What’s happened to the social aspect of our world class social networking sites? I posed this question today on my Facebook wall, off hand, as an observation that very little in the way of social interaction seems to take place on these sites nowadays. The responses and shared annoyance surprised me a little.
It’s only been a few short years since social networking exploded into all our lives and connected us to the “four corners” of the planet. We interact daily with people who are often on the other side of the world, and we share common loves and affection in many cases. But, recently, I’ve noticed that the biggest social network of them all has lost a lot of its social aspects. Hence the question - where is the social in social networking. Many users of Facebook have apparently been asking the same thing. Endless streams of advertising and for authors the constant flogging of books... Does this really have any effect on the buying public? Apart from annoying them, of course.
Over the past few days, I’ve left over two dozen groups designed solely for the purpose of book promotion. The membership of these groups must be in the vicinity of 10,000 people. So why leave? Well, in groups of over 1000 authors trying to snag the attention of readers, how long do you think your post stays on the top of the page? It’s not so bad if you own the group or admin it, you can then post your material and “pin it” to the top. Hardly fair, but still, you do own the group, after all.
At the end of the day it’s my belief that the only real way to sell books is to take them to where readers look for new titles. Showcase your work on your pages, invite other authors to share their work via your blogs, and rely on the best promotion possible, your readers, who if they like a book will tell all their friends! I’m not convinced for a moment that endless posting to groups does anything more than irritate people who would much rather converse and share a laugh, or ask a friend for a recommendation when it comes to a new book or author.
A few years ago, MySpace was all the rage... I remember how much fun it was to log in and see who’d posted things on my page, and how much fun it was to have some control over the way my page looked. The new MySpace doesn’t look like that, of course, everyone is expected to look the same... which could account for why the site floundered and is all but dead. Facebook allows us to waste hours playing games, of course. But, how many people really do chat and have fun now? It was only a few years ago that a single post would have numerous friends jumping in, laughing, and having a lot of fun - it was social - it was an online party. Now, that rarely happens.
Twitter is a ton of fun–and I’ve honestly found there is more social interaction there than on Facebook much of the time now. I don’t know the mysteries of Tumblr, another hot ticket in the online social world. Pinterest is hot–don’t understand how that works, either, but I’m old–maybe it’s all getting to be too much after all?? I do know that getting back to basics is the only way I see of being able to find some focus for work, and storytelling. There is no easy answer, if indeed there is an answer at all, but I do wonder often now if all of this social networking has taken us all away from real interaction with people around us. We spend so much time in front of our computers that we lose time in our “real” worlds that could be spent with the people we love and doing the things we love. Instead, too many of us appear determined to spend hours on Facebook–bitching about it when it doesn’t work, doesn’t respond quickly enough, and makes changes we don’t like to their stream of doing things.
Ultimately, I come back to the same query–does any of this further my efforts to reach people as a writer–or as an individual? I’m doubting it somehow... What do you think?