Social media be impactin' me
I've had a few discussions with other bloggers about the impact that social media has on their website traffic and after receiving an email from a reader asking me about this directly, I figured I could address it in a public post.
Social media is inescapable. It's a fact of modern life. Checking my newsfeed on Facebook is as common of an occurrence as brushing my teeth (which hopefully speaks volumes about my oral hygiene). In fact, if you're not using social media to some degree, you're probably a hermit ... or a communist.
When I worked as literary publicist, my primary platform was social media. This means that my daily life was consumed by Twitter, Facebook, Myspace (gag!), Squidoo, Flickr, and Wordpress for almost an entire year. My group of publicists lived and breathed social media and we were really, really good at it (and my friends that still work that job today are amazing publicists). In addition to using this media platform to publicize our authors, we also educated (i.e. trained) our clients how to use these sites themselves. (You don't know the true definition of "patience" until you spend 2 hours on the phone with a 72 year-old in Australia trying to explain what a Facebook status is.)
It was complete communication overload, to say the very least.
And during that time, I used to tweet everything I did. If I wanted to share a piece of information with my Indianapolis counterparts, I tweeted. If I got a positive response on a media pitch, I tweeted. If I farted in my cubicle, I tweeted. If I tweeted, I tweeted about that. If I read someone else's tweet about my tweet, I retweeted it.
You get the idea.
Luckily Pinterest was just starting to becoming a thing before I left that position. Lord help us ALL if I was required to do outreach on Pinterest all day. My clients would have called me, angry, wondering why I spent their entire campaign pinning cookie recipes and pictures of Jennifer Aniston's hair on the board promoting their World War II biography.
After I left my publicist position for greener pastures at a new company, I was in dire need of a social media detox. I shut down one of my Twitter accounts completely and unsubscribed to several social media industry blogs. I took to only regularly checking my Facebook, pinning my face off on Pinterest, and uploading pictures of my food on Instagram (because I hold black and white images of my meals in the absolute highest regard).
I think I've tweeted about 5 times in the past 5 months, and they were mostly embarrassing things I did at work.
So yeah, I've definitely stepped away from social media.
And that's not always good news for a blogger.
I'm fairly certain that if I didn't post a link to my latest blog post on Facebook, that post would go unread. This tells me that very few people outside of my friends and family list find and read this blog and while that is slightly disheartening (and depressing for my career as a writer), this also tells me that I need to rely on social media to get people interested in my blog.
I used to network out the wazoo for my blog and while it generated several hundred more Twitter followers, I wasn't establishing quality readers (and that was why I ended up shutting down that account).
When I was a publicist, we just wanted numbers. It didn't matter where those numbers came from or who was trafficking the sites we set up for our authors; we just wanted impressive figures to paste into their campaign reports. And while I do recognize that having a conversation about nothing with a total stranger could be a potential avenue to something bigger in the long run, I was tired of reading and commenting on hundreds of blogs that didn't hold my interest solely to get a few comments back on my own posts. Plus, my blog doesn't have a specific genre, so finding other bloggers to connect with proved difficult.
The best resource for getting new readers on my blog has been word of mouth and participating in other bloggers' monthly post challenges. My Blog Every Day in May stint generated almost a hundred more blog hits a day and that number has stuck months after the challenge ended. And that's all because I simply followed a writing prompt and then pasted a link to that post on the originating blog's website.
Is my blog a popular internet sensation? No. Not even close. There is a definitely a substantially higher number of people roaming this earth who haven't heard of this blog vs. those who have. And I'm okay with it. As much as social media enriches my life, it also handicaps it. Sometimes I put too much emphasis on what is going on in my virtual world instead of what's happening in my real, tangible world and I've learned from past experience that it's no good for me to get consumed by the hubbub of trying to live an exciting, glamorous social media life when I really go home and sit on the couch in sweatpants most nights.
I pray that the right person will eventually stumble across my blog and present an opportunity to take my writing career to the next level and I'm confident that if it's meant to happen that way, it will happen that way.
Did that give you any additional insight into how I use social media to enhance my blog? Probably not. I'm not very good at explaining things ... hence why it used to take me 2 hours to explain Twitter to old people:
Me: " ... Then you can write a 140 character message that is referred to as a 'tweet'."
Old fuddy-duddy on the phone: "A what?"
Old guy: "A WHAT!?"
Me:"A 'TWEET', SIR. IT'S CALLED A 'TWEET!'"
Old guy: "What do birds have to do with my book!!!??"
And there you have it.