Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Social Media

I pretty much began my writing journey two years ago when I attended the 2011 LDS Storymakers in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the time, everybody kept saying that if you want to be a writer, you need a social presence. Specifically, get a blog, be active on Facebook, and become one with Twitter.

But most of all, blog.

So, I became a blogger, having no idea what I was doing. Well... let's be honest, I still have no idea.

Fast forward a year, and I had noticed that the fever to open blogs had toned down a bit. I still heard a lot about getting an online presence, so I kept active on Facebook and Twitter. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed this blog, too, which is why the posts still come, though not regularly.

Every few months, I take inventory of my time and look for ways to cut back. I cancelled cable, watching less TV, and playing less video games. I even reduced my obsession with the news, an emotional investment I've bee fond of for 15 years. I've also adjusted to waking up a o'dark thirty in the morning to write. But a week ago, I started looking at social media. Is the time worth it? I've pitched to two agents, and neither of them asked how active I was online.

When I went to Storymakers this year, I went contemplating an abandonment of my social media presence. I ran into a couple of people who got me thinking.

I had David Powers King (DPK) on the podcast and I asked him if blogging is still a good thing. His answer: it works for him. He has kept a loyal following after finding how he wanted to blog and being consistent with it.
DPK, The King of Blogging
Another author I had on my show, Abel Keogh, said he has written four books because the people on his blog strong-armed him into writing it. Again, another example of how blogging worked. He still blogs regularly and has a loyal following.
Abel Keogh
Side note: I rarely see DPK and Keogh on Facebook.

I met an author who taught a class on marketing. She mostly pushed social media, because it is "free." While DPK suggests blogging 2-3 times per week, she stated you should be posting 4-5 times per week. Holy Mamma!!!

She then went on to say she gets most of her traffic from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn? You mean the site with the resume I haven't updated in nearly 6 years? That place?

Apparently, she spent a lot of time on LinkedIn, and it is now her biggest source of finding purchasers for her books. How interesting...
Chas Hathaway
While interviewing DPK, fellow podcaster and friend Chas Hathaway mentioned that when he posts something on his blog, he will post the link on Facebook and get few to no comments on his blog, but a conversation will start flourish on Facebook.

So, wait, what is going on here? What should I take from this?

I have a theory. Well, since I'm very opinionated, I have two theories (actually, I have more, but I'll stop myself)...

1) You will reap the most reward depending where you focus your online presence. If I focus on my blog, I'll get a strong following here. Same for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or standing on a busy street corner in my tighty-whities strumming with a banjo. If people expect to find you somewhere consistently, you'll pick up a following.
For the ladies. Seriously though... mock him if you want, but he's on Wikipedia and I'm not.
The key word here is consistently!

I'm pretty consistent on Facebook and Twitter. A little less so on Google+. As far as Blogger goes, I don't think I'm cut out for consistent. I enjoy it, but having a set time every day/week/whatever is not for me. All I can promise is "when I have time for it." Sorry.

My suggestion for you is to focus on what you enjoy. Where you sow the most seeds is where most of your fruit will grow. I'd avoid the shotgun approach of hitting everything because 1) you'll spread yourself too thin, and 2) you'll never/rarely find the time to write.

Which brings me to...

2) As much as people proclaim social media, I think a writer's time is best spent (are you sitting down?) WRITING! That's right, BICHOK (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard).

I challenge you to find a successful writer who spends his entire day chillin' on Facebook and Twitter. Dedicating hours per day to online activity is only going to take you away from writing. And writers get paid when their writing is done, not when the Facebook status, tweet, or blog post is published.

Don't get me wrong, I think social activity is a good thing, but it isn't the best thing. Why settle for good, when the BEST thing you can do is write?

So what am I saying? Am I quitting social media? Is this website going away?

No. I'm just cutting back on the great time suck that is Facebook, et al. But I'll still be around, having fun, saying stupid stuff, and responding to interactions. Since blogging is closer to writing, I'll keep at it. Posting might even become more consistent. I'll re-evaluate in a few months on whether I need to cut back more.

Agree? Disagree? What are you thoughts?

So, off I go... to write!