Blogging for family and friends – before Google+

I wrote this some time ago, but never published it, perhaps I knew what was in the pipeline. There will be a sequel … that’s a promise. Here’s the problem (ie the user requirement).

I want to create a family blog for family members of very mixed IT ability and inclination. They are (believe it or not) NOT IT-geeks. I’ve tried several ways of engaging with them, emploring to comment upon blog posts, allowing the authorship to a shared private blog – so that they don’t need to set their own up. Put loads of “useful” information up, including commentary on family photos stored and linked to on Picasa, but to no avail. How can I increase the engagement with this activity? [Please don’t ask the question … “is this a desirable activity?” … that’s not allowed!]

It would appear that video (of grandchildren, of distant parents) is a hook. Is something that wakes them up to the value of social media. But how do you share videos on the internet and keep them private?

You need a video-serving solution, there’s several to choose from – YouTube, viddler or vimeo for instance – but you need to be able to keep the video private, to be shared to just a group of people (your family). After looking at YouTube, decided to experiment with viddler. The upload is fast, as is the encoding and the quality of streaming is good. You can set the default upload save to be private and then share it afterwards – if you want to. However, if you want to embed the video on your blog, you can’t unless you make the video public! In the end I plumped for Vimeo Plus – paying a subscription for the level of privacy I wanted with the ability to embed videos which run on mobile devices (including iOS) as well.

Then there’s Posterous, a really easy to use blogging service that even your granny could use (if they are on email that is). Set yourself (and all your other family members) up with an account(s) on Posterous and you have a way of sharing each others’ videos privately. PLUS, if you install the browser button “Share on Posterous” with Firefox, you can then go to your viddler or vimeo video and using the button, embed it in a Posterous blog post. If as a family you agree to use the same password for your Posterous blogs you can then watch and share securely.

All that’s needed for the serious (or should it be serial) blogger like me is to setup the links to the Posterous video-blogs on your private blog (ie Blogger or WordPress) and you have an integrated solution. Indeed, it might even be possible to send the embedded video from Posterous to your Blogger/Wordpress private blog as it has an interface that posts out to other social media applications as well as accepting in by simple email.

So, give Posterous a look for your “family blog” even if you aren’t interested in videos.

2 Replies to “Blogging for family and friends – before Google+”

  1. You know what I’m going to ask, right? Why not Facebook???
    It’s likely that most of your friends and family will have accounts there already unless they are 1. dislike FB on principle 2. are scared about privacy and think the world will see everything they say

    For most people there are much higher barriers of entry to POsterous. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a ‘better’ way to do the things you are talking about. But the better way often doesn’t win! Adoption is KEY!

    1. Well you’ve described the Use Case exactly! My mother would not wish to have a Fb account but has been happy viewing photos in Picasaweb and videos from a private blog for sometime now; likewise other members of the family.

      At the time I wrote this post (last year) I was trying to persuade close relatives to post family videos (taken on BlackBerry, iPhone etc) somewhere rather than send them round by email. Posterous is an ideal solution for that and is an easy way into sharing content privately. Likewise, I’ve got a group of friends who wouldn’t dream of using Fb, let alone Twitter, but do make use of email quite extensively.

      In my later post, written this afternoon, I move-on to what Google+ brings to the party. I really do believe it brings something different and meets the Use Case I defined really well. I’m still encouraging Posterous as I’ve already had the comments – “what’s next dad?”, “can’t you make up your mind”, “things are always changing” – to which I usually reply Model T Ford, or something like that, but overtime as it becomes even more feature rich, and as long as the interface remains clean and uncluttered, I believe it’ll become the ideal platform for family and “real friends” content sharing.

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