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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-02-09 05:44
Subject: [personal|writing] Social media strategies
Security: Public
Tags:blogs, culture, personal, writing
Several folks have been commenting lately in the blogosphere on being fictional. I read the posts, nodded, and went on. I've had an online presence in some form or another for over fifteen years now. I'm very accustomed to the delta between my persona as projected in that environment and the full personhood of me.

Of course, when I first hung out my web shingle, I was a private person. It was some years before my first sale as a writer. The number of people who cared about what I had to say online or in public was limited to close friends and immediate family. And not even many of them.

That meant I could have essentially a one-to-one relationship with everyone I knew online.

Today, this post will potentially reach about 10,000 people through four media channels I address directly, and even more indirectly. Some reasonable percentage of those will actually click through and read it. Between WordPress, LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook, I would have to keep up with those roughly 10,000 people in order to maintain the same reciprocity I routinely managed back in 1995 or so.

To be a bit more specific about this, someone was grumpy at me in Facebook recently for not paying attention to the posts of my Facebook friends, implying that this was unfair of me. Given that as of this draft I have 2,567 Facebook friends, I would never do anything else if I paid that kind of attention. Likewise my 6,156 Twitter followers. If I auto-followed, I would never do anything else. Same for my 1,000+ LiveJournal friends and all the people who pick up the RSS feed off my WordPress blog. It's sort of like how I used to try to read the stories and novels all my friends got published. Now that's just about a mathematical impossibility for me, assuming I wish to eat, sleep or ever leave my chair for any other purpose.

The entire calculus of how I relate through my online presence and social media has changed radically over the years. Largely without me even noticing it. I simply rode along with the shifting tide. Now I am in a situation that creates a sense of interchange, or even social intimacy, with me for thousands of people, a great many of whom I do not know and likely never will.

I answer direct questions in any of my online spaces, respond to otherwise interesting comments, dip into the pool of 'friends' in each of those areas. But lacking the time, how do I respect the personal connection that so many people feel? In my case, by paying what attention I can, responding when appropriate, and being respectful. I got no other answer.

What do you think the obligations of a public person should be in the social media?
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2011-02-09 13:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I enjoy reading your blog, but don't feel you owe me anything as a public person.

While I know from reading your blog that writing will be the very last thing you give up, I still would be concerned that attempting to increase interaction with social media would cut into your writing time.
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2011-02-09 14:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heinlein nails it in Double Star: you have an obligation to do your research if you are meeting people/socialising with them; you have an obligation to be respectful and warm. That's it.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-02-09 14:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
More on this later, but I think you're doing it about right.
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User: barbhendee
Date: 2011-02-09 14:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Kitten and chick
Jay, I think this a really good question. I hesitated before starting a Facebook page because I really, really didn't want to use it as a marketing platform of any kind. I just wanted to chat with my daughter and my family and my college chums and my writer friends.

However, several of my professional writer friends have upwards of 5,000 friends listed on Facebook because they DO want to use it as a marketing platform. Of course they cannot respond to the tidal wave of private messages and the numerous posts. I've chatted with a few of them and asked, "How do you handle all that?"

You know me personally, so you know I could not handle all that. In the early days of Facebook, I did let a few Noble Dead fans slip under the wire, and they drove me crazy at first, but I've become quite fond of two of them. I have about 180 "Friends" on Facebook, and I know most of them personally. But that's still too many people. If I could do it without hurting anyone's feelings, I'd pare my list down to just people I know (and those two Noble Dead fans I've come to know). I HAVE to communicate at a personal level or I feel anxious and uncomfortable.

I think you are much, much, much better at marketing than I am, and you should do whatever works for you. If you can't respond to two thousand people on Facebook . . . nobody should hold it against you. That kind of onslaught would drive me to drink.
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martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2011-02-09 14:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You give what you can, when you are able. That's all anyone can or should expect. That 'real' friends might get more of you... well, ain't they the lucky ones. Just like real life. Its fun you being here and I enjoy the 'conversation' but I enjoy your books enough to be satisfied with more of them even if it means less of this.

IE, your art is for posterity, this is peripheral.

I think you're doing it right, and I thank you.
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bondo_ba
User: bondo_ba
Date: 2011-02-09 14:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think your way of dealing with it is just about spot-on. It would be impossible to deal with it all otherwise, and only the truly touchy would feel slighted.
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Twilight
User: twilight2000
Date: 2011-02-09 15:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you're doing just about what makes sense. Sharing with us as a group, living your life, writing your stories. Those who are bent because you don't answer their every question or comment can't always be placated - but you already do so much more than most, it's not really fair to give you a hard time.

I occasionally comment to Nichelle Nichols too, but I don't really expect her to answer me ;>.
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irismoonlight
User: irismoonlight
Date: 2011-02-09 15:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To be polite. Period. And that's mostly for your own sake, to avoid fallout.

"Public" people are by definition those who have attracted more attention than they can return.

People who read public figures' blogs and Twitters and etc. get this sense that the person is talking to them directly, that they "know" this person.

This false intimacy is disconnect from reality on their part. There isn't much you can do about that except perhaps gently point that out in a generalized, non-personal way. (Like you've done here).

You owe your average reader *nothing.*

I've read your LJ for years; I've been in one of your workshops. I don't know you; more to the point, *you* don't know me. Personally, I prefer my privacy.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-09 15:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Personally, I prefer my privacy.

That's an important point, too. I guard my privacy in several areas -- very few of my readers know the_child's name (though that's changing now as she's old enough to start establishing her own online identity). Likewise precisely where I live, the name of my employer, anything about my finances, or much detail of my romantic/sexual life beyond the publicly visible parts.

But all that said, I'm far, far less private than most. And I recognize that very few of my readers (fiction or blogosphere) would want the kind of exposure I routinely experience.

So, yes.
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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2011-02-09 15:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'll be honest with you. I don't think you have any obligations whatsoever. If you want to respond to social queries/mentions and you have time, fine. If not, don't lose sleep over it.
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paulcarp: pic#67230600
User: paulcarp
Date: 2011-02-09 16:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:pic#67230600
What do you think the obligations of a public person should be in the social media?

None. Thanks sincerely for exceeding your obligations.
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2011-02-09 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Same as for any person. Be polite.

A public persona is a work of art. It's strongly related to your writing, but it is performance and publicity rather than publishing. Obviously some time spent on publicity is helpful to getting published, but you have to write for publication too. After all, your public persona is that of an author.
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mlerules: bunny clock
User: mlerules
Date: 2011-02-09 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: Oblig of Public Person in Social Media
Keyword:bunny clock
Whatcha do is 'bout all anybody could reasonably expect. Seems as if you're satisfying your obligs, 'specially now that you've posted this and made it clear whassup.

Hmm, taking this one step further now. If'n you were to post this (or a synopsis) on your Info/Profile/About sections of the various social media where you have a presence, it'd be even better. This way folks would know where you - and they - stand and any expectations (which tend to lead to sense o' obligation and/or entitlement) would be (or at least should be) clear and upfront rather than assumed. (Nods to @ss=u+me from elem school ;-)
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Jay Lake: graffiti-panda
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-09 19:07 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Oblig of Public Person in Social Media
Keyword:graffiti-panda
Hmm, not a bad idea, to post a social media profile...
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oaksylph
User: oaksylph
Date: 2011-02-09 16:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Started my 'blog' in 1995 myself, and as in your case, used to respond individually to everyone; now there are too many for me as well. Fortunately, I was also able to establish a place of interaction on the internet where people could talk to each other, and they seem to have found a sense of community and discussions of their own. I'm glad. I like that people I like like each other.

If people aren't enjoying reading and responding to the responses to your posts, they aren't using social media as social - just as fan mail. Famous people answer fan mail as time and generosity allow. None of us, given a moment to think about it, would ever want you to cut into writing time - or indeed, now that many know you well enough to think about you as a person, into life time. So... maybe encourage them to converse constructively with each other? Because people who like your work already have something in common....
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-02-09 18:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To be honest, I'm not sure that 'obligations' is the right word to begin with. It seems to me that you as a writer are not exactly obliged to your online readers -- not in the way that a politician is, say, anyway, or anyone with public responsibilities. I regard blogs by other writers as wonderful favours that they do for readers. Outside the basic promotional stuff -- this is my new book, this is where I'll be doing a signing etc -- anything else they choose to write is a bonus, a generous impulse to give others some insight into their lives, interests and process.
Having said which, in this era, a web presence seems to be felt to be needed, and a warm, engaged one is a lot more effective than a distant, information-only one. But I'm still not sure it's an obligation. People differ in how they can present themselves. And response is not necessary in all circumstances -- I'm a grown up, I know people are busy. I know I have no right to your or any other writer's attention.
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2011-02-09 18:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's an interesting question. I'm not sure "obligation" is the word I would choose. I think that there are expectations that come from the other side which make it feel like an obligation, and those expectations are varied depending on the audience, the social media used, and the relative sophistication of said audience.

My personal opinion is that any person has the responsibility to be civil and respectful when speaking or writing in public. And if you stray over the line, which will happen, apologize, listen, and figure things out civilly. And lo, how often am I disappointed in our media, but that is me, the product of my own peculiar upbringing.

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russ: lyles constant
User: goulo
Date: 2011-02-09 19:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lyles constant
> someone was grumpy at me in Facebook recently for not paying attention to the posts of my Facebook friends, implying that this was unfair of me.

I'd say that the grumpy person is (unconsciously?) thinking that reading blogs is some sort of favor people do for each other. But of course that's bogus thinking. As you point out, it's simply impractically unrealistic to expect you to read the blogs of everyone who reads yours.

And even if that weren't the case, even if you had, say, only 10 readers, there's no obligation for you to read the blogs of them.
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griffinwords
User: griffinwords
Date: 2011-02-09 21:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think it's inevitable that some people will assume any comment or message they write will be as important to the person who receives it as it was to themselves. This is wrong, of course, but still inevitable.

I also think a person with, say, 100 online buddies to keep track of, has no idea what it's like to be a person with 1,000 or 10,000 online buddies to keep track of, and this explains their lack of understanding of why you didn't immediately answer their VERY IMPORTANT message or comment.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2011-02-10 00:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heck, I'm just happy that you're posting; I don't need personal responses. It wasn't all that long ago when authors communicated with readers primarily through cons, fan clubs, and letters to magazines. (I'm also old enough to remember when Piers Anthony's 1-800-HI PIERS number was a happily startling innovation.)
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W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2011-02-10 04:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
I have a difficult time requiring anything of public people that I do not require of myself. I don't follow back every Twitter account that follows mine. I don't read every Facebook status update. I don't read every blogger who reads me. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so.

That doesn't mean my feelings don't sometimes feel bruised when I read/follow/respond to a public person who doesn't do the same for me. Of course my feelings are sometimes bruised, but I chalk that up to my own issues, not a problem with their behavior. If I can't take it, I stop reading/following/responding to that person unless and until I grow a thicker skin with regards to that person.

Paying attention when I/you can, responding when appropriate, and being respectful is all I require.
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User: tippity
Date: 2011-02-10 05:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've made every effort to remain anonymous online and yet I opened my front door last weekend and found the creepy stalker ex-boyfriend from UT standing on my front porch. Surprise! Where did he find my address? Online on one of those data aggregator sites.

By the way, he says "Hello".
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Jay Lake: signs-commit_no-nuisance
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-10 05:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:signs-commit_no-nuisance
Um, hello back?
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User: tippity
Date: 2011-02-10 05:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm reasonably sure he's not heading for your porch! Um...and thanks for the reply. I feel special.
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Jay Lake: signs-dont_jay_walk
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-10 05:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:signs-dont_jay_walk
Then I have used my powers for good!
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User: tippity
Date: 2011-02-10 05:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:-)
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emmainfiniti
User: emmainfiniti
Date: 2011-02-10 12:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you are remarkably responsive to comments and questions on LJ, especially considering how busy you are. You certainly don't owe anyone attention, other than the people who are your real-life friends and family.

I appreciate your prolific blogging and hope the grumpy apple doesn't affect your presence on social media.
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