Technorati Product Review: Glipho #socialmedia blogging and publishing platform
To blog or not to blog is no longer the question. Choosing the right blogging platform that’s going to effectively share your voice and passion is now front and center. Blogging has jettisoned way past its infancy and is now settling into middle age. While social networks like Facebook continue to play a pivotal role in feeding your relationships and growing your fan-base, blogging remains the piece de resistance, allowing you to spend more time crafting your opinions and concentrating on the mot juste while funneling that content through your social networks driving more traffic to your blog.
Today there are a multitude of blogging and publishing platforms. Blogger, Tumblr, SETT, Ghost, Squarespace, Typepad, PostHaven, Medium, LiveJournal, and Weebly, to name but a few dotting the Web landscape. Some are not yet fully open to the public at large. The grand poobah of them all, WordPress, is zeroing in on 50 million downloads to date and powering just shy of 19% of the Web today. But blogging platforms like WordPress force users to spend much more time on design, templates, and plugins, before you even begin to blog. WordPress is no longer used exclusively for blogging. It’s become an expansive CMS for companies large and small.
With an estimated 200 million + bloggers and nearly 2 billion users of social networking sites, why not expect an even greater volume of blogs? Is it because blogging and developing an audience around your blog remains too daunting? This was the starting point for the emerging free blogging dynamo, Glipho, which opened their public beta back in March of this year. Glipho defines itself as a social network with a blogging platform.
Social blogging made easy
Glipho is the brainchild of Roger Planes, a former consultant and social media strategist to the UK media industry. Roger was busy creating news websites and tools for journalists when the seeds for Glipho were planted. Roger wanted to combine social networking with blogging and tap into the increasing larger pool of those who use social networking channels but don’t actively blog. 20% of Glipho’s bloggers never previously blogged, according to Roger.
Logging into Glipho is easy enough and you can do so by connecting your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn profiles. Then it’s time to create your Glipho profile, which means adding your profile picture, actual blog name, a description of yourself, and your username. You can connect your profile to a host of social networking accounts, including Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr, and LinkedIn. This is important because, as with any blogging platform, what counts is getting the word out about your content through your specific social media channels.
At the top are two tabs, Desk (your text editor) and Invite friends. The latter is obviously Glipho’s attempt to encourage you to invite others to try out its platform. But if you quickly want to get blogging, then click on the Desk tab. The text editor interface is split down the middle making it very easy to drag and drop your content. Editing is a snap and you can import or upload images from your computer, in addition to embedding outbound links.
What I really like is the ability to syndicate your content by importing it from Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress, all from within your profile page. This is what can help you grow your blog presence, gain more traffic, and generate more interactions among your readers. It’s not automated, but you manually connect your Glipho account to these other blogging platforms. Right now Glipho restricts you to 150 word minimum posts and you can't import photo-only posts from Tumblr.
Roger told me that there are plans to add to the Desk page a quick “import latest post” that will automatically put into the Desk text editor your latest post or “gliph” from your original blog. It was clear from my exchanges with Roger that things are moving at warp speed and suggestions from users on how to continually improve Glipho’s social and blogging platform are constantly being worked on.
Blogging connectivity – Glipho’s stickiness
When a gliph is published it is connected to other content on the platform, either by Gliph’s relation algorithm or by virtue of sharing the same topic. Glipho’s goal is to consistently remind you of your connectivity with other bloggers and that you are part of a growing community. The “trending writers” column reflects this communal approach. Roger says his team built the “trending writers” algorithm to showcase the most popular bloggers on the platform at any given time. It takes into account all the interactions that can take place on a post (i.e. views, comments, likes, replies, shares on other social networks) for all the posts a blogger has published on the platform. You can rank as a trending writer at any time if your gliph achieves moderate success based on the amount of interactions it receives.
One of the tastier ingredients behind Glipho is enabling you to quickly identify other writers who share your passions and ideas and connect with them. Click on the Glipho brand logo and you can review a blend of content posted by trending writers. You also can browse from 18 different categories including Fashion & Beauty, Hobbies & Interest, Science, Politics, and Food & Drink.
A very nifty feature is how bloggers can respond and/or reply to other blogger’s posts. At the bottom of each Gliph is the opportunity to “reply.” When you click on reply, you are put back into the Desk text editor allowing you to create your own version of the article with an automatic back link to the original. It easily enables you to add your thoughts on the blog post itself. According to Roger, Glipho is the only blogging platform with this specific reply feature.
I followed Glipho writer/blogger, Holly Jahangiri. I reached out to Holly and asked her what she liked most about Glipho.
“I love its simplicity. As much as I enjoy tinkering with templates, HTML, and CSS - as fun as it is to add and position sidebar widgets and fiddly bits - all of that is also a really good way to procrastinate and avoid writing. The look and feel of Glipho is clean, functional, - and I'm enjoying the freedom not to tinker.”
Glipho requires any post to be a minimum of 150 words. For SEO purposes, this is a good thing. We know Google rewards quality content so it is to your advantage to feature substantive, quality posts. For Roger, Glipho’s platform is designed specifically with Google search top of mind. “Users writing original content are taking advantage of our platform’s SEO, enabling their posts to rank on the first two pages of Google Search Results, which helps them to gain more views for their content than they had on their original blogs.”
To help users understand the effectiveness of their posts, Glipho features basic analytics. Called Insights, it is a feature you can click on and will provide you with the number of views, likes, and discussions or comments that have taken place for each of your gliphs.
Content curation and Glipho’s future
Glipho recently introduced its mobile app for both Android and iOS. According to Roger, you can use the mobile app to read, comment, and like posts, follow writers and topics, and discover more gliphs. Glipho’s next goal is to expand the app’s functionality, allowing bloggers to write and publish their gliphs directly from it. For the foreseeable future, Roger says Glipho will continue its mission of providing tools for writers and readers that are simple and effective, enabling users to focus their time on writing, reading, and engaging with the content and fellow users of the platform. 35% of users come from the U.S., same as from the U.K. and the rest of users are scattered among more than 120 countries. Glipho has already received $750,000 from angel investors with plans to raise a new financial round this final quarter, 2013.
If you’re married to WordPress, Glipho is one more opportunity to spread your wings and associate with a relatively new and upcoming social blogging platform. Glipho has a little bit of something for everyone, from the novice to the veteran blogger. As a free platform you won’t be spending time crafting intricate themes, selecting plugins, or developing new templates for your blog. The goal is to blog, get to know other bloggers, and expand your social network. Plans are afoot, however, for Glipho to launch its API and Roger told me that he’d very much like to see what other developers could come up with to improve upon the “Glipho experience.”
I asked Roger what he’s most proud of.
“I believe we have created an accessible platform with a good user interface for both creating and consuming content. All the features are a click away and we have worked hard to provide social media integration with other networks that is completely hassle-free.” And hassle-free Glipho is. Give it a shot.