Today, my blog has 72,519 all time views with my best day being 32,675. At one point, my blog actually made it on WordPress’s Top 100 Blogs of the Day list… in the #4 spot. Absolutely unreal. I asked myself why that many people cared enough to read my story, let alone share it with others?
According to my professor, John Robinson, the answer is quite simple. It can actually be broken down into six lessons:
1) Begin with a compelling story: My first blog post explained my story firsthand by the person it happened to. As a publisher I am able to say the things that I want without having to go through news outlets that could potentially misconstrue my words and focus attention on other, more insignificant, aspects of the situation. The fact that my story was about a person (myself) regarding an injustice and that I was taking action against it helped spark interest in the eyes of the readers.
2) The power of the network: Word about my story spread quickly because of social media. I had 149 shares and over 110 likes on Facebook when I shared my first blog post. Friends of friends began to share my story and soon it exploded. Twitter and WordPress were both also sources of networking that contributed as well. The day after I posted the story on Facebook, one of my friends told me that she woke up to a text from her friend that goes to Stanford saying that they were all talking about the UNC girl with a stolen Tinder identity and were concerned. From Florida to California in less that 24 hours is truly a sign of the power of networks.
3) The news media: My story began on my blog, in my own words. But soon, it was picked up by mainstream media like WGHP and the Daily Dot and shared from the WGHP site over 350 times. Then, the Daily Tar Heel published my story on the front page, along with WRAL and NBC News.
4) Differing Internet responses: Throughout this process, I have received an overwhelming number of supportive and helpful responses from friends, family and people across the U.S. (and even the world!!), but with those positive messages, I’ve received a fair share of negative ones as well. I plan on diving into my experience interacting with different people and comments in a blog soon to come. But for now, just know that you need thick skin and the ability to brush negativity off your shoulder sometimes, if need be.
5) You must feed the beast: The Internet is an interesting place. A story will skyrocket and soar in popularity at unbelievably short amounts of time, and if not maintained and groomed enough, it will die just as quickly. My blog post immediately took off once I posted it to social media sites. I published an update to the blog the next day, then I left if be for about 5 days because I went out of town and by the time I returned, the hype was gone and it was just another story lost in the vast digital abyss.
6) Stick with your guns: I ran into a situation that tested my journalistic ethics during this process. The conversation between the fake account and a male had described that the “Kim” account attended University of Alabama at Birmingham and was a member of a sorority there (and it named the chapter). I then posted the screenshots of the conversation on my blog because I wanted to attract attention and come closer to finding who “Kim” is, but in the meantime I upset people. A member of the sorority emailed me and asked to call her to discuss the “Kim” situation. The chapter member requested that I take down the screenshot that included the chapter name and any comments naming them as well because it is not a guarantee that the person behind the fake account is actual in the chapter and it is bad publicity. I can sympathize with her as a previous member of my chapter’s executive council, I would not like my chapter to be misrepresented in that way. So, I decided to take it down. This was a personal choice and one that defies traditional journalism ethics, but I saw it to be appropriate in this situation.
All of these lessons were addressed in our last class, taught by Professor Robinson, regarding my experience the past few weeks. I was honored to be the topic of conversation in the class for the night (even though it took 3 semesters to get some spotlight).
I hope these lessons are as helpful to others as they were to me. I learn from the best, Professor John Robinson.