Boy, there are a lot of misconceptions among writers about social media and a few of those misconceptions cropped up in last week’s post.
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The thing that cropped up—of course—is the fact that Facebook has “limited” your friends. Facebook says that only a subset of the people who friend you will see your comments. This means exactly nothing. Same with the boosting of the posts (the Facebook wants you to pay for). So what if only a fraction of your Facebook friends see your post? That’s how Facebook has always worked.
If you’re good at Facebook, then one of your posts will go viral. (Yes, the posts that go viral are usually about cats, and not about your latest book. Deal with it.)
People will respond in large numbers (over 50) to your viral post and those people move into your feed subset, for a while anyway. The fact that Facebook has limited who can see your posts, based on “interest,” is an algorithm, nothing more. In the past, the people who saw your posts were the people who either went to your page and looked at them, people with a small group of friends who saw everything, and the people who were online the moment you wrote the post.
Now, after the change and the “boost,” who sees your post? The people who go to your page, the people with a small group of friends who see everything, and a subset of the people who were online the moment you write the post.
Really, not a lot of variation there. So stop worrying about it. If you’re worrying about it, I would venture to say that you’re using Facebook incorrectly.
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Now, the overall misconception:
Just because you have 3,000 Facebook “friends” or 10,000 people coming to your fan page, just because you have 25,000 Twitter followers or the biggest community on Google+, does not mean that all of those people see or even care about everything you do.
On Twitter, you only see the posts of people you follow and even then, you rarely see ones from a few hours ago. It’s the same with the other social media sites.
That worry about Facebook’s limitation of the posts? It comes from the misconception that you’ll reach all of the people all of the time.
Not going to happen—no matter where you go.
Here’s how I think of social media.
It’s a party or a convention, depending on size. Treat it like a public gathering of some sort.
Going to the largest social media “convention,” Facebook, and complaining that it limits who sees your posts is like going to San Diego Comic-Con and fretting that the room you’re speaking in only holds 1,000 people. That means 129,000 people won’t see you! Oh, no!!!!
It doesn’t matter how big the convention you attend is in real life. I learned this long ago. Half the time, the fans who attend the World Science Fiction convention have no idea who the Guests of Honor are. Those are the people who theoretically the fans have come to see.
The theory isn’t true of course. The fans have come to the convention for a variety of reasons. Some fans arrive to play games, others to socialize with their friends in fandom, still others to go to the masquerade. A subset will come just to see the writer Guest of Honor, but only a subset.
Even the large media conventions like DragonCon won’t get 100% of the attendees seeing the big media guests. 90% of the attendees probably don’t even know who the guests are.
People go to social media for the same reason they attend conventions in real life. Some go to meet like-minded people. Some visit to see their friends. Others come for an education. A goodly portion come to promote something.
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Here are Kris’s rules of social media:
1. Have fun.
If you hate parties, do you go to them? Back in the day when your publisher forced you to go to conventions, did you spend most of the time hiding in your room? Do you hate the way that Facebook works and get annoyed every time you go?
Then don’t go.
It’s as simple as that. Participating in social media is truly not required. Remember Scott William Carter’s WIBBOW test. Would you rather be writing? Then write.
I really can’t stress this enough.
In 2010, I interviewed a group of people who were using social media very well at that moment in time. I did it for the Online Networking section of The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. While some of the information shows its four-year-old roots, other things stand out.
Everyone I interviewed stressed that they enjoyed what they were doing. Neil Gaiman said it best:
I’m not sure if any [of what I do online] is networking. I mean, if it is, I never did it to Network. I did it because it was fun, and because writing can be a very lonely profession. It’s fun to have people to talk to, fun to have people who talk to you, and great to have people who will answer your questions (even if they’re wrong). I also feel that it levels the playing field, which I like.
It’s pretty clear, if you follow Neil on Twitter, that he enjoys this stuff. In fact, when he does do a marketing post or something about himself, he gets a little cute for my tastes. He always puts WARNING:Contains me on the post. I would hope he posts about himself. That’s one reason I follow him.
The other reason? His tweets are always interesting—and clearly were four years ago as well.
I go on Twitter several times per day—not because I feel the need to or because I’m trying to hit a quota, but because I now use it as a news source and a way of seeing friends. Often, I don’t Tweet at all. Twitter is my favorite social media site.
Last week, others mentioned Google+ and Pinterest as favorites. I personally like Google+ and am afraid of Pinterest as a time-sink, so I avoid it. Those are my preferences. Those are the parties I want to go to, with the people I want to see.
I have fun there, so I visit out of enjoyment.
PG will second Kris’ advice to have fun with social media. He has fun with The Passive Voice but he doesn’t have fun on Twitter (although he has over 50,000 followers). He spends time on The Passive Voice, but doesn’t on Twitter.
PG tweets a lot, but his tweets are tied to his blog posts and automatically created whenever a new blog post appears. The purpose of the tweets is to let PG’s followers know there’s a new blog post on The Passive Voice. He does the same thing with Facebook.
As he’s mentioned before, a significant minority of PG’s blog traffic comes via Twitter, so he makes certain the TPV to Twitter connection is working and he keeps tweets in mind when he creates blog headlines which is what comprise his auto-tweets.