“You need to blog.”
“You must open a Facebook account.”
“You have to be on Twitter.”
When I first started hearing this, I was on dial-up. Can you imagine creating status updates and comments or tweeting when it takes at least five minutes just to load Yahoo’s homepage? I could usually get the beds made and dishes washed while waiting. Plus, I wanted to spend my precious time writing my books, not flitting around on the Internet. Needless to say I was resistant, big time, against the pushy pushiness pushing me to participate in social media networking. And I did not appreciate feeling like a relic from the year 1126.
I did create a blog site, however, and faithfully wrote posts two or three times a week. But after a while, when it seemed hardly anyone visited it, I doubted the value. Why did I write these posts and snippets just to have them clutter the ether? Discouraged, I slacked off, then quit.
When I moved to an area which actually offered high-speed Internet service, I opened a Facebook account. It irritated me at first, and I kept thinking, “Why do I care if Mary Smith went to the store and bought toothepaste?” or “Why is Joe Jones telling the world he needs to buy new socks?” Obviously, I wasn’t moving in the right virtual social circles yet. Or maybe Mary and Joe needed to do something more exciting in their lives than brush their teeth or poke toes through socks.
I approached Twitter with guarded enthusiasm which soon flourished into full-fledged antipathy. Here is what assaulted me:
- “Buy my book!!!!!!”
- “Read my blog!!!!!!”
- “My book is great!!!!! Buy it!!!”
- “My blog is insightful and life-changing!!!!! Read it!!!!!!”
Repeatedly, all day long. Are you kidding? This is what I was expected to do when I had books write? What was so great about that? The exclamation point overload alone gave me a headache.
Timidly, I tweeted some innocent little comment, because at that point my blog seemed too dreary to tout, and none of my books were published yet. I should have written that tweet on paper and flushed it down the toilet for all the response I received.
As my uneasy relationship with Twitter continued, I enlisted the help of several friends who love, love, loved it. They gushed with unbridled fanaticism about the virtues of Twitter.
“I don’t get it,” I stubbornly told them. “Do people really respond to that madness?”
“You have to tweet.”
“I do tweet. I tweet little comments, not ‘Buy my book!!!!!!‘ My tweets get crickets. I may as well look in the mirror and talk to myself.”
“Then you’re not doing it right,” each one told me, and offered suggestions. I’d follow those suggestions with renewed hope. I witnessed other Twitter folk chatting and giggling with one another online. It rarely happened with me. I felt like I was back in high school, the shy little mouse.
Those darn crickets.
The marketing specialist at my publishers nudged me, graciously but rather forcefully, toward using Twitter to “build your readership.” When she told me this, I literally got sick to my stomach. I did not want to fail the publishing company that had invested so much time, money and faith in me.
“I don’t know what to tweet,” I insisted, (read whine) “and I get crickets.”
I think she sighed. I’m pretty sure she did. Not that I heard her, but it’s what I would have done if I’d been her.
Last week I decided to throw in the towel. I was stressed and depressed, confused and guilt-ridden. Twitter folks just did not like me. I did not have the magic, or the gift, or the smarts, or whatever it was that everyone else seemed to possess.
I posted this pathetic farewell: Twitter keeps me humble far beyond my imagination. #egocrush
I figured no one would read it, or if they did, they’d ignore it. But, no. A lovely young woman who is a dear Facebook friend, Karen DeLabar http://karendelabar.com/ came galloping out of the virtual dark night of my soul to rescue me. I poured out my little heart, and she assured me my experiences actually were par for the course. Tweets often went with any replies (and I thought mine were the only ones!) Often people will exchange a couple of tweets then drift away (and I thought they decided I had bad breath or major b.o.)
Karen salved my wounded pride by telling me what to expect, realistically, from Twitter, because mostly, all I’d heard up to that point was what a great social networking site it was. She encouraged me to keep putting out my friendly, inspirational or funny tweets because they were being read.
My lovely young writing friend and Twitteraholic, Valerie Haight (bless her) http://thewriteoneval.blogspot.com/ challenged me to build my following. Now. And she told me what to do, step by step. One thing I like is challenge. I took her up on it.
So this weekend, I focused on building my Twitter presence. Valerie had more or less triple-dog-dared me and Karen had shored up my flagging confidence with some realism. At last it all seemed to make sense. I now knew what to expect. I tweeted, I RT’d, I replied, I hashtagged all over the place. I offered “thank you” and a nice little comment to almost every one of my new followers. Already I’ve met some folks I’m looking forward to having as friends.
I have a lot of my plate (5 book contracts this year) and don’t want to over-extend myself, but I’m making some changes. I have made the decision to blog more often, utilize Twitter with realistic expectations, and continue having fun on Facebook. Time management is the key and I’m working out a reasonable schedule for myself.
Won’t my publisher’s marketing specialist be proud?
So today my question to you is this: Am I the only one who has felt intimidated, discouraged and confused by social media, or has your experiences been as easy and pleasant as devouring a piece of double chocolate fudge cake? I’m interested. Let me know!