WordPress as Social Media?

Where should you publish your thoughts? WordPress? Social Media? Why pick one over the other?

I’m re-publishing a conversation I had a few days ago on the Fediverse, following an excellent question from Phil Johnston:

If you’re a WordPress person who publishes more on social media than on your WP site (sadly this is still currently me), does that say anything about WordPress?

Phil Johnston (@[email protected])

I felt compelled to reply, as I’ve struggled with some version of this question myself for years. Fair warning, I’m heavily involved with WordPress, so my answer is quite biased :)

I am heavily involved with WordPress, yet I don’t post that often on this site.

What does this say about WordPress?

Personally, I see Social Media as a tool fulfilling 2 different roles:

  • Feeding your ego, seeking validation from others.
  • Exchanging ideas.

The above is in no particular order :)

To get there, it needs 3 things:

  1. It should be easy to use; you need to be able to publish your idea / picture / link in seconds.
  2. It should be easy to react on content, to engage with others: Like, Share, RT, Boost, QT, upvote.
  3. It should be easy to get that validation from others, through mentions, notifications.

WordPress doesn’t do any of those things very well by default. It wasn’t built for it.

  1. WordPress is better for long-form content. Its interface is more complex, has more options, too many when you just want to post an image or a link. In those situations, the interface gets in the way. “What title do I give? Do I add tags? What about a featured image?”
  2. It isn’t easy to react to content. We have comments, threaded comments even, but they lack the tools you find with Social Media: upvotes, likes, … And again, the interface can get in the way, you need to fill in a name, an email address.
  3. There are no comment notifications available in default WordPress.

You can get WordPress half way there with plugins:

  • Some plugins give you Reactions, Likes, Comment Likes, upvotes.
  • Others will give you webmentions.
  • Some platforms give you better notifications.

Yet none of it is as polished as most of the Social Media platforms out there. None of it is as effective. None of it is as addictive.

And that’s okay I think. WordPress doesn’t have to be the endgame, the one tool we must use for everything. :)

Yet we can ask ourselves:

Should WordPress evolve, go in that direction?

Lately, I have been looking into making my this very blog more social, more interactive. It is a work in progress, it involves multiple plugins, some technical knowledge, and it’s still not as interactive as platforms like Twitter or Mastodon.

I would love if it were as easy as toggling a switch, for anyone running a personal blog.

I don’t know if this should happen in WordPress Core itself, or via a plugin. It’s a tricky question. WordPress has grown to be so much more than just a blogging platform. It may not make sense to add all those features to the core software when they wouldn’t be used by all the folks using WordPress for another purpose, like building an online presence for their small business.

Why should we continue using WordPress for blogging when there are so many more interactive platforms out there?

As I mentioned above, I am biased. Still, I there are 2 important reasons to consider when thinking about ditching WordPress:

  1. Having your own little home on the internet.
  2. Ensuring that that home will not fall into ruins after a few years.

It’s very important to me to own my content, have my own little home on the Internet. The most popular Social Media services are still walled gardens, so I would still advocate for using WordPress just so I can own my content, and only I get to decide what will happen with it in 2, 5, or 10 years.

Owning my content has allowed me to try new things over the years. This very blog has gone through many iterations: Blogger, Joomla, WordPress, Jekyll, WordPress.com, Ghost, back to WordPress, … This could never have happened on a closed platform that does not give me that flexibility.

Now, if an open-source tool comes along and becomes better than WordPress at long-form content, … Well I may ditch WordPress on my personal blog. But before I do so, I would make sure that new tool is mature enough to still be supported and maintained on the long term.

I don’t think we’re quite there just yet, but we’ll see if this blog still runs on WordPress in 5 years :)

2 replies on “WordPress as Social Media?”

Indeed. I am hopeful though, with the right focus it could become much better, to the point where WordPress coud be “good enough” to act as Social Media for some.

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