I’ve had a few conversations in recent weeks with others (more) active on social media. And I’ve been reading with something close to concern at how users are conflating their worth with their stats. One contributor to a travel forum I follow asked if anyone knew of a free tool like a social blue book [the blue book in the USA gives the value of used cars] that she could use to calculate her worth. Yes, I know she was talking about companies using her to advertise via her blog and social media accounts, but it did make me wonder.
In one conversation, I was asked how many followers I have on Twitter, something I reserve for mainly for my travel blog. I had to check. Do people really have these numbers at their fingertips? That particular day it was 77. And I was following 115. Not good apparently. Those successfully using the medium have way more followers than those they’re following, or so I was told by someone, somewhere, sometime. I did a random check of a few of the 115 I am following. I follow them mainly because I like unbiased news reporting and want to keep track of how RyanAir is planning to mess with my travel plans. Their followers number in the hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands. I read with something short of amazement recently that Twitter has a bug that is killing off followers in their millions! Yes, one poor lad woke up one morning to find he had a million fewer followers. I found it hard to muster any sympathy and I had no empathy to call on.
I’ll admit to getting a wee bit excited if I get more than a dozen hearts on a photo or link I’ve posted but I’ve long since realised that people rarely click on links and read – unless it’s politics or scandal – and all too often they’re one and the same. Even though it’s a travel blog, I don’t think I’ve ever done a list post. I’m allergic to headings that declaim the top 10 things to see in 24 hours in Barcelona. That sort of thing has been done to death and more often than not is just a rehash of something a series of someones has done before. And anyway, were I do to a list on Barcelona, my No. 1 recommendation would be to go see the Kiss of Death gravestone in Poblenou Cemetery – which is hardly someplace your average tourist is going to take the time to find and visit. My posts are my stories – what I saw, what I heard, and how it made me feel. I write so that I’ll remember. Because one day, I might want to write a book and it’d be good to have material to pull from.
I use Instagram for my cemetery blog. Apparently, I’m a taphophile, or so Wikipedia tells me.
Tombstone tourist (otherwise known as a “cemetery enthusiast”, “cemetery tourist”, “grave hunter”, “graver”, or “taphophile”) describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths.
I’ve only recently discovered tagging, and thanks to the patience of the inimitable RG, my followers are slowly creeping towards the 100 mark. Mind you, it fluctuates. People follow and unfollow with an alacrity that would win them a medal if following were an Olympic sport. I get a little more excited here when the number of hearts I get hits 20 or more. Similar topics on Instagram get 100s of likes and loads of comments and their pictures are no better and often not nearly as good as mine; mine at least come with a short story. I can’t figure it out and I’m learning not to take it personally. Occasionally, very occasionally, I get a comment. Mind you, they’re mainly of the ‘I followed you so I’d appreciate a follow back’ sort. But what if I’m not remotely interested in plumbing parts pre-1930s? Do I really have to follow you to keep you following me? I’ll admit to envy when I see a friend who started Instagram a few months after I did getting 250+ likes for their recipes and having a following of 1700 or so, but with then they’re following the same number, too. Is there a protocol I don’t know about? Anyway, cooking and food – that’s a different drawer. I’ve had fleeting thoughts of developing taphophilic recipes but got stuck at hot cross buns and mausoleum mousse.
Facebook is a stalwart. I have Facebook pages for both my general musings blog and my travel one. I can’t be arsed to start one for Dying to Get In. They have more respectable numbers, though, both in triple digits (and it’s only taken years!). Respectable for me, that is. Various blogging sites I have been a party to are replete with self-congratulatory posts as people reach the 10 000 follower milestone or in one case, a million hits in one month. And fair play to them – they’re in the Michelin Stars league. Me, I haven’t even tied my apron strings. As it is, I repost everything on my personal Facebook page so I wonder why I bother. Someone in the know must have suggested it as a way to drive traffic (an expression I’ve come to loathe) to my sites. But Facebook has algorithms that are screwing with my numbers and I don’t have the wherewithal to do battle and engage. When my Unpacking site hit 1000+ posts, someone else suggested I split it into the niches that I’d already created within: Travel and Cemeteries. Then when I did, another expert asked me why I didn’t have everything together! I can win for losing.
I’ll admit to being completely defeated by Pinterest. I can’t figure out how it works, how it can drive that damn traffic. I had hundreds of photos that linked to the editing pages of posts – which might explain the numerous requests I got in WordPress for people to be contributors rather than subscribers. So I deleted them all and started creating pins for specific posts. And nothing changed. I can’t fathom it at all. Perhaps I have it on the wrong setting, viewable only to me and the one friend who follows my board. And I’m sure I could figure it out, had I the hours to devote to it, but hey, I have windows to wash.
When I get a like on WordPress, though, I really get excited (well, not really, but it’s more exciting than the hearts and thumbs up). It’s a community of bloggers that I have yet to figure out how to interact with other than spending hours of my day reading and commenting on their posts. Where do people get the time? There are few blogs I read regularly, though, and those I read, I read because I enjoy the writing or the illustrations or the stories. Garrison Keillor comes immediately to mind [And yes, I’m aware of the allegations and also note that MPR settled.] Endastories | Peg on Pause | SamStarbucks (love the illustrations) are others. More I dip in and out of if I’m interested in a particular topic. Some I read so that I can be in the know and others I follow because they educate me. I’m a big fan of JP O’Malley’s stuff but he uses Tumblr and I can’t cope with yet another login. I’d prefer to get notification by email.
One thing I’m pretty good at is filling in the AltText field on any photos I use so that people who can’t see can at least have some idea of what’s in them. I read that somewhere and it makes sense. I’m easily convinced if I can see the sense in it. But as for SEO? I couldn’t tell you the difference between a target word and a focus word. And I resent being told by some machine that I’m using more than the recommended number of sentences that have more than 20 words or that I’ve exceeded my use of passive voice or that I have fragments! I know all that. It’s deliberate. It’s style, FFS!!!
I like LinkedIn. It feels more human. I can get lost in it. But other than automatic feeds from my blogs and an occasional two-hour stint checking in to see what all I’ve missed, I’m not a regular user. I am getting better though because I’ve now figured out how to get message notifications via email.
And therein lies the crux of it all. I’m old-fashioned. I’m of an era in which the sum of social media was church gate chats and bar room banter, an era where email once didn’t exist, let alone Tumblr and Reddit and Snapchat and all the rest. I write for those who have signed up to get my posts via email, like letters really, only they don’t come in envelopes, or have a stamp. It’s a small, select audience, one I can engage with. The rest is simply a numbers game I’m playing for my own amusement… when I remember.
If you’re getting my letters, thank you for opening them and reading and even occasionally writing back. I’m grateful you’re out there and I’d miss you if you left.
PS – I’m knowingly committing a cardinal SEO sin with my photo here, as it in no way relates to anything I’ve written about and won’t contain any keywords in the associated fields. But my mate DN asked on Facebook recently if anyone had seen a bird’s nest yet this year – and this is for him.