I logged out of all of my social media accounts yesterday – except for LinkedIn. I switched-off and uninstalled Apps for (the obligatory) Facebook & Twitter, and also Instagram and Tumblr. And guess what? My world didn’t end. In fact, I feel wonderfully light and more aware of the world and the people around me.
And I’ve also rediscovered how interesting the internet actually is!
Rediscovering the Web
There’s so much great content to read and view. That is, when one has the time – and when one actually searches for it, rather than getting it filtered through news feeds. Yes, filtered by someone – or something else.
Admittedly, most of my reading yesterday and this morning was found via search-terms like:
- “Things to do online instead of social media”
- “Social Media is a waste of f**king time” (for fun)
- “Social Media is Pointless”
The last one was interesting as it brought up some more business-related articles which heretically question the real value of social media to one’s bottom-line. Sure, it gets you ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’ and ‘Shares’ and ‘Retweets’ – but how many of those convert into actual sales, business or even traffic to your website? “Well, our sales, profits and share price have dropped – but our Facebook followers are at a new high!”
Does Social Media Really Drive Traffic?
No, I mean really?
I’ve been amazed for many years at how little traffic actually comes to my website portfolios and webcomics via the likes of Twitter. It makes me question if I’m doing it right, so I try harder and follow the rules and tips – as given to us by the experts. And guess what? More followers – but negligible difference in traffic. Yet we continue to blame ourselves. A bit like when an Apple product doesn’t work and it’s automatically assumed that it’s a User Error! Now, there’s real marketing at work!
I have to admit that Facebook is relatively good for driving traffic to my webcomics – but seriously, you’re talking about 30-40 people max, on an update day. And Twitter? Lucky if I get one visit a week. It’s almost as if Twitter is just a big mutual-like/follow society – but for those of us, in the overwhelming majority, who aren’t already celebrities. (If this sounds like sour-grapes, I assure you that it really isn’t. Most celebs have already done the hard-graft for years – before they ever bothered with social media – or bothered to get someone else to bother to manage their social media for them) But Social Networking Businesses and the marketing and consultancy companies that rely on them will continue to tell the rest of us how much we really really need them. That our businesses will die without them. Don’t get left out!
I recently got a spike of 50 Twitter visits in 3 days – probably due to being on TV – but they averaged 1 comic-page-view per visit, for an average of 2 seconds!
So, is there any point?
Is Social Media Pointless?
Well, I already know that it’s a huge time-suck and many studies have claimed over the years to have proven that social media can depress you. But is there a business case?
If this just sounds like sour-grapes, I can assure you that it really isn’t. Most celebs have already done the hard-graft – for years – before they ever bothered with social media; or bothered to get someone else to bother to manage their social media for them
I’m unconvinced. I get thrilled, like anyone else, when I see a single ‘Like’ notification from Facebook for one of my comic or artwork posts. That’s just 1 like! But do they necessarily visit the site? And do they ever come back?
I prefer comments and feedback on my own space
And I have to say, that I get much more of a thrill when readers actually comment at my website itself – underneath the comic page. That’s just the best thing ever! Getting comments about the comic pages over at Facebook is nice, of course; but I often wish that it was at my website itself, under the comic page and not in that disconnected location on Facebook or Twitter etc. Not only is it (somewhat) better for SEO to have them on my own site, but it also becomes a part of my webpage. There’s the comic page, my blog-article underneath, and then the reader’s own comments. I love that, all of the real, thoughtful interaction is right there. Forever. And don’t forget: a Twitter post has a life of just a few minutes – then it’s lost to the winds of the internet. Obscured by the rest of the babble.
Maybe the traffic is low because the comic isn’t good enough – or regularly updated enough (the latter is certainly true)? If so, no amount of skillful social media jiggery-pokery sold by the most expensive social media snake-oil salesmen is going to make up for that. I bet having more time to devote to making the comic itself could address those 2 issues!
So: An Experiment
Do you know what? I’m going to try ditching Social Media – for a while and wind back the clock several years to an earlier internet age, and concentrate on creating good content. Creating good content, instead of fretting over and spending time, energy and my eye-balls on managing all of that social media stuff. I’d like to do:
- This blog for example – to keep people informed of my work, news & views
- More artwork – that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
- More frequent, great quality Between * Wars comic pages.
- Definitely, finally, create some videos of my own – like this one that RTE Television made with me – on a YouTube or Vimeo channel.
I might start getting back into Forum Communities too. You can make some great online friendships on those. You can help – and be helped by other like-minded creative people!
I could make some videos myself – and put them on my own YouTube Channel!
But at the end of the day, let’s face it: it should be about quality content and giving consumers what they want. Do readers of my comic want to be bothered with ‘updates’ via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr – or do they really want great new comic pages?
And I’ll tell you another thing, Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes doesn’t have social media accounts – he doesn’t even have an official website! And you’ll be hard-pressed to find an interview with him. You could say, “But times have changed, John. He was already famous and rich before the internet…” But do you know how he achieved such success? By doing the important work: creating Calvin and Hobbes strips.
Will it Work? Am I Insane? (will anyone even notice?)
Will my experiment work? Only time – and maybe analytics – will tell whether I sink without a trace into the vast ocean of quality and mediocrity that is the web. If there’s no change, then I’ll have done something right, by freeing up my time and energy to create more things.
– John White