Tag Archives: social media

Social Media Stage Fright

I don’t get stage fright. Not usually. If I’m standing in front of a group of strangers to give some information about a service they could use or learn from (an occasional side function of my job in education), I typically turn off the part of my brain that cares what they think about me and just deliver them the info I came to deliver. Unless I’m coughing up a storm while my zipper is down, two things I tend to get under control prior to arrival at my speaking destination, usually, I don’t worry about how I’m received. The audience either cares or it doesn’t. Doesn’t affect me either way.

Yet, the reverse seems to be true about my online presence. It’s usually more appropriate to answer questions in an unbuttoned pair of jeans (especially after a big lunch or dinner) online than it is in front of a live crowd, depending on the topic, I suppose, but the words I deliver online last much, much longer than what I deliver in person, and that can be scary when the words or information matters. In front of real people in real time, most of my audience will remember less than 10% of what I say, and if they remember me at all, they’ll likely remember me as “some guy who came to my classroom to tell me about grammar or something.” I’m not threatened by that. But, when I send a message on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter, suddenly my words are permanent and have scrutiny appeal.

Frightening!

It’s a strange paradox to be sure. We all talk about how social media can mask our identities when necessary, giving room for transparency in our thoughts, especially if our name is “Anonymous” or “Some Dude,” and suddenly we’re titanium. We see it as license to spout off all sorts of nonsense because who’s going to associate it with our faces if they can’t see them? In fact, I find it especially paradoxical in the dating world (something I gave up on a long time ago), where approaching strangers for the intention of getting a date is somehow easier through a comment on a profile page and a follow-up wink (or maybe it’s vice versa—I’ve never been great at the dating thing) than it is in real life where the person of interest has to watch me stumble out the words she may never take seriously face-to-face. It’s strange how these same vehicles of delivery can suddenly flip the perception I have of people and vice-versa, depending on the topic. But masking identity isn’t always useful. In person, my audience gets to see my face. In personal relationships, that should be a perk. Hopefully. But online, what I look like doesn’t matter. What I say does, and now they have the option to not only hear my words, but to remember them. In person, I have the freedom to flub my statements. Online, I better get it right, and I better get it right the first time because they can go back and check, check, and check again, and they can fault me if they see the mistakes or inconsistencies in thought, or whatever. As a writer, it’s embarrassing if I mess that up, especially if what I say is in of itself embarrassing (or simply unimportant). Online, I have plenty of places and opportunities in which that embarrassing thing can surface.

So, social media suddenly becomes a scary thing because that Facebook post about what I had for dinner isn’t just a Facebook post anymore. It’s an admission of guilt (even though I might see it as an attempt to engage an audience). Sure, I had a salad tonight. But I also had baked fish and mashed potatoes. And a sweet roll! To anyone who thinks I should be on a diet, I may have just incriminated myself. Sweet rolls have melted sugar on top, and that’s not healthy! How dare you promote bad health? And what of Twitter and its hashtags (also not healthy)? Is it possible for anyone to use Twitter without stirring up a string of controversies? Even with 27 followers and most of them being marketing robots, the risks of shooting myself in the foot are present if not inevitable. If I confess I had a sweet roll to a live crowd, they can at least watch me wink in jest as I deliver the truth. “Yeah, I had a sweet roll last night, and how sweet it was,” I say, as I pat my belly and gesture at how much of it is now sugar. (Note: What I eat for dinner isn’t actually anyone’s business.) Online, they may not even read that far.

As a writer, I’m told I need to master social media if I want to get followers. Okay. It’s also suggested that I post regularly to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, MySpace, Hotmail, AOL, AOL Instant Messenger, Reddit, AltaVista, Match.com, Yahoo, Wazoo, Kazoo, and other things I’m probably just making up now, oh, and my blog!, and it’s too much to keep up with, yet posting builds an audience of readers, and I want to be read, right??? And everything I say must be timely, yet accurate, and interesting, yet short, and if I mess it up, I’ll lose the people, but don’t worry about that because even with ten different ways to shoot myself in the head, I only have to do it once to lose them, so don’t worry about it and just enjoy the process, as even players of Russian Roulette can be successful at times!

I’m tired, and that’s just from writing the names of these platforms.

As I read about new platforms I can use to expand my readership, something I’m desperate for, as getting readers is the hardest part of the writing process, and I’d probably have an easier time running for public office based on the experience I’ve had doing this (getting a date is still tougher for some reason, though I have no idea why, as I’m smart, handsome, idea-driven, rich—no, the opposite of that, sorry—funny…okay, this post isn’t about that), I suddenly feel intimidated all over again because here’s one more service I should sign up for to give my readers even more options for staying connected with me, even though they have enough information overload from everybody else who wants their attention, and the only way any of this matters is if they really, really want to hear from me. If the students I speak to are of any barometer, I’d think even those who need to hear from me probably don’t want to hear from me. They’re probably too busy thinking about their Facebook posts, and Instagram photos, and whether anyone will like them to worry about liking me.

So, what can I say to convince them to listen? I suppose the keyword is “free money.” But, I don’t know. Social media already seems to fit that bill. If everything is free, then nothing is valuable. Including time. I value my time. And, I value my words.

To be clear, I don’t actually mind social media. I see it as a great way to find out where people I used to hang out with ten years ago are vacationing. I’m not there with them, but I can feel like I’m there with them. It’s almost as good, right? At some point, though, I want new things to talk about, and I can’t vacation every weekend or devote hours of every day sending out social media alerts to the few people who might see it to feel some kind of connection to them. At some point, it’s time to meet face to face again. Real relationships are frightening, too, but they’re real, and they feel real. That adds to their value.

The fact is, I read all the time about how important value is to people, and it’s almost scary how much that’s true. I’m not sure how valuable social media really is. My words are permanent, but are they being read? Here’s a picture of a moose you can look at while you contemplate the answer to that question.

bull-386742_1280.jpg

If you’ve read this far and want to keep reading this far, please remember to hit the “follow” button down there at the bottom of this page. And, don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d be so kind. It’ll stay online forever!

Cover image: Pixabay

Quick Social Media Test

#socialmediatest, #blogblitz, #funexperiment

My blog is remotely linked to Facebook and Twitter, which I use to share news to my wide array of narrow masses. I also have other options I could link to, like LinkedIn, that I’m not yet connected to, but should probably look into and link to at some point, so that my blogs cry out rather than whisper to an audience of many, like you and other friends I could link to, to share links and other matters of shared interest, to keep the social media family growing even if we’re all technically isolated from real human connection.

So, I want to see if I can tweet #hashtags from my blog’s log line to create and connect to a wider web of wisdom and wishes, which can in turn be linked to through LinkedIn and  other go-tos, Facebook and Twitter being my current coexisting content curators, and potentially procure plentiful portions of ravenous readers, and maintain a social media pathway that includes apps like Path and Google Plus, plus whatever other crazy things that they may link to, not including Instagram or Pinterest, both of which have interest in instant images, not to be confused with instant messages, which are another form of social media not supported by this blog, along with Pinterest and Instagram, which are also, sadly, not supported by this blog.

If this test works, please tweet me on #Facebook, or message me on Twitter to let me know if you like this link and consider subscribing to support content like this, even if you don’t know why you’re still reading it.

Cover Image: Pixabay

Branding: Some Things I Want to Try

Lately I’ve been reading up on social media, and gathering tips on how to use it to further my brand. Specifically, I’ve been reading Social Media for Writers by Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine, and taking note of its suggestions about the many platforms available to me, the writer, and the ways I can use those platforms to reach you, the reader. I’ve also been looking up insightful blogs from writers like Dave Bricker at The World’s Greatest Book, Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer, and Kimberley Grabas at Your Writer Platform to widen my range of understanding. And, I must say, I’ve learned a lot from each of these sources.

I’ve also learned that my “brand” is kind of a mess.

When I started writing many years ago, my interest was solely in telling stories. At some point, my range of stories grew from fiction, to personal narratives, to speculative philosophy, to speculative fictional philosophies based on personal narratives, mainly because my interests in connecting with people has changed much since that day I decided I wanted to give writing a try. And in that vast space of time, I have acquired a wealth of material, and pretty much nowhere to put any of it. Ideas may have been consistent to themselves, yet inconsistent to each other, and I’d keep building on them in the hope that someday I’d “crack their code” and turn them into something readers could experience. And sometimes I was pretty sure I’d cracked those codes, even if they didn’t systematically crack each others’ codes.

But I also had three problems going along with those assumed cracked codes:

  1. I have a hard time throwing things away. So, rather than let my good, if not inconsistent ideas linger in the void, I’d just put them on display like a proud adult man who shows off pictures to complete strangers of not just his kids, but also his dog, his truck, and his annual income.
  2. Branding requires consistency, according to the books and the blogs. Inconsistency confuses people.
  3. No one will care about the works I have on display if no one’s here to read it, and they won’t come to read if they don’t why they should.

Obviously, for someone who’s a better writer than marketer, specifically for one who makes his “brand” about whatever is currently on his mind, this is a conundrum. How do I keep doing what I’m doing and still get people coming back if what I want to write about today isn’t thematically in line with what I want to write tomorrow?

Well, I’ve been giving it some thought lately, and I want to try a new system. This system would inevitably focus on practical things, fun things, and other things as much as it would focus on my writing things. But how would it lean focus on such ambiguously defined themes and still somehow force a “brand” on me?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

My main goal for this site is to express my thoughts. It’s always been about that. Sometimes it includes a review of something. Sometimes it talks about an idea I’ve had. Sometimes it hypes something I’m working on or trying to sell. It’s all about the things that concern me.

But, not everyone who comes to this site is looking for every type of post I make. So, I think I want to give a calendar system a try.

For example, Sundays are usually relaxing days for some, church days for others, so I figure that can be the day I post inspirational things. Mondays start with M, so that can be a miscellaneous kind of day. And so on. Each day can have its own theme. BUT, let’s be clear that I’m pretty busy without blogging every day, so not every theme will be met every week. I would like to try to stay weekly or biweekly on one or two themes a week.

How ever it goes down, and however frequently I post, here is a sample calendar of themes I may try for soon:

  • Inspirational Sunday – includes quotes, spiritual matters, life advice, and so on.
  • Miscellaneous Monday – mainly fun things like “Beach Photos of the Week” and other things that have no real category.
  • The Tuesday Review – where I talk about the movie I saw or the book I read.
  • Writer Wednesday – where I talk about writing, books on writing, the life of writing and so on.
  • Throwback Thursday – because why not? I’ll probably use this as my reminder of past posts day, or my link to other bloggers I like day. I don’t know. This one’s in the air.
  • Friday Hype Day – when I talk about my books.
  • Saturday Fun – when I focus on fun things.

Now, I’m one man, and I don’t have machinery in my bones, so I won’t actually be posting every day. What I want out of this is to have a plan for the days in which I offer certain types of posts. So, if you’re here for some writing tips, check in on Wednesday to see what’s new. If you want to see a cool beach picture, check in on Monday. No promises that there will be something new that particular week, but check anyway! Maybe this is the day you’ll read that post you’ve always been hoping for.

Obviously, announcements and time-sensitive posts will be in the moment, regardless of day. Just keep checking for those as you think about it.

So, that’s what’s on my mind. If you like this idea, let me know in the comments. If you want to find out what’s new, subscribe.

Oh, and if you want a review on Social Media for Writers by Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine, come back here soon. Reviews on writing books will happen on Wednesdays (when they happen). I do plan to make that a thing.

And just for kicks, this postscript will make this post clock in at a cool, sleek, awesome, amazing, rounded 1000 words.