It doesn’t take much to find a friend nowadays. One mouse click and you’re someone’s Friend. Or not. One mouse click and you’re in someone’s Circle of trust. Or not. One mouse click and you’re Following someone like a devoted puppy. Or not.
“Social” networking is mostly illusion. Have you ever taken a pre-schooler to the park and noticed that after five minutes of play with a child they’ve never seen before, they refer to that child as “my friend”? Yeah, social networking is like that. Cute, isn’t it?
If you’re a writer and read many industry blogs, you’re probably familiar with the use-social-media-to-build-your-platform message. I’d already started blogging when I first read that, but I took their advice to heart and joined Twitter. The advice said that I needed to have at least 1,000 followers before my book release date.
So, for the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter, which is why I’m focusing on that today. Yes, I tweet links to all my blog posts and, more recently, some book promotion, but I also retweet at least three times as many links by others as well as RTing their quotes, witticisms, and announcements. I try to have fun. I try to start or join in conversations. Months ago, I hit 1,000 followers and kept going.
I’m now at the point where I can avoid Twitter for a week and still gain 20-30 new followers. It has nothing to do with my brilliant skills at tweeting. It has nothing to do with me at all. I expect at least half those people immediately punt me to a list they never check. They aren’t interested in seeing any of my tweets … in interacting with me at all. I’m just a number they hope will follow them back and increase their counts—and, of course, read their brilliant tweets and buy their products. That’s social networking for you.
Until recently, tweeting links to my blog posts always generated a fair amount of blog hits, but even so, I have a feeling most of those hits were from people who read my posts anyway. The biz blogs led me to believe being on Twitter would be a big help to book sales, but I question that now. I can’t track all sales, of course, so I could be wrong. Still I wonder if the effort put forth on Twitter equals the benefit gained. (I could write a whole post on this, and I may, but for now, back to the social side.)
In my experience, except for blogging, there’s very little socializing in social media. No matter how many new followers I gain, interaction seems to come only from the same small group. “Coincidently” that group contains the same few who interact with me here on this blog—most of them since the early days. And most of those, I’ve also corresponded with by email. We might have even shared a thing or two about our non-writing lives. If they lived near me, I’d invite them over for lunch. Friends.
I’m open to new friendships, of course, I just won’t be as naïve as a four-year-old in recognizing them. I’m extremely thankful for those I do call friends. That’s why I’m rethinking how much of my time and energy I devote to my social networking “friends.” I think I’ve been short-changing my real friends—and that’s just not nice.