social media will eat you whole.

| Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Today's Tune: Meantime

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You must have heard by now that Twitter is UNLEASHING A BRAND NEW INTERFACE OMG, right? No? Um, where have you been for the last five minutes? This is the age of the Internet, people!

Heh, I kid. But only kind of.

Yesterday Nathan Bransford wrote a blog post asking whether people believe social media sells books, based on a discussion from the forum. You may have noticed that I am, um, very involved in both discussions on the side of pro-social media *shifty eyes*.

So, yes, I am dedicating a blog entry to social media, in which I rehash all the fluffy and serious commentary and arguments for social media. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED. But you should read, because it might interest you. Or make you laugh.

Now, I don't claim to be any kind of social media expert. Anybody with an Internet connection and a Twitter account can claim to be a social media "expert." Which means what, exactly? Nothiiiiing. I do claim the title of social media rockstar, though. Because it sounds awesome.

Everyone's tired of hearing about the GLOBAL EPIC AMAZING SUPERFORCE that is social media, I know. Humor me? There are a few points I'd like to go over, which I'll post in list form. Because who doesn't like lists? Besides katastichophobics, I mean.

1.) "Social media is for self-indulgent people that want to post their self-indulgent noise for attention." Well, yes and no. Yes, there are self-indulgent attention whores all over social media. It gives everyone a voice that has the potential to reach MILLIOOOOONS and some people let that go to their head. But most people are just there to have a conversation with other people with similar interests. It's like a giant cocktail party for everyone, including people who normally hate going to cocktail parties because there are way too many asshats and people spill their drinks on you and too many people in an enclosed space makes you really really nervous.

2.) "Internet 'relationships' are for dorky teenagers and complete losers. It's not 'real' interaction." No. Patently false. I am forced to believe that people who think this have either never really used social media, or they had really bad experiences with it. I'm not sure how we came to this place where conversation on the Internet somehow "doesn't count." Of course it does. Unless you spend your time jabbering away to spambots, you're talking to real people. How is a friend you met over the Internet and have only "met" in person a handful of times different than any other friend you don't live close to? What, just because I went to high school with people I haven't seen in ten years, they "count" more than the friends I talk to daily on Twitter/blogs/email/Skype? Pft.

3.) "You can't just scream at people to buy your sh*t." This one I actually agree with. No one likes a spammer, or someone who cares more about a sale than you as a person. If you add me on Twitter and then clog my feed with eleventy million "Oh hey I'm an author did I tell you I was an author yep I am I have this book it's right here click the link clickitclickit and join my mailing list and buy my book here look at the cover isn't it shiny it's $9.99 on Amazon you should buy it oh please dear God buy my book" Tweets, I AM GOING TO BLOCK YOU. As will anyone else who's paying attention.

4.) "All it is is millions of voices screaming into the ether trying to be heard over one another." Again, yes and no. Yes, there is a lot of clamoring and people that hoard followers and whine and bitch about no one responding to them ever. (Mostly because they are ANNOYING AS CRAP OH MY GOD). But there are also those that are perfectly content to lurk and watch, or happily banter with their little circle of buddies. It doesn't have to be all-involved all the time. You don't have to Tweet to be on Twitter. Though it's recommended to at least post a "Hey I am NOT A BOT I'm just a lurker" introductory Tweet.

5.) "It's a time suck." Yeah, if you let it, it totally is. And if you don't want to invest the time, that is totally acceptable.

6.) "It has no effect on sales." This is a tough one, because it depends on so many factors. If you are like the aforementioned "Hey I'm an author buy my sh*t" persona, then no, it'll have no effect on your sales. If you half-ass it, it'll have little effect. But if you figure out a niche or a style that people can connect to and actually care about, it can have SUCH an effect on sales. Here's a truth: great books often do well. Here's another truth: great books are often overlooked. Can we change that? Maybe. Maybe not. But know what doesn't hurt your sales? Talking to people. Making friends.

Basically, it boils down to this: if you think social media is stupid and you don't want to be there, then don't be there. No big. There are many other avenues to explore. But it *is* a big deal. A very large portion of the population is using the technology. It's constantly evolving, and it's not going away. And I'm not trying to be all, "Get with the times, Gramps!" Seriously, if you hate it, you won't reap the benefits, so it's okay if you pass. All I'm saying is not to discount it entirely.

It works for some of us. Some of us love it. Some of us think it is SO COOL that we can talk to a friend in Chicago and a friend in England and a friend in Canada simultaneously FOR FREE. It's always been about people and conversation and OMG I know you've heard all that before but it's true.

Okay, I'm going to stop blahblahblah'ing with my blahblah-hole now. Talk social media in comments, pals! I love to talk about it. In case you hadn't noticed.


{ j.leigh.bailey } at: September 15, 2010 at 8:16 AM said...

I agree with everything you just said! Ditto!

{ aspiring_x } at: September 15, 2010 at 8:35 AM said...

lol! that's the maybe i enjoy so much! kicking debate butts and not bothering with the whole taking numbers thing!
great points- the lot of them!
(and the last sentence in 1 made me laugh so hard- because it's so true)

{ LTM } at: September 15, 2010 at 10:49 AM said...

you make great points, Steph! I agree. I was thinking as I breezed through Bransford's post yesterday that I have *often* bought a book as a result of reading a great online review from one of my blogging buddies. Once you develop a blog network, you know who to trust, right?

I think it's more fatigue w/"trying to do it all" social networking. I know my FB has fallen off since the blog has picked up. And I can't even approach Twitter right now... :D <3

{ KarenG } at: September 15, 2010 at 11:46 AM said...

How can it not help to sell books? Numbers prove otherwise. Just try being an unknown author doing nothing and see how far your book sales go. I know an author like this. What a shame. It was a good book with great salability but he refused to do anything with social media. He put up a static website. That was it. Nothing. And his book has flopped. Those who read it liked it but not enough people read it.

{ Old Kitty } at: September 15, 2010 at 2:44 PM said...

Brilliant post!! Loved all your points!

Well for me blogging is fun and every now and again a forum for info you'd like people to know about so your blog becomes a temporary noticeboard almost but notices of your choosing!

It may be used as a marketing tool if you wish and good luck to you!

But even its detractors can't deny that online social networking sites are here to stay.
Take care

{ Lisa Potts } at: September 15, 2010 at 2:51 PM said...

I LOVE this post, you social media rockstar you!

My Facebook page has been put on the back burner since I fell in love with Twitter, but that's OK. My FB friends know I'm still lurking and I "like" something they post every now and then.

I most definitely have bought books because of social media, and I think an author would be crazy not to use it to it's full advantage.

We're talking name recognition here.
If you're browsing B&N and see a book whose name or cover you've already seen through social media a gazillion times, I bet you that amount of money you're more likely to buy it than the one sitting next to it.

I fear I'm blahblahblah'ing myself now.

{ Stina Lindenblatt } at: September 15, 2010 at 3:49 PM said...

I discovered a group of MG/YA writers in my city because of social networking. Same deal with my beta readers. They follow my blog and I follow theirs. They emailed me to ask if I wanted them to beta read for me.

And my bookshelf is ready to explode because of social networking. Writers love to talk about the upcoming books that they've managed to get their lucky hands on. And naturally, I want to buy the books after that. Okay, I only buy books recommended by bloggers I love and trust.

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