I’ve been doing the “social media” thing for a few months now, blogging and Twitter mostly with a dash of Facebook and Goodreads thrown in. Overall, I must say it’s been a very positive experience. I’ve read a few articles on search engine optimization, but haven’t started enacting anything that I’ve learned from it. Still, my follower counts on here and Twitter, the two places I’m most active, have been enjoying a steady upward trend.
I’ve been sharing Rainbow Snippets every Saturday for 6ish weeks and have earned several comments and likes and follows every week. I love interacting with commenters on my snippets! I love the positive feedback I’ve been getting. On Twitter, almost every line I post for the numerous hashtag games receives a handful of hearts (likes? loves? what the hell are they called?) and an occasional retweet.
It’s great! It’s wonderful! It’s encouraging! I forgot how much I enjoy getting feedback on my writing. I haven’t posted my writing online for strangers in almost ten years, and I haven’t taken a creative writing class in five years to get workshop feedback. I’ve been writing in a kind of hermit-y void.
So yes! Social media is wonderful!
But it’s also awful.
I haven’t had any negative feedback on anything yet. YET. Probably because I haven’t posted much or published anything. But here’s why social media is awful: It’s all about gaining followers.
That “follower” count is like some kind of drug. I get little ads on Twitter occasionally encouraging me to promote my account for more followers. There’s an “SEO” option on WordPress you can pay for to help promote your blog. Everything says GET. MORE. FOLLOWERS.
I watch my follower count on Twitter pretty closely. It’s hard not to. It’s right there on the page at all times. And let me tell you what I see: My follower count changes constantly. I usually average out over the course of a day, but if I check it more than once a day, I see it drop. Then increase. Then drop again. Then increase again.
It’s easy to become obsessed with that number as some sort of measurement of success. It’s also easy to think that there’s a correlation between some individual post and your follower count dropping–or increasing!–but chances are, it’s not that simple. I have no idea who’s unfollowing me or why. It’s frustrating. You can get discouraged. You find yourself wanting to blame yourself for some reason. WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?!
But let me tell you a secret. In the end, the number doesn’t matter. What matters is the individual interactions you have with the people who actually read your tweets. I have developed a small group of followers on Twitter who interact with me, and who I interact with regularly. They’re wonderful, supportive people. There’s maybe 10 of them. Ten, out of over 400. Those are the followers who matter. So who cares about the number? Be active, be interactive, and followers will come to you.
Have you ever had a really great social media experience? Tell me about it in the comments below!