There are many great posts about author platform and Brooke Warner's recent post about how one's platform is not your social media following validates how numb we (and I say "we' to represent the normal online reader) have become when it comes to using social media.
It was very validating and eye-opening to read this post because I often struggle with social media myself as I try and filter the many "buy me" from the ones who really have something important to say.
In the post, she breaks down platform to an impressive eight different categories including one's social media presence equaling just a mere 10% which doesn't seem at first, like a sizeable number. Why only ten percent if agents and publishers place such a strong importance on an author's online presence? Why are authors spending so much time on social media? What's it adding up to?
To figure out how much "power" social media carries as a platform, I felt called to participate in a blog challenge where I posted every day for the entire month of September. I pinned each post to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Google + every day. On some posts, I got up to the 50 comments... 50 comments! (I've never gotten that many before.)
Because we are a society that loves and needs instant gratification, we've come to use social media as an instant way to promote ourselves and boost our egos. The problem is more authors are slamming readers with '"buy me" tweets and posts and very little on building connection that social media was really intended for.
The problem in the publishing world, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the market is saturated and flooded with so many books. Publishers want to know that behind your numbers, you are not just another "buy me" but an author with a "hear me because I've got something to say."
After winning my first blog challenge, the same people who commented, liked and shared my posts, shared some more even after the challenge was over. That's the power of using social media as a conduit. Those same commenters would return with questions, beautiful heartfelt comments that made me want to cry to tears reminding me of things my late mother used to say closer to her death.
So it's not the number behind the social media following but what are you doing to build relationships. How authentic are you?
Picture it like this -- you can keep the door of your apartment or house shut, never know your neighbors, never open with a quick conversation. Shut yourself up like a fan. Or you can just say "hello" by posting a really good post, but never really initiate a discussion and connect. (Contrary to that notion, Linkedin is great for that... once you find a special group you like, read those posts and and jump in with you thoughts without blasting "buy me" posts. That's just not cool.)
Perhaps one of the hardest things for authors like myself who are so self-conscious and hard on ourselves, is the rejection and the feeling of being "ignored" in a vast sea of almighty authors you think are ten times better than you because their following and online presence is so much better than yours. The attachment to outcomes however, continues to keep us stuck in our tracks. How do I know this? Because there were those who were bold enough to comment about how they held back from sharing their truth for fear of judgment.
Here's my counter to that.
In an online world, people have forgotten you are a person with feelings and a face behind Facebook. It's time we changed that. This is one of the many reasons why authors need to step behind their computers and take their message to the masses so they can see a human being, interact and understand how his/her book impacted their fans.
When I blogged for those 30 days, I spoke my truth. I shared real content and value. I shared vulnerable parts of my memoir. I invited my reader to have a conversation with me and in many cases, the reader accepted. And as a result, I attracted my tribe. There were those who just said, "nice post" or didn't bother leaving a comment and then there were those who really connected with me beyond just the post.
At the end of the day, you can stay behind your computer and never connect with a single soul. But you just never know who you might impact with your words of truth and your story. It's time to change the numbness of social media and its paralyzing effects it has and our obsession with numbers.
Make it real, people. Go ahead...Take a picture of your writing desk and blog about the process of writing your memoir with confidence. Blog about the themes of your memoir using your outer voice. You've got this. You've got what it takes. I double-triple dare you. I know you also understand what I mean. Things gotta change. We need connection. We thrive with connection. Not isolation.
Your readers will thank you for it. I guarantee it and if they see value in your posts, they will share your posts with the their side of the world. And you will thank yourself too that you did. For both your sakes.