Okay. Quiz time. So when was it I realised I took my blog obsession just a little too far?
Was it a) when supermarket giant J.Sainsbury’s started tweeting us?
Was it b) when the excellent @sarahlay designed a superb google map around it?
Or perhaps c) when I loaded my two poorly children and drove to a garden centre just to photograph a piece of cake so I could write a 140 review blog post?
We sat there in the complex’s empty cafe the three of us. Joe, aged five. Libby, one, and me looking every inch the out of touch divorced dad who has no clue of what makes his children tick any more.
I’m not divorced by, the way. I just have a very tolerant wife.
“But Daddy,” said Joseph, aged five. “You don’t like gardening. Mummy says so. Can’t we go to the park? I like the park.
“No, son.” I tell the hopeful faces. “We can’t go to the park.”
“Why, Dad, why?”
“Because, Joe, They don’t sell cake there.”
I write a blog about cake. I’m quite partial to the odd slice but its never ruled my life.
The blog http://mmmmmmcake.wordpress.com/ was founded in August It has received 1,400 hits in eight weeks with almost 60 blog posts. It tweets @mmmmmmcake with 150 followers.
Amazingly, there have been 15 contributors so far from as far afield as Mumbai in India, Nova Scotia in Canada and Brownhills in England. They are people who love cake and enjoy the ridiculousness of pointing a camera at it in a cafe and sharing it with the world.
So why Dan, why?
It began as a wheeze. Make mistakes on your own rather than for your organisation. Besides, I wanted to better get to grips with wordpress.
Why cake? A chance remark on Twitter sparked it.
I introduced a friend new to Twitter. Silence. No followers.
“This is @sarahjpowney. She loves cake.”
Within seconds she had been welcomed on board the Twittersphere with open arms by several people.
“Cake brings people together,” @jaynehowarth enthusiastically tweeted.
She’s absolutely right.
I tweeted a picture of a cake I’d taken in Shropshire. It led to 40 hits on my flickr page in a day.
@brownhillsbob then responded with pics of his own in a kind of sponge and frosted icing arms race.
The penny dropped. This needed a blog to bring things together. From there it’s grown.
But the best bit?
It’s not actually the cake I’ve liked about doing this. It’s the enthusiasm and ideas people are having sparked by cake.
Cake really does bring people together.
The google map by @sarahlay, the Indian contributions by @rbx, the Nova Scotian contributor @halifaxcakes.
There’s a man in Sussex who blogs and photographs cakes with a skill of a baking David Bailey and zeal of a Cuban revolutionary.
Then there’s parallel blogs @mmmmmmwine and sweets and chocolate versions by the writer’s children. There’s @mmmmmm_beer by Stuart Harrison (@pezholio) and @mmmmmmcurry by Philip John.
So what lessons to learn?
Any good social media project is listening, collaboration, trial and enthusiasm to be fun.
Having something that people connect with helps. Whatever that may be. Cake or a passion for your estate, model buses or football.
Twitter has been brilliant for this. It taps into the network of social capital. Post the blog. Post the tweet signposting people to it. Marvellous.
Joe’s favourite cake is chocolate, by the way. He’s rarely happier eating it. Me? I’m partial to Mrs Slee’s flapjack.
Birthdays are nature’s way of telling you to eat more cake. So, happy birthday.
And can you send me a quick review?
Thanks to fellow cake blog contributors:
@brownhillsbob, @smartmatt, @stu_arts, George Cunningham, Clare Slee, @rbx, @englishmum, @jaynehowarth @lindasjones, @jimbosussexmtb, @sarahlay @philipjohn, @halifaxcakes, @thetalleygraph, @pezholio, @darrencaveney
And send your reviews to: