I’ve known for some time that I need to get my social media shit together.
Like many people, I’m sure, I have a love-hate relationship with social media.
On the one hand, I do enjoy being able to check in on the goings-on of the people I follow as the mood strikes me.
When I become a fan of an artist or public figure, or even an everyday sort of person like myself, I like to keep up with what they’re up to. What they’re working on at any given moment; what their process is; what they think about important matters that also matter to me.
I wouldn’t classify myself as a heavy social media consumer, but I do look at it a few moments each day, and a bit more during slow moments when I could literally be doing anything else.
For a while, I was big into Facebook when I joined for the very first time two years ago (I know, right?!) But it’s since really started getting on my nerves.
The incessant friend recommendations; the prompts to go check out your friends’ statuses or their comments on other friends’ posts; the way it automatically subscribes you any post that you comment on; the way the pages I subscribe to never actually show up in my feed.
I swear I’ve logged on to Facebook no more than half a dozen times this year. These days, it’s Twitter that’s capturing my social media interest, such as it is, the new 280-character limit notwithstanding.
All that being said, I really struggle as a creator of content on social media. More than anything, I indeed feel like I could literally be doing anything else.
Except as an aspiring published author, that attitude is quite at odds with the sort of writer’s life I envision for myself, which involves interacting with fans and using my platform to speak out on important issues.
Which means I clearly have a few issues of my own to work out on the matter.
What’s not to “like”?
My big problem with social media, frankly, is that as a virtual nobody (see what I did there?), almost no one that I’m not already friends with offline is reading my posts.
I’ve read that the lifespan of a tweet is about 15 minutes. A Facebook post lasts longer (about 6 hours), particularly as it gets more engagement. It may continually turn up weeks or even months after the fact, whether you want it to or not.
That is if a Facebook post turns up at all, as I previously mentioned. Having been so incredibly late to the Facebook party, I only have 97 friends there, most of whose stuff I never actually see in my feed.
Another problem I have with social media, related to the first one, is that I don’t feel interesting on it.
This is not to say I don’t consider myself an interesting person in my own right. But something about both the brevity and the ephemeral nature of posts, combined with my general lack of audience, gives the whole thing an air of desperation in my mind.
I’m not entirely sure why this is. I had no problems with blogging when no one was reading it—back when my total number of followers was zero.
Even now, I don’t have a huge number of followers and my engagement is minuscule by content marketing standards.
But I truly love writing a blog article every week (and article is actually how I think of my posts). I love it both for the opportunity to express myself, and to have something contextual and reasoned that people can refer back to when I become famous someday. (Right. But maybe….)
(Best left) forgotten realms
Social media, meanwhile, is often the realm of random thoughts. Particularly for those not regularly engaged in its use to address an established audience, posts often come about apropos of nothing.
A random, unsolicited article is bad enough, but at least it makes a case for its existence by arguing its point in a compelling manner.
For a lot of people on social media, myself included so it seems to me, there’s little to recommend any of our over-processed soundbites (to say nothing for those of the inescapable multitudes of trolls).
Plus, since I don’t have any sort of product on offer—I haven’t yet published a novel—I don’t have a strong sense of my online message.
This isn’t to say I plan to be all “Buy my book!” on social media with nothing else to say for myself. However, it is ultimately through my work that I want to connect with people.
Even if the conversation isn’t specifically about my work, I expect it to be the impetus that initiates the contact and connection. If I wasn’t a writer, I don’t know that I would either blog or use social media at all.
Truly, my writing is the platform from which I offer myself to the world.
I write primarily for myself, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s also to someday be read by others. One of the biggest things I look forward to about someday being published is to communicate with my readers.
Yet blogging is not the same thing as social media. Indeed, the best way to drive traffic to your blog is by using social media to promote it.
Ultimately, to get from where I am right now to where I envision myself, I’m going to have to compromise. To find some middle ground between my present day discomfort and the place where I want my social media engagement to be in the future.
In other words, I need to come up with some manner of social media strategy for myself.
(To be continued…)
What are your thoughts on social media? How do you use it to foster or bolster your creative expression? Tell me about it in the comments.
(Image source #1, #2, and #3)
9 thoughts on “My Social Media Goals & Woes”
It doesn’t necessarily get much better AFTER you’ve published the first novel; it takes a lot of promotion to go beyond the circle of people you can reach personally, and you may have problems still if your novel is hard to characterize quickly (Amazon ad, book description…) so that, even if you reach readers, they don’t bite. Don’t fret about it – that wastes more time than I care to mention!
Just get started somewhere – and focus your efforts where you’ll be comfortable continuing.
Marketing is definitely challenging and indeed will yield its own set of social media-related woes. However, once I’m published, I feel like that will at least lend some context to my social media efforts. Whether I’m trying to promote my work or not through my usage of social media, it will provide a more concrete answer to the tacit question of “Who are you, anyway?” As I mentioned in the post, if I weren’t a writer, I don’t know that I’d use social media at all. At the same time, promoting myself as an as-yet-unpublished writer just feels a little pointless at times.
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You’ll get there, and studying social media in advance is good preparation. It would be a lot to master in a short period after publication.
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Hey, Facebook doesn’t work for me either. Never has. I probably have fewer friends than you. I log in occasionally because it’s the main form of communication for a con I attend every year, and if I happen to get on my feed and start scrolling, well, that’s just a whole chunk of wasted time. I’ll look at the clock and be shocked I spent 30 minutes reading… what? I don’t even remember and I just read it. Then I’ll feel guilty. I just don’t have that kind of time to waste in my day.
Goodreads though? I’m on there several times a day. Checking my feed, looking at books, responding to people. I don’t have a ton of friends there either but what I do have there is so much more meaningful to me. I’m not sure if Goodreads is considered social media like the others, but that’s where it’s at for me. I think you just have to pick one you like and put your effort there. And if it’s one you like it doesn’t feel like effort but fun.
I mainly joined Facebook in order to use the groups since this is done in many professional venues as well. Other than that, I’m “friends” with a lot of people from my past who I’d previously drifted away from. I was quite all right with the fact that’s we’d drifted. That is the natural order of things. My biggest dislike about FB is how it encourages keeping dead relationships on artificial respiration.
I should pay more attention to Goodreads. I do review every book I read there and read others’ reviews of these same books, but I don’t really interact with others. I’m not even sure how one goes about meeting people on Goodreads. I’m enjoying Twitter still despite the new character limit (it makes my feed look so long now) and have been debating between either Tumblr or Instagram to get myself on a platform where the users are a bit younger (to help encourage crossover appeal when my book is published).
Ultimately, I’m discovering that like anything in life, you have to put both effort and patience into your social media efforts in order to see any sort of benefit from it.
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I have long, probably not-interesting thoughts on social media. I’ll go with the stripped down version:
My philosophy about social media is “provide entertaining content.” If I’m not offering something of value to the reader/consumer, why would they bother with me? I promote my book a bit, but no one cares if I simply blast out the cover image and a link over and over. I get 100 book covers tweeted at me a day, if not more. My hope is that people like the other content enough to check out my profile, discover my book there, and decide I’m someone they want to read. I have a pretty sizable Twitter following, but that doesn’t really mean much for book sales, honestly. To make it work for me, I’ll have to triangulate, in a sense. Release more books, increase my SM following, promote my book outside SM, and get potential buyers to check me out on SM, where they will see I have a big following and decide I must be a good writer. Lol!
Blogging is rewarding in that I build friendships, but speaking realistically, we’re all promoting ourselves to other writers who are promoting themselves. It’s like we’re at a job fair with no vendors.
Facebook is an unwieldy, useless platform that I can’t even stand to look at.
Tell me how you really feel about Facebook.
I’ve often heard the advice to provide something of value in your social media content and in theory this makes sense. In practice, though, how do you define valuable? Cat photos certainly seem to have a lot of social media value even though one could say who give a crap about a bunch of dumb cats?* This particular blog post has gotten a fair bit of interaction and it’s just me whining about how I don’t know how to make social media work for me. I guess the ultimate answer is that whatever your audience cares about is valuable. But this just creates a circular conundrum, for you have to first gain your audience through valuable content, which only your nonexistent existing audience can define.
I’m sure I’ll figure something out now that I’m made the commitment to myself to actually show up online (like writing, it’s amazing how little progress one makes when they don’t bother to sit down and try). I do like your triangulation theory, for social credibility is a very real concept. I often try to mine my own consumer experience in my social media usage, for I’m also a reader and fan in my own right. It may only be a sample size of one, but it’s a start.
I’m endless amused by the fact that I didn’t even want to blog when I started but a friend insisted it would be good to establish a web presence for myself. Now blogging is the online activity I love the most, regardless or who is or is not reading. I don’t know if I’ll ever have fans who want to read it, but I nonetheless feel like I’m building an archive of my writing life that someday might be of interest to others.
*I love cats. They are beautiful and mysterious and I would never say anything bad about them.
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Yeah I know where you’re coming from. I’m a bit of a Twitter ‘surfer’ because it really keeps you updated by the minute on the issues important to you. On a local level this can be things like traffic problems, breaking news of a cat stuck up a tree etc. No wonder print journalism is dying 🙂
On finding one’s own audience I’m not bothered personally. Like you my early blogging days were just like diary entries that I expected no one to read. But I DO know that, to grow an audience, you need to show interest in other people’s blogs/tweets/Instagram etc and to engage, and that way it can snowball quickly.
A couple years ago, when the walls of my apartment shook for a few seconds and an ornament fell off a shelf, Twitter was the first place I turned to confirm it was indeed a small earthquake that had just happened (as opposed to the thousands of imbeciles, it was later reported, who promptly dialed 911 to inquire “Was that an earthquake?”)
You’re right about the importance of engaging with other people’s content. I’ve had some success with this on Twitter but definitely could be doing more. In particular, I need to be more diligent about retweeting and following up on interesting content instead of just liking it, which is little too quick and easy to be very noteworthy to the tweet’s author.
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