I have a love / hate relationship with social media.
I love being involved in a global community that supports my dreams while I support the dreams of others.
I hate that I can allow it to suck up every spare moment in my day.
I love interacting with friends, fellow writers, and fascinating people.
I hate how easily the "social" part takes a back seat to the "media." Automation is anathema to me.
On occasion, I reconsider how I use social media. I evaluate how much of my time I am willing to give it. How much of my creative resources. How much of me. My thoughts and policies follow. They may not be the same as yours. You may not even agree with them. That's OK. Write your policies in your own manifesto...
My Twitter Rules:
I never wanted to be on Twitter. I was a Facebook fan (see "Facebook" below). But a writer friend set me up on Twitter and Tweetdeck while I was at her house one day and I was very quickly sold.
Twitter affords me the opportunity to talk with people all over the world. I have Twitter friends in London, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and Scotland.
Twitter lets me connect with other writers and with readers. It also grants me access to the innermost thoughts of agents, editors, and publishers. Interestingly enough, I find that the Twitter feeds of writers overwhelmingly tend toward the positive, while those of the agents tend to be snark-filled.
Thanks to Twitter, I've discovered new writers that I love and new agents that I admire. I've also run across writers that I wouldn't read if you paid me and agents who are so vitriolic that I wouldn't want
them repping me even if it meant a quick, sure sale.
My Twitter Rules:
- If you mention me (@MuseInks), I'll send you a thank you. And I'll mean it. But if you're one of those who RTs every mention, I'll stop thanking you for the shoutouts. That sort of thing is just a social media vicious circle and it wastes my time.
- I won't follow you just because you ask me to for the same reason I don't buy every thing I see an advertisement for. Give me a reason to follow you and I will.
- I don't care if I have a million followers. I'd rather have just a few who read what I say and who respond to me.
- I might follow someone via a Twitter list before following them "for real."
- I don't automatically follow back if you follow me. It depends on your Twitter page (I look at the feeds of everyone before I follow). If you only tweet about something you're trying to sell, or if you never RT, or if you tweet only quotes, or if you never engage your followers in conversation, I won't follow you. Why should I?
- I won't auto-tweet. I personally approve all content in my Twitter feed. I might schedule a tweet for a later time, but not before vetting the content.
Which leads me to Triberr...
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|
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 wrote...er... 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|
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 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 my tribes and left Triberr.
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.
And then there is Facebook.
I was a long-time diehard Facebook fan. I loved reconnecting with people with whom I'd fallen out of touch. I had my fan page and my personal page and networked my blog and everything. And I loved it.
But I didn't love the constantly changing privacy policies. And I didn't love realizing that I'd just spent the past hour and a half reading status updates when I could have been -- should have been -- writing.
For me, the last straw of Facebook came when my child's 1st grade teacher took pictures of the kids in her class and posted them on her page. Soon, people were tagging her with my name and links to my FB page.
Now, I rarely put my child's picture online. To me, that just smacks of exploitation. And the paranoiac in me certainly doesn't want my kid's picture tagged with my name. I know there are a bazillion parents out there happily posting pics of every second of their kids' lives. Well, I'm not one of them.
So time-wasting and photo-tagging trumped (in my opinion) staying in touch with a few people, I got off FB. Went cold turkey. Never missed it, found lots of other ways to procrastinate on my writing, and never looked back...
I use social media to stay informed and to stay in touch. I must constantly remember that it is a tool. It is not my reason for living. I was not put here on the planet to raise my Klout score or see if I can get the most Twitter followers, or blog readers, or Facebook fans. I love spending time online meeting and interacting with the wonderful people I meet there, but my life begins when I pull the plug and get down to the business of living.