I’ve officially had enough of social networks, and I’ve deleted my accounts with Facebook and MySpace. In both cases, it was suggested ad nauseum that I should join these services to “get in touch with new readers.”
Bullshit. You join these networks so advertisers can get in touch with you, the consumer.
The vast majority of my friends on both of these networks were people who had something to sell. MySpace and Facebook are both butt-ugly link farms surrounded by ads, but Facebook at least had something going for it when I first joined. I loved how often people would talk to me through my status updates. That was really cool, because I was having loads of fun being social without having to think about buying or selling stuff. Imagine that, being social on a social network. CRAZY!
But over the months, Facebook kept making “improvements.” Which is to say they kept getting uglier interface elements while simultaneously fucking users in the ass by selling their information out in larger chunks without respect to their privacy. At the same time, the amount of spam I received on Facebook was starting to rival MySpace.
Also, people responded to me less often, making every visit that much more tedious. Instead of spending time talking to people, I was alternately turning down invites or blocking applications. No, I do not want to buy your product, play your game, or support your cause.
Some of you might say, “Gee, Zoe, aren’t you being a bit hypocritical? After all, you’re trying to sell stuff on the social networks too.”
Actually, no I’m not. See, the only “selling” I did was posting links to my books as they went on sale through the status updates. Those would be the same stories that I offered for free using the status updates, and I never sent out constant updates begging people over and over and over and over and over and over to buy the same fucking book.
I didn’t invite everyone on my friends list to join my blog through the blog network. I didn’t ask 20 fucking times if anyone wanted to become a fan of me. I didn’t send out invites for my virtual blog tour, spamming every friend I’ve got with every single link in the tour. For that matter, I didn’t invite everyone on my list to come over to Italy for a book release party.
(Honestly writers, knock that shit off. I don’t care if you’re Stephen Fucking King himself, I’m not flying across the ocean for your book release party. You can be sure that anyone who has to drive over two hours to see you won’t be coming either, so just knock it the fuck off with the stupid invitations!)
And maybe that’s the real reason why I don’t have traffic from Facebook or MySpace, because I just wasn’t pushy or obnoxious enough to make an impression. Maybe just posting a link once or twice and then leaving it be was too polite, and if I’d only spammed my friends more, they might have actually gone to read my free stories.
But I doubt it. And I doubt it because I can use the same polite methods on Twitter and get at least a handful of my followers to visit my blog. No, the numbers aren’t great, but a handful is still more than zero, which is what I get with every link made at Facebook and MySpace.
With only a few exceptions, I didn’t have friends on either network anyway. I had acquaintances and associates. Acquaintances are people I knew from somewhere else and accepted a friend invitation because I like chatting with them. Associates are other writers who I accepted the requests on the grounds that hey, maybe I might like their writing and find something new to read. And yes, there were a few writers who I tried out because of Facebook and MySpace. Very few. (The vast majority of the spamming self-published writers…oh, let me be polite for once. They need to hire editors.)
But setting that aside, neither acquaintances or associates feel even the slightest obligation to look at my stuff, even if it is free. This is because they were NEVER on the social network to find new books to read, or to find new friends to chat up. No, all they want is traffic coming to them.
So even though social networks are pitched as a way to meet new readers, you’re far more likely to raise an army of writers, all of them spamming you to buy their stuff. None of them will buy your stuff, and even if you buy theirs, it doesn’t change anything. They still won’t read your stuff, and they won’t stop spamming you to buy more.
And this is before we get into the problem of social network games, or what I’ll call the “click and wait pyramid scheme.” It doesn’t matter which game we’re talking about, most have the same rules. Gather a bunch of friends and attack other people with less friends using X weapons. (where X represents some properly themed weapon of single person destruction.) You click on actions (or “Missions”) to use energy points, and then you wait until your energy rebuilds. Or you go play one of a hundred other games using the same system with different names. You can fight as a mobster and shoot people in one game, or race using modified cars in another. But the underlying system is always the same dull as shit game. It’s never exciting, so I fail to understand why so many of my online friends kept playing them. I frequently posted status updates on both networks saying “Don’t invite me to games.” And every day, I got more invites for more games.
At a certain point, I have to look at these sites as a failed experiment. Because not only did they not accomplish the required goal (gain more readers), but they managed to annoy the piss out of me with ugly interfaces, pointless “apps,” and pushy users.
Maybe later on, I’ll set up an account for Aphotic Thought Press on Facebook, but only if there is some way to block all apps preemptively. Because the only reason I’d have that account is to make announcements of book releases, new authors, or new cover designs. You know, just random updates that you might expect to see from a micro-press.
Maybe my real problem with not being able to make a connection with more readers does lie in my inability to continually push the same things in your face until you’re sick of me. But if social networks are the answer to self-promotion, I don’t believe I understood the question. My question was “where can I find new readers?” I can say for certain that I didn’t find any through Facebook or MySpace.