This is going be one interesting Meditative Monday for me. I’m not usually one for gushing over social media. In fact, as you can probably tell from the me renaming my site and trimming the schedule, I don’t like anything that sounds like extra work.
And there was nothing that confused me more for quite a long time than wondering if I needed Twitter, Instagram, and all this other crazy junk that other people were using.
I do know folks who harp about social media being the “end all be all” for marketing. I was actually told by someone that I needed to be on Twitter, have Instagram, and all sorts of platforms that I’ve never heard of in order to be “successful”.
But that didn’t make any sense to me. It still doesn’t make any sense to me.
Why would anyone force themselves onto a platform they don’t like to force marketing on an audience that doesn’t really want to be sold to anyway?
To me, that just sounds like a recipe for everyone involved to be really miserable.
With social media there’s two sides I hear a lot. Either it’s ‘OMG! You have to have a/n (insert platform name) account’ it’s so good cuz I have a bajillion followers, or ‘social media isn’t working’.
Back and forth arguments just leave me wishing I could crawl under a couch.
So I turned to the knowledge of some more successful authors to see what they had to say on the subject, first Tim Grahl and his book Your First 1000 Copies.
And here was his two cents about it:
Social media can make an author platform stronger by giving it a boost when it’s already built and functioning. But social media alone cannot make an author platform strong. Bestselling authors use social media to extend their outreach plan, not to represent all of it. They use social media to support and complement their core assets: their email list, their blog, their guest posts, their outreach.
And here’s some tidbits from David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital:
Even having a popular blog on writing or publishing (as I do) is of minimal use when selling books that aren’t about, you guessed it, writing or publishing. You may know that already, but here’s something you may not know: a popular blog on writing or publishing doesn’t even sell that many books on that exact topic, outside of the launch itself.
A social media platform is neither a necessary or sufficient condition of success. Some writers seem to think a platform like this is even more important if you don’t have the backing of a publisher, but it’s simply untrue. Authors such Michael Wallace and David Dalgish have sold approximately a million books between them without spending much on any of the stuff traditionally called platform building.
Being a new author myself, you can imagine the sigh of relief that came out of me.
Thank the clouds of jeebus, I can focus on writing and not have to run around trying to get on everything I see. I can just set up my little email list and go back to my little hole and just focus on the marketing that does the heavy lifting.
But you have to admit, the pressure we get to be on every bit of social media is overwhelming. Now it’s getting to point where jobs require it
I acknowledge that some people out there make it work like a charm. Some of you might be rolling in stacks of moolah and then go jump into your swimming pool of gold because your twitter following or blog or what have you pushed you to success.
So take what I’m about to say next with a pinch of salt, but here are some of the issues I feel that there is with social media.
We Still Don’t Understand The Full Story Of What Social Media Does To Us
It’s no secret now that social media has been linked to feeling more lonely and isolated and can be terribly addicting. Sure it connects us to people and ideas that we wouldn’t have known otherwise and I love that about it.
But at the same time, I’m a big believer that information can poison a person the same way fast food, unclean water, stress, and negative thinking can make you sick. This is why I don’t watch TV, and this is why I’ve killed my Facebook. I get overwhelmed easily by too much and negative information, but also the addiction to wishing people would like my stuff is downright unhealthy.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened Facebook on my phone to look at nonsense when I could’ve gotten a decent days worth of writing done.
I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from Facebook angry, scared, or unsettled because of reading something that I had no business exposing myself to.
I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten irrationally frustrated with the ‘Friend’ and connection aspect of Facebook and social media platforms because I’ve honestly never felt ‘more connected’ to anyone because they share something with me on a social media platform.
If anything, I feel less connected from being more connected. Maybe I’m doing friendship wrong or something, but the idea of being constantly connected to everyone I know via a platform is both unnerving and draining on both my productivity and my attention span.
I’ve often been told by my family that I’m like a little old person in a young person’s body, and used to resent that. But now I’m starting to see what exactly they’re talking about and more and more, I feel myself getting drawn to ‘old-school’ ways of doing social things like seeing a person’s face when I’m talking to them, calling someone up to talk, or emailing them.
One of the most eye-opening moments to me…
It was a day when I got onto the bus to go back to my apartment and I decided not to look at my phone for the whole ride.
And the first thing I noticed?
Everyone’s head was buried in their phones. Minus the bus driver of course.
This is not over just one bus ride. Or limited to just the bus.
I’ve seen this everywhere.
Now it’s to the point where we bring our phones to the table when we’re out with friends. I’m unfortunately guilty of doing this one sometimes, but I’ve been making progress on cleaning myself up.
I’m even debating on doing away with phones altogether when my contract is up in June.
A scary thought these days, I know.
Today it seems like we need to have a way to connect with others and for others to be connected to us. But I often wonder who really benefits from this?
Something that I’ve come to terms with is realizing that I don’t actually have a phone for me. It’s for other people to reach me. And other people rarely do this aside from family and spam callers, so I don’t see the value in keeping one aside from being able to call 911.
I’ll have to work something out about that, but keeping a phone for other people to contact me?
I highly doubt I’ll be missed.
Jumping On Too Many Social Media Platforms Can Spread You Too Thin
Scheduling tweets, trying to come up with a clever post for Facebook, maintaining your blog, doing this, doing that… Just thinking about it is enough to give me a headache.
I’m not the most organized person, so being everywhere is a nightmare. I’ve only just started getting better at focusing and being happy with the help of Calm’s meditation programs. I really don’t want to lose this progress.
But on a side-note, I feel like if someone is not a patient person, then you’re subscribing for exponentially more disappointment and frustration when social media doesn’t produce the expectations you want.
For me, that’s not being fair to social media, as platforms weren’t designed specifically for our marketing expectations. It’s not being fair to ourselves or our writing either. At the end of the day, people aren’t buying our social media accounts or posts, they’re buying our work.
Sure you can make the argument that planning ahead for launch doesn’t hurt, but even that’s something you’ve got to be careful with because 100,000 followers might sound like the dream, but what do those 100,000 matter if they don’t care about the stuff you’re putting out?
The Good Stuff That Comes Out Of All Of This
I know I’ve bashed social media so much so far, but please don’t let anything I’ve said make you want to dump all your platforms.
If you love Twitter, you do Twitter. If you love Tumblr, you do some Tumblr. Whatever works is valid. Wherever your happiness and your money is at the end of the day, that’s where the focus should be in my opinion.
Besides, I haven’t given up on other social media platform completely! I actually started a Pinterest account. 😀 Because this account is just for me and I don’t share the actual account with friends or anyone I know, I’ve actually gotten productive use out of it.
The Pinterest account is actually what inspired me to take my drawing more seriously again. It gives me a steady stream of references for drawing that I can experiment with and healthy food ideas that I make at home for my family. I don’t spend ridiculous amounts of time on it. It’s the perfect win-win for me.
And the best part?
Pinterest has a follow feature, but I find that I’m not attached to it the way I was about Facebook or other mediums. I was actually shocked and confused the first time I saw someone follow me in my notifications because it didn’t occur to me that people would do that.
But hey, I never said I was the best at the internet.
As an new author struggling to get a foothold in the world and learn the ropes, it can be downright terrifying to get in there and start building your audience. Out here on the web there’s so much information and you can never tell who is right or wrong or even if it’s just your unique situation that’s killing your sales.
But when it comes to what helped me make the ultimate decision to just focus my attention on my writing, I feel like I can’t leave here without mentioning Mary Buckham. I found out about her from her Writing Active Setting series, and I love it because it helped me a lot when I tried to get better at description.
So one day, I worked up the courage to email her.
For me, that’s asking for a lot, as I do have social anxiety, so cold-calling takes a freakish amount of psyching up. I figured that she’d be busy, or not care, or maybe not even see my email.
But she did.
And I was happy to find she had huge thick paragraphs of really good advice to give. I still keep them and look at them as I check things off on my author’s to-do list.
But the most important bit in it what she said is this…
Don’t drive yourself crazy with trying to do all social media sites or approaches at once. But now’s the time to dip your toes into the water and see what you enjoy doing in connecting with potential readers who are reading what you are writing. How do you know who they are? Because you’re following authors who are writing what you are writing, too.I hope this helps a little. Plan for success. Take baby steps in learning what happens after you’re published before you are and you’ll be patting yourself on the back down the road instead of drowning 🙂
Hopefully, this helps to ease some worries out there. It’s helped to ease mine when I thought I’d go crazy from all this marketing business and it’s definitely helped me become more comfortable with being an author.