Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Social Media Bewilderment

I don't know about you, but I find social media tricky. I've got accounts on facebook, twitter, myspace--heck, even on linkedin (for the "day job" connections)--and I've got a personal blog. But I haven't come to grips with what (or how much) I'm comfortable saying and that means I tend to post very little.

 It isn't like I'm flummoxed by the tools. I worked in high tech for major players for nearly 25 years in the technical side of the house (as opposed to the marketing/sales/management side). If it was only dealing with the technical bits, I'd be just fine. If only...

What I can't seem to get past is the idea in my head that unless I have something really witty or clever or important to say, I shouldn't post anything. I mean, why would anyone want to read what I've posted? I know, I know, that's not how it works. You start posting small observations and gradually build a network of people who follow you and who you follow. I've tried at various times to get into facebook. I'll start posting and commenting and then something happens in real life that distracts me. Then I'll go a long time without posting (or reading) and when I come back I have to fight that block all over again.

You know what's really weird? I don't apply the same standard to what other people post. I mean, I read posts about people's cats and dogs and what they had for breakfast (yeah, I'm exaggerating just a little) and I don't think, hey, why'd they post that? So why is it so hard for me?

I think in part it may be because as writers we're told to regard social media as a marketing tool. But it's really counterintuitive--in order to use social media effectively as a marketing tool, you have to not use it as a marketing tool. Confused? I hear you. Really though, all that means is that you don't continually just post marketing-type blurbs about your books, instead you use social media as it was intended to be used--to make connections as a human being with other human beings.

I mean, let's face it, how many of you have done this: you start following a favorite author on twitter only to realize that every single tweet from this person is yet another rif on "buy my book, it's out next thursday!" Eventually you wonder if they ever say anything else and stop following them (and maybe you don't even buy their next book). Come on, show of hands. Yeah, me too.

It's striking that balance between being a very private person and knowing I need to reveal something of myself in my posts that I find difficult. In a sense, it's similar to what I struggle with in my writing. Hmmm...I hadn't really made that connection before this. I'll have to think about that some more--right after I tweet about it, of course!

How about you? Do you struggle with social media, too, or do you find it easy to use?


Barbara Cool Lee said...

Yes. Total struggle for me. I finally got going just a little on Facebook because non-writing friends were using it, and it was a good way to stay in touch. So basically, I use it to show pics of my cats and dog(!) and comment on what they say they had for breakfast.

I have no idea how people end up with 3000 "friends" and use that in some way to promote their work.

I take heart from the article in the April RWR where J.R. Ward claims she doesn't do much of any social media stuff. Hasn't hurt her career any....

Paty Jager said...

Wow I don't know what I did but that little cursor just kept skimming across my words and not letting me write.

Anyway, as I was typing. I'm on FB and Twitter. I try to put something on FB once a day and Twitter when I think about it.

I really need to do more socializing.

Genene Valleau said...

I find my use of social media echoes how much I go to parties: not very often. When I'm there, I enjoy myself. I love to touch bases with people every so often to catch up on what's going on in their lives. It's wonderful to cheer about their successes and encourage them when things aren't going so well. Then I retreat to my cave.

But it doesn't fit my personality to post something every day or spend hours a day on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And if I tried to do that, I think it would come across as forced.

Besides, by the time I figure out how to be a whiz at social media, the next BIG thing will come along and I'll be out of step again. :)

Sarah Raplee said...

Deb, you sound like me! I call myself a Facebook Zombie - I periodically arise from the Facebook Dead for a while, then disappear. LOL

I havn't taken the Twitter plunge, but I'm about to. My personal blog was too much for me. Tomorrow I'll post about my blogging solution. Hint: this blog is part of it!