If you spend any time at all reading blogs about writing, you’ve encountered at least one article telling you how important platform is. Published or yet-to-be published, a strong case has been made for the value of having an online presence. In most instances, the case is also made for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any of the other social media sites.
I’ve been a Facebook member for coming on two years now. I got onboard because a person I greatly respect was conducting a giveaway and I wanted a crack at winning the grand prize, an Apple laptop. The only way to win was to join Facebook, so I did.
But I’d read all the recommendations for platform, too. “What the heck,” I thought. “Let’s give it a try and see what happens.”
So I did.
Now I’m pondering the wisdom of remaining a member. Following are a few reasons why (listed in no particular order).
I’ve never been a bandwagon sort of person. I grew up with the philosophy that the majority rules. As one of five kids, there really isn’t any way to avoid that lesson. When Mom tells you all that it’s up to you to occupy your free time or she’ll assign chores, you learn pretty fast the value of a majority opinion.
That doesn’t mean I believe the majority is always right. My observation is that the majority is more often wrong or at least misguided. We’re not warned about narrow paths and broad roads for no reason.
I’m also the sort of person who eschews public trends. If everybody’s going one direction, I’ll go the other. Or simply stand still. Fashion trends, social trends, you name it. If it doesn’t fit with my upbringing, theology or interests, I’m not interested.
Facebook is the only social media I participate in and one of the first lessons I learned was that it’s a trend thing. The latest video. The latest craze. The latest rumor. The latest whatever. My home page was quickly filled with people sharing everything with anyone who cared to look.
Sorry… not for me.
If You Facebook, They Will Come
There did seem to be some value in networking for business, though. So I looked around, asked questions, and decided what I needed to do was create two professional pages. One for the studio and one for writing. I set them up as business pages and set up my blogs to feed automatically to each page. That was business and I could do that. When I found out I didn’t need to visit my home page at all to make that work, all the better. I’ll write my blogs and let the people come to me.
Problem is, traffic on the Facebook pages has not translated into traffic on the blogs.
Or, perhaps, a better way to state it is that traffic on the blogs hasn’t been improved by those two Facebook pages. I have no evidence that people are clicking through to my blogs from the Facebook pages.
Blog traffic is good on the Horse Painter blog and very good on this blog so I have to ask myself why I’m bothering with Facebook.
Time is of the Essence
Time is always a factor for a small business owner. For those of us who own two businesses, it’s even more of a factor.
So I have to look at every minute of every business day to make sure I’m using it in the best possible way. At present, the time I spend on Facebook (little as it may be) is about the least productive time I spend each week. I check for comments on the business pages and, every once in a while, sneak a look at the home page.
Although I’m not spending more than five or ten minutes a week on Facebook, I have to believe that for the most part, those five or ten minutes a week could be put to much better use.
After all, in the studio, five minutes equals about 100 brushstrokes and even more strokes of colored pencil.
When I’m writing, five minutes translates into about 200 words. More if I’m in the zone.
So where are those five minutes best put to use?
Follow the Money
All of these points would be moot if I had evidence my Facebook business pages were generating interest in my writing and/or resulting in sales of my artwork.
Alas, I have no such evidence. 99.9% of my art sales are the result of repeat customers or word-of-mouth. Most of the time, I have all the painting work I can handle and still have time to paint for myself and write. I’m not making money hand-over-fist, but painting does pay for itself and some besides.
Most of my customers have little to do with Facebook and some of them don’t even use computers on a regular basis, so just who am I trying to reach?
I don’t blame Facebook for lack of sales on writing because I have yet to polish anything to the point at which I think it’s ready for marketing. Nothing to market, nothing to sell. A no-brainer.
But there have been no leads on potential writing income, either. All such leads have been coming directly into my inbox through the newsletters and blogs I choose to follow.
Don’t You Wanna Talk?
You won’t be surprised to discover that the social aspects of Facebook are not high on my list of priorities. Yeah, I check in for comments almost every day, but participate in very few conversations. Why? Because most of them seem less designed for honest and open discourse than for rants. I have no interest in rants, especially when all I have to do to hear most of them firsthand is turn on the news or open the New York Times. I’ve opted out of the mainstream media for a reason, so don’t care to indulge in second-hand opinion through social media.
Nor am I particularly interested in having the opinions of people I know are hostile to my world view brought into my home by less direct sources. I wouldn’t open the front door to them. Why should I open the browser to them?
Beyond those people I know personally, there’s also no way to determine how truthful the persona I see on Facebook is. There used to be an old saying. Paper will lie for anything. Meaning? Paper will accept any writing, whether truth or lie.
So will Facebook and all other social media. Anyone can become a member and identify themselves however they wish. That’s their prerogative.
It’s not impossible to uncover the truth. If you listen to anyone long enough, you can discover who they really are. They will eventually tell you. I just don’t have the kind of time it would take to wade through all the invective and discussion necessary to figure out who someone really is. At least not on Facebook.
There are people on Facebook whom I know personally. Friends. Family. Authors and artists. The thing is, most of us either communicate by other means. Email or by written letter (yes, I do still do that). Some of us even still talk by telephone. Land line anyone?
Have I Just Described You?
It’s not my intention to castigate any form of social media or all of it in general. I just reached a conclusion this week that made a lot of sense for me. If I’m having these sorts of doubts, it’s logical to assume others are, too.
The message I have for those who have had similar thoughts is that it’s okay to NOT do Facebook. In fact, there are more people who don’t Facebook (or Tweet or whatever) than who do.
There are other ways to build platform and one of them might be more productive and beneficial for you than all the Facebook time in the world.