Friday, June 14, 2013

The social in Social Networking

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?


  1. I never liked FB, but I do enjoy the games once in awhile. What can I say, others I only joined for work purposes and the only one that I have found to be successful in regards to interaction and sales is Twitter.

  2. Denyse

    As you know, I've never been one to really use the networking stuff - MySpace cured me of the inclination. But judging from everything I've been hearing from friends, family, and, this year, from other fans at MediaWestCon, it seems more people are having unpleasant experiences with Facebook, the new(?) MySpace, and similar sites all the time. So, I'm inclined to trust your much more experienced opinions, and agree with you.

  3. Well, I guess I agree with you Denyse. I cleaned out my personal page as well. Developing my author page was a better idea that allowing far too many strangers on my page. Although I have not had a problem with anyone. As for Pinterest, I don't really get that either. All it is is pinning whatever interests you and hopefully people jump on the bandwagon and follow your boards. It's a good advertising gimmick as long as you can get people to follow your page. Still, I don't spend much time there.

    So, I guess you are right when you say there isn't much socializing going on on the social networks and it is terribly irritating at times.

  4. Interesting topic. I agree with many of your points and wonder if the discontent is a sign that something new will breakthrough soon

  5. I actually still do a lot of socializing and coordinating on a variety of topics using Facebook, but honestly, I think Facebook with some of their recent changes has made it a little harder to do this. On a purely personal note, it is still a very effective way to share news about the kids with the extended family and friends, especially when it involves videos and pictures.

    I'm learning to maneuver in Twitter a little more effectively. Never did MySpace or Google Plus or Pinterest. My daughter does this thing called Snapchat now ... not sure what that's all about.

  6. I think it's very demanding to keep up with all the social media and some are more effective than others. I have made the best of friends on Facebook and have taken advantage of some good opportunities as well. Just when you think you learned it all they change it, so it's a on-going thing to stay proficient.Thanks for the post!

  7. I'm getting burned out on keeping up with social media and I'm not sure it really works for selling books. I do get sick of seeing the same books promoted over and over again. It seems like there is more promo on Facebook now--ads on the side plus all the promos for books, music, etc. It's too much to deal with sometimes.


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