When SR informed me that my creative nonfiction piece “Across the Flats” was receiving the most hits of any for its issue, I was shocked. Who was reading it? I’m always thrilled to have work accepted for publication, but I pretty much just assume that no one will read the work. There’s a lot out there in the world.
I did publicize the piece on my Twitter account and three Facebook pages I have (personal, blog, business). That’s all I did. Nothing magical. Unless you take into account a few big things:
1) I’ve had a writing and gardening blog http://deepmiddle.blogspot.com for nearly five years now. In that time I’ve amassed a modest set of readers. And though I see only 80-100 visits a day on the blog or on its Facebook page, it serves me well by creating a long term audience. Since my essay was both a piece of creative writing and garden-themed, I could hook up to my two main audiences. I’m two-faced that way.
2) The garden theme carried over much more to Twitter http://twitter.com/brvogt, where a vast majority of my followers are gardeners and garden writers. I’ve only been on Twitter for eight months, but I posted the link to the essay twice a day for a day or two, then a few times over the course of a week. That’s the beast of Twitter, redundancy. More beasty yet is that Twitter is both a link happy place AND a relationship-heavy place (although the two don’t really go together in my mind). Twitter is constant work like having pet fish. Twitter is interaction-heavy—quick glib and jokey comments or heartfelt and interested comments, anything to make a split-second connection like flirting with someone across the room. Once you catch someone’s fancy (and creative tweets can help), it takes a split second for them to share your tweet to their followers, who share it to their followers. My approach with posting the link on Facebook was different. Facebook feels more intimate, which is why I posted just once on each of my three pages.
3) What I’m getting at is this: people visited SR to read my work, (and hopefully others), because I’ve spent part of each day working for free online. Some days it’s a major chore and distraction. Some days it’s a natural extension of myself. But it takes time—and you have to be constantly interesting and authentic on any media platform. By this I mean not narcissistic or whiney, and not a promotional machine. I’d say that 90% of tweets and 50% of Facebook interactions should have nothing to do with you—talk to people, share interesting links and photos, pretend you aren’t being archived and sold and stalked by company platforms to third parties. And something else I’ve discovered: Facebook is much more active M-Th during the day (people at work goofing off?). Twitter is pretty much 24/7.
Does any of this social media “pay off?” Eh. I once had an editor contact me out of the blue via my blog to look at a memoir, but they decided against it (it’s still available by the way, ahem). http://www.scribd.com/bvogt/d/