Second looks

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this humble blog’s visit statistics have gone up since I added the links for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media at the bottom of each post. (Well, okay, literally it is a coincidence since the two things happened at the same time, but you know what I mean.) I’m still not altogether clear how that whole business works — I guess I’m grateful — but it gives me the chance to make some vaguely related meta musings.

  • I’ve been told many times by many people that visit statistics for blogs are meaningless, or rather, that they are unimportant. They are not a validation of the blog’s worth or the value of the content. I think the message of that is that you should simply write whatever seems appropriate for your blog without an eye to pleasing anyone but yourself. Funny. I’ve heard that same advice about writing fiction.
  • I don’t have a Twitter account — a Twitter persona — and I only use Facebook to keep up with the doings of my children (and my nephews to some extent though many of them are at an age when you don’t really want to know how they spent their Saturday night). I don’t know how this “platform” business works, and part of me thinks it’s a bit vain (or maybe desperate?). If you have Twitter followers, and you tweet something about your writing with an eye to promoting yourself, aren’t you just preaching to the choir? Aren’t they already paying attention? Or do they somehow re-tweet what you’ve said and spread your greatness for you?
  • I sometimes wonder whether Herman Melville would have had a Facebook page or tweeted. I imagine Dickens would, but Faulkner? I doubt that Iris Murdoch would have had the patience for such nonsense. I don’t think Philip Roth does that kind of thing, yet he seems to be attracting readers. I wouldn’t want to be famous merely for being famous.
  • I know of several writers who are currently taking a social media break. Here’s one. How much exposure is too much exposure? And when does a diversion become a distraction? I tend to be able to focus well when I am writing, but what if I had a more comprehensive social media presence? What if I were using it to enhance my “brand”? Would I need to be checking the value of my writing stock in the marketplace of ideas all the time? Would I need to be making more frequent posts on this humble blog? Would I feel that I always needed to be hustling?
  • The appearance of ads at the bottom of my posts seems to be an ephemeral and inconstant phenomenon. Some people have reported seeing them; others say they never have. I’ve never seen them, but I assume that’s because I am the administrator of the blog. Someone mentioned that WordPress sometimes posts “selected” ads on “selected” blogs. If so, they’re doing it without my explicit cooperation or permission. (I’m sure I agreed to something about it in the terms of service.) Again, I’m annoyed at the commercialization of it. You may know of the recent flap at Google + about not being able to use fictitious names for your persona. You have to use your real name, but what Google really wants, one wag suggested, was not your real name but your wallet’s name.

I realize there is an intellectual inconsistency between my hesitant musings above and the fact that I keep a writing blog at all. I am already in the business of self promotion I suppose. But I don’t see the blog that way. For me it’s more of a sharing medium or maybe a sort of pressure valve for the swirl of “thoughts” in my head about what I stumble in the dark trying to do with words and ideas.

So what about you? What are your thoughts on all of this? Where am I wrong or misinformed? Enlighten me.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

4 Comments on “Second looks”

  1. You know I do a lot of social media, but I really don’t think it is essential for everyone. I think that each person should pick the platforms they are comfortable with and stick to those. One doesn’t need to be everywhere all of the time… although, I run four Twitter accounts, four Facebook pages, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, and three websites with blogs… so I am not really taking my own advice.

  2. Annam Says:

    Given the crazy number of books being published (5 fiction/hour), unless you are established, you have to promote yourself. Otherwise no one will ever know about what you have written. But I think that there is a balance. A friend told me that for every hour of writing, you must spend three hours of time marketing. I can’t do that. But I am also not trying to make a ton of money either. I will publicize my works because I am passionate about them, but I draw the line at letting it take over my life.

  3. Averil Dean Says:

    I’m not into it, all the social media and such. I have a blog of course, and post to it three times a week (when not on hiatus, anyway), but its purpose for me has always been to practice writing, develop self-discipline, and make a few like-minded friends. Anything more than what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my fiction. Not to mention my family.

    Really, I think that as long as you have some online place to call your own, where people can find you and your work, that’s enough.There are only so many hours in the day, after all.

  4. I have a few Facebook accounts, a Twitter account, and a Google+ account. I have other social accounts of varying levels. The only social media site I can say, “Hey, I made a fair chunk of money from that site,” is LinkedIn, where I’ve picked up some freelance work. Granted, it’s not the kind of writing I’d prefer doing for money, but it’s the only social media site I can point at and say, “Hey, that’s REALLY worked for me!”

    All the other sites…I maintain them because I like chatting with people. But I can’t say they’ve helped my writing. While I may have 1000+ various followers on various sites, I can’t say that I can trace sales of my ebooks to social media sites. It’s been more my blog and word of mouth…and–GASP–getting out in public and speaking and being a part of groups that don’t have anything to do with writing. Those are the people buying my writing more than people following me on social media sites. (That’s not to say I haven’t sold things when I’ve said, “Hey, I just released a new ebook,” on Facebook or Twitter…I just tend to see more sales from other places.)

    I think one of the big issues with social media sites is many people go to them because they’re bored and want to be entertained for a moment. Asking them to buy something takes effort, and if they’re checking Twitter on a break at work, you’re one of many tweets and most likely not going to sell anything solely based on an average Twitter account. Coupled with a blog and other things, eventually people will pay more attention, but blogs are cooler than social media sites to me because people go there for something more than a distraction where they only have time to click the Like button…not interact like they do with blogs.

    I’d much rather have a handful of actual replies like you have with this entry, than a bunch of people retweeting my stuff but nothing really happening.

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