Back in the earlier days of the internet, in the years that came before the juggernaut that is Facebook (other social networks are available), The Internet felt more like a community than it does now. What? I hear you cry. What can be more community-like than Facebook? Let me tell you…
Before Facebook, before this incarnation of my online journal, I like many millions of people would post daily (sometimes hourly!) ramblings of our thoughts and lives. It was the Facebook of its day.
But there was a difference
LiveJournal was a blogging site. Yes, it was sometimes – sometimes often – used for snappy or cryptic one-liners or howlings of despair when emotions were running high or spirits were low, but these would always be followed up by something more substantial. You could also post these often person ‘journal entries’ to any number of ‘friends filters’ (or indeed completely private) quickly and easily allowing you to control exactly who can see and comment on what you write.
Facebook also allows you to do this too, I hear you cry! Yes, yes it does. Well, it doesn’t allow you to screen-before-posting comments, choose who out of your friends can comment (or comment without being screened first), or prohibit comments entirely.
It’s not my platform
The Intricacies of how and where you can comment are niggling details, as our the friends filters. The big thing is that Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram… amongst others…) is not My (or Your) platform. You are tied into how the new age of social media sites look, feel and behave. Facebook in particular chooses what to show you and then shows it to you how it wants to show it to. LiveJournal may not have been more your own website but you could personalise the look of every page exactly as you wanted it to, and to some degree embed it in in your own website, and you controlled exactly what you wanted to see. And it was easy to do all of that. When your friends or contacts commented on your posts the comments stayed on your journal, together, forever.
Those were the heydays of LiveJournal, it was the place to be, but it was only for a subset of people. Most people seemed not to be introduced in putting their voices online… Until Facebook. I think its fair to say that the big growth period for Facebook was between 2007 and 2009. Suddenly everyone wanted to share everything and instead of doing it in a safe arena where you could control what you shared with whom, they all wanted to do it an environment controlled by the website and in many cases in public or semi-public.
We’ve reached a point now where people blog here and there and everywhere and share it on Facebook and Twitter, and then the conversation takes place on Facebook and Twitter and not with the original post. This is fine, you might say, the converstation is still being had… It’s not okay though. People are not following my blog for my blog, they’re not enagaging with the post where it was posted. They’re seeing these posts on their social media stream if their social media stream decides to show it in amongst the cat videos, the moaning about Mondays, and the cute cat videos.
I’m not convinced that people are even reading the posts behind the link, but rather just liking and sharing based on what we expect it to say. I observed this disengagement on the bus last year, and wrote a poem about it.
Engaging the disengaged?
So as authors we have our author platform that we have spent hours over designing and tweaking and looking just right. We have our homepage and our call to action, we have our books, our blog, some nice little extras, and our newsletter sign up, but how do we actually get people to see it? Once you get some visibility, you can use that visibility to build more, but when your visibility is precisely you and your cat who is draped across your laptop morning, noon, and night, how do you put your author platform in front people?
Short of crafting your social media posts in the form of annoying, spammy clickbait how do you engage your readers to actually click the link, read, enjoy, comment, and share when for the most part they are scanning their social networks on their phone, and swiping down, liking this and liking that, and moving on?
What are your experiences of building your platform and making it actually visable to people who might be interested outside your own personal sphere of influence? Comment below with your thoughts…
- Wed, 23:04: has started reading #MrTumnal from the beginning. Already I’ve addressed a few Louis/Lewis mix-ups… #progress #amwriting #rewrites
- Wed, 23:15: Brilliant… 🙁 I just got a mental age test result of 44 on My Mental Age http://t.co/jQGUW1Tz9H
- Thu, 09:11: RT @hss_brookes: .@oxford_brookes Historian @JBHist helps Nigel Havers uncover his family tree on #wdytya. Watch it on @BBCiPlayer http://t…
- Tue, 12:20: RT @hss_brookes: Why Humanities MATTER: the humanities are about what it is to be human… http://t.co/Kue6jJMoLh
- Tue, 18:09: “I walked down the stairs. I knew what the next sentence was going to be. I walked up the stairs. I knew nothing anymore.” \via @Ali_Shaw
- Tue, 18:59: 5 of 5 stars to The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman http://t.co/lDlslrmrrY
- Tue, 21:45: Listening to yesterday’s @bbcproms with Acapulco group @Naturally7 – absolutely amazing! http://t.co/SoJUERp5ch
- Tue, 23:18: Snuggled for bed… http://t.co/3CMBHRQZ6Q
- Wed, 09:50: I’m #reading A Thread Through Time by Deborah Shepherd http://t.co/dj1HtolvU3
- Wed, 10:52: has just been utterly confused by a text message from my Mum that has been languishing in the drafts folder for 6 months or more… :-\
- Sun, 15:01: Only four abduction a bit chapters to type up. Good job I haz good touch-typing skillz… #amwriting… http://t.co/iOYIR8NP8A
- Sun, 22:53: RT @megrosoff: Oh, ffs, Britain. Don’t make me embarrassed to be a citizen of you as well. http://t.co/0waIGph5gX
- Mon, 00:16: RT @imagexperts: Some amazing, unusual & rare additions to our used equipment stocks will be appearing in our eBay store this week – http:/…
- Sat, 17:32: “You take the child; When the child becomes the man. And in his place another child waits.” #TheRules #MrTumnal #amwriting
- Sat, 17:56: Those final moments… #MrTumnal #amwriting
- Sat, 18:25: It appears to be raining in the garden now, but I can’t stop now… #amwriting #MrTumnal
- Sat, 19:11: …and it is done. Just a #Coda left to write. #MrTumnal #amwriting #TheStorysEnd
- Sat, 23:10: The End. #MrTumnal #amwriting @ Southwold http://t.co/NMCxnsHaWH
- Sat, 23:20: 7 years after first idea, 4 years in the writing, and contained within 3 leather bound volumes,… http://t.co/bD0N6qMtLw
- Sun, 00:00: has a curious mix of emotions. I’m happy/relieved/excited that I’ve finished #MrTumnal. I’m also feeling bereft that it’s finished… :-/
- Sun, 00:04: Which is of course nonsense. I’ve still got to type it up, read it, rest, revise, hate, revise it again, fall back in love with it…
- Sun, 00:05: …and get it published. I really shouldn’t be feeling bereft. #amwriting #MrTumnal
- Sun, 00:51: And already there one hastily scribbled #latenightrevision… #MrTumnal #amwriting
- Fri, 13:20: . @undiminished Is this the kind of thing you were talking about yesterday? http://t.co/RdqCwCs7Cp
- Fri, 19:42: RT @BBCFrontRow: Killer whale doc Blackfish reviewed; new @LibraryofBham revealed; vocal group @Naturally7 sing live. With @JohnWilson14
- Fri, 19:46: Just heard some amazing acapella on @BBCFrontRow from @Naturally7 . Just brilliant! 🙂
- Wed, 12:14: Why you really should keep a journal http://t.co/wfqKNA9IYn \via @thecreativepenn @guardian
- Wed, 13:41: @kindofpalejewel Just wondered whether you had come across @JBHist as you work at neighbouring #Oxford institutions?
- Wed, 14:40: How to be an Author 24-7 http://t.co/3OgMfHCyYT \via @writerunboxed @thecreativepenn
- Wed, 14:45: RT @hss_brookes: Reader in History at @oxford_brookes, Dr Joanne Bailey, talks about marriage, surnames and identity on @BBCLeeds http://t.…
- Wed, 16:33: RT @JaneAnneHodgson: I just heard a dog whistle. As in dog-whistle. Not a dog whistling. Is that wrong/weird of me? #dogeared
- Thu, 09:59: RT @matkiwi: This just reinforces my childhood fears around eating apple pips. Man has pea growing inside his lung ! http://t.co/qwUZmwRJfZ…
- Thu, 10:08: 7 Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing A Book That Was Previously Traditionally Published http://t.co/JUaPWYWCEl via @thecreativepenn
- Thu, 10:29: RT @hss_brookes: .@oxford_brookes Historian @JBHist helps Downton Abbey star Nigel Havers trace his family tree on @BBC1′s #WDYTYA http://t…
- Thu, 10:29: RT @hss_brookes: MA Creative Writing student, Claire Cox, has poem shortlisted for publication by Magma Poetry Magazine http://t.co/uz78lFo…
- Thu, 11:38: Brilliant idea from my friend Keira. For those tea-lovers with ideas and always in need of a notepad to jot them! http://t.co/NkirwBUxqI
- Tue, 21:55: wonders what it is like to play the #flute with water halfway up your chest? #amwriting #MrTumnal #gladthisisntautobiographical
- Tue, 22:31: Good advice from @megrosoff on how to write… http://t.co/tb2CtFH9zr \via @a_writersstudio
- Tue, 23:03: RT @charconquest: Enjoyable rehearsals today – great cast #wow #day2 #CTHenryV #oxford @creationtheatre
- Tue, 23:04: @creationtheatre can you sum up what Henry V is about in 140 characters?
- Wed, 07:52: RT @creationtheatre: @charconquest @RhysDaleKing @ChrisYork19 fancy the challenge? Describe Henry plot in 1 tweet #HenryVinonetweet
- Wed, 07:52: RT @creationtheatre: An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk onto a battlefield… #HenryVinonetweet
- Wed, 07:52: RT @creationtheatre: The English army led by Henry triumph against the French against massive odds #HenryVinonetweet #spoiler
- Wed, 10:58: Enjoying #storytime with @Joannechocolat in tweet-sized segments… 🙂
- Wed, 19:08: RT @MasterChefUK: Exciting news MasterChef fans… Celeb MC with @JohnTorode1 and @GreggAWallace returns to BBC One on 31st July at 8pm!!
- Wed, 22:39: A story of bickering Gods and Folk: my #review of #Runelight by @Joannechocolat http://t.co/TBvuTCR6Pm #amreading #Norse
- Thu, 08:32: knows that @106jackfm is the radio station that plays what I want when they play @monstersandmen‘s #LittleTalks (@CarolineVerdon @suecarter)
- Thu, 08:56: 4 of 5 stars to Runelight by Joanne Harris http://t.co/PcwfiYi8J3
- Thu, 09:20: RT @Joannechocolat: @shepline Oh, yes. Watch out for THE GOSPEL OF LOKI, pre-launching at FantasyCon this year…
- Thu, 11:06: A whole university to sit down in and you thought that this was the most appropriate place?!?… http://t.co/CKthqQTFBK
- Tue, 16:10: Do Michael Gove’s GCSE changes pose a threat to English literature in schools? http://t.co/Ak4HEJEF7Y <-Sadly it seems that yes, yes they do
- Tue, 21:58: SO today we decided to go for a short walk round the park… A very short walk as it turned out. A couple were getting ready to, you know…
- Tue, 22:54: has realised that indeed it is the simple solutions that win. Just a bit of individuality is what was needed #amwriting #MrTumnal #endgame
- Tue, 23:13: Sitting outside writing until 11pm & its too dark to see just because it’s warm enough that you can makes you feel like you’re on holiday
- Wed, 07:28: “I’m raising the bar,”said Christopher Govvin. “So that more of us won’t be able to jump over it,”said Eeyore.” \via @MichaelRosenYes
- Wed, 11:16: Searching for the right Japanese character to use reminds me of those years doing equations in #mnras for @RoyalAstroSoc… #work #patterns
- Mon, 14:27: How is interactive technology transforming storytelling? http://t.co/36rIZQSnky \via @guardian #books #storytelling
- Mon, 21:32: The hardest thing about writing a novel is ending it. I have to remember the best novels actually do it very simply… #amwriting #MrTumnal
- Mon, 21:42: Nothing more off-putting when sat in the garden trying to write than to hear a bit more of what your neighbours are doing than you care to.