Last week marked the end of December 2013. For the month of December I ran an experiment to see if I could change the way I share links online. I wanted to try something new to see how it affected me and my followers.
I used to share a lot of links on Twitter. I used Buffer a lot of the time to space these out, since I tend to read online articles in blocks of time and then I have a whole bunch to share at once (incidentally, this is exactly the problem Buffer was created to solve).
Switching to Kippt
The experiment involved setting up a new, public list on Kippt to save links to. I shared only a few important links on Twitter, and saved everything I found somewhat interesting to my Kippt list. I tweeted the list two or three times over the month, but otherwise left it up to people to find or follow it themselves.
For the most part I was using Google Chrome as my desktop browser, so I had the Kippt extension installed to make saving fast and easy (I've now switched to Firefox as my main browser which doesn't have a bookmarklet or add-on for Kippt, so the process is much more cumbersome). I had the option to add comments to each link as I saved it, as well as tags in case I wanted to search for it again later.
On my iPhone and iPad I already had the Kippster app which automatically detects URLs on the clipboard to making saving faster. Very few apps that I use include a "save to Kippt" option, including Reeder, where I do most of my online reading. This meant copy-and-paste got a heavier-than-usual workout this month.
Now that I've done this for a month, here are my thoughts on the experiment and what I'm planning next:
I really enjoyed the lack of social activity and analytics on Kippt. Each time I saved a link, I felt like it was out of my hands. I didn't see any commenting on my links which is one of the few social features Kippt offers, and I wasn't caught up in checking analytics like how many favourites or retweets each one got.
I knew that people who followed or looked at my Kippt list would have plenty of links to choose from, so there wasn't so much pressure for each one to be perfect. I could save any links I read and found interesting without worrying about how each one would "perform."
The effort of sharing links on my phone was a pain, as I do a lot of reading there. It was enough to make me consider using a specific Pinboard tag for this purpose in the future, rather than a Kippt list (Pinboard has many more integrations with iOS apps).
I noticed that I didn't add long comments, even though I had more space than I would on Twitter. I generally left the comment field blank or kept it to one sentence, as I would have in a tweet anyway.
During the experiment my tweets were more focused on my life, things happening around me and general thoughts. I used it as a conversation tool, rather than a publishing platform, and it felt good.
After wrapping up the monthly experiment (a couple of days early, in fact), I asked for some feedback about it on Twitter. Although I only had a few responses, every one was in favour of me switching back to Twitter. I think this is fair enough, since I find most of the content I read on Twitter, so I'm not surprised others do the same.
I've switched back to sharing links on Twitter again, but I'm paying less attention to how much engagement each one gets. I'm also trying to keep my tweets as "human" as possible, even when sharing links. Rather than a simple title+link tweet, I'm leaning towards quotes from the articles I'm sharing or personal observations about the content.
I'm also considering experimenting with a blog post round-up my favourite links on a regular basis but I'm undecided on the value of that, considering the extra effort it involves.