The Social Network Kool-Aid Acid Test

Last night, I was perusing posts and comments on a website featuring authors’ essays.
I encountered a reply that I found disturbing, on several levels.
“I don’t see Facebook, Twitter or a friend follow anywhere here. Another reason to close this (website)…”

Not that I have objections to sites that feature such links. Far from it. Such links widen their reach. I had initially chosen not to install Like buttons for Faceplant/Tweezer on my site, knowing full well that I might have missed reaching a few eyeballs for whom Faceplant/Tweezer are “the Internet”. 😈

Back to the reply cited above. The truly disturbing thing about the reply is that it implies that the website (or any other website, really) is “worthless”, worthy of closure, and not worthy of your active participation, simply because “Like” and “Follow” social networking links are not present.

Writers, like me, are inquisitive people. Or at least we should be. We should be perusing the deepest, darkest corners of the Internet for the seeds of original story ideas, much as the writers before us sought out dust-covered tomes hidden in the neglected corners of libraries. Conducting “The Great Search” for gems of “forgotten” insight and wisdom to awaken our creative skills.

Having all of your information spoon-fed to you by the “social network du jour” is the antithesis of “The Great Search”.

Almost all of the web pages I perused in the research of my book did not have “Like” or “Follow” social network links. I researched over three novels+ worth of material using these “invisible”, “worthless”, “should be closed” web pages.

The reply’s casual dismissal of such sites is troubling for two reasons. Either the poster has not bothered to read our authors’ many posts about the craft of writing, or worse the poster has read them and decided that any information they can’t “Like” or “Follow” is irrelevant.

People drinking too much of the social network Kool-Aid love to repeat their mantra, “Facebook has 800 million users.” Guess what? Facebook has already hit its peak. Their new user growth in the U.S. is virtually nil. Everyone who wants to be on Facebook already is. And millions do not.

Update September 2012: Check Faceplant’s stock price progression. Need I say more? 😈

Social networking pages don’t reach the millions of readers who don’t participate in any social networks. Fans of these networks tend to take a myopic view. If it’s not on their chosen network, it “doesn’t matter”. To which I can only reply:

“If you cannot see it, you think it’s not there. It doesn’t work that way.”
Devo, “Peek-A-Boo”, lyrics ©1982 Casale/Mothersbaugh

Remember MySpace and Friendster? Did anyone become a best-selling author simply because they were on either of those networks in 2005? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because someone out there is working on the next big “basket” even as we speak.
(and if they go public, cash out fast!) 😈

If the social networks were truly “all that”, private-party websites would not even need to exist. But they do. For that, I am grateful. I can go there and peruse quality websites, dedicated to the craft of writing, without the distractions imposed by social networks.

Cracked: Six things everyone wants to share, nobody wants to read

Reuters: Tweeting celebrities risk boring fans

Cracked – Six Scientific Reasons Why Social Networks Are Bad For Society

Buzz, Balls & Hype – The Writer as Willy Loman

Murder She Writes: Money Can’t Buy Love

Buy Facebook Fans
Can anyone out there lend me $2400, so I can buy 100,000 Facebook fans? 😛 And they’re even guaranteed to be “Real fans, not Farmville/Mafia Wars players” 😆

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2 Comments

  1. Facebook may claim to have XXX million users, but many of those are fake accounts. Only 6% of the world population has a twitter account, and only 1% of those are actually active on twitter (ie; tweet, re-tweet and @ reply). For the most part, the rest are bots. (Actually just read a great quote about how 90% of twitter is just bots following other bots in a giant bot jungle!)
    Social media is simply one tool in the marketing basket, and it is very much not the most important one. Yes, it makes word of mouth recommendations easier, and used correctly it can help boost your organic SEO and page rank. But, the MOST important thing to have is quality content that people want to read. You’re well ahead of the curve.

  2. Great response, thank you!

    “90% of twitter is just bots following other bots in a giant bot jungle”

    The fake accounts on Facebook and the Twitter-bots don’t buy any books, now do they?

    Update Sept. 2012: They don’t buy anything else, either (just ask Wall Street!)
    Think of all those companies forking over big bucks to advertise to millions of fake accounts. Ouch!


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