The Art of the Sell

I have written before about impostor syndrome.  This is related to that.

I feel like an impostor when I read the works of greater minds than me, as I am sure all authors do at some point.  But another thing that makes me feel like a fake is selling myself, and that’s what I’m thinking of today.

I started out about seven months ago by joining the writing community on Twitter.  This seemed natural to me for several reasons.  1, I like Twitter, as a platform.  2. It has a very strong community of writers and 3. I had recently read that publishers are now looking at your social media development when deciding whether or not to publish you.  The logic behind this is that they are looking for people who are able to market themselves.  I don’t think this is fair at all, because I think an author should be judged by their work alone, but this is the way the game is played now, so I have to follow the rules.

I am very close to 5k followers, the mysterious number that publishers are supposedly looking for.  I also made some cool connections.  One, a stranger-turned-friend who lives in Algeria and is a fledgling poet.  Another, the illustrator of my children’s book.  And as for support, the  Twitter WC is great because they are always there to give you a boost though writer’s block or celebrate your accomplishments with you. 

It was then suggested to me that I start a Facebook author page.  At first, I cringed.  I always thought of author pages to be for those who were selling books, and I am not.  It was then pointed out to me that 1. This will help in boosting my social media followings, 2. It will be ready to go when I am published, and 3. It is a great way to share my stuff on FB that I usually don’t, and people can choose to follow or not instead of me clogging up their feeds with something they’re not interested in.

Let’s discuss 3.

I don’t post my stuff to Facebook unless I particularly like it, because I feel like if my friends and family want to read my stuff, they know where to find it: my blog.  But I almost never share my blogs on Facebook, so I’m not sure in the end how many people know about it. 

Also, there’s the impostor syndrome, and the little voice in the back of my head that tells me those you know will judge you harsher than a stranger.  So, I only share my stuff with those that seem truly interested.  Now, what I have figured, is that if I made an author page, then my Facebook friends could like it if they choose to, and read my stuff on the regular, if they are so inclined.  If not, they can choose not to follow me, and I will understand.  My words aren’t for everyone. 

Hell, most of the time they’re barely for me.

I hate selling myself, but I do love the reactions I get from people.  Shares and comments on my blog posts make my whole day, and watching so many of my close friends follow me on Facebook gave me encouragement.  Twitter, where I feel most comfortable selling myself (always easier when it’s a group of strangers, in my opinion,) is going strong…I get a few new followers each day, which means a few new potential readers.

But most of the time, I still feel like a fake.  I wonder if I will lose that feeling on the day I hold a copy of a book in my hands, my name emblazoned across the front. 

Probably not.

Social Media Distortion

A while back, I was stuck in the hospital and did some research on Snapchat for a piece I was planning on writing, which was mostly finished but recently scrapped because it just wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t get what I was saying across.  Then I was thinking about it the other day, and another idea formed.  Everyone likes social media, for the most part.  Either you’re on or you’re off, and there’s a lot more people on.  Why do we use it?  Why do we like it?  And most interestingly, does social media direct our personalities, or does our personality direct our social media usage?

I asked some people about their opinions on social media and their usage of it.  I then asked them “If your personality was a social media platform, which would it be?”  Below are my findings.

Subject 1.  When asked what platform he prefers, he replied Reddit and Tumblr.  He finds no use for Pinterest, and claims that Instagram sucks because while he likes pictures, they don’t provide enough information.  Twitter, meanwhile, he claims has too much information at once, and is not user friendly to new people.  He prefers the combo of picture and short text, and finds such on Tumblr and Reddit.  However, Facebook is the platform he uses the most, as that’s “where my friends and family are, but it’s become too personal.”  Example:  He likes to post funny memes, but sometimes people take offense to his humor and report him.  He feels that if people adopted a “mind your own business” attitude, it would be a better space.  “And Snapchat?” I ask.  “Snapchat was created for cheating.”

Subject 2.  When asked what he uses most, he declared Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, in that order.  He believes that Facebook is the root of all evil, which is a whole different topic for a whole different day…or is it?  Tumblr is dead and Snapchat is fun, and Twitter is the “hot mess 80s we wish the world was still like,” which I think is right on the nose.  He thinks that Reddit is the dark web of social media, and Pinterest is the “bougie, weird cousin of all the rest.” Instagram? “Capitalist hypocritical millennial mind control.”

Subject 3- Uses Facebook the most but Instagram is her favorite. She uses Facebook mainly to catch up with family and friends, and enjoys seeing how they are doing.  The downside to her is the algorithm that limits the feed to a just a few people at once. As someone who works in a small business, she finds it difficult to use Facebook for this purpose, as it is favoring “pay to be seen” content over organic views. She finds Twitter to be an overwhelming platform, with difficulties presented to new users, such as Subject 1 noted.  She does not use Snapchat but feels that while started innocently enough it has evolved into something used mainly for sexual purposes.  She enjoys Reddit, stating that “it’s a huge source of information without feeling overwhelming.”  Subject 3 recently joined Pinterest, so has no real opinion yet, but thinks it may work as a good business tool.  She says Instagram is fun and easy to use.

Subject 4.  Cites that Facebook is tied for number 1 in her mind.  It is best for keeping in touch with friends and family, but she hates the targeted advertising.  She says that it’s helpful to connect with like-minded people, but that that might not be a benefit “if you’re an asshole.” She also enjoys Pinterest as she can scroll through it for hours and find anything imaginable.  She reports no complaint whatsoever.  When she wants to laugh, she reads Reddit, and it has unintentionally become her main source of world news.  She is on Twitter solely to stalk Ryan Reynolds.  She has an Instagram but never uses it.  She likes the filters in Snapchat but has found it incompatible to her phone on several occasions.  Ergo, she never uses it.  Tumblr: “What the fuck is Tumblr?”

Subject 5. When asked what he preferred, he said 4chan and Reddit.  I noted that he was the first person to bring up 4chan, and that Reddit had previously been described as the dark web of the social medias, to which he adamantly states that the dark web of the internet is 4chan, not Reddit.  He uses Facebook but doesn’t agree with many of their policies and finds it to be too family oriented.  He prefers connecting with people outside of his immediate circle and finds places like Reddit to be useful for that.  He says he likes Twitter but finds it boring, as he doesn’t have many friends who use it and he himself only uses it for news updates.  He notes that it is far better than Facebook in this way.  He doesn’t use Insta much, believes Pinterest to be for “old lady stuff,” and uses Snapchat for occasional texting.  He says Reddit is by far the best because you can find everything “from a rare manga to bread stapled to trees to looking at pics of people’s drug stashes.”  Tumblr: “Which one is that?”

Subject 6.  She is unique in that she is not a typical user of social media.  She does not have a Facebook-if she wants to know your drama, she will ask you.  She does not use Twitter because she doesn’t put much stock in the opinion of others.  She used to use Pinterest but says it now “sucks because you can’t just browse anymore.”  She says Instagram is nice and easy to use, but doesn’t keep one.  She uses Reddit for information and likes the platform. Oh, and Tumblr?  “Sounds like something you put rocks in.”

Then there’s me.  I use Twitter the most, at least 2-3 times a day, and I find it to be the best source of information.  I like Twitter because I have found a great community of writers on there, and it is my main source of news.  Facebook is my follow up because, as stated by pretty much everyone uses it, so that’s where all my friends are.  Everyone has a Facebook.  Well, except Subject 6, that is.  I once had a Tumblr when I was in my 20s for about 5 minutes, and I’ve only used Reddit to read the occasional article.  These, to me, are the outliers of the social media world.  I like Instagram because occasionally I find a reason to post a pretty picture.  I used to love Pinterest, but then I got married and fell off it because all my recommendations were bridal related.  And Snapchat?

The platform that started this idea in my head is my least favorite.  First of all, I did a safety experiment while in the hospital.  I posted my Snapchat on all my social media platforms, and then waited.  I got like 15 friends and a video of some dude’s junk.  Took that as a bad sign.  Now, all I get now is photos of friend’s dogs and videos of their children, which is nice but not anything I can’t get via another platform.

Conclusions:

Facebook is garbage.  From the algorithms to the rules to targeted ads to paying to be seen, it’s a disaster.  Thing is, all of our friends and family are still using this garbage, and we continue to use it because of this.  It’s as if Mark Zuckerberg is holding our friend’s hostage for his own benefit. 

Twitter is good, but tricky.  It can be overwhelming and difficult to understand for new users, but once you figure it out can be a great tool for connecting with like-minded individuals.  It’s a more opinionated place, to be sure, but if you are the sort that can handle that situation then jump right in.

The general consensus on Pinterest is that none of the men really use it and most of the women are bored with it.  While useful for things like home improvement ideas, recipes, and product recommendations, it has lost some appeal since its first appearance on the scene.

Reddit is the platform I have the least experience with, yet seems to be our winner for most used social media.  Literally everyone, including Subject 6 who doesn’t use social media often, uses Reddit.  It’s breadth of information is staggering, and people seem to be able to spend hours there.  I need to catch up, apparently.

Snapchat.  I personally think that Subject 1 summed it up the best when he said that Snapchat is for cheaters.  It’s a weird platform, because with items like filters you would think it was geared toward a younger crowd, but most people just said that they used Snapchat either for convos they don’t want their significant other to see, sexting, or pictures of pets.

Tumblr is over.  Either people know what it is and believe it’s over, or don’t know what it is and do not care.  Save maybe Subject 1.

Instagram may be capitalist mind control, but people seem to like it.  No one seems to LOVE it, though.  I’m sure if I polled a photographer they would say differently.  Which brings me to this:

 “If your personality was a social media platform, which would it be?”  Two people said Twitter, and everyone else said Reddit.  Speaking for myself, a classic Twitter personality, I definitely believe that our personality dictates out social media usage.  Let’s say, for arguments sake, that the Reddit’s could be described as social but more focused on information gathering than the Twitter’s, where it may be the other way around.  I wish I had surveyed a larger crowd, to be honest.  I wonder what else I could have discovered.

All in all, I think it was interesting to look at people’s social media habits in a world where there is a platform for every personality.  I enjoyed learning others opinions on the different social media platforms, and must concede that Snapchat is not, in fact, the worst.  That is Facebook, the monolith of social interaction that has held our grandmother’s hostage for too long.  I’d say that we should all just switch to Twitter and/or Insta, but that brings to mind my mother: “I don’t know, do I want to tweet?  The president does so…I don’t think I want to.”  No, I wouldn’t love it if my mother were on Twitter.  So, to the Facebook gods we continue to pray.

If you made it all the way to the end of the post, I applaud you.  That’s over 1000 words you just read.  If this were Book It, you’d be well on your way to a personal pan pizza.

Social Media Anxiety

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have been using it as a way to fight my anxiety.  You may also know that I have been working on expanding and promoting it.  This, my friend, is where the anxiety part really comes into play.

I have read a bunch of articles regarding promotion, monetization, and creating one’s “brand” and all I have to say is that I hate it.  It takes so much away from the writing, which is why I have this blog in the first place, and it puts a microscope on myself.  Example: there is not yet anywhere on my blog that features my full name.  This is for one reason and one reason only: I still need to work.  If a client puts my name in a search engine, I do not want them to judge my childcare abilities by my writings.  I might drop some f-bombs in my blog but I won’t be swearing around your kid, you know what I mean?  I might have a political or religious view that bears no weight on how well I change a diaper but may affect whether someone wants to hire me.  Now, I’ve got some poems that are coming out soon, or are out already (see Potatoes, up at the top,) so I know that my search engine results will soon change, and I will indeed be judged by my words.  One of these poems is about smoking pot.  I’m not exactly thrilled that a possible employer may stumble upon it and not hire me, but also, I’m not thrilled by the idea of censoring my true passion of writing for my day job, either.  I try to tell myself that this is just my anxiety, but I know it’s also a rational concern, so I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It is this microscope on the writer that causes anxiety for me.  I am not good at bragging about myself, for one.  I’m a fairly humble individual.  Back when filling out profiles on dating sites, I was always unsure how to describe myself.  I was never good at listing my qualities.  When asked in interviews what assets I can bring to a job, I freeze up.  I need someone to tell me I’m good at something to make it real, and even then, I don’t always believe them.  This is juxtaposed by a crazy high self-esteem wherein I believe I can do anything.  It’s a dilemma.

Let’s take Facebook and Twitter, for example.  On Twitter, I never shy from anything.  I always write exactly what I think.  On Facebook, however, I am more reserved.  Why?  Well, I have significantly less Twitter followers than Facebook friends, and I think that has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the fact my grandmother is on Facebook?  And my parents?  Maybe it’s because there’s strangers who follow me on Twitter, and I know all my FB friends?  I have more questions than answers, but I know I behave differently on different sites.  For instance, I always post my blog on Twitter, but rarely on FB.  For some reason (and yes, I am aware this is the crazy anxiety-ridden side of my brain) I think that people don’t care.  Mind you, these are people I know, personally, and who seem to enjoy me as an individual, enough so as to send me a friend request.  These people are the most likely to care, and I can’t convince myself of that.

That’s what it really comes down to.  I look at all the followers I have acquired on my blog in the past year.  Like 150 people, complete strangers to me, who decided to follow my blog because they saw something they liked.  Yet, I think that if I share my blog with friends and family, those people will not see anything they enjoy.  I know I’m wrong.  I know I have people who read it, who follow me on social media, who could easily unfollow my ass if I got too boring, but no one does.  Still, my anxious brain senses that I am simply wasting peoples time.  Rational brain knows that’s a lie, because I like your posts and pictures as much as you like mine.  Still, it holds me back from expressing myself, which is what I truly hate.

Right now, I am debating whether or not to share this post on Facebook.  I am thinking of what kind of tweet I can write about my it.  I am considering starting an Instagram challenge to promote my blog.  I am streamlining my accounts to fit my “brand,” a word I still can’t say without the implied quotation marks.  I am doubting all of it, and I wonder if I always will.  Still, I take those little times when someone did say “Hey, I liked that thing you wrote,” and I keep them very close to my heart.  I remember them in my darker moments.  These little instances are what keep me writing, and make me feel like I have something worthwhile to say.  Everything else is just roadblocks.