Blog Interact is a social media and bookmarking platform that allows bloggers, writers, and photo and video journalists to submit and vote for their favourite content, and interact with other members. Today, I am pleased to feature its founder, Bryan P. Hollis.
Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Bryan, thank you for answering my questions. Is there a particular event that triggered your desire to create Blog Interact?
Bryan P. Hollis: I can’t say that there is a single event that triggered the creation. It was definitely a result of what I had experienced over the years.
I started a career in brick and mortar in business and marketing in late 1997, when I basically got sick of it. While I took a tremendous pay-cut, I decided to venture into freelance writing around 2007, maybe? I never had a website and worked writing press releases, sales letters, email marketing campaigns, and even ghost writing for various things. It didn’t take long to see what I was accomplishing for the contractor.
Increasingly, I was asked to provide SEO value to articles and press releases, where quite frankly I knew little about, but was really interested in figuring out. This was the day of “I would like a keyword density of 2 to 5%” and all that jazz. Also, the days of article spinning and article spamming…all the rage. That I can remember, Facebook was popular, but nothing like the giant it is today. What was popular with respect to social “bookmarking” was Reddit (still today one of my favorites).
Anyhow, leaping forward, things changed, rules changed, I didn’t like a lot that I saw, and I started Mid Carolina Freelance, now Mid Carolina Freelance, LLC – more an “umbrella” company than anything else.
With all that, there are some really simple reasons like the look and feel of the site, what it is built around, which is WordPress, then the bigger picture is that its goal is to provide “dofollow” links for quality content on the web that consists of more than just “the best WordPress plug-in of the week” or “SEO and SEM”. Yes, those are still important to me, but people are blogging about other important things as well.
CM: What makes Blog Interact different from similar platforms like Blokube?
BPH: I am glad you chose the word different, and not “better”. While I don’t get to use sites like Blokube as often as I would like (I have a hard enough time monitoring Blog Interact), there is no doubt – and I have stated this before – that much of the concepts of Blog Interact came from sites like Blokube, SERPd, and Blog Engage. These sites have experienced change as well and are led by very intelligent guys.
At the time, the most fundamental difference was the diversity of categories. In ways, I was concerned about taking this risk because there was no real niche blog topics. I wanted a place for everyone. Many times I would add a category or sub-category upon request. The aesthetics of the site and all were different, but that is simply preference. The root goal was to attract all journalists.
CM: How many people currently use the platform? And who is the average user?
BPH: Well, the number of registrants and the number of users are dramatically different. I can only assume that this is like virtually any bookmarking site, guest blogging sites, or even anything new. I am sure that the almost 800 million Facebook registrants don’t actually use the site daily, maybe almost never, then there are the “die-hards”.
Funny thing about this is it can be related to an email campaign. If you have a list of 1,000 people, 30% actually open it consistently, then a consistent percentage makes a purchase or responds to your call to action, then you’re doing pretty well. That being said, there are about 100 regular users, with about 50 users that regular post their content at Blog Interact. The number sounds (and is) small, but I would rather have this type of user than 10,000 users than spam regularly and make the site hard to manage.
CM: How have you used social media to create a buzz about Blog Interact?
BPH: Funny you should ask this. I don’t mind saying that I have used social media in a way that I really don’t condone. Let me explain before I’m called a jerk.
I’ve always felt that social media should be a honest engagement effort. Having followers from Facebook, Twitter, etc. for the sake of having a big number is not only foolish, but fruitless. But I have used Social Media in this way – my goal for Blog Interact was to ensure that the users of the site got the most exposure to their posted content, and ultimately their own site as possible.
In the beginning, I would Tweet for folks, Facebook like, send to Reddit, etc. This was impossible to manage, so I carefully constructed a number of channels to distribute the content to networking sites, other bookmarking sites, and even ping services. The site content is distributed to maybe 30 or so social media and bookmarking sites, and others like Zimbio and Technorati, then pinged to many services too. This took some time because I had to ensure that the content wasn’t being duplicated, spammed, etc. Otherwise the purpose would be defeated.
I am proud to say that Blog Interact gets about 20 to 30 new Twitter followers every day, and I actually respond to each one…no auto-responder. I guess the keyword here with respect to Social Media is syndication.
CM: What is next for Blog Interact?
BPH: Blog Interact is always a project in the making. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time that I would like to in order to make things happen as quickly as possible.
For the most basic that is available, I would love to see more members of the site have the desire to guest post. I am not really one to chase someone down, but I will ask or suggest in a newsletter.
For other projects, I have put together a search engine for Blog Interact. Without going into tremendous detail, it is not intended to be a Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. It is actually intended to be an opt-in blog search engine. The project is well underway. It is based on the Apache Solr Project (Apache Lucene), and should be pretty interesting.
CM: Any last words?
BPH: Not too many last words. I would really like to take this time to thank all of the site users, contributors, content viewers, and anyone that has done as little as Tweet a submission. Without these things first, the site wouldn’t exist.
I would like to invite anyone to make suggestions for the site by contacting me directly through my profile, and perhaps most importantly, I would like to thank the true genius behind it all, Michal Wilkosinski of StudioMW, the designer and developer of Blog Interact and a WordPress genius that has dealt with my nagging over the past year or so.
For more information about Blog Interact, visit www.bloginteract.com.