In this post, I will discuss why I use social media, the reasons why I enjoy it, and the reasons why I don’t. These are all my opinions, as an author and a millennial; your opinions and personal experience may differ from mine. 🙂
I mention I’m a millennial because that, at its core, is why I really decided to use social media. When I say that my generation has grown up online, I really mean it. We took typing as a class in elementary or middle school (late 90s & early 2000s), and most of us passed with flying colors because we already had access to a computer, either at home or at a library, and as the years went on, everyone had a computer at home. By the time I graduated in 2008, people had little tiny laptops that could do way more than my monitor-and-tower computer. In comparison, my husband graduated in ’93: he took a single computer typing class, and didn’t touch one again for almost a decade. My peers and I grew up as the last generation to really use the library card catalog at school, because search engines became major players within a few years.
I would like to offer a moment of silence for Ask Jeeves, which was awesome.
But the internet wasn’t just for learning. Most of my friends had a Facebook account before the age of 18, and before that, there was Myspace, MyYearbook, forums, chat rooms, and even sites like Neopets which allowed for kids my age to talk with people all across the world at an almost instantaneous pace. We grew up learning about other countries not just through biased school systems, but by making online friends who shared our interested, even though we were thousands of miles apart. It was personal for us. Even now, most everyone I know still has something that they check on a regular basis – whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or something else; conversely, I don’t know how many people my age have said they have a junk email address, hundreds of unread emails, or simply don’t check their email at all (outside of certain situations, like word-related things).
That’s why I prefer to use social media as my major platform for marketing, instead of doing something like an email list. With a multitude of accounts spread all over the internet, I’m easily searchable, with multiple avenues for people to not only legitimately contact me, but for me to contact them. I don’t use any programs (“bot”) or an assistant to help me with my social media, either (goodness knows, I’m not busy enough for that!). If I ReTweet something, it’s because it caught my interest. If I post something on my Facebook page, it’s because I wanted to share it. If something is posted by my WordPress account, you can be sure I wrote it. It’s a lot more personal, to me, which is hilarious because it’s being broadcast to hundreds of followers!
It’s also bite-sized and generally easier to follow. People say it’s a shame that attention spans have shortened over the years, but I still know a lot of people “my age” (I feel so old, saying that) who can easily sit down and read a Harry Potter book in just a few sessions – it’s online where the attentions really lag. And why wouldn’t they? When there’s so much information at a person’s fingertips, why should they spend ages staring at a single thing on a screen? “Because it’s interesting!”, you might say, and I would agree – but how do we prove it’s interesting? It’s easy to do so if you’re posted on a website with a lot of traffic and followers, because they generally vet their work, but what if you aren’t? How does an average person build up an audience?
And that’s where social media comes in. Share your little bites of info, and maybe little bites of your life. Get people invested in your story – not just your novel/work, but your personal life, too. You don’t have to share everything, but if your audience feels like they know you, it’s more likely to make them want to support you – the “I knew you before you were famous!” mentality.
What don’t I like about social media?
The “rules”. Not the actual TOS that every site has, but the unwritten rules of engagement. It’s all about presenting the “coolest” or “most perfect” life, the “best” tweets, stuff like that. Maybe I just want to show off the book I’m reading without worrying about the fact that my house is a mess – I mean, I do have a child, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, I get easily fatigued… Sometimes my living room isn’t perfect. Oh well, doesn’t matter!
The sheer ease of oversharing. I will gladly show a picture of my aforementioned child – as long as it doesn’t show his face, and I usually try to refrain from using an easily recognizable shirt or something I know he’ll wear again, in public. I also try not to post where I am, but where I’ve been. It’s nothing personal – I just want to keep my private life private, and I’m usually out with my kiddo. It sounds so presumptuous, but if things pick up, I don’t want him missing out on being a kid because his mom is known by people on The Internets.
The spam. I fell into this trap on Twitter around Christmastime – posting ads or my book roughly once every six to eight hours or so. It’s annoying, but it’s what I had to do to get my book out there and be seen – and some ads were being posted every hour, if not more frequently. Even if the account was blocked from posting, there were others (often seemingly run by the same group) who would just pick up right where the other left off. It’s sad when legitimately posted advertisements end up being pushed to the bottom because people (and bots) are spamming certain hashtags, and all it does is create more spam when people want their stuff to be seen. It’s a lose/lose situation.
Question time: Do you already use social media for your writing? What kind of accounts? What sorts of things do you share? Is there any account you wish you could use more, or want to learn how to use but are afraid to try? Feel free to leave your answers below, and if you want to share your accounts, go right ahead! I love finding new people to follow. 🙂