My Social Media Dilemma

I was a little under the weather last week. I also had a very time-sensitive short project fall into may lap that required some immediate attention, so I was not able to post as usual. I’m back in the saddle now and ready to talk about all kinds of stuff. As soon as I get word that I can talk about this project I’ll let you in on the secret.

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Like many of my friends and colleagues, I spend a great deal of time flipping through various social media forums. It’s an enjoyable way to pass time, is occasionally useful, and can sometimes lead to reconnecting with an old friend, or making a new one.

On the other hand, I’m noticing more and more that most of my social media interaction is literally worthless. Friends post “Which Pound Puppy Are You” type polls on Facebook, and many people jump at the bait to take these information-harvesting polls that serve some corporation somewhere, selling your data to people who want to pester you to buy things.

Twitter is not much better. While still seeming less tainted by pure greed on the part of its owners, it’s nearly impossible to have a meaningful exchange with someone in 140-character lumps.

I’ve been looking at social media a great deal lately in terms of self-promotion. As a no-name author, getting my name out there is as important as it is challenging, and with new restrictions Facebook is putting in place (and has been implementing for a couple of years now, IIRC) to limit the number of people who see my posts, it becomes less and less worthwhile from a business standpoint for me to spend much time there.

The rapidly declining utility of social media is one of the reasons I pushed to get my website up and active. That, and having Goodreads, the previous site for my blog, purchased by Amazon.com. Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of the business world, and they’re throwing their weight around with a ruthlessness that makes me uncomfortable. While they have made few changes to Goodreads so far, it is naive to think they won’t leverage everything the site does to promote their own brand and create new revenue streams. I have no doubt I will need to rely on Amazon at some point, at least in part. For right now, I’d rather not help them drive everyone else out of business.

I heard a saying about social media that really hit home: “If you’re not paying for it, YOU are the product.” In this day and age, it’s difficult to NOT have hundreds of companies harvesting your information and preferences in an attempt to sell you stuff. I want to sell you stuff too, but I try to keep my sales pitch to a minimum. I figure the majority of people who come here to read my blog probably already know about my work, and have either already bought stuff I’ve worked on, or simply aren’t going to do so. The occasional reminder might help those who intend to pick up “my” books, but too much and I’ll turn people off. To me, driving people away is worse than having someone forget to buy a book of mine in which they were interested.

I’m not totally jumping ship from social media just yet. However, as my social media experiences become more and more frustrating, with fewer instances where I feel my time was well spent by being there, I will gradually phase them out altogether. Before that happens, I hope you’ll bookmark this site, and maybe come back for a visit once in a while.

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