Lately I have been doing some serious social media housekeeping–mostly getting rid of followers on Twitter, unliking pages on Facebook, unfollowing Tumblr users, and putting a pause on following people on WordPress. I am doing this because I am following writers who have thousands of followers on every social media platform they use but pathetic rankings of their books, and it isn’t because they’re spamming links to their books. It’s because they are following way too many people who are drowning in their feeds, and they can’t establish a strong social media bond with any one of them.
Let me begin with Twitter. Thus far, I have unfollowed over 400 people who link spam their books, re-tweet too much, have a high follow to follower ratio, and who don’t engage in conversation with other users because they’re following too many people.
I once read on Facebook that writers should follow 50 people a day, and I think that is a horrible idea because you’re not likely to chat with any of them. And if you do, you’re spending away too much time on Twitter when you could be using that time to write.
I am still unfollowing people on Twitter. It’s fine if people follow me. I’ll engage them in conversation, but I am extremely selective now about whether or not I’m going to follow you back because I want to make certain that you are a person I am going to regularly engage in conversation with on Twitter. Otherwise, you’re just crowding my feed. Social media is about interaction, and if I’m not interacting with you, there is no point in following you. I don’t feel like I owe anyone anything anymore. It is your prerogative to follow me, but I don’t owe you a return follow. However, if you engage in conversation with me, I’ll be happy to engage back, and that may lead to a follow from me. Maybe. I no longer want thousands of people crowding my feed. I now understand why people with a crap ton of followers only follow back a few of those people (I don’t have a crap ton, but you get my point). This has lost me followers, but those people probably weren’t interested in me in the first place. I am still following people, but only after I’ve engaged with them in some type of chat, like #yalitchat.
As for Facebook, I received a lot of my likes through Like groups. Authors post links to their pages, and we follow them and expect a follow in return. I am now unliking a great deal of the pages I’ve liked because, frankly, I’m not interested in the books, and authors create Facebook pages to further their careers, and if I’m not contributing to that, I see no reason to keep that page on my feed. It’s just cluttering it when my Facebook is supposed to be about my friends and anyone else who chooses to befriend me. If people unlike my Facebook page because of this, they probably weren’t interested in my book to begin with–or me, or anything I had to say.
Tumblr hasn’t been as bad because a lot of the content posted is often interesting and Tumblr makes it very, very easy to post something or re-blog something or follow someone or unfollow someone, so its interface is very smooth and I am not made to feel like my feed is cluttered when I follow someone new. I am just following writers and readers now and cleaning out those who are not interested in either.
But I no longer feel like I owe anyone a like or a follow because I feel like my book should do that for me. You can have 10,000 followers, but if you’re only getting 100 to respond to anything you put out there, then it’s absolutely pointless to have all those people cluttering your feed. I am not following people on WordPress anymore for this reason. I already wrote the blog post. That’s my product. If you follow me because you like my product, I don’t owe you a follow in return. I’ll do the polite thing and look at your blog, and if I REALLY like what I see, I might subscribe, but I can’t have e-mail subscriptions crowding my box when I have to make room for other, more important e-mails.
But the point is is that too much clutter makes for inefficient use of one’s social media time. I can create all sorts of e-mail accounts and other accounts for the purpose of containing the clutter, but why bother? I’m likely to not visit them. Ever. I want to make efficient use of my social media time now so I can spend more time writing and creating a product that people want. I just think it’s so maddening and petty that people actually use apps to see who unfollowed them. Why do we expect anything at all when it comes to social media? If you go to the store and buy post-it notes, you don’t expect a thank you letter from the company who made the post-it notes, so why do we expect the same with social media? I wrote the post, you read it and enjoyed it and got something out of it, so what more do I owe? I love to look at people’s blogs and comment on their stuff, and I love to reply to their comments to my posts, but it’s like we expect this, that it’s our obligation as bloggers to do this when our only obligation, I think, is just to write the dang post in the hopes that someone gets something out of it. Life is too busy for us to worry about whether or not these people are going to follow us back or whatever.
I would rather just write and make my writing what I owe people. Of course social media is very important anymore to sell books, but people expect too much, which leads to clutter, which leads to frustration. Social media is about interaction, and clutter doesn’t allow for much of that.