[personal|writing] Social media strategies

Several folks have been commenting lately in the blogosphere on being fictional. I read the posts, nodded, and went on. I’ve had an online presence in some form or another for over fifteen years now. I’m very accustomed to the delta between my persona as projected in that environment and the full personhood of me.

Of course, when I first hung out my web shingle, I was a private person. It was some years before my first sale as a writer. The number of people who cared about what I had to say online or in public was limited to close friends and immediate family. And not even many of them.

That meant I could have essentially a one-to-one relationship with everyone I knew online.

Today, this post will potentially reach about 10,000 people through four media channels I address directly, and even more indirectly. Some reasonable percentage of those will actually click through and read it. Between WordPress, LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook, I would have to keep up with those roughly 10,000 people in order to maintain the same reciprocity I routinely managed back in 1995 or so.

To be a bit more specific about this, someone was grumpy at me in Facebook recently for not paying attention to the posts of my Facebook friends, implying that this was unfair of me. Given that as of this draft I have 2,567 Facebook friends, I would never do anything else if I paid that kind of attention. Likewise my 6,156 Twitter followers. If I auto-followed, I would never do anything else. Same for my 1,000+ LiveJournal friends and all the people who pick up the RSS feed off my WordPress blog. It’s sort of like how I used to try to read the stories and novels all my friends got published. Now that’s just about a mathematical impossibility for me, assuming I wish to eat, sleep or ever leave my chair for any other purpose.

The entire calculus of how I relate through my online presence and social media has changed radically over the years. Largely without me even noticing it. I simply rode along with the shifting tide. Now I am in a situation that creates a sense of interchange, or even social intimacy, with me for thousands of people, a great many of whom I do not know and likely never will.

I answer direct questions in any of my online spaces, respond to otherwise interesting comments, dip into the pool of ‘friends’ in each of those areas. But lacking the time, how do I respect the personal connection that so many people feel? In my case, by paying what attention I can, responding when appropriate, and being respectful. I got no other answer.

What do you think the obligations of a public person should be in the social media?

7 thoughts on “[personal|writing] Social media strategies

  1. Lois2037 says:

    The problem is the term “friend.” I don’t know you, we’ve never met, though we live in the same city. I subscribed to your Facebook posts because I like your writing. I read your blog because I’m interested. That doesn’t make us “friends,’ and I don’t think you’re obligated in any way to respond to me, or any of the other several thousand people who look in on your posts. “…But lacking the time, how do I respect the personal connection that so many people feel? In my case, by paying what attention I can, responding when appropriate, and being respectful.” I think that completely covers it.

    1. Jay says:

      Agreed on the terminology issue. And thank you.

      (Also, you, unusually so for most of my online friends, will likely run into me sooner or later for the reason you cite.)

  2. Good points! Imagine the sheer numbers and calculus that people like Stephen King and Nora Roberts would have to contend with…probably one of the reasons they don’t have any social media presence (to my knowledge).

    I’ve connected to you via Twitter, facebook and visiting the blog because I like your writing and your posts, I like that you make me think.

    Keep on keeping on!

  3. Griffin says:

    Lois has it completely right about social media nomenclature! And I think you, Jay, have adopted the proper attitude as well. People need to respect that individuals only have so much time each the day.

    I think it a treat when I get a response from you or any of the other people I know only through a single meeting or solely via social media. I don’t get miffed when I don’t get attention, I move along, enjoying these glimpses into the lives of people I would not otherwise have a chance to see or hear about.

  4. Cora says:

    I think a public person has only the social media obligations that he or she wants to have.

    Some kind of web presence seems de rigeur these days for writers and other more or less public figures, but the extent is up to the individual. Whether it’s a static webpage, blog, livejournal, Facebook, Twitter, a combination of those, etc… doesn’t matter as long as the person is comfortable with it. Personally, I’m not a fan of excessive political ranting (not your occasional healthcare or “Republics are hypocrites” posts and links, but unpleasant, borderline insane ranting) and needless rudeness. But then, the people with the rudest internet personas are usually fans or fairly small fry writers, so that’s apparently a way for them to attract notice. Not a good way, but that’s just me.

    When I comment on your or anybody else’s blog, I don’t necessarily expect a reply nor do I expect everybody to click through to my blog.

    I think everybody understands that your writing, day job, family, health, etc… come fist and that social media engagement is just a nice extra.

    So in short, I think your approach is exactly right.

    1. Jay says:

      And I do appreciate your frequent, thoughtful comments, Cora. Thank you.

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