10 March 2013

Social Networking - A Year Later

COPA Flight 8 has now been doing social networking on Twitter and Diaspora (D*) for about 14 months, having started in January 2012, so I thought this would be a good time to give an update on how it is going. I manage the flight's D* account, while Mike Shaw handles Twitter, so I will leave it to him to provide an update on that.

The background on D* and what it is, is explained in my first post about it. Basically it is like a combination of Twitter and Facebook, but built on free software, community owned and run, with no ads. Unlike Facebook, D* doesn't make money selling your data to advertisers and instead relies on donations and T-shirt sales to get by. I have made a couple of small donations in the flight's name to help the project out. Also unlike Facebook, D* has attracted people from all over the world to exchange ideas, rather than write about what they had for lunch. This all makes it a very interesting place to be, even though it is a smaller community than Facebook is.

I gave an early look at how things were going for Flight 8 on D* in March 2012.

On D* it is easy to control who can see things posted. For Flight 8's posts I have made all the content public, meaning anyone on the internet can see all the posts at www.joindiaspora.com/u/copaflight8.

My approach has been to post something pretty much every day, usually first thing in the morning. In general I have been posting aviation photos from fly-ins from my own collection and also photos contributed by Flight 8 members Michael Dixon and Nathalie Huard. To give a break from photos I have posted aviation videos about various types of aircraft, focusing on amateur video. I have also posted flight news, like upcoming meetings and when write-ups on meetings have been made available on the flight 8 website. I also occasionally repost other people's aviation posts, although I try to keep reposts to a minimum. The overall effect I have been going for is to present an interesting and positive look at personal aviation though photos and video.

In terms of attracting followers my approach has been passive, to just post good content with very broad tags and see how many people I could attract to follow the postings. The result has been that after more than a year I have three Flight 8 members and 35 other people following the account, which is not too bad for no direct effort to attract people beyond posting content.

I have used the flight account to "like" and comment on other people's posts, which in turn has attracted more followers. The one thing to be careful of though is what is commented on, as I have been trying to avoid "inappropriate material" that the flight might not want to be associated with. Unlike Facebook, which is pretty heavily censored, D* is uncensored, meaning you find a real diversity of material posted, especially under tags like #nsfw.

Of the followers that I have, about a half a dozen regularly comment on posts I make, which adds some worthwhile interaction. Many of the followers are from Europe, with a couple from Canada as well, all with some interest in aviation.

Of course there maybe many more people who see the posts through following some of the really broad tags I use such as #aviation and #aircraft, as well as non-signed in people who see them on the open internet as well, but these are difficult to quantify.

Overall I think the flight's presence on D* has been very positive. The account has attracted a small group of fairly dedicated followers and some worthwhile interaction, but naturally it could be improved upon as well!

To that end I plan to embark on a more active campaign to attract followers to the flight 8 account. I'll make another post here in a month or so when the results can been seen!

In the meantime anyone interested in joining us on D* can sign up for an account on any one of a number of pods. My personal account is on Diasp.org and that seems to be a good pod, in addition to joindiaspora.com, where the flight account is.

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