Does anyone remember that song by Toby Keith that was really popular . . . I don’t know, like 10 years ago, you know the one, I Want to Talk about Me. Well, I was never a huge fan of that song, but it came to mind the other day during a conversation about social media. A fellow writer was telling me about her blog and some of the frustrations of trying to build a strong following. She hopes to publish soon but doesn’t feel like publishers will be impressed by her small following and even fewer comments. More so, she was disappointed in how little people seem to be listening. It’s like we’re all just screaming to be heard but no one is actually listening–that or they can’t hear anyone else over their own screaming.
To me, this is problematic. Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress were all designed to promote social networking, but oftentimes, I find people just use these sites to seek attention. People want others to comment and like their status and/or blog, but they are not always willing to return the favor. It’s frustrating for those of us who actually want to connect. And as a pre-published author, I’m even more frustrated, because these sites are supposed to connect me with readers and other writers. But when most of the people on these sites are too concerned with their own statistics, how can I hope to achieve much?
This attitude doesn’t stop at social networking either. A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a woman who identified herself as a writer, but bragged about how she doesn’t like to read, because other people’s writing doesn’t hold her interest. What I wanted to say to her, but didn’t for some reason, is that she shouldn’t expect other people to read her writing if she doesn’t put forth effort to read theirs. Seriously? As a culture, when did we become so selfish and egotistical? When did sharing ideas and having meaningful conversations go out of style? When did reading to write become unfashionable? As an educator and a writer, this attitude unnerves me.
There is a basic formula for successful social networking: it’s something along the lines of spending only 30-40% of your time promoting your ideas (posting, updating your status, etc.) and the other 60-70% of your time supporting other people (commenting, liking, reblogging, messaging, etc.) The idea is that you spend the majority of your time supporting others and in return they will support you. Granted, not everyone follows the basic rule of thumb, but from my experience this formula works. By branching out, I’ve discovered new authors and resources I didn’t know existed. I’ve built my own following by following others. Many of the connections I’ve made I know will benefit my writing career, so it’s only been to my benefit.
I encourage you, if you aren’t already, to spend more time checking out other people’s posts and actually read them! And after you read them, please leave a comment. I don’t know about you guys, but I get such a rush from seeing that little box in the top right screen turn orange. And if you already do these things, which I know most of you do, keep it up! I, for one, appreciate your social networking etiquette.
Well, that’s all I have to say. Please enjoy the video below for nostalgic purposes: