Marketing, Novel, Promotion, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

A whole lot of networking … too little socializing!

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.

38 thoughts on “A whole lot of networking … too little socializing!”

  1. I just came across this under the ‘writing’ tag, and I’m glad I did because it resonates strongly with a lot my feelings about Social Media. I am currently at the starting point of the whole twitter process – I just started an account last week and have been getting the hang of it. I’m one of those people who stayed away from it and it’s relatives on principle for a long time, but now (on the same advice that was given to you) I’m raising my ‘online presence’. The hope is that it will lead to more and regular freelance writing work.. we shall see.

    One interchange with a coursemate in the first month at uni put me off facebook for years. He asked if I was going to the curry night, and I told him I had no idea there was one. He said ‘didn’t you get the facebook invite?’ I said I wasn’t on facebook. His jaw dropped. ‘But how do you socialise?’ he asked me, utterly genuinely. Unfortunately he turned out to have a point, as my absence from facebook ultimately meant an absence of event invitations and communications, and I did become something of a hermit.. So I’m trying to learn how to use social platforms as tools, and like tools make them work for me. I’m interested to see how it turns out!

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, somnambicsand. 🙂 It’s no doubt that the generations below mine see social media as THE way to socialize. I joined Facebook so I could “keep in touch” with them. I hope Twitter meets your needs.

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  2. Yes, I’m experiencing some social media fatigue myself. I decided to focus more on my blog, post more regularly, and concentrate on finding readers with similar interests and on my closer author buddies and friends. It’s a true art to find a good balance.
    Christa

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  3. I can’t disagree with nearly everything you said. In fact, I’m on a social media sabbatical. (The kind of sabbatical where you occasionally check in — and it sounds like I’m not alone!) 😉

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  4. Loved this post! And yes, I’ve noticed that about small children as well, and always thought it was so cute. Also made me think about the big question: “Who really ARE my friends?” Which I used to ponder well before the internet was invented.

    I have cut down my time on social media, and only do what I enjoy now. I don’t think of it as promotion, but as an outlet for me– a work at home in my pj’s author and editor– a fun diversion that I got into initially to promote but now do for enjoyment and information and to connect with like-minded people. Does that make us friends? I have no idea but here I am.

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    1. “Who really ARE my friends?” is something I ask myself frequently, Karen. As you know, writing requires a good bit of isolation, so I’m not down on all social media because it gives me a sense of community. I’ve met a lot of good writers and good people through social media … and I love that I could do that in my pjs! 🙂

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