Social Media – When Less is More

When I first joined Facebook I thought, “This is ridiculous. Who would ever do this?”

But I was told if I ever wanted to be considered by a book publisher, I better have an author platform. One of the foundational ways to build a platform is by using social media venues such as Facebook and Twitter.

So I grudgingly used my Facebook account. I logged in once a week to see what others were up to.  But then a weird thing happened. I discovered I loved social media. I made real friendships online and looked forward to hearing from my “peeps.” I enjoyed getting ideas and opinions from people all over the world. I loved knowing what people were thinking and talking about. I looked forward to laughing, crying, and praying with my online friends.

As soon as I mastered Facebook, I noticed authors talking about something called Twitter. Twitter seemed overwhelming so I read a few books about it:

*Twitter Revolution by Warren Whitlock and Deborah Micek. I wrote about it here

*Twitter Means Business by Julio Ojeda-Zapata You can order it here.

I learned that Twitter is very different from Facebook. Twitter is a powerful tool for specific purposes such as checking how snowy the roads near Vail are, what Judge Belvin Perry is ordering Casey Anthony’s jurors for lunch, discovering what the police are doing near I-70, talking out loud to politicians and celebrities, and telling companies about their bad (or good) service.

As I settled into my social media routine, I saw my heroes adding tens of thousands of friends, so I did likewise. I added and “friend-ed” everyone who crossed my path.

It makes sense. We all want to be part of the group like this little guy:

My friends and followers list grew, but I dreaded getting on my computer. I didn’t know whom I was talking to, and I felt like I was being spammed when I wanted to relate. So one day I deleted all 800 of my Twitter friends and started over.

I carefully and deliberately chose which friends I would follow (now less than 100) and paid little attention to who was following me. Every few months I clean out my Facebook account. I unfriend lurkers, spammers, and people who spew their message but never interact. One thing I’m proud of is that people I interact with on social media are not strangers, they are my friends. I have found several benefits to cutting back:

  • I am more eager to login to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • I have built relationships with my online friends, so when my book gets published I won’t be a nameless face spamming everybody.
  • My friends and followers are more likely to pass my books, videos, and blog links to others.
  • I’m interacting with people who share my interests.
  • I’m filling a social need by relating instead of spamming. Research shows that people form communities on Facebook and Twitter in order to get social needs met.

More and more people, whose expertise I admire, are limiting the ways they interact on social media. As authors we are continually trying new marketing ideas, so we experiment, take risks, and try new things. I don’t know if the way I do social media is right for you…

Do you think more followers and friends are better? Why or Why Not?

48 thoughts on “Social Media – When Less is More

  1. Great post, Lucille. Social media is so confusing. On one hand, you want to build a following and gain a large number of followers, but on the other hand, you want those followers to be genuine. It’s a “Catch-22″ of sorts, isn’t it?

    I am more active on Facebook than I am Twitter and find that I spend way too much time on social media as it is. I guess I haven’t figured out the perfect balance just yet…:)

    • Jenny, oh my goodness, your website is beautiful. I’m going to order your children’s books and I can tell right now I’m going to cry!

      Thanks for letting me know how you use social media. I too interact more in Facebook. It’s good to know we’re all trying to find the right balance.

  2. Excellent post. I started a personal FB account for business but it’s ended up mostly friends, acquaintances, and family. So I started a business page and took most business “friends” off my personal account. I’m very picky now who I friend on that personal account, and I put my friends into lists so I can customize, if necessary, which list gets to see certain posts (like only family). I love Twitter, but check out new followers daily to block spammy types, those who seem to have no business following me, and those whose tweets are just annoying. I am selective who I follow and also put people into lists so I can selectively check on whatever list of folks I want. Writers can learn and share so much with each other on Twitter, but yes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Gotta choose quality over quantity.

    • Hi Linda, I went to your website and saw your book about a Japanese girl’s experience of WWII. It looks interesting. Who did your trailer?

      I think the way you use FB is the most practical way. I wish I would have known that when I started, because I think It’s hard to switch over once you have friends. Is it hard to do the lists?

      Thank you for joining us here at the WSWC.

      • I did the trailer myself using Windows Movie Maker, a free video-editing program on PCs (MACS have their own version). It’s a lot of fun. Nowadays, though, author videos are considered more interesting because they “break the fourth wall” so people can relate to you. Plus they are easier to do because you just talk to your audience about the book.

        Using lists for FB and Twitter is easy. When you friend or follow someone you just choose what list to put them in. The new FB has basic lists already set up for you, but you can add your own, too. Most of my posts are for everybody, but sometimes I want to send only to family or only to writers. But, you have to remember to re-set back to everyone when you next post or FB will remember your old choice!

  3. Terrific post, Lucille! I’ve recently started applying the Frantic Gauge to my social media experiences. If I start being ruled by thoughts like, “But I have to add another hundred followers…” or “My Klout score just isn’t high enough….”, it’s time to back away from the computer. Social media, for me, is not about impressing a future publisher with my thousands of Twitter followers, most of whom are actually businesses trying to sell me something. It’s about offering something of value (even just a laugh) to friends, expecting nothing in return.

    This morning, a young man who’s read my blog for many years, and with whom I’ve had some personal correspondence, left a comment on a poem I wrote. He and his wife lost a baby girl when more than six months pregnant, and the poem blessed him. I must have mentioned in the post that my husband and I had set the poem to music. This grieving daddy asked if we had recorded it yet, or if we could do a simple YouTube for him. He said it would help them so much….

    THIS is why I engage in social media. To touch lives in ways I otherwise couldn’t. If as a result, a platform is built, it will be made up of people who are truly interested in what I’m writing. Lucille, I am honored to have become friends with you this way! What a wonderful gift.

    • Katy, what are you doing up this early? Are you with your daughter yet?

      I love your take on social media: “It’s about offering something of value (even just a laugh) to friends, expecting nothing in return.”

      I can truly say you exemplify this. I make sure I never skip over your posts on FB because you always have something to offer. You’re a gem and I’m so glad we met on FB.

      Your story of the young man telling you how your poem blessed him and his wife is precious.

      • One of those crazed and crazy mornings when 3 am feels like the light of day, phooey!! I do this about once per week. Got 700 words written toward my NaNo count, though, so it’s all good. Now finishing packing to head to the airport. My grandson awaits! :)

      • Lucille, thank you for those sweet, sweet words. I feel the same way about you! If we’re not careful, we may have a PDFA (Public Display of Facebook Affection), haha. Much love.

  4. I loved reading this commonsense post, Lucille, and I think you’re so wise to limit. It’s sure easy to get frantic about social media. I know I’ve been feeling a little nagging voice when I’m on the computer and not spending as much evening time with my husband. That’s going to change. I love FB and my FB friends are people I know through my work or personal life, but Twitter seems to be a less satisfactory interaction, except for a few people whom I’ve come to know and enjoy. We’re all the pioneers in this endeavor, and it always takes a lot of time to figure out how to break new ground.

  5. Good morning Sue,
    Thanks for taking time to comment here. I appreciate you letting me know how you struggle to balance time with friends “out there” vs. friends at home (hubby). It’s helpful to hear what other people think about Twitter.

    Lately I’ve been sharing with friends how they can use Twitter for their own purposes even if they don’t want to sign up with an account.

    They can always put search.twitter.com in their browser and look up any topic.

  6. Regardless of what we decide to do, I completely agree that social media is about relationships. That’s what it comes down to. Community and helping each other out and authentic interaction.

  7. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. Twitter is easier for me. If someone starts spamming me I delete them immediately. I don’t monitor who can follow me but I do check them out. If they’re sketchy I block them. Usually though it is fellow writers who I want to follow back. Facebook has been the bigger challenge for me. I have a LOT of ‘friends’ on my personal page, so many I have absolutely no interaction with. I constantly wrestle with the idea of deleting all those people, but then again I don’t know whether some of those people could be potential readers – there isn’t anyway to ‘transfer’ friends to my author page. I would love to have my personal page for just my close friends, people I actually know through ACFW etc…, and family, and keep my author page for other connections and folks who are genuinely interested in my writing, but I haven’t quite got to that point yet. Plus to go in a start de-friending people is a huge time suck. And it feels a little weird. :) But I’m generally not adding new people to my personal page anymore unless I know them.

    • Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for chiming in…all the way from Bermuda! I don’t limit who follows me either. There is no easy answer to the dilemma of transfering our fans form our personal page is there.
      Knowing I don’t have to do it perfectly gives me peace.

  8. Lucille- great article on social media. I think I too am always having to tell myself, “ok, that’s enough time on facebook!” lol. and I do find I use it more than twitter also. I love facebook because I’ve got family, old Bible College friends, and all of my Colorado friends. I love to stay conected. And I think for me facebook has been a ministry tool- I love to encourage with a quote or a scripture or a link to a good article. That makes me happy when someone needed to hear a particular scripture or was moved by something written. =} My husband says Twitter is more business and facebook is more personal. I know I’ve enjoyed getting to know you more on facebook! :)

  9. Great post Lucille. It’s a challenge all the time to find the balance between being in the game and getting a little frantic. Social media keeps changing too so it’s not like we can learn it, get in a groove and settle back!

  10. Great post! Some days, yes, I think having a bunch of followers is a great idea. It’s a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and advertise my books (when I get published…) I do really like to hear from other writers, even ones I don’t know, because it keeps me abreast of the industry and encourages me to keep writing.

    But most days – NO. I am an introvert by nature, and while I frequent exhibit extrovert qualities (like enjoying to make many new friends and talk to strangers), I value a small, intimate circle of friends over a large, mostly anonymous one. Plus, social media can take up a lot of time I’d rather spend writing, and can quickly become a drain. It’s something I know I’ll have to deal with when I’m published, and I’m reluctant to invest myself in twitter, after already being on FB, Google+, and having a blog. And while I don’t mind lurkers, I dislike getting spam. Spammers are the parasites of social media. Nobody wants to get a parasite.

    • Juturna, I’m impressed that you do Facebook, Google+, and a blog! There’s no rule that says we have to do it all. I think it’s important to try things and then do what works for us. I think there is something wrong with me that I don’t like lurkers :-) – I’m sure most people don’t mind.
      Blessings on your writing.

  11. LOL! “Nobody wants to get a parasite.” A truer word was ne’er spoke.

    I think I have an ambivalent relationship with social media, like most people. A few days ago, I had the wonderful feeling of getting a lot of love and support during a difficult time through Facebook. I went to bed thinking about it–the internet as these points of light stretching across the country, representing all those I love who aren’t near physically but can talk to me instantly, all at once.

    I’ve made some great friends through social media alone. I can’t negate that, despite my reservations about us becoming a nation of computer zombies.

    • Rosslyn,
      This is beautiful:

      “the internet as these points of light stretching across the country, representing all those I love who aren’t near physically but can talk to me instantly, all at once.”

  12. This post is a breath of fresh air, Lucille. Generally, we’re compelled to extend our network beyond what we can relate to. Thanks for speaking common sense into the chaos.

  13. Lucille,
    This counselor needs an appointment with you. I enjoy blogging but I’ve considered letting my blog on my website go since I blog here, and at Just the Write Charisma about once a month. But then I think that might be stupid. It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. My biggest frustration is that on Facebook I can’t figure out how to get my friends on my Jill Nutter page to my Jillian Kent page. Any advice? I think this could be an opportunity to figure out who I really want to engage on the Jillian Kent page. I do believe less is more, I just don’t know how to manage it all effectively. I’m looking forward to reading your book on self-care. Glad you tackled this subject.

    • Hi Jill(ian), that’s right, you’re a counselor too!

      I don’t think I would let your blog go. I think readers want to keep up with you if they can and I’m not sure the WSWC blog will give the enough of you. Just my thoughts.

      I’m wondering what would happen if you bluntly told your FB fans you needed help figuring out how to get people over to your fan page. Some might have suggestions and some might hope on over.

      • Thanks Lucille,
        I have asked facebook fans in the past. Maybe I should just plan on doing that once a month. That way I wouldn’t be bugging folks too much. and you are probably right about the blog. I’m only blogging once a week now and that seems to be okay but not tons of traffic.

  14. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Lucille. I wrestle with the social media dilemma often. On the one hand, I like the idea of having a small group of close friends on FB, but on the other hand I enjoy meeting new people. I don’t go out of my way to add friends or followers. They come to me. When they do, I don’t like turning them away.

    The way I see it is that there will be those who are closer and with whom I interact most on any social media site. I connect with the others when I can or when they reach out to me. Otherwise I figure they are just letting my posts, comments, etc. stream by the same way I have to do many of those I see.

  15. Keli, I tend to do that as well…let friends find me but I don’t deliberately go looking for friends. Although, every once in a while I find someone whose book brings me to tears. Then I do seek them out. Right now I’m reading a lot of Shauna Niequist – Bill Hybel’s daughter. Her writing moves me.

  16. Like others here I appreciate reading;your sound approach to social media. As a yet to be published novelist, all the advice I’ve heard is to get out there and do social media. So I got
    on FB a year ago and have a website. I’m also an introvert and lean more toward having a few intimate friends, most are not even on FB. In the past few months I’ve added new writing acquaintances on FB. I enjoy interacting with the few that comment on my postings. I also leave comments if I think I have something relevant to say and pass along useful writing posts. I’m beginning to enjoy it, but it’s time consuming. I can’t imaging how much time I’d be spending there if I had several thousand people on my page. I wholly endorse your wisdom, Lucille.

    • Hi Pat,
      Thank you for commenting here. One thing that really helped me was learning about readers to collect my favorite blogs. I subscribe to about 55 but I don’t always read each one. I try to, but a lot of times I skim or just look to see if the title intrigues me. This way I don’t have to try to remember whose blog I liked. I just go to my reader a few times a week. I really like Google’s reader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSPZ2Uu_X3Y

  17. One things for sure: There’s a certain amount of us who are wrestling with the whole social media requirement. Trying to discover the balance between have to and want to.
    I understand the need — the have to — for writers to build a platform. Not optional. I get that.
    How to do that — wow. Not so much.
    All I know is, I’m trying. I read: books. blogs, tweets, articles … and I try.
    The one concept I’m hanging onto: Social media = relationships. And I’m trying to be less me-centered and more “others”-centered. I mean, I know me. I’d like to connect with others. I’ve got a lot to learn.
    I like your idea of stepping back, taking a good look at all my “friends” (especially Twitter folks” and cleaning house a bit. I mean, aren’t we that way with “real” relationships–discerning? It’s not a “Ya’ll come” kind of thing.

    • Hey Beth,
      You’re really good about commenting on posts. I see your name everywhere when I got to other author sites. You’re definitely about building relationship. I truly enjoy your writing.

  18. Great post, Lucille! (And I love the picture.) I think you’re onto something. Until or unless you’re one of those people who has thousands of fanatic followers made up of your fan base, I’d rather be engaging with individuals that shouting out into the vast unknown. If you tweet to 3,000 followers who will either ignore or never see your tweet, or you tweet to 300 followers who are likely to engage with you then share your news with other people, who then share it and so on, it seems like the better plan. That must be why I keep hearing ‘slow and steady’ is the way to build followers, even though it may be instinctive to want them all overnight.

    • Rebecca,

      Yes, this is my philosophy: “If you tweet to 3,000 followers who will either ignore or never see your tweet, or you tweet to 300 followers who are likely to engage with you then share your news with other people, who then share it and so on, it seems like the better plan.”

  19. Hello Lucille. Thank you for touching on a subject that we authors all seem to struggle with!
    When I first joined twitter I really didn’t get it at all, nothing seemed to make sense! But I soon got into it and ended up spending a little too much time on there, which I’ve now restricted! As for facebook, I’d used this as a way of keeping up to date with what my sons we’re doing as they live in another town, and it keeps me connected with family & friends. I’ve always felt my FB page was private and therefore couldn’t use it for my writing, so I started another FB page under my pen name. BUT, when I click the share button on my website, how do I get it to go to the FB page I want it to go to? Jillian appears to have a similar problem with two FB pages!

  20. Hi Dee,

    Thanks for joining the conversation. Are you the illustrator for your bear books? Too cute!
    This was a smart move: “I’ve always felt my FB page was private and therefore couldn’t use it for my writing, so I started another FB page under my pen name.”

    Re: your question about the share button….I have no idea. Sorry.

  21. Great post Lucille. I am not an author but a big fan of social media. I first got into Facebook as a ministry tool working with today’s youth culture. I’m a big fan of meeting people on their turf. Back then I didn’t have many adult friends so it was weird when a lot of adults began finding me. Haha. I am on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn.

    It seems that Google+ is not mature enough to have the mass appeal like Facebook I like Twitter when I want to contact people like authors and performers and preachers that I normally wouldn’t have access to. Thr twitter conversation is less personal and more a marketplace to place your ideas in front of a lot of people. Not good or bad, just the way I see it. My opinion of course.

    Facebook is still where I have the most interaction relationally with people. Some of it is to encourage for friends as they deal with life issues. I also am able to share my ideas with those that don’t necessarily agree with me. This is good when it is not confrontational. :-D. I have also loved getting back in touch with dear friends from the past. My love language is words of encouragement and the social media experience is a great way to start caring for one another.

    Of course the time management and caring for real life family and friends needs to be balanced. the amount of followers is not so much the important thing as what my motivation for having them. Maybe the lurkers can gain something from following along as long as they aren’t stalking me with evil intentions.

    Great great post. Have a blessed week!

    Great approach

    • Hi Brent,

      Thanks for your perspectives. It sounds like you’ve seen the a lot of changes over the past few years. It really is interesting to see the different points of view on Facebook!

Comments are closed.