The Social Network Kool-Aid Acid Test, Part Two: Do Tweets Dream Of Retweeting Sheep?

Last night, I scrolled through my blog’s archives and read this. My post from February 26, 2011, “The Social Network Kool-Aid Acid Test.”
What struck me the most is how little the fundamental issues have really changed since then.
Back then, in 2011, the first novel of my trilogy was still a WIP, and I didn’t have to bother with all this social network silliness. Sigh, the “good old days”, when I could just go home and write uninterrupted. πŸ˜‰
Of course, once the first work was done and I was weighing my publisher offers, it was time to outreach to the world at large. Facebook, for all its relentless ‘time-suck’, has been a blessing, connecting me with prominent independent creative visionaries like Kristen Lamb, T.C. McKinney and Joel Eisenberg.
Even now, my contacts on Facebook are paving the way for ever-greater successes in my (and their) future.

And then there’s Twitter… 😈
Jeremy Light Tweet about VS

Well, okay, if J.K. Rowling can “roll the trolls” on Twitter, I should have no problem with a reasonable comeback Tweet here and there.
Jeremy Light Tweet about VS - My reply

FYI, I’m not saying Jeremy Light was being a troll there, but if he had actually bothered to read “Vampire Syndrome” before commenting about it, he would have found out that Jack is in fact a much wiser character than Bella Swan. One of my main messages is that high IQ, quick wit and cunning do not equal wisdom. Edward Cullen and Bella Swan would both have higher IQ’s than Jack in technical terms, but when it comes down to taking wise actions in life, Jack has more wisdom than Edward and Bella combined.

Even if Jeremy had read only as far as the end of Chapter Seven, by that time Jack has been pursued by cops, pepper-sprayed, jumped out the window of a moving transit bus, chased by a Dodge Charger traveling 80+ mph, attacked by a dog (which he then bit in self-defense!), and bullied by a gang of teenagers. “Cute?”

Jeremy’s now-deleted comment was not really a case of trolling to me, but his Tweet shared one aspect I see in all too many troll Tweets: The tendency to dismiss ideas out of hand, without having any real insight or knowledge into how they are in practice. Since this also happens in other forms of social media…

S Brahm Comment
…we can’t lay all the blame for “trolls” or ‘the increasing tendency to casually dismiss ideas’ on Twitter.

What I will take Twitter to task for, are the issues which may already be laying the seeds for its possible ‘dysTweepian’ future, joining MySpace and Friendster in the Internet’s irrelevancy bin.

Here’s a link I posted in the original 2011 post:
Reuters – Tweeting celebrities risk boring fans: survey
Of course, all the Twitter/social media promotional “experts” continue to ignore this message, because telling under-exposed authors about the dangers of over-exposure seems to be a basic contradiction, something on the order of telling starving people about the dangers of over-eating.

“Seems to be”, because more and more of these “under-exposed” authors are over-exposing themselves on Twitter. The stream of book ads in my Twitter feed is now reaching a point where my feed is getting more than one Tweet every second at peak times.
Ain't Nobody original meme

The critical difference between Facebook and Twitter is the relevancy of the News Feed. Normal people actually have some good reasons to use Facebook. Does anyone keep in touch with their real-life friends or family members on Twitter, for instance? 😈

Normal people, which if you’re an author would mean the great majority of potential readers out there, have no real reason at all to use Twitter. Sure, you can “follow” some big celeb, but the odds of their answering any of your Tweets are firmly in the “Lightning/Lotto Jackpot” category.

Twitter’s appeal is laser-targeted to those who crave more exposure. A desire that celebrity worshippers, trolls and ‘unknown’ authors all have in common. The celebrity worshippers at least don’t add to Twitter’s ever-growing-feed problem, typically sticking to reading celebs Tweeting about mundane subjects, and the Tweets from those celebrities’ publicists. The trolls, of course, post vitrolic Tweets here and there, but you can at least be somewhat reassured the trolls care enough about their hate-bombs to post each of their Tweets directly to Twitter ‘by hand’.

Which is more than what you can say for ‘unknown’ authors. Under-exposed authors are the first to reach for Hootsuite, Tweet Jukebox and any other number of “social media managers” to paste as many feeds as possible on Twitter. Some also join Retweet groups, to multiply their posts’ reach through cooperative Re-Tweeting. More coverage sounds good in principle, because Tweets have never had the “feed-shelf-life” of Facebook posts. When the general consensus of ‘experts’ is that Tweets ‘die’ within an hour, it seems logical that posting Tweets every hour or so would increase your odds of connecting with readers.

“Seems.” There’s that word again. When (on Facebook!) one famous author complained about all the drama on her Twitter feed, I commented that my feed was “so full of book ads, I never see any drama.” She kindly suggested I thin the herd a bit, but of course if I did that, I’d lose a few hundred followers.

But would that even manner, anyway? Those same ‘under-exposed’ authors I mentioned before are also the prime target of the “follower sellers.”
The Powers Of Twitter 1071 edit

Yes, you read it correctly. Someone with 1,071 followers was trying to sell me “10,000 Twitter followers”. Well, if they won’t buy those “10,000 followers” for themselves, why should I? #MarketingFail 😈

Twitter’s failure to even slightly reign in those selling “Twitter followers” is ironically the main reason why no one with any modicum of intelligence places any sort of value on the number of “Twitter followers” anyone has. Anyone can have “10,000 (fake) followers” for less than the cost of a night out.

The reason why “reality shows” like the Kartrashians’ are beginning to crash and burn is because overexposure kills any “mystique” public figures have, and ultimately paints them in the most mundane and boring of ‘colors’.

From the aforementioned Reuters article:

Easy access to stars through social networking websites has made them less appealing and increases the likelihood of followers getting bored, music consumer research by publishers Bauer Media said.

“In this social media age, it’s all too easy to follow your musical icons on a minute-by-minute basis. There’s a consensus within the industry that this ease of access is leading to artists losing appeal more quickly,” the Phoenix IV report said.

The music industry is starting to consider restricting access to certain types of artists in an attempt to boost their staying power in popular culture and lengthen their careers, it added.

We have now achieved the ultimate in irony: The more ‘unknown’ an author is, the more they will over-expose themselves. Adding more and more Tweets to the ever-blurring pace of the Feeds, until it becomes “white noise” that everyone tunes out by instinct, just as Kristen Lamb predicted in her wonderful book “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World“.

VS Blog 26 Feb 2011 Social Network post comments

These ‘automated authors’ have become the “machines”, or, as Bree Ervin (thinkbannedthoughts) summed it up in her comment here back in 2011, “bots Tweeting to each other”. As I warned here in 2011 and 2012, book ads don’t sell books to each other. When the last human takes the flag with them as they leave Twitter, the dysTweepian future will have arrived. It might even go on without us, posting endless ads to feeds no humans are reading, in hopes of catching the attention of a Retweet bot or two.

Somewhere, the ghost of J.D. Salinger is having a good laugh about all this. 😈

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    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 Β©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.

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