Monday, September 26, 2011

Social Media Manifesto II: My Take on Triberr

Confession time: I joined Triberr without fully understanding the implications of joining a tribe.

In essence, Triberr expands your blog influence through Twitter. The members of a tribe have an obligation to tweet about each other's blog posts. It's easy! It's "automagical!" All you have to do it set it and forget it.

Within a few days of joining Triberr, I had over 100 hits on my newest blog post. Yay! thought I. This is outstanding! I understood why so many bloggers consider Triberr the best thing since sliced bread.

But then I started thinking. I bake my own bread. And there's a reason for it: I hate the store-bought, no-attention-given-to-it, sliced stuff.
Photo by Kevin Rosseel

I noticed that my Twitter stream was posting links to blogs I'd never read. Most of which were good. Some, however, were not. One mongo-tribe that I joined has over 30 members! This sounds great: Over 30 people tweeting my blog post! Wowsers! But when I read their blogs -- the stuff that I was reciprocating by posting for them -- I was less thrilled.

Don't get me wrong: a lot of the posts were excellent! I regularly shoutout and RT these bloggers anyway. And I met some wonderful new bloggers, which makes any day seem like Christmas. I was honored to be a part of their tribe. However, not all of the over 30 were created equal.

One guy has two Twitter streams in the same tribe. He writes niche novels and his blog exists only to promote his books. Every single post has the phrase "In my book..." in it. There is no content. It's only sales. Now, he has 10x more followers than I. And he dutifully tweeted my blog post. But his click-through rate is abysmal. Maybe he bought his thousands of followers. Maybe they just ignore his self-serving posts. But it concerned me that I had entered into a social contract with someone so clearly bent on self-gratification.

Another member in the mongo-tribe stuff I won't read. The book currently being touted is all about rape and murder and sadistic yuck. If I won't put that kind of thing in my own head, why would I want to tweet about it as if I were encouraging others to?

Some members posted myriad-multiple times a day. Which means that they were commandeering my Twitter feed. I tweet too much as it is on my own, thank you very much. The last thing I want to do is give free rein to someone even more verbose than I.

And some members, sadly, just didn't write blog posts that I'd ever retweet. Like the ones that only quote glowing reviews of their books. Or the ones that have nothing to do with writing or craft. (It's true, I tweet about more than just writing. But the eclectic stuff I post has been read and vetted by me. I think it's interesting and share it. I don't just share it 'cause I know ya.) Or the ones that review video games. It's fine -- in fact, it's GREAT -- that someone blogs about that stuff. I just don't want to be in the position where I feel obliged to put it out there.

Photo by Agatha Brown
Triberr kind of pushed me over the edge. It seemed so wonderful: new readers! New tweeps! New followers! New friends! What's not to like? But I felt very quickly overwhelmed. On Thursday, I realized that I had spent ALL fr$&!@king day on social media. And zero time writing.

Now this is entirely my fault. Mine and mine alone. I take full responsibility. But as I was mulling over "where on earth did my time go?" I had the second realization that I had auto-tweeted a bunch of my Tribesmates (tribestweeps? tribesmembers? Hmmm...) stuff without even realizing it. And I heard about it from my followers. Because when they clicked on what I sent, they didn't see what they were used to seeing. Which made me realize that I was recommending stuff without reading it. Which is something I hate in others.

So this past weekend I called a meeting with myself. Pulled the SM plug. Spent some time thinking long and hard about what I was accomplishing with all this SM interaction. And I came to the inescapable realization that I am spending more time on SM stuff than I am on writing.

This, I told myself, was unacceptable. I have become the employee who spends too much work time online. Except I work for me.  Not only was my boss unhappy with my productivity levels, but my SM friends were beginning to question my judgment. It was time for serious housekeeping. 

So, feeling that I couldn't in good conscience keep up with my end of the social contract, I quit the mondo-tribe.

This was not a thing I took lightly. I stressed about it for several days, weighing the pros and cons of remaining. I feel badly about leaving: some of the writers in it are fantastic. But ultimately, I felt that it was taking me more time to pick and choose content -- to browse through all that was offered and determine what I wanted to bring to the attention of my followers -- than it was worth.

My biggest problem with Triberr is the thing that most people love about it. I don't like the automation. I don't like looking at my Twitter feed and seeing stuff I've posted that I didn't know about. It makes me feel like I've given free-rein to someone else and turned an imposter loose with my Twitter account. It's the whole homemade bread thing, dontchaknow

This, then, is my Triberr policy:
  • All auto-posting is turned off. No one gets an automatic thumbs up. From now on, I will read all Triberr members' posts before I post them.
  • I'll only tweet about stuff I like. My loyalty to my Twitter followers comes first. My tribe members come second.
  • I'll make an honest effort to list all tribe members and follow their Twitter streams. When possible, I'll RT things they say. But I won't pander to blatant self promoters.
  • I would sooner close my Triberr affiliation than lose writing time. If my Triberr policy becomes too time consuming, then either a tribe, or the whole Triberr shebang, is gone.
 How do you feel about Triberr -- either as a member or from reading a Triberr member's Twitter stream? What's your policy when it comes to auto-tweeting?


Leah Petersen said...

This is just what I needed to read right now. I got my first invitation to Triberr. As soon as I read the "automatic retweets of all your posts" part I was really turned off. I was still actively culling such mess from my stream by unfollowing people who weren't being social, they were only advertising.

I can't be social on a social network if I can't tell what's going on for the page full of spam.

Thanks for the post!


Ami Hendrickson said...

Thanks for commenting. I honestly stressed out over the Triberr thing. I felt ungrateful, somehow, because I was in this awesomely huge tribe of writers and all I could see were pitfalls of the situation. I deliberated about quitting the big tribe for days. Now that I have, however, I feel much more comfortable with my Triberr activity. With few exceptions, the tribe I'm in now posts things I'd RT anyway.

Jonathan D Allen said...

As one of those mondo-tribe members (though we'd communicated before), I wholeheartedly agree with you and understand your decision to pull the plug. I suspect I might be the person who blogged about a video game. To be fair, I was talking about the storytelling, but I definitely didn't think that would hit everyone's sweet spot and wasn't offended that people didn't tweet it.

Overall, though, your post pretty much backed up some of my thoughts about the process itself. I don't think you're ungrateful or negative at all. In fact, I'm seeing that Triberr can be useful, but I think I'm going to have to do the same thing as you. Maybe not leave, but vet everything that comes from me. It's definitely a question of quality and how much you can manage with these social media outlets.

Anyway, just wanted to give you a little voice of support from someone else who's learning the pitfalls.

Ami Hendrickson said...

Your blog amazes me. You post quality stuff *every day!* I am in awe. True, some of it may be about the storytelling behind a video game, and that's not my cuppa tea, but your Garbage Day: Magical Thinking ( was superb!

As I said -- and I believe you understood -- my trouble with Triberr (I SO wanted to use Tribbles to illustrate the post, but that seemed a little to Geek / Twee) wasn't necessarily with the content, the quality, or the quantity of individual bloggers' work. It was more with the whole magnitude of the social contract. When I fulfilled my obligations to Triberr, I felt I was somehow doing so at the expense of my loyal Twitter followers.

We're all learning and growing. I feel much less stressed trying to keep up with everyone's content in the mondo tribe. If things keep on like this, I may even find the time to write in the next day or so. :D I know my decision to leave was the right one for me. However, I've kept my TweetDeck list of Triberr Tweeps (including ones from the mondo tribe), and refer to it frequently, looking for gold nuggets of content to share.

Thanks for the voice of support & right back atcha. Keep on keeping on!

Jonathan D Allen said...

Aw thanks! I'm very touched, and I enjoy your blog too :) And yeah, totally in agreement with you on everything. It's not a slight against fellow triberrs, it's just a matter of being able to smartly mete out our time. Nothing wrong with that!

Lyndsay Wheble said...

This is exactly why I turned off auto-sharing on Triberr too. Some it's good, but most of it is fairly average...also, people lied about how often they blog, meaning, like yours, my twitter stream was full of often-quite-inane stuff from random blogs that were not really of interest to me, let alone my followers.

There are some tribe members I never approve on Triberr and if they have a problem with it, I'll leave. I'm not sure it works so well as to be worth compromising what I present to the world.

However, it does have some benefits - I found your blog that way, for instance :)

I also wonder though - how is it the slightly average bloggers have so many more followers than me? Craziness.

Barbara Simpson said...

This is great: "I have become the employee who spends too much work time online. Except I work for me."