So yesterday, I spent upwards of 45 minutes scheduling social-media posts to promote my novels. To say it’s not one of my favorite things to do is an understatement.
It’s boring and it also makes me feel cheap and desperate. “Please, please buy my books. Won’t someone please buy my books?!? They’re old but they’re still good!”
There are companies who provide these services. They charge money, of course. The money, however, isn’t the issue. It’s that these companies seem to be followed mostly by other desperate authors who number in the tens of thousands. And the social-media promotion these companies provide is basically: “Here’s a tweet of this author’s book and an off-center picture of the author and/or his book cover.” This tweet is immediately followed by similar tweets for about a hundred other authors. If I’m gonna get tied up with a pimp, I expect more than that.
Besides, programming tweets does provide a fine procrastination opportunity when I should be working on an actual book.
I figure it can’t hurt. Maybe someone somewhere will see it.
Indeed, when the first tweet flew off to Twitter yesterday it was seen by a few folks who immediately … marked it with a heart.
“Bless their heart” is what I should have said, but the first words out of my mouth were “What the shit?”
The Twitter heart is useless. It might be good for my ego to get one, might be good for the other person to give one, but it doesn’t DO anything. A retweet isn’t going to save the world, but it actually puts the tweet in question out to a few more people, who might then retweet. But a heart? Nada.
Twitter is to blame for this, of course. Before the heart, there was the star. And the star, to me, said “I don’t quite like this tweet enough for retweeting, but there’s something interesting here that I want to come back to later.” It was like the star in Gmail that you never use. Or, put another way, the Twitter star was for “favorite.” You can have a favorite good thing, but you can also have a favorite bad thing — like a favorite reality show. You can’t throw a like on something you dislike though.
But I imagine the star wasn’t something Twitter could sell to the advertisers it desperately wanted on its platform. I figure more than few marketers said, “Well, Facebook has the like button, why can’t we get one of those on Twitter?” And Twitter said, “We DO have this nifty retweet feature.” And the marketers looked around the room to make sure they wouldn’t be spied on and said, “C’mon. You know no one’s going to retweet a Twitter ad. Not unless we do something REALLY stupid.” And then, after everyone laughed uncomfortably, the marketers put a sack of money on the table and Twitter shrugged and said, “Okay. We’ll give you a like button. But we’ll make it a heart. So that’s almost more of a love button.” And, lo, the marketers were happy.
Well, those who had massive budgets and were simply on Twitter to make their bosses think they were cool were happy. The scrappier folks — artists, writers, the local plumber — not so much. Their marketing efforts on Twitter are attempts to build word of mouth, to spread the news or the links. A heart doesn’t do that. A heart is seen by no one except the hearted and the heart-ee (insert pirate joke here).
Look, this doesn’t keep me up at night. I don’t use Twitter primarily as a book-marketing function. I use it to get really upset about politics, to remind myself there are a lot of stupid people in the world and to live-tweet “Vanderpump Rules” and football games. And when people heart any of those tweets, I feel accomplished.
And I realize I sound like an ungrateful jerk. But people like to help people, right? So I’m just trying to help you actually help. So if any of you have friends, family or favorite artists you’re trying to help out in social media, steer clear of the heart and lean on that retweet button.
Just to make my point. Here are some things more useful than the Twitter heart button:
- Tits on a bull.
- Nipples on a man.
- A penis on a cow? (I don’t know. If the tits on a bull thing works … you know what. Never mind.)
- A one-legged man (or woman) in an ass-kicking contest.
- That push-to-cross button at crosswalks.
- Close-door buttons on New York elevators.
- Neck ties.
- The TSA.
- A Change.org petition.
- The New Orleans Saints defense.
- Andy Reid’s clock management.
- Holistic medicine.
- A Nigerian prince.
- Sharing that “We’re giving away a free car” post on Facebook.
- A social-media guru.
- Ikea instructions.
- Posting about politics on Facebook.
- Advertising on Snapchat.
I could go on. But I should actually be writing at the moment. And I do appreciate anyone who’s ever favorited, liked or hearted anything I’ve posted on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or anywhere else.