Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Internet Constant Contact: How Much Is Too Much?

We need to talk.  Before my thoughts on this subject solidify.

On Facebook, two or three of my friends tend to post or share pictures eight or ten times quickly within half an hour or so.  On Twitter, there are people who tweet twelve or fifteen times a day.

“Bling!”  “Bling!” If my phone makes a noise announcing a text message, I pay attention.  It could be a family member who needs help.  It could be a witty friend inviting me for a chat and a glass or three of wine.  It could be my agent announcing a movie deal!  Most likely: it’s another writer tweeting to announce a new blog post.  Sometimes, it all seems like a bit much.

I agree wholeheartedly that we all need to take full advantage of the opportunities available from sites like Facebook and Twitter.  I have a feeling I don’t do enough.  You may feel the same.  Like most of the writers I know well, I am more or less desperate to attract attention to my work.  I am not at all above using shameless self-promotion.  Look what I am doing right now, for instance.  And yes, I will FB and tweet links to this rant.  This is all true.  But that said, I for one will benefit from some discussion of the question “How much is too much?” Is all this social media stuff something to do while procrastinating about getting on with the next book? 

Getting a substantive conversation going on a blog is a tricky business, but I hold out hope that you will weigh in on this.  How much is just enough when it comes to these sorts of communications?  And how many tweets or postings a day would you say are too many?  How should we space them out?  And how would you politely tell that wonderful writer whose work you so admire that telling everyone on FB every time her cat sneezes is not going to get us to like her more?

 Before I start annoying the stuffing out of all my friends, I really need to know what you think?

Annamaria Alfieri


  1. Don't know. To the best of my knowledge I have no fans on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, only actual friends (many of whom are writers), dear cousins and relatives (some of whom read my books), and a number of writers I hardly know, though they seem like nice folks. The writers who are strangers hope I'll buy their books. I wish I had the money. My husband is a librarian who makes purchasing decisions, so that counts for something.
    But the 72 fans I used to have are not following me. Maybe they all died. The legions of followers promised to me by the knowing ones have never materialized. My platform is riddled with termites. If you know of some way I can get attention, other than setting myself on fire in Times Square, please advise.

  2. If I responded to every bit of info, photos, repostings, forewords, and all the other stuff that comes through my computer I'd never get any writing done. Even if I "liked" all the images that came to me, it would feel like I was eating away at 'my time'. I personally allot time, sparingly, to all of my contacts, friends, favorite blogs, etc., and hope that I don't miss something special when I'm not nosing around in the blog world. Sorry, but I have no idea about how to 'get attention'. I know from personal experience that though a blog is getting hits there may not be even one comment. I chalk it up to busy folks, writers taking a quick break, frazzled moms, or for many other reasons the visitors only read and do not comment. I guess folks don't realized that even a quick note means a lot to a blog site. I'll remember that and make sure that I leave even a brief comment when I read your blog.

  3. Thanks, Annamaria, for this thoughtful post.
    Thing is, my Twitter account is linked to my Facebook Page, so what goes on there also goes out to Twitter. And I use the Facebook page to inform folks about new posts to our blog.
    The blog, like this one, has very little self-promotion, unless you want to call signing the posts self-promotion.
    What we do is write about items of cultural, historical or human interest that occur, or have occurred in the countries in which we set out books.
    And sometimes Tim Hallinan rants. And sometimes (usually) Yrsa Sigurdardottir is quite funny. (And always whimsical).
    I truly enjoy reading the posts of my blogmates (as I truly enjoy checking-in here) and I think it's important to inform like-minded folks when a new one goes up. I also Tweet stuff of interest to authors that I pick up on the internet. It's the kind of stuff that I want to know, and I think others might want to know it too.
    Between the two, I sometimes generate three, four, even five Tweets a day.
    But, after reading this, I'm going to be more careful -- and try to limit myself to the stuff that's really, really interesting.
    I was tempted to end this with a quote from Luther.
    Until I (just) discovered it might NOT have been from Luther.
    Here's Wikipedia's take:
    "Luther is sometimes quoted as saying: 'Here I stand. I can do no other'.
    Recent scholars consider the evidence for these words to be unreliable, since they were inserted before "May God help me" only in later versions of the speech and not recorded in witness accounts of the proceedings."

  4. I agree with all of the above. Not that I'm an agreeable mut, but you have stated truth! Many people tell me they love my blogs - then they never leave a comment! This whole topic of self-pr is a very complex topic - I'm trying to learn the world of social media but it is constantly changing - and as you all know, I'm I.Q. Zero when it comes to computers. And this blasted verizon crew is not help! tjs

  5. Dear Kate, Margaret, Leighton, and Thelma, this discussion has given me more than I thought it could in understanding. What you have talked about is how you respond to these social media in terms of who you are as people. Leighton also made a separate comment off-line, saying among other things that he sees Twitter as more of broadcast medium. All of a sudden it all clicked for me. There is not an objectively right way to use these tools. It depends on who you are. I have taken to Facebook in a big way, but not to Twitter so much. If I think of it, that makes PERFECT sense for me. I am more of a team sports kind of person. Even in my books, it is not one detective who solves the crime, but a circle of participants. Group process is what interests me. And that is how Facebook works. Many people share in the experience. They comment on a post, "like" or not what another person has said. It is all give and take. Sometimes the folks involved are not friends with one another, may even be complete strangers, but they are all friends of one person. My participation in such an activity suits who I am. Whereas, for another person, broadcasting information, saying "Look, here is something you will want to know," is the right activity. I will now stop worrying that I am doing this wrong. I will keep doing more of what represents my approach to life, and keep on only dabbling in what doesn't so much reflect my style.

  6. Interesting article on Social Media in the Times 9/27. Be sure to check it out! tjs