Thursday, June 09, 2011

Facebookless

I can't seem to escape the clutches of the evil empire Facebook; one of my publishers just sent me a powerpoint presentation on how to create a Facebook fan page for myself in order to take part in their latest marketing effort, which included these instructions:

In order to obtain a Vanity URL, you must first have 25+ “Likes” on your page.

Aside from the fact that I'm not so vain that I would even consider setting up my own fan page, I'm stumped. Likes? Likes what? My books? My hair? My sparkling personality? I never got the Likes memo. Anyway, I keep reading, and find this:

Spread the word! Friends and family are included! It’s okay to ask your friends, family, and co-workers to “Like” your page.

So they don't think 25 complete random strangers would like my page? Maybe they're right. Only a very few friends I know in real life visit here occasionally, so maybe the rest of you 6,993 people stop by here every day because you don't like me. Go on, tell me, I can take it. I know my Mom still likes me. Sniff.

Kidding. I get what they're trying to do. Fortunately I'm off the hook: according to my kids a fan page for me already exists on Facebook. I can't look at it because (rimshot) I'd have to first join Facebook. But apparently these nice people like my books enough to create a genuine fan page, so that should get me excused from faking one, the thought of which to be honest makes my skin crawl a bit. All's well etc.

Since last year I've also been getting these be-my-friend gems e-mailed to my fan e-mail account every week:



This kind of Facebook SPAM that disturbs me because I know at least one of these people is an author. Not that I think he's a fan or actually wants to be my friend, but I can't even send the professional courtesy of a polite no-thanks unless -- you guessed it -- I first join Facebook.

Which brings me to this practice of using the word friend to connect people via social media. I find it a bit troubling. One of the reasons I never considered using LiveJournal (aside from the fact that I'm not cool enough for it) is because they employ friend as means of linkage coercion. I friend you, you friend me, and we're all friends. My (obviously picky) belief that the word friend should have more meaning than simply the right to use reciprocal links is definitely not in step with the times.

Also, if someone asks to be your friend, they're paying you a compliment, right? Unless they just want a link so they can boost their traffic, in which case, maybe not. Of course if you say no for any reason, you're behaving like a snotty unfriendly jackass, which encourages negative backlash, expecially from those who for whatever reason expect to be friended. Every time I think about the friend thing I give myself a headache.

I realize social media offers many obviously irresistible marketing opportunities. I respect the working writers out there who take the time to do all this stuff, too; frankly I don't know how you guys handle it and keep up with the work. I'm just concerned that it all seems to be heading in a direction that is self-defeating and devaluing.

Thus I will continue to be Facebookless, and do my own thing, and see what happens.

27 comments:

  1. I think about deleting my Facebook account at least once a month. Today it's because of their latest privacy invasion, the facial recognition tagging. It's often a lot of trouble for something I originally got into to play Scrabble.

    My blog on the other hand, I still love.

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  2. Thank you for not going on Facebook. I absolutely loathe it.

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  3. Beautiful! I love this post and applaud your thinking. Amen.

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  4. Yeah, Facebook IS the evil empire. I got sucked in already, but at least I can still admit it's evil :P

    I don't like the "friends" thing either.

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  5. I joined Facebook at least two years ago. I only check it once a month, at most, though, so I can't speak to the reasons so many love it.

    The "friend" thing bothers me, as well. A friend is somebody who CALLS... someone with whom I have consistent contact, by choice. Not someone who sends me eight "karmas" in one week.

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  6. I don't have time to squeeze Facebook into my day, but I did get a laugh out of someone tell me I would if didn't spend so much time with my kid!

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  7. One thing I like about your blog is that you let us know what works for you and what doesn't. Everyone has their own promo likes and dislikes and it helps if you play to your strengths.

    I enjoy facebook a lot. Twitter too. But I wouldn't enjoy keeping a daily blog. I'd probably just write about how much I dislike blogging. :-)

    The point is, if you really like the online activity you're doing, then it isn't like promo at all. It's like hanging out with buddies.

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  8. Yeah, the 'friend' thing got me, too. If I don't really know you, how can you be my friend? How can I be yours? But then again, it's sort of like the 'followers' thing here on Blogger. Once I realized that, I got past it and started sending friend requests to people I wanted to follow.

    I'm still holding out against Twitter, though. It's like techno-crack for ex-chat junkies like me, and I've been clean for too long to restart that now.

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  9. bluebamboo8:18 AM

    Agree with you 100%. Never joined FB, seriously doubt I ever will. Seems invasive, time-consuming, risky.

    But I'm lucky to have a friend (an actual friend...I see her occasionally and everything ;) ) who lets me use her FB account to view things on FB. But -- only when we're together, only if I have something specific in mind to view AND only if I ask her permission. Those are my conditions for this arrangement, to which she agrees. She does the log in. I don't have her password, nor would I want it. Also, all I do with her account is view stuff -- all passive, nothing active. She allows me privacy when I'm looking at things, which is wonderful of her, but if she ever does want to watch what I'm doing, she's welcome to anytime.

    And slightly off-topic on the subject of "friend" -- it really bugs me that the word is also a verb now. I'm sure I'm not alone.

    Oh -- I also agree with Margaret Yang. Especially the last paragraph of her comment. :)

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  10. "Friend" is ubiquitous on the net. You'll find it on just about every social site. I, too, dislike it because it's a mockery of what friendship has always meant. But this is the age of connectedness, right? I'm another Facebook refusenik and, even more than fake friends, I resent the site's increasing intrusiveness into almost every aspect of the net. It's almost as if it's a matter of faith that you, too, are a member and will use it wherever you go.

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  11. Hurray, Hurray!

    Thank you, PBW, for putting into words what I've been thinking for so long: I, too, think "friendship" should mean something more than link exchange, and you explained this concern so well...

    this social media bombast does seem to be increasingly "self-defeating and devaluing."

    So well said (ahem, written).

    I'm not on Facebook either. Don't plan to be. I've got one more concern, in addition to those you've voice: the whole privacy issue. Facebook is a hacking target (its founder's FB account was hacked a few months ago). Facebook is also sorta BigBrothery: there was the silent claiming of ownership of everything on their site, including everything on every FB page (that got changed after outcry) and now I'm reading about some new privacy issue regarding facial recognition. Spooky stuff, and not in a good way.

    Thanks so much for your blog and today's post!!!

    Reba

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  12. I do have a FB page, but like Shakespeare, I check it around once or twice a month. I do find it to be a useful tool to communicate with my family and real friends - for example, when our good friends were expecting their first baby, we'd check often to see if they'd posted the arrival rather than constantly calling or texting in that annoying "have you had it yet?!" way.

    But I have a strict policy that I don't accept "friends" who I wouldn't befriend in a real life situation. No corporations or advertisers/salesfolks. I also turn down requests from people in my past whose names I don't even remember. I think the number of friends = high social status is ridiculous.

    I do think FB has a place as a communication tool, and as one arm of a marketing effort, I can see how it might be useful. However, I would take the word friend to hold the same import as calling store clerks "cast members".

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  13. Like any tool, Facebook is not perfect or for everyone. I like it because I can keep up with folks without the phone calls or letters. (Another of my favorite authors just posted something on FB that might be related to a new story. Can't wait!) I also find cool deals and tips, like free iPhone apps and music. I also have gotten in touch with family members that I lost touch with - 2nd cousins and the like. And for my more technology-challenged family members, they can see my photos of the kids and they don't have to learn a new website or tool.

    On the not so positive side, I get those friend requests from folks that I never really knew, like from high school. Awkward - Come to think of it, just like high school.

    It's hard to say if having a fan-page (for fans) instead of a personal page (for friends and family) will help you reach new readers that wouldn't find your blog. But if you did create a fan page, I'd "Like" it in an instant!

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  14. I hate FB. I keep my author page up because I can use an outside app to interact and thanks to the author page, my 'personal' shiloh page is kept to a bare minimum.

    Before I set up the author page, though, I'd regularly get (by the dozens, sometimes) requests to LIKE THIS PERSON'S page or THAT PERSON'S page or two dozen messages in my inbox.

    I hate how they try to claim 'ownership' over any data posted there so I flatout refuse to post anything that isn't already contracted, never mind the fact that since I wrote it, I fricking OWN it, nobody else.

    They are very invasive. Sigh.

    I often wish I'd never set the page up, but now that it is there, it's too handy to get rid off, especially since I don't have to log in much to use.

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  15. I tried to post this early this morning, but it now seems obvious that it didn't go through, so let's try it again:

    I am going to be a dissenting voice, but please don't take this as an attempt to change anyone's minds. A lot of people I know could care less about FB and I do fully understand the many reasons for not being interested on FB.

    Personally, I do use it frequently. My main account I started over 2 years ago. I don't even know why I felt compelled to register. However, shortly after I started getting requests from family and classmates I had not heard from in almost 30 years. I then started searches myself and found a few more people I had not heard of in decades. I have to say I was thrilled to reconnect with them. Many of them don't use FB frequently if at all, but still, it's good to have them in my "Friends" list. In that main account I only have family, people that I went to school with, former co-workers that I were friends with, and real friends. That's it. I don't accept requests from anyone that I don't know or knew personally.

    I have a second account. I know it's against their rules, but then again, they have a ton of rules that most use as toilet paper anyway. That one is my "romance genre" account. In it I have authors, fellow readers and reviewers, and related pages.

    I have several other accounts that I don't use. I call them my "test" accounts.

    I also created a fan page for my one and only friend who is a published author, Judy Mays. To make the story short, some people in her hometown thought it was offensive that she was writing romance during her time off as an English teacher in a middle school. After they "outed" her to the media (which backfired in a huge way) they thought that it would be a good idea to report her FB page as "fake" as it was created under her pen name. She got her page deleted and that's why I took action and started a Fan Page. No one can report a Fan Page as "fake", and she's co-admin so she can post using her pen name. I don't post there, but I keep an eye on things, just in case.

    From that perspective (author fan page) I think it can be very useful as a marketing tool for authors of small presses or independent publishing houses. It can be very useful as well for newly published authors. FB "shares" preferences and that's how it becomes a rather useful and one may argue, even powerful marketing tool.

    The issue of privacy is the major downside, no argument there. However, any savvy internet user knows that there is no such thing as "privacy" online, and will learn about how to improve the online experience. Yes, FB keeps trying to push the envelope, but they also implement measures for users to be able to “turn off” those new “features”.

    Regarding the misuse of the word Friends, well, truth of the matter is that ever since I can remember, and I am now 48 years old (about to turn 49 in a month) the word has been so misused, abused and trivialized by a lot of people I’ve come in contact with, the media, etc. that frankly, even though I follow my own principles and I don’t call everyone and their uncle “friend”, it truly doesn’t annoy me any longer when I see the word misused.

    Regarding Twitter, not touching it with a 10 foot pole.

    Mireya

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  16. I'm a Facebook whore. There. I said it. Yes, I use it to keep in touch with family and friends who are out of state and out of country, but I also spam the hell out of it, lol. Not in the "like me! like me!" way, but in the "surely my opinion on this random crumb that DARED fall on my lap will entertain someone!" way. I am THAT Facebook person. I'm seeking help. Honestly. Unfortunately, it's led me directly into the clutches of Twitter, the evil stepsister of Facebook, but that will be an addiction to break on another day.

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  17. I use facebook to keep in touch with real friends and family. If I don't personally know them, I don't "friend" them.

    I am careful with what info I post. One on the net, it will be there as long as the net is there. But I understand your feelings on facebook. Until my niece started college, I didn't have any accounts on any of the social services. So I do now, and I can keep in touch with family.

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  18. I do twitter. I admit I love the immediacy of it. If I have a question about the construction of a sentence, there are several replies shortly after I ask it. I don't use it often though. It's my occasional break from the organized chaos that is my life lately.

    I have a facebook page too. I hardly ever go there. I have lots of "likes" requests from people I've never even heard of. Don't know you? Can't find anything about you online? Um...don't think so then!

    Stick to your guns. It's why we love you :o)

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  19. Anonymous9:44 AM

    I've finally found someone else who's NOT on facebook, thank the lord! I've always been a bit of a geeky weirdo, but at least now I know I'm not alone... !

    Keep the faith!

    Fran

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  20. As unfortunate as it may be, marketing a book, or a career, is an entirely different animal than the book or career itself. I was just talking with another writer today about this very topic. He writes non-fiction and he writes it well. But selling is a facet of an author's career that many of us would rather not think about, even if we would prefer to have great sales numbers.

    I have a Facebook fan page. It's not well populated, and I definitely don't spend nearly enough time working with it, but I have the best of intentions - really I do.

    The internet is the best marketing tool we've ever had. And if an author can't speak for themselves, who can?

    Try Facebook. It's painless, and your audience is there, even if you would rather you weren't.

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  21. I think Facebook is creepy, the whole idea of all those 'friends' you don't even know or want to know. lol

    Never done it, never will do it.

    Wait until they float it on the stock market and then watch it sink like a stone, along with a lot of folks' money. There won't be any 'friends' then.

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  22. *perks up*

    I use livejournal a lot...would you mind if someone made a fan community for you there? like the page with facebook, but the posts at lj can be set so that you can post comments (or reply to others) without having to sign up for an account there:X

    (also, you don't have to "friend" communities...the options are 'join' and 'watch' ^_^)

    ~Angel

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  23. oh, also...I hate facebook too, but the games aren't too bad~

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  24. Angel-9-lives wrote: I use livejournal a lot...would you mind if someone made a fan community for you there?

    That's very flattering, Angel, thank you. I wouldn't have any objections to a fan community there, and if you send me a link I'll try to stop by and say hello. I've always liked LiveJournal.

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  25. I'm working on it as I type this:D

    Is there anything you would prefer to be prohibited? (fanfiction, icons/graphics made from your book covers, etc? illegal download links for your books are a given, lol.)

    also, is it okay to include somewhere that you gave permission for creating the community? :D

    ~Angel

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  26. Angel-9-lives wrote: Is there anything you would prefer to be prohibited? (fanfiction, icons/graphics made from your book covers, etc? illegal download links for your books are a given, lol.)

    To protect yourselves you might want to bar things that are obviously illegal (bootleg copies, plagiarism, etc.) But honestly, I don't want to tell you what to do or put any restrictions on your group; I don't have any control over what you do. I think it's something whoever does needs to decide.

    also, is it okay to include somewhere that you gave permission for creating the community?

    Sure, if you think you need it.

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  27. lol, I won't need it, but I think others will be twitterpated that you know of the group's existence.

    I'd like to allow fanfiction...as Anne Rice has proven: even if you tell people NOT to write it, it's gonna happen anyway. plus, imo, it's good practice for aspiring authors^_^;;

    icons/graphics...I'm not sure about the legality on those:S technically, I think the images used on your books belong to you/your publisher/the original artist, but I don't know for sure:S

    I'll probably end up using some of the images from the covers for the community layout, though, so I don't think it'd be right for me to tell everyone else that they can't as well:P

    *dances* I can't wait to get this going *_*


    oh, also...I forgot: you can actually sign into lj using your blog username/password~ I think it's only for leaving comments, but still, it's something more than facebook, lol.

    ~Angel

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