How to Reign in the Social Media Pressure
It's no secret that writers are supposed to be building their online platform and brand from the get-go. You can find a bazillion posts on that very thing. Blog! Tweet! Facebook! Tumblr! Get lots of followers! Get lots of comments! Your name must be out there! Blog about writing! Don't blog about writing! Build a niche blog! Be broad! Make everyone love you more than their cat!
And now there's this wicked thing called Klout where you actually get a grade on how influential (read: popular) you are. I even saw a post today on how to increase your Klout score. And I actually found myself thinking--crap is my score of 60 good enough? *headdesk* Are we back in high school again? Because good Lord I never wanted to go back there.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of the social networking thing. I love blogging and Twitter and I have all the other things--the Tumblr, Facebook, Google Plus, Goodreads, etc. However, just like anyone else, I hit my limit sometimes. And the Klout thing was just too much.
I see it all around the web. Each week at least one of my fellow bloggers is posting something about how they don't know how to get more followers to their blog or that they're unsure what to post about when there is so much conflicting advice or that they're getting less comments than they used to. There are apologies about not being able to respond to comments or how they've run out of time to visit everyone who visited their blog.
SO MUCH PRESSURE we put on ourselves.
And you know what all that pressure results in? White-knuckled, desperate social networking. It becomes a job, an albatross around our neck, something we begin to dread. And that ruins the entire beauty and magic of this medium.
The most successful bloggers/networkers I know are the people who tap into the things they are passionate about and who put those things out there in the world. If it's blogging about knitting sweaters for dogs, that's fine. If it's blogging about writing--that's fine,too. I've built a successful blog and presence blogging about craft, so that has been a good move for me.
If you post about things that excite you, it will come across in your writing. People respond to that positivity (okay, Blogger says positivity is not a word, but I bet the New Kids on the Block would disagree so I'm using it anyway.) No one wants to go read a blog where someone is always whining or being negative Nancy. Readers can also tell when you're phoning it in and just blogging or tweeting or whatever because you're supposed to.
If you are not having fun doing it, people won't be having fun reading it.
Now that's not to say you can spend all your time being completely random and navel-gazing. You have to keep your audience in mind. But try to find where the balance is between being uniquely you and also providing something to readers whether that be information, entertainment, a laugh, community, etc. (I talked more about the four types of blogs here and what each provides to the reader.)
And when you find yourself dreading some aspect of social networking, cut it out or streamline it. Only focus on the things that sizzle your bacon. For instance:
- If you hate blogging, try Tumblr* or some other form of "microblog" or don't blog at all and stick to Twitter or Facebook.
*Tumblr is like 30 second blogging where you simply reblog things that are interesting to you. Like a web scrapbook. (Here's mine if you'd like an example, but be warned, it's 18+ and sometimes NSFW because well, I am an erotic romance author after all.)
- If you hate Facebook (like I kinda do), download something like Tweetdeck where you can simply send your tweets from Twitter to copy automatically to your Facebook.
If you hate Twitter and Facebook, you can try Google Plus.
- Hate all of those "update" style sites like Twitter, FB, and Google+? Then maybe try joining discussion groups on Goodreads, Absolute Write, Yahoo Groups, or Amazon. Talk with others about books and writing if that's all you feel comfortable doing.
I think as long as you have a presence in a place where people (and eventually readers) can have discussion with you, you're going to be okay. So make sure you at least have a home website (either a static one or a blog) and that you're networking on at least one or two platforms.
If you want to expand from there (and are still enjoying it), then go for it. But never do some social networking thing just because you HAVE to, you're wasting your time then because we're all going to be able to *feel* that you're white-knuckling it.
Be genuine, be you, and have fun with it.
Oh, and if any of you have a better Klout score than me, can I sit at your lunch table? I'm hoping to get a prom date with a guy who has at least an 80. 🙂
So have you felt the pressure of having to do it all? What social media platforms do you dread or struggle with the most? Which do you love and have fun with? If you could only pick two social networking mediums to be on, which would you choose?