WHY I LOVE MLKSHK - and you can too!
A guest post by tonyb
It just so happens that I love MLKSHK. I love reading it - I love contributing to it. It’s my go-to tool when looking for that special animated .GIF, and it’s the last-funny-thing I read before going to bed. In return, MLKSHK seems to love me right back - I get lots of likes and comments and followers. I get daily rewards that help me feel like a content provider - like I’m sharing an individual viewpoint that people value and enjoy.
From inside my fluffy happy MLKSHK cloud it seems like everybody should love it as much as I do. And so I was quite surprised when I spoke with a few friends that I knew as fellow users, and they told me they didn’t “get it”. They tried going on a couple of times and clicked around, but it just didn’t stick. They wandered off and didn’t use it anymore.
When I heard that, I made it my mission to find out why, and - if possible - help them see a different side of things. I sat down with my friends and tried to absorb the beginner’s perspective - coming on to this vast social network where you don’t know anybody, and being bombarded by a flood of images. How to make sense of it all? Over the course of a few of these talks, I’ve boiled down a couple of tricks that I’d like to share - a few easy things that anyone can do (even if you haven’t subscribed!) to make your MLKSHK experience more interesting.
Okay, so you just signed up for MLKSHK - now what? Is this supposed to be a social network? A place where you can park your vacation photos? And where are the funny pictures anyway? The good news is MKSHK can be all of those things - it’s kind of a Choose Your Own Adventure that responds to your choices. The problem is - if you never make any choices, you never get past the front door. So let’s get started and learn the lay of the land.
When you sign up and log in, you get your own personal page which shows you all the images from all the friends and shakes you follow. Now, if you just started, it’s going to look a bit bare since you’re not following anyone yet. So your first order of business is to find some things to follow and get the ball rolling. MLKSHK has provided you with a few neat tools to get you started: POPULAR FILES - If you were wondering where the funny pictures are, you found ’em! But it’s good to remember that the Popular page is also a great way to find interesting users. If a particular image strikes your fancy, click on that user’s icon and go to their page - maybe click through a few of their pages and like/save some of their images. If you find that person’s stuff interesting, then click the FOLLOW button at the top. Now everything that person posts will start showing up on your feed. You want to see more than 30 popular files? Just go to the MLKSHK user page and you can see all the stuff that’s ever been on the Popular page going back in time. Please note that the user who posted the file is now under the file instead of at the top - so you can still use this as a way of finding other cool users.
INCOMING - this is literally every image that gets posted to MLKSHK being updated in real time. The plus here is that you might find users that share an interest of yours even though their pictures might never make it to the Popular page. The minus here is that you may have to dig through a huge volume of images, and you might never see the interesting stuff that got posted 10 hours before.
FEATURED SHAKES - For me, this is the most useful tool of all - the encyclopedia of all the cool things that will get your feed looking more interesting fast. If you click the People link at the top, you’ll see a list of the most active and followed users. Click around - see who you find interesting. Or just take a chance and follow a few top contributors to get your feet wet. You can always un-follow them later in case their particular stream starts to bore you (follow in haste - unfollow at leisure).
And then there are the various GROUP SHAKES - here, rather than following a particular person, think of it as subscribing to a topic-specific image blog. Do you like cats?, or cars?, or men in gorilla suits holding scantily clad females? Well, chances are a lot of other people do too. One of the things I love most about MLKSHK is the huge variety of images it exposes me to - and group shakes are a great way to organize that experience and find other people with similar interests. Take the time to click through the categories on that page, and dig down into the various group shakes you can follow. You’ll be surprised what you find!
GOING FROM OBSERVER TO PARTICIPANT
Everything you’ve done so far is to make MLKSHK more interesting to you - so what can you do to make YOU interesting to MLKSHK? I mean, reading MLKSHK is fun - but there’s a whole other side that opens up when you start posting images and interacting with other users. If you go up to the Choose a Shake button and hit Your Shake - you’ll see what the rest of the world sees when they click your user icon. Is it looking pretty empty? Well, let’s get some images up on there so that when people check you out they can see that you’re interesting, and maybe they’ll follow you - and like your images. A couple of easy ways to do this: NEW POST - got some awesome images kicking around on your hard drive? Sure you do! Once you upload them, you can change their title, post a description, and even flag them as Not Safe For Work. BROWSER EXTENSIONS - these are right on the front page under Cool Tools - little extensions for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. So next time you’re doing a Google image search, or you see something funny on some other website, you can just right-click, grab that image on the fly, and save it to your shake.
GETTING PEOPLE TO FOLLOW YOU
If you’re just getting started and no one’s following you yet - it might seem like you’re whistling in the dark. Be patient - if you build it, they will come. There are no sure-fire tricks to getting followers. If you follow some veteran users, they will often reciprocate and follow you out of courtesy and curiosity - but there are no guarantees. The best thing to do is just to be active - post images to your shake - like, save, and comment on other people’s files. Eventually someone will notice your cool stuff on Incoming and you’ll start to see people liking and saving your images when you log in to your default page, and you’ll see what people are responding to. If that person is someone new to you - click on their user page and check them out. Maybe you’ve found a new person who shares your interests.
POSTING TO GROUP SHAKES
If you’ve found a group shake that you really enjoy, you can always request to become a participant of that shake - it’s the +Join This Shake button on the front of any group shake. Once the editor of that shake approves your request, that group shake will now pop up under the Choose A Shake button - and also on the pull-down menus whenever you save a new image to MLKSHK. If you want to post an image to two or more places, you can post it to your own shake - click on that image, and then click all the boxes for the various group shakes you want to list it in. Posting to group shakes is great because it can really feel like you’re having a meaningful exchange with other like-minded people
IT’S WORKING! (DON’T STOP NOW)
Okay, so now you’ve been using the site for a while - you’re posting cool stuff, you’ve got followers in the double digits, you’re getting new likes on your images every day, and you’ve even had a file pop up on the Popular page. You can sit back and relax now, right? Well, sure you can - but there’s so much more out there. New users are joining MLKSHK all the time - and there are probably thousands of current users that you haven’t even met yet. Keep checking out which users are saving and liking your files - that’s probably the best way of finding new people that might share your interests. Keep adding new people to your feed, and your MLKSHK experience will get richer and more interesting over time. Eventually, you may not even need Incoming, since your feed will become all the parts of Incoming that are interesting to YOU.
FINDING IMAGES LATER
One of the things I hear from my friends is that they save an image to their shake, but then they can’t find it when they need it later. There’s some truth to that - MLKSHK is not Flickr or Picasa. It’s set up to provide you with a fresh interesting stream, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find what you need when you need it. Let’s say you’re working on a blog post, and you need an inline image of somebody doing a facepalm. Just go to Google Image Search and type in “site: mlkshk facepalm” - and bam! you’ve got every mlkshk page that has ever had the string “facepalm” in the title or comments of that file. Obviously that doesn’t help if your image was named “DSC5128149624.JPG” - so taking the time to name your images will pay off on the back end. The good news is that even if you don’t find that one image you saved - chances are you’ll find 5 images that other people saved that might work even better.
TO SUBSCRIBE? OR NOT TO SUBSCRIBE?
Okay, look - I don’t work for MLKSHK, so there’s no sales pitch here. All the awesome stuff I just told you about is available to any MLKSHK user free of charge. So why am I a subscriber? What do I get for $6 bucks a month that makes it worth my while? Well, take a look at my shake again - you see where it says “tonyb’s other shakes”? Those are all the group shakes that I created. To me, each one of those is a category of images that I’m personally interested in. As I cruise the internet, I am always on the lookout for more - and when I find them, I squirrel them away in my shakes. I then get likes on those images from other people who have joined those shakes - and happen to share my interests. Even better - I get to see images from those people showing up in my shakes - images I might have never found on my own. For me - this interaction between like-minded individuals is one of the most interesting things about the whole site. It’s more than just people throwing up funny images for all to see - it’s people who share something having a visual conversation with each other. We are the audience and we are the show. My name’s tonyb and I got no reason to lie to you.