I don’t mean that I hate Facebook in general. It can be a fun way to pass the time when I have a few spare moments and need to unwind and want to play Scrambler. Wait.. spare time? What’s that? I have only the vaguest recollection…

Networked Blogs is actually a decent tool for at least telling people I have a blog and I use Facebook groups to organise reminders for the Writing Adventure Group. Those are good features.

But overall, Facebook is more trouble than it’s worth.

In the past week I’ve gotten 20″ friend requests” from people who probably won’t ever talk to me or read my profile page… all writers wanting to promote their books, but not actually wanting to engage. I have 36 group invitations from writers and publishers, all of which I declined without even reading the promo. All they’re ever used for is to send me emails about books they’re selling. Same with becoming fans of their books, going to chats about their books, reading blog entries about their books.

It’s not that I’m not interested in other writers. I am! It’s really that I’m so inundated with mass mailings on Facebook that I have gotten jaded toward them and don’t even read them anymore. In the past six months I’ve been invited to purchase hundreds upon hundreds of books. None of these “invitations” were personal, but more like leaflets in the mail. I go in and delete all my incoming messages 99% of the time because they aren’t directed to me, but to a sea of random people.

If I feel that way, I imagine many others do too.

In addition to that, even though I have used Facebook to promote this blog, it doesn’t bring much traffic here at all.

Right now I’m enjoying Twitter, probably because it’s about real contact, not just sending out a flurry of blind invites to hundreds of people.

Question: As writers, bloggers, or even readers, do you feel the same way about promotion on Facebook, or have you had a different experience?

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14 comments

  1. I don’t visit Facebook much anymore. Now it’s more of a point of contact directory for me. My tweets (included notifications of my blog postings) get sent there as well as to Twitter, and it works well enough for that, but otherwise…

    For me, the problem is that I’ll friend anybody I even remotely know because that way we can share contact info and they can see what I’m doing if they want. But then my news feed is filled with status and news updates from EVERYBODY, and it makes it impossible to find out what’s going on in the lives of people I actually care about.

    But I can’t just de-friend people I don’t care about, because it means they can’t see what I’m doing if they wanted. That’s why I like Twitter. If I don’t follow someone, they can still follow me (and vice versa).

  2. Hello Nixy,

    I had to comment because I just requested you as a friend. (My friend Rebecca Rose got me hooked on your blog.)

    I love following WAG, even though I have yet to participate, and yes, I found it through Facebook.

    I have had positive results on FB, even with the overwhelming stimulus that comes with it. (I’ve learned to hide unimportant news feeds and sort my friends into groups.) I have located valuable resources, such as a YA author who critiqued my novel for me and is continuing to support me through the revision process.

    Just like any tool, people abuse it. Lots of people want something for nothing. FB makes it easy to ask and promote, on the surface. But, really, what counts is the real contact you mentioned.

    Thanks for continuing to bring writers together in a real way.

  3. I used to love Facebook, but now it seems every time I log on (which is not that often… I’m too busy on blogs and Twitter!) the format has changed AGAIN. I still haven’t figured out how to post a note on the new Facebook. I hate the way the friend feed is now; a few weeks ago there was a button where you could see just the status updates (not all the quizzes and other junk), but now that’s gone too.

    It’s just become too much of a hassle to mess with it. Which is sad, because most of the friends I have on FB are people who aren’t on Twitter.

  4. When I started on FB it seemed intuitive, for the most part — it’s a lot less so, now. I find twitter, for all its brevity, seems to encourage person-to-person engagement better. And as far as that goes, I’ve seen a lot more hits on my blog from twitter than I ever did from FB.

    I still go to FB, play a game, respond to comments on my feed (cross-linked from twitter) but it’s definitely not my focus.

  5. I have actually managed to avoid both FaceBook and MySpace *entirely*. A little while ago, when FB was approaching their big membership number, someone said “Can two hundred million people be wrong?”

    I know my answer to that: “Yes”.

    Just recently, I’ve had a huge flurry of Twitter follows. I don’t know why – maybe my blog suddenly got hit by a search engine or something. But they’re all faceless, nameless junk-mailers in the same way. Thankfully, most of them are suspended by the time I get the email and head over to Twitter to block them.

    I’d much rather have a few ‘real’ friends than a lot of people who aren’t really interested, unless it’s to sell me something. And I’m a nobody, so I daren’t even imagine what it’s like for somebody who’s somebody!

  6. I dislike that about facebook and twitter and even when people comment on blogs to just blatantly self-promote. You are your promotion. It’s as simple as that.

    When someone drops a line on a blog and says, “Oh yeah come look at my blog or follow me on Twitter” with only a cursory (or less) effort to respond on topic or enter into dialogue–then what’s the point? Yuck.

    Everyone online wants people to like them, to be interested in the things they do. If your average person can resist the temptation, then no one worth your attention will be yelling it across the internet. (Rant over, whew).

  7. Stuck here out in the bush, I like facebook. It lets me see what other writers are up to. It was better before they twitterised it so I can no longer quickly view what other writers are actually up to, instead I now get what they SAY they are up to with the status updates.

    I have had a few authors become friends to sell their books, but most of them seem to be doing crime/spy novels so I haven’t bothered looking into their book. When Matt Browne plugged his science fiction book, The Future Happens Twice, on Myspace, I went and checked it out because it was science fiction. It sounded interesting, a thriller about a future program to send a intersellar ship to a distant star (hard sci-fi), so I purchased it. It is a great book. I am hoping for a sequel. I also ran into Adrian Beford on facebook and found out he had just had a novel published with time travel at its centre – I have always loved a good time travel story – so I purchased it and found it one of the better Australia science fiction books I have read.

    So overall, I finds facebook a useful tool and don’t mind people plugging their science fiction books.

    Graham.

  8. Julie Robinson

    Hi Nixy,

    Facebook takes up too much time. So does MySpace for that matter. I think I’m doing good when I’m caught up on emails. However, I do think it’s beneficial to have either a website blog or MySpace blog to promote yourself as a writer, or in other words, to connect with other authors and readers. BUT it can be not only time consuming, but also very addictive.

    Julie

  9. I agree with you completely re: Facebook Nixy. It’s one of my “pet peeve” social sites right along w/GoodReads (which I use only to keep track of my library). Too many people “friend” in the hopes of promoting their books/names instead of seeking genuine connection with authors & readers, which is a shame. I find myself constantly disappointed (in addition to frustrated) as a result.

  10. Catie, like you I signed up for Goodreads, and found it difficult to keep up with. I read a lot and it seemed a natural fit, but then I found it was just too time consuming.

    I added a few people I knew from FB and Twitter, and now I get messages saying hundreds of updates have been added…. I just can’t keep up with that.

    I should post on Goodreads sometime and see if I can get some advice on how to use it. A lot of people swear by it, but I’m not getting it yet. There has to be a better way!

  11. Hi, Nixy. I think I discovered your WAG via a Facebook invite. :o But I know what you mean. Much of it has largely degenerated into the digital equivalent of bulk mail.

    But I can hardly blame writers for taking that tack. Everywhere you look writers are constantly being bombarded with the advice that they must develop a platform, that they have to participate in Web 2.0 social media. It’s no wonder writers are flooding Facebook and other venues with LOOK AT ME! promotional blurbs. Yes, it does get old.

    I think things got worse after the Facebook redesign. I used to get a lot of blog traffic from Facebook. My Facebook visitors used to spend more time on average on my site than other visitors. Not anymore. Not since the redesign. I think they did permanent damage to the franchise when they redesigned.

    I do get a lot of followers on Twitter who are doing nothing more self promotion. They follow me out of the blue, hoping I’ll follow back and buy into their marketing scheme, self help method, or SEO product.

    When I ask a serious question on Twitter I usually get very few responses. Lucky if I get one. So as far as which I think is better, I’d say it’s about six of one and a half dozen of the other. But I have found wonderful contacts and good relationships on both (you, for example).

    I find the best way to build relationships on line is via blog comments such as this and on forums. In both venues people are more likely to be giving honest back and forth rather than full bore self promotion.

    Now, go buy my book! ;)
    ~jon

  12. From reading the above, I can conclude that I am not the only one that doesn’t like blatant self-promotion. I’d love to see statistics that measure book sales to Facebook promotions of the same book. But then, I can’t really believe anyone will spare the time to read anything that I blog either. What does draw us together? What’s “personal” and what isn’t? Exactly what distinguishes the hard, cold sell from something that really engages? …. Anyone??

  13. That’s an interesting question, Mickey, and one I’m sure all writers and really anyone selling on the net has to think about!

    Definitely worth a ponder. I’ll put that on my list of future blog topics!

  14. I haven’t found Facebook that useful. People don’t tend to talk much and it’s difficult to meet new people when you can’t see their profiles. I delete any promotional messages, as they’re often inappropriate (such as being genres I don’t read).

    I’m more likely to buy a book when an author has it listed in their profile and talks to me about other things. I expect the occasional promotional tweet, status update or similar… but the hard sellers don’t seem to be able to limit to it occasionally.

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