ZACHRY WHEELER

Science Fiction Novelist
Reclaiming Ennui: A Referendum on Social Media Usage
Posted on June 4, 2020
Category: Zeedub Inkwell
Zachry Wheeler, Science Fiction Novelist

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am not a fan of social media. I use it begrudgingly as an author because I need to maintain a presence. At least, I thought I did.

Over the last year or so, I have been working through a pseudo experiment with my social media usage. Basically, I decided to bounce back and forth between platforms, playing them off each other while upping and lowering my engagement. The goal was to spike my analytics in order to identify any strategies that work. After a long and tedious process, I am pleased to report back some interesting results.

I have stopped using Facebook.

After countless attempts to squeeze value out of the platform, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Facebook is utterly useless. And that’s on top of the endless scandals, privacy concerns, and shady-as-hell business practices. Case in point: boosting. They throttle user engagement by making businesses pay for the privilege of reaching their own audience. I always feel dirty when I log into the site and the handful of groups that I belong to are no longer worth the price of admission.

I have stopped using Instagram.

Mostly because it’s owned by Facebook. I enjoyed the platform once upon a time, but I cannot separate the fact that Zuck has his crooked little fingers inside of it. Same issues, different site. And then there was the infamous Mashable lawsuit, which sealed the deal for me. When the terms of service can prevent a professional photographer from suing over a blatant misuse of copyrighted material, that’s a cue to exit. Facebook is leaning into its status as an evil empire and I want no part of it.

I have mostly stopped using Twitter.

I say this with a heavy sigh. Twitter remains a toxic pit of despair, so I only use it as a one-way street for content distribution. And even then, it still feels like shouting into the void. I’ll insert the occasional anecdote, but no more likes, replies, or retweets. In fact, I cleared my entire history and now limit the time that posts stay active. My pinned tweet will always be a link to my newsletter. I want readers to scroll through my blog, not a graveyard of outdated tweets.

It was tempting to abandon Twitter as well, but at least they don’t erect paywalls between me and my audience (… yet). That alone was the deciding factor to stay. And besides, everything I share is a link back to my website or blog. It’s like waving a tiny middle finger at the attention monster before snatching a victim from its claws.

A popular refrain in digital marketing is “don’t build your house on rented land,” which is the core business model of social media. You may cultivate an account, but it’s still their audience and their rules. And of course, their profit from your hard work. I realized that the only avenues I have complete control over are my website, my blog, and my mailing list. They should be the core of my online presence, and so they shall be from here on out.

One major upside, unsurprisingly, is that my mood has greatly improved. My relationship with social media has been reduced to a single pain point. Restoring sanity is as simple as closing Twitter. I don’t have the app on my phone and I only log in via my laptop. I also lock everything behind multi-factor authentications. That alone has abated the boredom factor. My down time has shifted away from social media and landed on my neglected to-read pile, which I think is a much healthier use of my ennui.

So that’s where I’m at today. Screw social media. I would rather read about space pirates and nerd out with my subscribers.

Read more:
A Marketing Breakdown for Indie Authors
My Big Fat Social Media Marketing Experiment
Rethinking Author Branding: Why Social Media is Marketing Poison

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