This is an update to my series on UNsocial Networking, in which I’ve been on a developing quest to use social networking sites effectively while not losing my mind. The results thus far have been mixed.
This series was started over on Medium, because I was totally enamored with the idea that they weren’t on the whole “follow” bandwagon. Well, I can’t say that anymore. Without that unique quality, Medium has pretty much become just another blogging site that is extremely inflexible in formatting and has an SEO strategy that benefits only itself, not the writers. Oh, well. Nice try, Ev.
Once you choose a blogging platform, it’s necessary to interact on a few social networking sites. My main ones are still Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. I’m still experimenting with LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, reddit, and Goodreads. Here are my observations on each, from the perspective of a content writer, aspiring novelist, and amateur digital artist.
Twitter is great for sharing “fun” stuff, and participating in real-time trending topics in news and culture. There is an enormous amount of pressure to keep your follower-to-followee ratio balanced, however, which I find stressful. If you follow a lot of people and don’t have very many people following you back, other Twitter users will assume you’re a spammer. You can get away with having a lot of people following you, and not following many people back, but you need to be famous in your niche to pull that off. That takes some time. Once you get to the point where you have too many people in your feed to read all the tweets, you either have to start unfollowing/muting people, or risk become obnoxiously self-promoting.
I’ve noticed a lot of people seem to mutually-follow everyone else in their niche. For example, all of the authors follow each other. Most of them really don’t retweet each other, or promote each others’ books. The just have impressive collections of Twitter followers who are authors. I suppose this is quite a boost to the ego, but seeing as the majority of the authors do nothing on their Twitter feeds but promote their own books (boring), I don’t really see the point.
What I’ve done that is working fairly well for me is a three-step approach:
- Seek out interesting people on Twitter, and retweet and/or favorite their posts.
- If the interesting people seem to follow approximately the same number of people who follow them, I follow them, and hope they’ll follow me back.
- If the interesting people seem to have a LOT more followers than they are following, I add them to my private list, so I can read their posts when I get around to it.
This keeps my follower-to-followee ratio within respectable guidelines, and allows me to network with people I truly enjoy reading.
I’m still enjoying Facebook for the group action. Right now, I don’t even have any “friends” on Facebook, and I’m OK with that. I haven’t been sending friend requests to people, and I haven’t been receiving very many (The ones I have received have been obvious spammers, so those don’t count). I am a member of a bunch of public and private groups, and interact on several of them daily. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and had some great conversations that way. I’ve even been able to share a blog post or two (as appropriate and within the group’s various guidelines), and received some blog traffic that way. Bonus!
Google Plus is great for sharing visual content. I’ve found it works better when I keep up with the communities, but that takes an enormous amount of time, which I haven’t had lately. The communities are usually very specific about what types of content they will allow, and which sub-community you are allowed to share it in. I’ve made the mistake of joining too many communities there, which has turned sharing a simple blog post or funny picture, or digital work of art into a five or six step process, which is sometimes more work than it is worth.
I do have about 80 or so people that I’m following, and some of their posts, along with select posts from some of the communities I’m in show up in my news feed. I enjoy reading through this feed, but these posts are difficult to share elsewhere on the web.
I’m still searching for a solution to these two problems, to make Google Plus a more practical place for me to network.
I’m just going to be brutally honest here – I don’t understand LinkedIn. I first joined it (under another ID) about twelve years ago, and I STILL don’t get it. I thought starting all over with a new ID might clear up the problem, but no.
On one hand, you’re encouraged to only send friend request to people you know, but on the other hand ALL of the industry wisdom says to have at least 500 connections on LinkedIn (LinkedIn stops reporting exact numbers after 500). Come on! No body has over 500 real-life professional contacts. I keep hearing that LinkedIn is the place to be if you’re a writer, but so far, all I’m seeing is the same type of interaction I’ve been seeing on Twitter – a bunch of mutual follow-backs with no real interaction that would lead to an increase in work.
Maybe there’s something I’m missing. I’m going to hang in there a while, and see if I can figure out what it is. If anyone has any tips or advice, I’d love to hear it.
Instagram, Pinterest, reddit, and Goodreads
I’m mostly on these sites to reserve my username, and experiment with what works, and what doesn’t. Instagram and Pinterest are a lot of fun when you just want to take a break and look at pretty pictures for awhile. Goodreads is a great place to follow the same authors you’re following on Facebook and Twitter (in case you want to do that), and reddit is a great place to get into flame wars and blow off steam when you can’t physically get to the gym. I would also be interested in hearing if other content writers, authors, or digital artists have found these sites useful.