Social Media Suffering

Blogging, social media, etc, etc. It’s a mind-numbing, soul-destroying chore. There, I said it.

I know you’re not supposed to think like that these days, but I do. I don’t tweet as much as I should, and even then it’s usually to retweet someone else. I have tweeted so few tweets in my tweeting career that Twitter tells me the exact number of tweets I have sent. Most people I know have their tweet haul rounded to the nearest thousand.

I’m also pretty terrible with my website and blog, if truth be told. I note that this is the first blog I have put up in 2016, WHICH IS MORE THAN HALFWAY OVER. I’ve done a few blogs for friends’ sites, but not enough to make up for this general slackness.

Why is this? I don’t think it’s a general aversion to self-promotion. I have worked as a freelance journalist for the past nine months or so, and much of that involves putting yourself out there and meeting people and generally selling your wares. I’m happy enough with that – in fact I’d say it was one of the things that attracted me to going solo in the first place.

The Strategist
Available for pre-order, which you might not realise as I am terrible at social media. 

Maybe it’s because I’m busier than usual? Perhaps. As I said, I’ve started working for myself, and that does suck up a lot of time. Still, I’m not sure it’s much of an excuse, as I’ve always been pretty rubbish at it.

The most successful social media folks seem to use it ALL THE TIME, a dozen or more times a day. They find funny, pithy things to say, or they just tweet about what they’re up to in a certain moment. It just never crosses my mind to do that. Sometimes I can be on my way back from an event or something and it will suddenly strike me that I should have sent a tweet out. To be honest, even when the thought does arrive on time, I often just don’t bother.

I think part of the problem is a kind of mental block. I still think of social media like standing in a big room of people. How would I act in such a situation? Would I just start shouting out my thoughts, jumping into conversations etc? Well, yeah, probably, depending on how much I’d had to drink. But in general, probably not.

Then there’s the sheer range of options. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start – how could I fit Twitter, Facebook, my blog, Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, etc, into my day?

The worst part though is when you start to compare yourself with people who are masters of the game. They follow three people but have ten million followers. They link their posts across different accounts. Every tweet translates directly into ten gold watches worth of new book sales. (Maybe not, but you get the drift). Where do they find the time? And I’m not talking celebrities here, with their own team of people composing their posts for them. These are normal people that I know. In fact, probably most people I know, at least in the journalism/fiction games.

I find that all these factors in combination just make me freeze. I look at all the sites, at the effortless success of other people, and it just puts me off. I start scrabbling about for things to tweet about, fail to think of anything, and go back to whatever I was doing before.

Well, this has to stop, so I’m going to do something about it. I’ve realised that it’s just the same problem that confronted me when I started writing fiction, and which I know others also experience. You think about the enormity of what you’re going to do. You compare yourself with people who have been doing it for years. You turn away from the computer and give up.

The only way to conquer this, I found, was to develop a sensible routine. I would write for 20 minutes a day or so every weekday, even if I didn’t feel like that. After a while I started to enjoy it, and that’s really the trick – once you enjoy something it doesn’t feel like a chore any more.

I was chatting with someone else about this at a course recently, and they said the best way to approach social media if you’re not a natural is to send something like three tweets (or whatever) a week. That sounds very doable, and I’m going to give it a go – not that exact plan, but something similar and easily manageable.

Then maybe it’ll seem like less of a chore and you won’t be able to shut me up.

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Author: gerrardcowan

I'm an author and freelance journalist. My fantasy trilogy, 'The Machinery', is being published by HarperCollins.

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