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.