N. P. Ryan vs. Social Media

Facebook is a Flipping Pest.

Anytime I check my page, it bugs me to post something without the slightest care, concern or regard for whether I actually have anything worth saying. For that worth I’ve been getting book three ready—formatting; designing a cover; things like that—but that’s hardly scintillating news and the fact it’s taking longer than hoped is hardly helping my social-media-update cause.

Facebook isn’t alone. It might be the only social media I’ve so far used, but anywhere I read about using it as a promotional tool it tells me to do likewise – even at what time of day. They may all have a point, too – why have a site or page if nothing’s posted on it.

But what to post?

Even at the best of times a writer has little to write about when it comes to the regular updating social media craves. What’s an author of, say, horror realistically got beyond they’ve been working on a particularly gruesome murder scene for the last week?

Ignoring the fact things can change drastically from draught to draught, anything else they have is really nothing more than repeating their week’s work; not only a bit tedious, there’s also not too much longevity in ‘why I chose a red door for the dark cupboard and a rubber-handled claw hammer for the gory deed’.

It’s also a bit spoilery.

When deciding to go self-published I figured a Facebook page would be enough to keep anyone who cared updated on anything going on. But not everyone uses the platform and all the advice says a blog/site is essential. At the time what I might be posting about didn’t seem an issue; all the places giving out the advice were blogs/sites belonging to self-published authors who seemed to have plenty to post about.

So long as it was on the subject of self-publishing.

And here I am doing exactly the same like self-publishing is an internet vortex sucking wannabe authors into an evil self-perpetuating ebook pyramid scheme.

A lot of what is written is bullshit – purposefully convoluted to make services offered more appealing and/or the writer appear really great for taking so much time to explain something like how to format an ebook. The point of posting it is not only to make people aware you’re—well, your books—are out there, but in the process that you’re a wonderful, caring person who deserves to have them bought.

Only thing, the only traffic posts about self-publishing will stop is other writers rather than potential readers. It sounds a bit self-defeating, like a restaurant owner only telling other restaurant owners they’ve just opened. However, follow the ‘formula’ through to its conclusion and it stands a decent chance of doing the hoped for.

It’s meant to work something like this: someone looking to publish an ebook searches how to format one and finds a blog written by an already self-published writer promising a simple and straightforward way. The someone follows the apparently already successful self-publishing writer on Facebook. The writer posts that they have a new book out and the someone gives it a like if for no other reason than the method they’re following appearing to work; the like potentially puts news of the new book into the feeds of everyone they know.

Seemingly straightforward enough, maybe even harmless . . .

I’m pretty laidback about things friends have liked and commented on that have no relationship to me whatsoever appearing interspersed in my feed with what I’ve actually chosen to see – it is ‘social’ media after all.

Patience starts to wear thin, though, when no matter how many times I set my feed to Most Recent, Facebook insists on resetting it to Top Stories – combined with the interspersing, it’s like it thinks it knows better than me about what I want to see.

Absolutely infuriating is that if I scroll down enough a sideways scrolling panel appears in my feed offering other stories I might be interested in – from pages that I’ve ALREADY LIKED!

No matter how extreme the expletives I scream at the screen Facebook still works that way.

While it means it’s possible to get into someone else’s feed, even over something they want to see, it also means every single thing liked and commented on by every person on a friends list is in the running. That’s a lot of choice and it might defeat the object if the algorithm showed something hardly anyone in general has liked and commented on when there’s other posts so many have.

Johnny Depp could have fans swooning, liking and commenting over something as simple as making a cup of tea or frying an egg (especially if he’s a known vegan activist type).  Whereas 😦 no one cares about what I had for breakfast (porridge with honey and a banana).

But what’s said isn’t relevant when trying to obtain social media presence. The important thing is the response/reaction achieved via comments, shares and likes. In fact, posting something unrelated to the page—even completely—can be far more advantageous.

Let’s be honest, you may be enjoying this read, you might even give it a like, perhaps a comment and at a stretch maybe even a share – but I could’ve been a lot more certain about getting those things if I’d simply posted a You Tube video of a crazy cat chasing some string.

vs Social Media Prt 1 Img 1

If the above had been a video of Yoda cutely playing with yarn instead of a picture of her waking up all grumpy, this post just might have achieved what I needed it to.

Unfortunately, in practice it isn’t as cute and cuddly as that. Neither is it exclusive to self-publishers. The reality of how obtaining and maintaining social media presence works means literally every page will at some point go out of its way to mislead and/or upset the very people liking and following it.

Yet there’s no denying social media’s popularity.

Talking about how certain aspects are most effective due to being exploitative and/or to our detriment hardly seems the best way of winning fans from amongst the people who happily use it. Surely, given I think I can see it so clearly, jumping on the bandwagon with numerous cute cat pics would be the best thing I could do?

It still might. Watch this space (please, please, please).

Coming in Part 2: How much deeper can I dig my own hole?

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