Monday, March 7, 2011

The Top Ten Reasons I Royally Suck At Social Media-- And The Lessons You Should Learn From Me

Okay, so-- to start this post out, I am going to apologize. Herein lie some of my deepest, darkest secrets (at least about social media). So please be gentle! I'm hoping that by sharing some of my biggest (known) foibles, I can enlighten someone else. And not only that, but maybe hold myself accountable for them all.

Here we go!

10.) I have a social phobia. It's minor, and I'm working on it (ALWAYS working on it), but I have a hard time reaching out to people. I tend to wait until they come to me.

Why this sucks: Social media is all about reaching out to other people. I read lots of blog posts, but I rarely comment on them because I can never think of anything clever to say. And when I do comment, I feel like I mostly just have empty things to say.

What you should learn from me: Well, uh, be more clever? Leave insightful, relevant comments when you can. The people who comment the most on my blogs are the ones whose blogs I read religiously-- whether I comment back or not. And by all means, reach out to other people. Leave your comfort zone and talk to new bloggers-- we were all new bloggers once! Let the others you read know that you care about them, too!

9.) I don't embrace all forms of social media. I have a hard time thinking I will EVER be able to Facebook with any degree of seriousness.

Why this sucks: Well, for starters, I had to pick freaking Facebook to hate-- only the largest social network on the planet. But I just don't connect to it on an emotional level. There is nothing there but emptiness for me.

What you should learn from me: Facebook can be a very useful tool, and I do know some people who embrace it wholeheartedly. But to me, it's still sort of difficult to use, and I don't agree with their privacy practices. Still, if you are looking for a guaranteed place to connect with other people, Facebook is probably the best place to start. There is, as of yet, no other place where you will find nearly everyone on the planet. (Though Twitter is coming up fast!) But the overall lesson here is to embrace as much social media as you feel comfortable with. If something doesn't appeal to you, don't do it just because you think you have to. It will show, and you will suffer. A lot.

8.) I am, most of the time, a very awkward person. Rumor has it I can be funny. On occasion, I even make people laugh. But for some reason, either my sense of humor or my in-person confidence do NOT translate electronically. When I try to be funny online, I nearly always end up with things like "Haha! Look at that cat jump, I bet it's full of springs" or some such nonsense. And see there? That last sentence? I was trying to be funny with my unfunny example, and I bet you didn't even laugh! Not even a little inward smile!

Why this sucks: I LOVE BEING FUNNY OMG. I want to BE that person. I want to be clever and witty and have people go, HAHA THIS GIRL IS HILARIOUS LET'S ALL BE HER ARMY AND TAKE OVER THE WORL--- Uh, sorry. Wrong blog post.

What you should learn from me: Dude, you're all safe, don't worry. Everyone else I know on the internet? Yeah. Totally funny. HILARIOUS even. Sigh...

7.) I like my cats too much. There's a saying about too much of a good thing. Well, just about everyone likes cats, right? I ask you internet, is there such a thing as cute cat pictures in moderation?

Why this sucks: Because I really do love my cats and think they are absolutely hilarious and want to share them with everyone. To be fair, this applies to all my animals, but my horse doesn't usually stick her butt in my face when I'm lying down on the couch trying to write blog posts or Twittering. Usually. However, whenever I share something about my cats, I feel like I come across more "HAHA LOOK AT ME I HAVE SIXTY CATS THAT I DRESS UP IN LITTLE OUTFITS AND PLAY TEATIME WITH" than, you know, entertaining. (See Reason #8).

What you should learn from me: Maybe don't talk about your cats all the time. Or do, like, a lot, so I won't look so crazy. Thanks for helping me out here. You understand, don't you?

No-- but really. There are some aspects of your personal life that don't need to monopolize your blog or Twitter or Facebook or whatever. Keep things mixed up and light, and people will keep coming back.

6.) I don't know when to stop. Sometimes on Twitter or in blog comments, I will get into a conversation with someone. Eventually, this conversation needs to come to an end, right? But much like a real-life interaction, I find myself unable to pull away if the other person is still talking to me.

Why this sucks: This can be totally fine if the other person is not afraid to end conversations. But if I find someone else who doesn't like to end them either, we always somehow wind up in a conversation taking place entirely through non-committal noises and emoticons. "Ha! :)" "I know! :)" And so on and so forth.

What you should learn from me: Don't be afraid to end a conversation that's not going anywhere. If you don't respond to my non-committal noises and emoticons, I'm cool with that. It makes me feel less like a weirdo. (See Reason #8).

5.) When I fangirl, I don't go halfway. There are some people I interact with on some social media sites who I am totally cool with and perfectly comfortable talking to. And then there's Nathan Fillion. To be fair, I'm not actually interacting with Nathan Fillion. Interaction implies he would talk back to me. No, aside from my dreams, Nathan remains unattainable. But that doesn't mean I don't try to completely embarrass myself every chance I get.

Why this sucks: If there's someone you really admire from afar, it can be really intimidating to talk to them. Really, really intimidating. And if you eff it up, chances are they will forever see you as "that creepy stalker who totally threatened to come steal my underwear." Ahem.

What you should learn from me: DON'T ASK FOR FAMOUS PEOPLE'S UNDERWEAR. Okay, okay, that never happened. Ahem. No, but seriously-- don't be afraid to talk to people you admire. You admire them for a reason. They might have something to teach you if you just speak up. But if you know you're awkward online, maybe don't try to be funny. Restraining orders really aren't as hilarious as you think. (See Reason #8).

4.) I get busy and social media is always the first to go. This is not an uncommon reason. But it still sucks.

Why this sucks: I love being busy. I thrive when I'm busy. But that usually means that when I'm busy, I'm not blogging, or Twittering, and my readership suffers. At least, I like to think it does. You guys cry when I'm not around, right?

Right?? Guys??!?!?

What you should learn from me: Busy is good and fine and dandy. But if you make a commitment to social media, you should do everything in your power to keep it.

3.) I sometimes feel like I need to wait until I have something to talk about to post online. I always get novel ideas by the dozen, it seems. I have more books to write than I have lifetimes. But blog posts? Yeah. Empty well.

Why this sucks: It makes me feel boring. Like I'm rehashing the same old jazz everyone else blogged about three years ago when it was, you know, interesting. Or I go the other way and blog only about personal stuff because that's all that's going on at the time. I also wind up feeling like I'm waiting around all the time for something interesting enough to blog about to come to me.

What you should learn from me: Give yourself a theme. And here's a life-changing thought: be a writer, but DON'T MAKE YOUR THEME WRITING. I know, right? We're even breaking that rule here at the Archives! The most successful bloggers I know (measured by my own very arbitrary Success-O'-Meter, fueled by admiration and the applause of fairies), don't blog about writing. Sure, they mention their writing. But it's not why people read their blogs. It's a perk. They bring something else to the table entirely.

Bring that something else.

2.) I occasionally come across as a b!$(#. I never, never, EVER intend to hurt anyone's feelings. And I never say mean things to people (unless they cut me off on the freeway. Then you're fair game, (*^&*^* (*&(&((*&^%&^%). But sometimes, something I say comes across as TOTAL SNARK.

Why this sucks: Well, like I said, I'm not a mean person. And I generally like everyone I interact with on a regular basis. Sometimes though, it's like my mouth just WANTS to eat my foot. Like it's just going along, and then suddenly drives by a fast foot place and then all it can think about is having foot for dinner.

What you should learn from me: This is a hard one. It requires a large degree of objectivity and obsessive self-analysis. If you mess up and say something weird or snarky sounding that you don't mean, fess up and apologize. Best case scenario: the other person will say "oh I totally didn't take it that way!" and you'll start to learn when it's something to worry about and when it's not. Worst case scenario: you have already apologized if they do take it the wrong way.

And the biggest reason I royally suck at social media:

1.) I don't post regularly. This actually ties in a lot with Reason #4. Most of the time, I don't post regularly because I don't have something interesting to say. I feel like when I have something interesting to say, I'll blog more often. But if I don't have anything to say now, what makes me think I'll have anything to say-- ever?

Why this sucks: The thing is, I have plenty of interesting things to say. But they all involve a lot of work. Guess what? Work is often required for something to be good.

What you should learn from me: Don't be lazy. Put the effort into social media, and social media will put the . . . um . . . you know, there's not really anything I can say there that won't sound creepy and near-innuendo. But I think you get my point. No free lunch, gotta work before you can retire, etc., etc., and so on. Another helpful tool? Regular features. Give your readers something to expect and come back for-- but make it interesting.

There you have it, folks! The Top Ten Reasons I Royally Suck At Social Media. I hope you learned something. From the looks of my Twitter feed, I sure haven't. Gulp.


J.B. Chicoine said...

Wow, You just hit upon about 8 out of my top 10 reasons! I'm trying to apply what you said in #10, by posting this comment!

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

You are funny and awesome and clever and ... and ... awesome! We all love you. And I like your Tweets about your cats. Though, um, maybe you shouldn't go by my opinion because I am a cat person.

I do love reading your blog posts and I'm sure you have plenty of interesting things to say on a more frequent basis ... *cough, cough, because you haven't posted on your personal blog in 2 weeks, *cough* ... so maybe you're being too hard on yourself. We all have something to say and we can't always compare ourselves to the Kierstens and Nathans of the world.

I would love to hear more about your writing process, new things you learned, what inspires you, or just cool authors we might not know yet. That's what I use my blog for, not that it's any indicator of a "good" blog because I've only been doing it for a month! But still, you have a lot more to say than you realize. Just look at the awesome books you write :).

Natalie said...

This made me me smile! I am there with you on just about all of these. Social networking is hard, and really fun sometimes, but usually hard. :)

K. Marie Criddle said...

Hear frigging hear! I agree (and suffer from) every single one of these. I try and tell myself that some of the most successful writers in my field (J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer) don't really use social media....but I don't think that really works for the rest of us. Back to awkwardly twittering!

Unknown said...

I'd add something clever but I think you pretty much covered everything. Except maybe that #8 --not exactly true. Especially that you may now cite #8 everytime you have doubts and we will all immediatly chuckle.

Court Ellyn said...

Oh, this hurts. I'm right with you, L.T. because I suffer the same. #9 got my heart to thudding, b/c I HATE Facebook. With a raving passion! Yet, only yesterday, I bit the bullet and set up a fanpage. Ah, it hurts just to write that out loud. Now I have to be witty and interesting and consistent to draw the "fans." Which means #3 and #1 hit home. Hard. Thanks so much for posting this. I needed the commiseration.

L. T. Host said...

JB-- Solidarity, sister! Comments ahoy :)

Keri-- aw, you are too nice to me sometimes, haha. Thank you :) You are awesome, too! And I think you're doing a great job with the blogging and the tweeting and the google. Wait, maybe that last one isn't like, a thing, for people our age. Oh well.

Natalie-- great to hear from you! And I'm glad you can commiserate... makes me feel a lot less crazy.

Marie-- we are all Rowlings and Meyers in disguise, right? Right?! So we can uh, um... write mega bestsellers now. And then never have to awkwardly tweet again. NATHAN FILLION.

Taryn-- Aw, thank you :) Hm, I wonder how many times I can fit Reason #8 into a conversation before someone leaves?

Court-- Good on you for taking that leap! I know, Facebook seems like so much more work to me... but I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. I hope. Or it will explode. Either way. (But I'm actually hoping it helps you!)

Catherine said...

Wow, do you have ESP? It feels like you can read my thoughts, except I have to restrain myself from too much twittering about my pug, not cats. And, yes, I agree with all the other comments: you are very funny, as I'm sure you know. Good post!