebook, the thinking goes, is always looking for ways to make money (as we all are), so they tweak their settings every few months in a way that tends to shut off traffic to sites that have managed to become popular with Facebook users.  One such change at Facebook happened a few months ago, and it affected a lot of sites.

Now, why would Facebook do this?  Again, the thinking goes, they do it to make money.  If you can’t get your content shared on Facebook for free, then maybe you’ll pay Facebook to share your content.  The problem with that is that some of us already were paying Facebook to help promote our content, and it worked to a degree, until Facebook changed the rules a few months ago, so now even paying to promote your content doesn’t generate readership.  So I stopped paying.

As for Google, Lord only knows how they tweak their algorithms, but when they do, and traffic suddenly changes, it can be a problem.

Finally, there’s Reddit.  Reddit is an interesting site, and community, that can be somewhat prickly about the content they permit.  Reddit faced some controversy over a recent decision by their moderators to ban a whole slew of legitimate news sites that they deem “spam.”  Now, Reddit’s definition of “spam” is somewhat vague. For example, there seems to be a bias among some on Reddit that anything from a “blog” is “blogspam.”  Blogspam is defined as simply taking a story published elsewhere and rewriting it.  And while that might have been true ten years ago, for some blogs, it’s not true today, and not for the most influential sites, and not for many others.  There is a lot of great original analysis, and original reporting, that comes from “blogs.”

The financial climate is still horrible for media

And that brings us to the final reason that it is so important for you to share content you like on social media: the economy.

As I’ve written before, the financial crisis of 2008 destroyed the economy for a lot of people and industries, including media.  We at AMERICAblog had our best year EVER in 2008.  It finally permitted me to save enough to buy my first home (a one-bedroom condo) in a horrifically expensive town, DC.  And then, bam. The floor fell out.  In 2009, I made 25% of what I’d made in 2008.  Today, I’m making around 45% of what I did in 2008.  Things are “better,” but they’re not better.  And it didn’t help that one of our major progressive ad networks declared bankruptcy last year, reconstituted under a new name, and took a good $12,000+ of our hard-earned cash with them.

And it’s not just about me.  It’s no longer clear how media makes a profit online, or off.  But in the meantime, while we all scratch our heads trying to figure out if any of this is any longer financially viable, we need your help making money the only way we know how – via advertising.  And the way we earn that income is by getting visitors to our site via sharing on social media.

Take Action

So, what am I asking you to do?

1. Follow me, and “like” AMERICAblog and AMERICAblog Gay on Facebook. Doing this might help our content show up more readily in your Facebook feed.




2. Follow us on Twitter, and when you see stories you like, retweet them to your friends:

3. If you think a particular post is worthy, SHARE IT on social media services like Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest and more.

You can find the share buttons for that particular post/story at the top of the post, under the headline, and at the bottom of the post.  (The Facebook “like” button under the post headline also permits you to “share” the story on Facebook. I’ve found on some sites, clicking these buttons doesn’t do anything – if that happens, try right-clicking them and opening the link in another page.)

4. Don’t assume that our content is being shared by someone else.

Every time you share a story it helps bring more traffic to that site. (And don’t just share every story – only share stories that you think are worthy of sharing, that you honestly think your friends should read.)

So keep this in mind, not just when you’re looking at stories on AMERICAblog, but when you visit any Web site you like, particularly progressive media.  We’re all in the same boat, and we need your help.  Or a lot of may not be here for the long-haul.

Thanks so much, as always.  JOHN

PS And don’t forget to email me interesting articles and news tips that you think might make a good story. That includes stories you see on other sites, other blogs, that you think we might want to cover, or mention, in our posts.  I don’t get to visit nearly enough sites out there, so don’t assume I’ve seen a story – I probably haven’t.  Our contact email is [email protected]

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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28 Responses to “We need your help sharing our stories on social media – here’s why”

  1. John Whelan says:

    I understand the logic, but I wonder about trying to bridge the gap between a being a more serious blogger (which you are) and something more pop culture/entertainment oriented. These are just my 2 cents, and they don’t necessarily mean anything. For what its worth, my daily stops also include TPM, Digby’sBlog, DU, DrudgeReport, HuffPo, etc. Keep up the great work!

  2. John Wilson says:

    Reddit is a lot more helpful than other social media websites. You can make Reddit a big source of social media traffic. For more info visit dotlogics.com

  3. You’re logged in on my end, I see you as Rambie.

  4. Hmm. We actually covered far more “fun” stuff in the old days. I don’t even wrote posts about my personal life, other than when I’m in France in August. I used to all the time. I even wrote posts about going out to dinner. Back the day, we all wrote personal stuff all the time. Haven’t done that in years.

    As for what we write, honestly we posted a lot more “here are a few paragraphs from a story, now click and go read it” posts before the redesign 18 months ago. Now, we write fewer posts like that, but the posts we do write tend to be substantive, analysis-filled, rather than “go look!” posts. And our unique readers doubled and tripled as a result, while our page views went up 50%.

    Also, because blogs simply aren’t profitable, it’s back to just me again, with Gaius writing one post a weekday some weeks, but not others. Some other posters write occasionally, but not every day. So, I can’t write 15 to 20 posts a day, especially if i’m going to write more thoughtful pieces, thus we switched to a format that has fewer thinkier pieces. I really don’t believe the old format, of just posted a few grafs and linking to a story, works anymore.

    I’m very open to suggestions, but I’ve heard this critique before, about how all we post is kitten videos, and when I go through the recent archives, most of it is hard-hitting news analysis (recognizing that weekends are all fun videos because I can only work so many days until midnight – have to have to two off :)

  5. You get kittens at night and weekends, and that’s because after the 2008 election, everyone got so depressed they stopped reading all together, this hit a lot of sites. So it was generally decided that people needed a break from the 24/7 hate of political overkill. So at night and on weekends you get nice videos :) I know some people don’t like them, but I think they’re nice and give a nice pause to all the angry news we cover otherwise.

  6. So which subreddits do you think I should start paying more attention to?

  7. Yes, I’ve been told I need to check out the other subreddits, that seem to be less political (and I don’t mean subject-wise, I mean the way they’re run :)

  8. Rambie says:

    Some sites have the top three (FB, Twitter, G+) plus a “Share +” button that allows the reader to pick from a variety of sites to share. That way a reader isn’t present with a huge list unless they wish.

    Tumblr is a good way to reach a younger demographic, there are many conservative blogs (the anti-abortion ones are the worst) so it’d be good to get more strong liberal voices on Tumblr.

    PS: My Discus still won’t let me log in to post.. so “guest” post again. *sigh*

  9. gypsylibrarian says:

    Usually I stay in the RSS reader, but for some sites (like this one) I will click and come read it on the site so I can also see the comments after. This is one of the few sites where reading the comments is actually worth it. Thank you.

  10. John Whelan says:

    I kind of agree with this comment. A few years back you tended to be closer to hard news and analysis and nary a kitten to be seen. I mean we have Facebook for that stuff, right?

  11. chr477 says:

    I don’t use FB or Google double plus or teh twitter.
    I do reddit, and there are other subs out there besides the main high volume ones that have over 10K subs such as /r/AnythingGoesNews and /r/Progressive. While they might not have the 10 Million default subs, they usually have a better community that is genuinely interested in OC within the scope of those subs.

  12. 4th Turning says:

    Once upon a time there was something called… the newspaper. We here had at least 3 regionals
    though much smaller in scale were every bit equal in quality coverage to the nyt or wp. One contained
    a wonderful home and garden section on Fridays I always looked forward to-its editor was a distant
    acquaintance whose story I knew…young wife killed by a drunk driver in a midday head-on leaving
    him with a young daughter to raise.
    Anyway, papers and magazines also had heft because of ample ads. There was a tiny box you could
    usually find on page two containing rates for front door delivery-so much for 1 yr. or 1/2 yr. I wouldn’t mind something similar in addition to all that “clinking on” business which, like Windowpane, has never once caught my imagination/attention. I also go directly to sources like Windowpane’s I’m inclined to
    trust (gut-directed quite often) to fact/check and sometimes recheck on this daily avalanche of info as I feel it a personal responsibility. Don’t mind anything filtered through yours or your staff’s p.o.v. If kittens come with the territory, so be it. (But be forewarned most of my email correspondents have already left you in the dust with theirs.) I’m all in for now and like I’m trying to say, would prefer
    writing an echeck.

  13. cole3244 says:

    i share on twitter & facebook on every article i read but i have never been on reddit, my twitter followers are now over 500 since i have gotten more involved in certain campaigns.

    i suggest you keep telling those here how important this is because readers forget if they aren’t reminded.

  14. Windowpane says:

    John, I was such a dedicated follower at this site for years. You were the second site (after Huff Post) that I opened every morning with my coffee. I always gave donations to your fundraisers. But for the last few years I have just found your posts are so much less relevant to my interests. Political impact stories were replaced by cute animal videos or your trips to Europe. I found I no longer clicked your website. I mean this in a constructive way, but maybe you should look back about what you use to post and what gets posted now. You mention that you yourself only go religiously to Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. I would have no idea how to get my news from those sources. I still religiously go to Huffpost, TPM, Atrios, Raw Story for a wide variety of news stories and progressive opinions (call it echo chamber). Wish you were still there.

  15. Mwah :)

  16. Yeah I meant to, but was told not to put too many or people wouldn’t do any of it. I thought about pinterest too, then thought about not putting Google Plus at all. I actually was wondering about starting a tumblr presence.

  17. Absolutely! Sharing them and liking them on FB helps too. No one knows Facebook’s algorithm, how they set things up internally, but every time someone shares or likes something, it suggests that person’s feed is worth something, so it generally, we think, helps get our stuff shown more.,

  18. RSS doesn’t get us as many ad views, but if you share them that helps to make up the difference, so thank you :)

  19. Indigo says:

    I comment on your Facebook links from time to time and can easily share them and sometimes I tweet. Does that count?

  20. Silver_Witch says:

    Thanks Lance!

  21. LanceThruster says:



  22. gypsylibrarian says:

    I read the site via a feed reader (RSS), but I do share things when, as you say, they are “worthy.” Do keep up the good work. Best, and keep on blogging,

  23. Rambie says:

    Add a link to share on Tumblr.

  24. Silver_Witch says:

    I actually love sharing your stories – some of which are never ever talked about in mainstream news. I am all about sharing – and I actually like when people share on their FB or Twitter – you never know what you are going to learn!

  25. LOL that’s okay, it’s very much appreciated. You never know how many friends they have :) It’s just that in the past some folks have asked me why it even matters, how it even helps, to share these things out there, so I thought it might be good to finally walk people through it.

  26. Silver_Witch says:

    I only have three friends and I do share…wish I had more (friends that is – not things to share).

    Might I suggest more stories about circumcision and smoking – that really brought the traffic….wow angry and loud traffic.

    Keep up the good work!!

  27. Thank you!

  28. 2karmanot says:

    Will do John!

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