Should I Just Quit Social Media?

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!”

webcomic-social-media

I’d prefer people to see 1, 2 & 3 – than a load of “Follow me at…” social media icons

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!

100-likes

When I got 100 Facebook ‘Likes’ for this Between * Wars comic page, it was my first big success with the comic. “Yes, I’ve been validated!”

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

 

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10 comments

  1. banistersmind

    I think you and I are dangerously close to being on the same wave length John. I’ve read a couple of posts that you’ve shared regarding the whole conundrum of social media and I have to say, it has got me thinking about my own social media experience. Social media does not make me happy anymore and I seriously doubt that it ever did.

    My feed has become a litany of crass memes, overtly aggressive political rants and click bait stories shared by friends for whom I’m really growing tired of.

    Now, I have an upcoming product that I’m trying to sell and I am trying to follow the strategy that FB itself recommends with respect to promoted posts. But, the results thus far have not been encouraging at all. Amd it’s depressing me. I made the observation today that in my endeavors to drum up media support, I’m finding a media landscape that is more interested in crass sexual scandals and dumb bitch fights between morning television celebrities. They are not interested in art or literature. It’snot sexy. 

    I’ve tried to find my audience using these social media tools but these tools are just not working and I’ve realized that its making me incredibly unhappy. 

    But – if I quit social media altogether, I’ll be quitting interactions with people like you John. And therein lies the dilemma. There are a small group of people in my social media circle who do make me happy. Do I surrender that?

    I think I need to think this one through a little bit more before I take the next step. 

    Liked by 3 people

  2. John I. White

    Hi Dean,
    I’m sure if I was smart enough, I could find a way to find some analogy between the seemingly Wonderful things that social media promises, and the things that the American – and now – the Western Dream has always tried to sell us – but which ultimately seems to make people more miserable and put them under more strain!

    Yes, as you can see, I’m a bit nervous about ditching it from a ‘business’ point of view – and like you, I don’t want to let go of the people I know and like/love in there… But how much really meaningful interaction is really going on in there? How much real ‘Engagement’ – as the social media gurus love to call it.

    Another thing that happened since yesterday, apart form feeling freer and more optimistic, is that I emailed three friends (and messaged one via Facebook Messenger, unfortunately). Email is old-school – and I like it! I loved receiving your email this morning. I also love having this meaningful conversation here on my Blog, and I’m looking forward to doing the same over at yours: http://www.deanfromaustralia.com

    WHAT ABOUT FRIENDS?
    ———————————–
    Well, we can’t necessarily be as casual and open out here in this ‘Outside Web’ than we can in the ostensibly closed space of Facebook (it isn’t), but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I used to whinge – A LOT – in Facebook, about my career etc., and it wouldn’t surprise me if some people eventually ‘unfollowed’ me. But Facebook isn’t the place for that. Talking – real-life talking – with friends, family, or if needs be: professional counselors is more appropriate for that, in my opinion.

    Out here we can behave ourselves better – or else! And in the real physical world we can meet each other, whenever we can. Tricky as that may be, especially when you and I are on other sides of the globe. But there’s always video Skype as something of a subsitute! And email feels good and personal to me, a bit like letters used to. Remember the excitement of receiving those?

    Once we do that, we might really be able to see how meaningful the likes of Facebook really are. Clicking a Facebook ‘Like’ button sometimes seems as meaningful and lazy to me, as the ‘Endorsements’ on LinkedIn.

    John

    Like

  3. banistersmind

    In the past day or so, I’ve been pretty ruthless and unfriended a lot of people across FB and Twitter. Some I’ve unfollowed or muted in my feeds but I’ve gotten a bit braver. Ironically, I find I’m in following a lot of Star Wars peeps. The majority add nothing to my enjoyment of SW related news and I find myself getting frustrated by them. It’s the armchair theorists and the prequel haters that get to me the most. Likewise with writers. Twitter is the worst for desperate writers who follow me and then hit me up with the whole Buy My Book! messages. It’s so infuriating. Subsequently I tend to ignore a lot of new follows.

    A lot of what I have been doing is resharing rather than just liking. By sharing others original content, I find that the appreciation factor has gone up significantly. And, yes! Getting a good, old fashioned email into my inbox is actually really nice! It gives me the opportunity to engage in a conversation like this one and actually reflect a little bit before I respond. FB and Twitter tend to force quick and unconsidered responses, particularly when there are contributors there who like to stir the pot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John I. White

    I suppose Sharing is the best way to appreciate what others are doing – stopping short of handing over hard cash to buy whatever they’re promoting! It takes more of a commitment than just clicking a ‘Like’ icon. Liking could just be an effort to flatter and ingratiate oneself. Sharing could be too, but you’re committing more, and even handing over space on your timeline.

    I’d like to feel that it’s genuine when I do it, and not a phoney “I like you, you like me, and maybe I’ll get popular and money will magically roll in” tactic. I feel that much of professional Social Media is like that. “maybe, by association, some of their greatness will rub off on me!”

    How on earth do you keep up with Twitter? All those zillions of fragments of conversations! Maybe it takes a more able brain than mine to process it all. I’m a one thing at a time person.

    BACK TO RSS FEEDS?
    ———————————
    Do you know what I did yesterday? I started wondering, how the heck am I going to promote my next Webcomic page update? Will I sneak it into my ‘Between * Wars’ Facebook page via Hootsuite? But then, what if people comment and they feel ignored? And isn’t that just abusing Facebook and my followers?

    RSS feeds used to be a good way of keeping up with websites, but they’re not so popular now, even declared dead by many. But I installed FEEDLY on my iPad. Before long I started to wonder if I was just taking up another version of Social Media? We’ll see who it goes. I used to provide an RSS feed on ‘Star Wars age 9’, for about a year or more, and it was only ever subscribed to by 1 person!
    John

    Like

  5. Pingback: Beginning to Loathe Social Media Now… | John I. White's Creative Blog
  6. Ron

    Social media brings out the worst in me…i grow fangs and hair all over my face the minute I express an opinion and someone responds whose only intention is to bait me. And they seem to travel in packs, and rarely if ever experience any consequences themselves. It is true that the retaliator, not the instigator, gets punished.

    Facebook only seems to be useful to interact with friends and family who are out of your area, with the caveat that they actually want to interact with you…otherwise, it is just a crude form of vouyerism. And Twitter is best left in the hands of celebrities and the social elite to communicate amongst themselves…ordinary people only to look at these tweets through a double-paned window.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John I. White

      Hi Ron,
      I could have sworn that I already replied to you ages ago—perhaps not. Sorry!
      I agree about FB being useful to stay in touch with distant relatives etc., with the caveat that they’re interested in doing it the same way. I used to feel very let-down when posted holiday pics specifically for my family to see and I’d get barely any reaction. I’d no idea whether they’d even seen them, so I just stopped and shortly after left Facebook (for the first time).
      I definitely agree with you about Twitter. It’s mostly a spectator sport for us plebs, from what i can grasp!

      Like

  7. sosoclever

    This is awesome.:-)

    Every once in a while, I take a break from most social media. When I was really active on LiveJournal, I’d take a month off from posting anything and only log in once a week or so to make sure there wasn’t anything major going on in a friend’s life. I called it a vacation. I deleted my Facebook account a year or so ago, and just recently rejoined (and have added not nearly so many friends). When I joined before, it was for business purposes. Of course all the people who liked and followed my business page were either my personal friends or current customers. I know there are people who have found pretty good success with using FB for business, but I’m not one of them. Now I’m using it for strictly personal stuff. Not long ago I posted that the best use of FB was keeping up with the webcomics I read.:-) But I haven’t really found any *new* ones through FB.

    Of course, now I’m going to log in to Facebook and share this.;-) I’m also going to take a look at your comic, and maybe add it to my list.

    Like

    • John I. White

      Hiya ‘Soso’,
      Thanks for the comment. Since I wrote this, I’ve got sucked into it again—somewhat. But I really don’t bother with it much.

      It’s very difficult to avoid it when you’re posting links to your creative work in Facebook and you see your friends in there.

      Nowadays I barely post anything non-creative-project-related. I just don’t think that people are really that interested in whatever film or album I happen to be currently enjoying (or not enjoying). I find there’s a lot of geeky stuff that’s sort of pointless. I mean, I might see someone post a pic from SPACE 1999, and I could jump in and show how knowledgeable I am and point out that the spacesuit was re-used from the film ‘Moon Zero Two’ and then we all start it and it’s just sort of… pointless, really. A contest of geekiness. Or we could get in to an argument about which movie version of Spiderman is better, or reminisce about how much we loved a certain type of confectionary in the 70s… There might just be better ways to spend our time. Although actually, I’m not sure sure that I can give up the nostalgia stuff so easily! I love reminiscing about childhood. It even feeds into my comics.

      I’m finding that technology is seeming to provide better connection opportunities, but in a way is actually often acting as a barrier. Facebook etc, is one example. But consider Job-Seeking. Recruitment/Job websites appear to offer a quick, easy method of applying for jobs, but they’re actually extremely ineffective. They look too good to be true—and they are. It’s better to directly contact employers or network with people face to face.

      Hope you enjoy my comics, by the way 😉
      John

      Like

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