I will openly confess that social media has never really been my “thing”. And I think that most writers have an uneasy relationship with it, at best.
Most writers get onto social media and immediately want to promote their books.
“Hey! Buy my book!”
“Did you know I have a new book out?”
“Have you seen my new book? Here’s a link to it at Amazon, for your convenience!”
And so on…
Did you see what I wrote? Did you?
I’m not quite that tone-deaf. I have rarely attempted the outright sales pitch on social media. I will admit, however, a tendency to use social media exclusively for linking to this blog.
“Hey, read this post I wrote yesterday. You’ve got to read it. World-changing stuff, I’m telling you!”
This is why I rarely use Twitter. Twitter is a place where people bitch about politics, and discuss material written on external links…by other people. And then they bitch about politics some more. And post some more external links. “Did you see what so-and-so said/wrote/did? Here’s a link.”
I’m not interested in doing that. I always want to post links to my material.
This makes me a bad Twitter user.
Reddit is not for me
But if I’m a bad Twitter user, I would be even worse on Reddit. I wouldn’t even think about getting onto Reddit, in fact. According to the Reddit terms of service:
You should not just start submitting your links – it will be unwelcome and may be removed as spam, or your account will be banned as spam.
You should submit from a variety of sources (a general rule of thumb is that 10% or less of your posting and conversation should link to your own content), talk to people in the comments (and not just on your own links), and generally be a good member of the community.
It’s perfectly fine to be a redditor with a website, it’s not okay to be a website with a Reddit account.
But the thing is, I would be a website with a Reddit account. I know that. This is why I stay the heck off Reddit.
My ratio would be the exact opposite of what Reddit prescribes. About 90% of my links would be to my own content.
On social media, it’s all about links…and brief, snarky comments
Think about it from my perspective: Why would I want to post only “10% or less” of my own content, when I write content all day? When I have so much of it to post.
You egotistical bastard, you might counter. What, do you think you’re smarter than everyone else on the Internet? Or a better writer, maybe?
My answer to that is: I’m smarter than some, not as smart as others. The same goes for being a better writer.
But there is another way to look at this. I remember the pre-social media days, when “webrings” were the thing. A common complaint back then focused on websites that consisted only of links—with no original content. Often you would go from website to website, finding nothing but lists of links.
That was considered bad netiquette back then. But Reddit and Twitter are all about linking to content you haven’t created. A complete flipflop of the Internet ethos.
This doesn’t mean that Reddit and Twitter are bad, mind you. I also understand the deeper reasons for the draconian “ten percent rule” at Reddit. The platform’s members don’t want to be overwhelmed with “buy my x!” posts, which would be the inevitable result otherwise.
But this is also why I mostly stay off Twitter and Reddit, and other social media platforms that are all about linking to external sources.
And why wouldn’t I link to my own stuff?
The bulk of my time is spent creating my own content. That leaves me relatively little time to gather and curate content written by others.
And yes, there is an unabashedly selfish side to this, as well: After I’ve spent a few hours working on an essay or a short story, will my first impulse be to link to something a stranger wrote? Or an article from USA Today?
Hell, no. My first impulse will be to link to what I wrote. That’s only natural.
Curator or creator: know which one you are
But there is also an unselfish side to this. The Internet needs people to curate content, but it also needs people to produce content. If no one produces, then eventually there is nothing to curate.
The key is to know which one you are—a content curator or a content creator.
If you’re primarily a content curator, Twitter and Reddit are for you.
If you’re primarily a content creator, then you should probably stay off Twitter and Reddit. Your time would be better spent working on your own books and blog posts.
Give the curators something to find. They’ll find your stuff…eventually.