Social Media. It’s not all about the numbers. A personal perspective.

Part one: Twitter

I have read numerous articles on what authors trying to promote their work should and shouldn’t do with social media. It’s good advice for the most part, but it lacks a lot of detail in exactly how to interact and behave in the digital universe. I’m a sucker for details. So here are the personal guidelines I follow. I know that a lot of struggling authors are lost in digital space like I was (and sometimes still am) This is not meant as a narrative for you to follow, though you might glean something useful out of it. This is just what I have found to be something that works for me personally and professionally. Take from it what you will.
Twitter- I’ve had more than one person tell me to follow as many people as I can every day (doesn’t matter who) and that will gain followers. True. But are they the followers I want? Not by half. I initially did this and opened my twitter to find hundreds of tweets from insurance agents, eBay listings for sports memorabilia, twitter pics of gold teeth and brass knuckles, lots of pics of cats and marketing people messaging me that they could get me thousands of followers overnight. Yikes. Needless to say, my tweets went unnoticed. No one mentioned me, no one followed my links , no one cared about my friends books and promotions and only half followed back (and those used a roboservice) and that big chattering room that twitter is, became very lonely. Sure, I had over 5K followers, but it was quantity over quality. I began to unfollow like a mad woman. I went through my list and looked at every single person I followed and went by this list of rules on who to keep.
Authors and writers, SAHM’s, homeschoolers, bloggers **(some exceptions), sellers on Etsy, (Love Etsy) anyone in the book world: reviewers, editors, book clubs, tweeters of my favorite movies and shows, anyone who followed me for being me, inspirational folks, people that tweeted at least once a week and other personal interests. Like cats. I love cats. Anyone else went. I went from over 5K to 1500. Ouch.
This took the better part of two weeks to glean through my list. I didn’t want to unfollow anyone who followed me because they’d read my books or were just genuinely interested in me, so sometimes a bit of digging into their profile was involved. It also took awhile to clean house with Bloggers. I don’t watch sports, I’m not into tech stuff, and can’t get into politics for professional reasons. I debated heavily on food and travel blogs and in the end decided to keep them. After all, one day I might make enough money to eat and travel! Kidding! I eat.
Then I began following people carefully. I would do a search for keywords and when the list came up I would go to each profile, check out their blog or webpage, scan their tweets for activity, look at their books on Amazon. Then follow. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Some days I would only follow twenty people because of the time it takes to look into everyone. Quality is important. Patience is key.
I don’t automatically follow back. While that might be perceived as rude, I don’t mean to be. I take the time to look at each person who follows me. When it comes down to it, I am formulating what I want to see on my twitter feed. I want to see new releases from a terrified new author so I can tweet encouragement. I want to see awesome earrings made by a SAHM who is trying to earn extra money so I can retweet. I want to see great articles by editors who link things I wouldn’t have time to search. I want to see trends in the industry that are important to my business. And, I want to see cute cat pics because they make me smile. It’s not about being rude, it’s about the quality of my twitter world.
The down side is a lot of people use tweet services that will unfollow you if you don’t follow them back. That’s fine. Those folks usually have the tweet services tweeting preprogrammed stuff all day and they aren’t really there in the twitter-verse anyway.
While I don’t like preprogramming tweets. I do suggest Hootsuite. It’s a program that allows you to pull all your social media accounts together and jump around from facebook to twitter to your blog, all from one dashboard. You can’t follow or unfollow but you can stay on top of DM’s, tweet and retweet from the live twitter stream and see people who follow you. It’s organized, saves you tons of time logging into different accounts and yet you are in real time with other people.
For deeper housecleaning I use ManageFlitter. I have the free account. I use this mainly to weed out Twitters that looked good at first inspection but turned out to be mainly spam and accounts that aren’t being used anymore. I do not suggest it for following people if you want to build an audience of quality.
I do housecleaning on my twitter account monthly just to be sure I’m getting the most bang for my buck. And by buck I mean time. Because time is money, right? Are you spending it wisely?
Tommorow, Part Two: Facebook

One thought on “Social Media. It’s not all about the numbers. A personal perspective.

  1. I don’t automatically follow either – why should I follow insurance agents or other professionals when I have no interest in their business? I don’t use any special Twitter assistance – just plain old Twitter. And it works fine for me, though I spend less and less time there…partially because of the junk and self-promotion! Another pet peeve…when I follow someone who has followed me and I immediately get a “READ my book, read my book, memememe.” That is usually answered with an unfollow!

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