opinion blog

What I love and hate about social media (and my advice on using it)

Social Media. Everyone’s got one for whatever reason they use it. Everyone’s on at least one platform. It’s just there driving conversations and topics (and now thanks to Facebook, money transactions too!)

As a writer, social media is a necessary evil. It’s also a wonderful joy. It gives both of these things up in equal measure, requiring detailed and conscious use lest it hit my already tumultuous relationship with my own thoughts.

What I love about social media

Like anything, it’s connection. It’s sharing your stuff far and wide and people read it. It’s accessible, it opens doors, it lets you cultivate an area of interest and get new information from people you trust.

I’ve expanded my reading collection because of bookstagram. I’ve entered into competitions I’ve seen on twitter. I’ve talked (albeit badly) to people, followed those who inspire and challenge me, and generally spend far to much time scrolling through other people’s posts whilst I wait for my lunch to cook in the microwave at work.

It’s necessary, as a budding writer, to be active on some kind of social media. In this day and age, especially if you’re an indie writer it is part of your marking repertoire. Even if you’re traditionally published, it’s an avenue to connect with writers and artists alike.

And for the people like me? The ones who are unpublished on any platform other than their own?

Well, for me, it’s the dream. It’s seeing people publish either indie or traditional and it spurs me to write more. Because if they did it, then maybe  I could do it one day. Maybe I could learn from their approach to marketing, maybe I too could learn about how to position my own writing and skills before I even get to a point of a published story.

So in that sense, social media is an invaluable tool. It’s necessary, it’s vast, and it’s got some immense potential.

(sadly, for me, I still struggle with it.)

What I hate about social media.

As someone who has a difficult relationship with their own thoughts, I tend to have a few that go around on the merry-go-round of anxiety:

  • Everyone hates you
  • No one is interested in what you have to say
  • Everyone else is doing better than you.

And my main problem with social media is that it is a platform which basically gives an amplifier to those kinds of thoughts in a huge way.

Now, that’s not the platform’s fault, it’s something for me to deal with. But like most people, everyone likes a bit of validation. So likes and comments become an easy way to rate your like-ability to someone else. And if someone else gets more of them, then it’s a reflection on your character. Not the fact that they have more friends so statistically there are going to be more people liking that post. Not that it doesn’t matter how many comments or likes or views or whatever you get.

The other problem I have with it kind of links to the first. Because once you’re sucked in (and by god, have I been sucked in before), then it is such a massive time sink.

I’d estimate I spend probably a solid 2-3 hours a week queuing and preparing my IG feed for the week ahead, and linking my tweets to the posts on my wordpress. I spend even more trying to queue up thoughts that could be used as a tweet someday (because I cannot think of things ad-hoc). And even worse, sometimes I see something and immediately think that’ll get me xyz amount of likes on IG.

Not great, huh? And no matter how hard I try, I do find myself being sucked into it.

Using social media and keeping your head on straight

Despite my misgivings about handing out advice, I think there are some general rules that I find helpful when using social media which you might find helpful too:

  • Limit your time. seriously, the apps have timer functions on them. Let them tell you how much time you’re sinking into it.
  • Focus on your product, not the marketing. You can have the biggest audience and the best marketing strategy but if you don’t have a thing to present to said audience, it’s all for nought.
  • Remember someone else’s success doesn’t mean you can’t be successful too.
  • Yes, some people are dicks on social media. Avoid them. Stick with the people who are kind to others.
  • Have fun! It’s supposed to be fun. A place to share your creations with the world. Keep chanting this to yourself repeatedly.

How about you? What are your thoughts on social media? Scorn of all things good in the world? Best thing ever invented? Perhaps a bit of both?

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash


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2 thoughts on “What I love and hate about social media (and my advice on using it)”

  1. Very sound advice. Social media is a blessing and a curse to the indie author. With it we obsess and worry about failing. Without it we’re highly likely to fail anyway! Combine that with anxiety and mental health issues and it’s a cocktail for disaster if you don’t manage it properly. I also worry that in many ways there’s a potential echo chamber of support for the indie author. Breaking out of that is the challenge that is hardest. Increasingly, I’m believing in the real world and good, old-fashioned face-to-face marketing. As you say, the product is key – so get it out there as far and wide as you can! JGJ

    Like

    1. Thank you! Completely agree with you – it’s both a blessing and a curse! There is definitely an echo chamber on certain sites (but I think that’s just how the sites are constructed which build that?). Sometimes it’s nice to hear people with the same struggles, but it would be good to see some variety in my feed and see different experiences. But like you say, product is key and no matter how much audience building you do, you have to have a product to show it! (which is my current dilemma!). Thanks for the comment!

      Like

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