Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When You Feel Like a Nobody (The Curse of Social Media)

Yesterday I woke up and checked Twitter feed really quick before I went on with my day. Bad mistake.  Out of the corner of my eye, I looked at my number of followers.  Down by 5 people overnight?  How did that happen?  Did I say something wrong?  It really bummed me out for a few hours.
Before you laugh at the triviality of this first-world problem (and say something like, "That's why I'm not on Twitter!"), let me give you a little background.

Almost two years ago I decided to write a book, and it has consumed my every thought and waking moment since then.  Attending a writer's conference was eye-opening for me, as I realized that before attempting to self-publish or even approach an agent, I had to have a platform.  What was the ideal?  10,000 Twitter followers.  I'm sure my mouth dropped open in the seminar when they said that, as I was running about 250 followers at the time.

After I started corresponding with three different book agents, they all said the exact same thing.  The way publishing works today, nobody will want your book if you don't have a well-established platform.  "Work on your numbers," they all said.  That meant that I had to get my Twitter followers, Facebook followers, and blog followers up in the thousands.

Well, when you only have a few hundred you're dealing with, the loss of 5 can feel like a real blow.  After all, it probably took a month of hard work just to get those 5 followers.

All day long I kept feeling like a nobody.

That seems to be the curse of social media.  It is constantly there, reminding you that you're not as famous, not as effective, not as big as someone else out there.  You can log on to Facebook, read through updates and then log off, feeling like an incompetent mother.  You can scroll through your Twitter feed, read about other people "jet-setting across America to speak at my next conference," and be reminded that you're still sitting at home on your dreams.

For this reason alone, I know many people who have taken social media fasts, because they recognize that all of this self-focus is both unproductive and unhealthy.  But a social media fast is not really the best option for someone trying to write a book and build their platform, so we must learn how to deal with it.

This same feeling must be shared by many others, as just yesterday both Jeff Goins and Beth Moore posted on the same thing. Their words were encouraging and challenging.  Here is what both of their articles spoke to me personally:

- Stop making social media about you.  Use it as an opportunity to minister.  Use it as a way to learn about other people, to promote and encourage others.  When it becomes about you, it becomes a problem.

- Don't make comparisons.  This is the hardest part.  Even if I focus on encouraging others, on building them up, I'm still bombarded with what everyone else is doing that I'm not.  Yet for every choice that person is making, I'm making a different choice - a choice that is better for my life and my family.  Yes, I may not have 10,000 followers; I may not have a book coming out next month; I may not be speaking at that large conference - but I am spending valuable time with my kids and my husband, and that is worth more to me in the end.

- Beth Moore asks: "What is your passion? What is it that you are bursting to do [for God]? That's probably the stream of your calling." I love that quote, because it reminds me to go back to the basics- love God, love others.  Will my platform matter in the end?  It is not the most important thing.  I want to spend the majority of my energy on what I've been called to do -  minister to others.

- Focus on who you are reaching, not on who you aren't.  If I'm spending all of my time thinking about who I'm not reaching, then I'm not spending that time with the people I am reaching.  I only have 400 followers?  That is an opportunity to reach 400 people from inside of my home that I would otherwise have no contact with.  That is amazing!

I also think it's important to unplug from social media throughout the day.  Having it up and on constantly is not only distracting, but can affect our moods based on what we read.  It may be helpful to have specific times you log in, as well as specific times you work on building your platform - not sporadically all throughout the day.

So, how do you manage this pressure? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Hello Jaime . I am a follower of your blog but I think this is the first time I have commented. I have just been blogging for more than a year and sadly I only have less that 20 twitter followers and less than 800 facebook friends. I am from the Philippines but most of my audience come from the US and none of them leave comments.

    At times I ask how effective am I as a blogger or as a writer. One of my observant daughters told me that perhaps when I write some people might mistake me for an American which is quite flattering since I am not a professional writer though I also dream of writing a book for children one day. Since literally I have no platform I wonder how long will it take for that dream to come true.

    I have always believed that the heart of every post is being real. That the most ordinary stories are the most heartwarming ones that inspire and make us look back and drop by for a visit as in the case of every blog. At times I analyze why my blog has few followers and the same people comment every time. At times it hurts that when you comment on a blogger's post they are not kind enough to visit your site and comment back. Perhaps they are just too busy keeping up with their own followers to the point of writing haphazard posts or promotional ones that they just copy paste to return a favor.

    Hopefully I will be attending my first ever writing workshop this April. What you have shared will be a very good source of discussion. I do hope that one day, with or without the help of social media there will still be readers and followers who are intelligent enough to decide and choose the stories and posts worth reading and pondering as well.

    Blessings !

  2. Jamie...
    You are an inspiration to me! I hope all your dreams come true!

  3. Jamie,
    This is a great post. I love blogging as sharing and connecting.
    I'm with you on the followers... it's crazy making!

    Your blog is beautiful and I'm glad to meet you.

  4. Okay, great post! You need share buttons on your posts so we can get your "out there". I love this post and hate it because you are convicting me for sure. Ha! No seriously, thank you. I hate being a slave to the numbers and needed to hear this. Glad I found you via the UBP13. You are now in my Feedly reader under "Christian Blogs". I will be back!

  5. I so hear you! This whole platform thing is crazy making. I started the whole book writing process in January. I became aware about a month ago, I needed to prove to a publisher/agent that someone would actually want to read my book. I've been blogging since 2006, but not in a very "public" way; so I started in earnest to be more "out there." I had my son give me a crash course in twitter (which I'm still struggling with- only 150 characters, are you kidding me?) And I joined Pinterest. I'm spending so much time building a platform my book writing time is suffering. I KNOW that it all works together, but still I would rather be writing. I love blogging and social media. But opening myself up to the masses is overwhelming. I don't have 200 FB friends. I think I just cracked 10 Twitter followers. More people are reading my blog- but I get few followers or comments. The analytics of it all is maddening. But, I believe in what I am doing. I KNOW I am following God. So, I keep trudging. As Beth Moore talked about in her post, I am doing that thing that I dream of doing, that I find myself doing all the time- writing. Anyways, hope this encourages you some. Amy