2015 was the year I invested in a “social presence”. Here is my honest review and my responses to the current state.
Facebook provides the bulk of my traffic, followed by WordPress. Facebook has destroyed the concept of Friend and totally diminished and warped the meaning of the word “like”. I received connection requests from authors flogging their books. Some writers have also befriended me, and have sent me messages saying they wish to learn. But they don’t. I see posts from them that repeat the same errors that have been pointed out to them. I have no idea how their books are published. I mean where are these publishers? I’d like to talk to them. I have much to say…
Distant family members who have never interacted with me, ever, have also sent me requests to connect on FB. I did accept a few, but they have nothing to say on FB, and far less to say to me. Now, you’re wondering, how much is less than nothing, right? I mean, right?
“And it makes me wonder… what’s going on.. ahh, ahh, yeah” – CSNY
I worked on my Facebook page for the blog. Strangers came and “Liked” it and then stayed away in droves. I created a Twitter account, followed a few people, was followed by a few. Every time I see that Twitter newsfeed, I cringe. There’s just noise there, just links to more noise. Gah! Twitter is the biggest waste of time.
I connected SloWord to Tumblr. The Home Page that I see for my blog is of 2 varieties… now which one does the public see? How do I find content? Ah, fuck it! It’s too much trouble to work out.
Scriggler: Now there I did have some success. Even climbed to the heady heights of #2 on the Monthly charts. I had a few posts listed as Post of the Day. Discerning people, those Scrigglers. They know a good thing when they see me. The only drawback there is I have to cut and paste the entire post there. Not good for SEO, I’m told, whatever that is.
I created accounts on Tremr, Triberr, neglected my Medium account and Ghost. StumbleUpon stumbled along somehow. I had a few interactions before it died. Reddit. Oh, my dears, what a website…. this is clearly aimed at people who are not me. A user interface that is straight from the early 90s and a clientele that has little to say and all day to say it in. Pinterest is too demanding of an image before it will do anything and overall it’s too focused on arts, crafts and cutesy posters. Google+ I’m slowly coming to grips with. A little cumbersome but may offer more than the others did. ( I say “May”…)
Then we come to the writers groups and blogging networks. The writers groups come in two basic varieties; Facebook groups and writing support websites.
Facebook writing groups are mostly link dumps and there was one ( I left ) where the feedback was searingly vicious….There are one or two that are making a genuine effort. On the writing support websites, a lot of writers post their excerpts. Some get feedback, most don’t. The ones that do get it get it from their network and they didn’t really need the website to get it. Most of the writer support websites kept flogging premium memberships.
When I first started writing, I asked around about getting some feedback. I was unsure of my writing skills, unsure of style, unsure of the world of writing. Three decades spent doing everything but writing will be hard to shake off, I thought. Some friends of friends recommended blogging networks. I signed up for some. I cannot even remember the names of some of them. Two stand out in my experience. Both are based in India.
BlogAdda will list your blog there, but it offers no method of interaction with others. They select featured posts twice a week, but you have to submit your latest post. They don’t go searching. They feature some writers base on some parameters that are a deep dark secret that must never be revealed to mankind. Some bloggers win contests and awards using a similarly esoteric and secret formula. It does, however, say it’s main purpose is to connect bloggers to brand marketers. The website is so confusing that I haven’t been there in months. I did submit my How To Write a Novel post and it did get featured. However, total traffic on my blog showed 2 extra hits. Clearly, every other BlogAdda user also stays away from the website, just like me. Being selected for that weekly honour does nothing for readership.
The other one is IndiBlogger. Now, this one does not outright say it is out to connect bloggers to brands. It runs bloggers meets and writing contests. In some, the first x hundred bloggers all get e-tailer vouchers. In other contests, winning posts are selected by judges from the sponsor. I’ve read some of the winning posts. My overall reaction? “Oh, kill me now!” Yes, there are some who write decently, are coherent in their thought processes and obviously take care and pride in their outpourings. The percentage of such bloggers is minuscule, however.
I’ve got into trouble on that site. Mostly for complaining about the voting and ranking system it uses to grade writers. It allows only positive votes. Since you have to post the link to your post on the site, there is nothing to stop a reader from clicking “Promote” without reading the article. Members there have tested this out and found that posts titled “DELETE, NO CONTENT” have garnered over 100+ Promotes. Members have tested the back-scratching networks and proved its widespread existence. I asked why this could not be changed to a 5-point anonymous rating system on the RSS feed instead of making bloggers post their actual links. MISTAKE #1
It also grades bloggers using a monthly ranking system. While it is called a Rank, it is actually a Score, since many people can have the same rank. Rank, in my opinion, indicates ordinality while Score is a cardinal number. The website shows some statistics about MozRank and Alexa and other mumbo-jumbo. I then found out that this is based on the frequency of blogging. I tested it out myself and over a course of 3 or 4 months manipulated my ‘ranking’ to validate my theories. I then called it out. MISTAKE #2
At Indiblogger I was attacked using two arguments. The first was the “Go to Pakistan” argument. If you disagree with me, then you should not stay here but go to Pakistan ( replace with country of your choice depending on where you live ), where you belong. “How dare you stay here and ask for improvements? You should leave.” If we all followed this argument, there would be either mass migrations in the world or mass suicides. I mean, really, are you so fucking bereft of ideas and logic that you cannot debate the concept without using this inane argument? Some of these people had sent me friend requests on Facebook. So I can see them trying to change the world with their Facebook posts, but change IndiBlogger? You must be evil to talk about it.
The other form of attack accused me of trying to win contests. There have been 200+ posts on this blog. Not a single one has been paid for by any brand. I have never submitted a blog post to any contest. Ever. As a Canadian, I’m ineligible for all Indian contests. The prizes are vouchers in Indian rupees which I cannot even use. Evidence? We don’t fucking need no stinking evidence…. We’re here to win contests, you’re here, so you must be here to win contests too.
SloWord’s tagline has always said “Learning to Write rightly”. A joke, but a comment on the reason for this blog. Now, having read excerpts from “published authors”, I no longer need this tagline. I think, I already know more about writing rightly than some of them will ever learn. As a mission statement it no longer has any value. Mission has been accomplished.
I’d say my Social Media foray in 2015 sucked. 2015 sucked really badly. It really did. But it did have one or two good things.
- I now have 3 short stories in hand
- One story was submitted to 2 different magazines and rejected by both. ( It’s a plus, trust me..)
- I have completed the full-length play. I have a choice of endings now. Happy or Sad; you can vote on it. Let me know.
- I have a plan for a multi-volume set of my Memoirs. About a 100K words have been collected into one document now.
- I ignored all the wonderful advice from writers. One in particular set me back 2 months. Then I realized that the feedback came from someone who had self-admittedly limited experience in the genre. I also successfully managed to ignore the cheerleaders for the “dumb it down” brigade.
- Overall, 2015 managed to clear the fog and set me on the right path.
So what do I have in mind for 2016?
- I have to rethink my presence on the internet entirely. Some culling of friends on Facebook will be necessary. Therefore, if you haven’t interacted with me in a few months or ever OR you insist on posting horrific videos of whales eating girls and or beheadings OR all you post are semi-religious, mostly-stupid religious dogma OR your entire FB image is one of jokes curated from the internet OR are the type to like every post as in “with grieving heart I must tell you that my mother just died”; 200 Likes THEN you’re going on the list. I shall then rank all my friends in order of priority, using a criteria known only to myself. I presume the bulk of these friends will not know (or care) that I deleted them as friends. The get rid of the riffraff clogging up my newsfeed on all social channels.
- Cultivate the regular readers by feeding assiduously with proper water and nutrients ( all organic, of course.)
- Compile a set of at least 10 short stories that can potentially be published
- Compile Vol 1 of the memoirs.
- Edit the play and find takers for it.
- SloWord will have to take a backseat. I’m afraid so. I have to find a new format for this blog. A different type of content. But see #2 above and take heart. You may not get quantity, but you will get new, improved content, laced with the goodness of aloe and the smell of fresh summer roses wilting in the vase standing in the hot sunlight and which you forgot to water for three days in a row.
- Find a new tagline for SloWord. I fucking well know how to write rightly and the joke has worn thin.
- Believe in my natural abilities.
- Find a source of revenue to support me in the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. One of laziness.
There, I feel better already! I’m free at last!