It’s Black History Month again and once again, I’m rushing around cyberspace trying to rally the troops. Every year it seems that BHM comes around so fast. During August, I’m busy writing articles about famous Black Britons. Then in September, I’m contacting anyone who knows about black history, inviting them to write blog posts and submit articles and dates for black history month.
Then before you know it, it’s upon us and it’s a whirlwind of activity trying to promote the material I have gathered and that the guest bloggers have so kindly donated.These days, promoting content on the web is a different ball game to a few years ago. There was a time when you could say something a little controversial on a forum, sit back and watch the visitors flood in, everyone likes a good debate/scrap.
Nowadays though, the message is more diluted. The best forums are all but dead, killed off by the rise and rise of Facebook and an army of russian spammers and their robots. Social media is the space to concentrate your efforts. Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest etc. My head is spinning.
Facebook is good, but it’s killing small websites
Facebook is a great place to meet new people, it’s certainly a great way to find out what’s going on and to network with like-minded people. I try to post daily to the Black Presence Facebook page and the Black Presence Facebook Group. However, that requires that I spend a lot of time on Facebook, between two pages, not to mention interacting with other users and groups. All this Facebooking means that ultimately I’m neglecting my own website. You see Facebook is good, but it’s killing small websites.
I believe that individual Websites are still the life blood of the world wide web, and it isn’t healthy for the web to be losing so much traffic to just one site.
A few years ago, during Black History Month, Black Presence would easily get thousands of visitors every day. This year we are getting a few hundred.The diaspora has moved on. Just like the African Caribbean Social Clubs up and down the land, that are suffering dwindling membership, Black British websites are suffering a brain drain, as people see websites like facebook as a one stop shop. Think of the web as your local high Street, Facebook is the giant supermarket. It has everything, and all for one time registration.
Whilst I’m concerned about this, I know that the way that independent websites will survive the onslaught is by providing quality content. Writing an article with your point of view, researching an article with love and attention and then offering up up for public consumption is far more rewarding than posting pictures of some “big ol gal” with her batty hanging out. Furthermore, without being too snobby, I believe that while facebook can expose us to things we would have missed naturally, it is also contributing to a “dumbing down” effect. People only read short articles or posts, they click “like” instead of actually engaging the author on their webpage. It’s al very well having a conversation inside facebook but all that content belongs to facebook. It’s theirs to do what they want with it.
You might be surprised to know that Black Presence isn’t run by a team of web developers, or public organisers, it’s just little old me. Time is a massive issue hindering the growth of the site. I’m a husband and a father, I also work full time, and manage several other websites. If the site is to go on, to move forward. It needs several things to keep it afloat.
1) 3 x Me. Seriously though…it would be great if there were couple of people out there who wanted to selflessly use their time to research, and post articles on blackpresence, thus reducing my workload. That way, I coulld concentrate on the marketing side and maybe bring in a little more investment.
2) User feedback. This site needs your feedback. I need you to comment on the articles. If you don’t comment, then all those people who spend time writing and submitting articles are getting nothing back. Reading an article and not leaving a comment is just plain rude, it doesn’t take time to congratulate the author, or even upbraid them if you disagree. We all comment on Facebook, so why not on Black Presence?
3) A strong network. Facebook stats, tell me I have 3000 friends. The page has 1000’s of collective “likes”. The one thing missing from this is sharing. Press the SHARE button on Facebook, the more people who are aware of the site, the more we begin to build a community that is aware of a powerful medium dedicated to the cause of Black History. This site has been online since 1998, it’s not going away.
So, That’s it , my little rant is over. I hope you all have a great Black History Month and that you all get to attend at least one event that reminds you of the struggle people of African descent have faced here in Britain.
Now PLEASE, leave me a comment below, and of course, click the “like Button” to the left of the article.
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An Article by Phil Gregory: Editor, Black Presence in Britain Website