Thursday, January 02, 2020

Things That Happen When You Stop Chasing Social Media

By Aly Brown, @AlyConnerBrown

Part of The Writer’s Life Series 

JH: Social media is both a blessing and a curse, and no writer should feel pressured to engage if they don't want to. Aly Brown kicks off the New Year with thoughts and tips on what happens when you don't let social media rule your life. 

Aly Brown is a newspaper editor and author represented by BookEnds LLC. She recently inked a deal with Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan for a nonfiction middle grade book on Alvin Submersible called The Last Unexplored Place on Earth. Release date 2023.

Take it away Aly...

Make 2020 Your Year of Focus

For every writer who thrives on social media, there is another who views it as a necessary evil. You chase the platforms and realize everyone there already seems to have a following. You're far behind and now just another voice adding a quiet squeak to the thundering roar of content all day, every day. What's worse is you're spending so much time trying to build a presence that you put aside the very thing you're marketing: your writing.

Now, don't get me wrong, you will have to market the hell out of yourself. We’ve gleaned this sage wisdom from those who came before us. But it shouldn't consume you and devour those tiny pockets of extra time that could be used for writing. It shouldn't be something you force yourself to do like calling the dentist.

(Here's more on Blessing Or Curse? The Modern Writer’s Dilemma)

Take heart, there is something better than social media when it comes to marketing...

There will always be a new platform and new followers to gain, but digital-marketing experts continue to emphasize the importance of growing your email list above all. WPBeginner reports one of the benefits of growing an email list to be that you own that information.

“Your social-media campaigns and SEO (search-engine optimization) efforts can go to waste when these platforms change their policies,” indicated the WPBeginner article. “On the other hand, you own your email list, and it is not influenced by decisions of other businesses.”

In an article published on Dreamgrow, internet marketing and social-media company, CEO and founder Priit Kallas explores 11 reasons why an email list beats social media in terms of reaching your target audience and converting leads into sales.

“Even if you are very active in managing your Facebook page or Twitter, the potential return is much lower than using opt-in email lists,” Priit explained. “Social-media channels are great for outreach. Next step would be to bring the people you reach there to your email list.”

Photo courtesy of LoboStudioHamburg, via Pixabay

(Here's more on Choosing the Right Social Media Site for You and Your Readers)

When you let go of chasing those followers...

There’s something liberating that happens when you realize email marketing is still alive and well—it's almost like a hall pass to skip out on the social sites that don't do it for you. I still post from time to time on the basic platforms, but I’ve since given myself the freedom to invest in places that make me happy.

Once I did that, I found three things unfold naturally:

1. You find places that don't feel like work

I'm not gonna lie. I've been sittin’ pretty at about 600 followers on Twitter for years now. I have a few people I actually engage with, but mostly, that's one place that feels like work to me. I like (heart?), I tweet, I retweet, and yet, it seems like most things fall into a void. I have a similar feeling about my professional Facebook page, and I don't even have Instagram.

But then I found Medium. I'm totally late to the party on this one, and I admittedly found it because I was looking for a job and one of the publishers was seeking an editor. I created an account and applied with zero content published. (So… uh, spoiler: I didn't get the job.) BUT I decided to start posting articles. Something about writing my own content again was so much fun. It wasn’t an assignment, it wasn’t freelance work, and it was more effortless to write an 800-word article than a 140-character tweet. 

2. You engage more genuinely

It's funny, after creating the account and applying for the job I wouldn't get, I started digging around Medium. I found myself running out of free content within a few minutes, so I decided to pay the five bucks a month to read all I wanted. I figured at the time I could just end my subscription if I wasn't using it. 

But I was. 

Every day, I scrolled through engaging content written by honest authors whose stories full of vulnerability and openness not only inspired me to create but also helped me through some of my own personal stuff. The best part was, engaging didn’t feel like homework — it became an honest desire to support my fellow writers and show them what their work meant to me.
Followers are more responsive, and they grow with less effort

3. When you’re thriving on a particular platform, people can tell. 

The content you disseminate is authentic and full of life. When followers or potential followers read your work and they can sense that, they’re more likely to engage with you or become a new follower. I used to post meaningless crap only to gain no response along with a sense of pointlessness. But now I earn some kind of engagement on everything I publish. That’s gratifying.

I'm not an affiliate of Medium or anything. The point in sharing this with you is that you have to find what works for you. If Twitter authentically engages you, tweet away. If Facebook just seems to make more sense, right on, write on. It doesn’t have to be Medium, but it needs to be a good fit for you, otherwise you’re wasting your time. At the end of the day, just don’t feel badly for not utilizing a given platform when email lists are still king. 

What social media platforms do you find the most engaging? What are ones you prefer to avoid?

(Want to read more from Alythia? Here are all of her Fiction University articles)


  1. Thanks for this article, Alythia. You illuminate a problem I've wondered about, and may have a solution.

  2. Alythia, I couldn't agree with you more. I have an account on Twitter, yet I'm hardly ever at the site. I don't understand how people can get so caught up in the media sites when there's so much to do away from that virtual reality.