Creepy

She grabbed the microphone back and started clarifying that she really, really, really is a brand and brands are awesome . . . and the more she went on, the more I thought: I am not a brand. I wanted to whisper it, but that would have been creepy.

That quote is from Maureen Johnson’s most excellent blog post on how she feels about social media.

She says something I’ve tried to say several times here, only she says it far better. If I could get away with it, I’d just post what she says here and point at it. So, that’s essentially what I’m doing. I’m assuming you all clicked and went to read it already.

Though I confess my favorite part is when she wants to whisper to herself that she’s not a brand, but decides it would be creepy.

The interwebs have their decidedly creepy aspect. People behave in odd ways, act aggressive or just plain nutty sometimes. Enough so that I’ve researched a few to try to determine if they’re really as nutty as they seem or if it’s a communication issue. That said, I’ve met far more really great people, some of whom I’ve gone on to meet in person. Which is really the point of the whole social media thing.

I confess I started using both Facebook and Twitter to pimp my blog. I know, I know – but if I was going to write the damn thing, I wanted someone besides my mother to read it and that seemed to be the way to go. It worked, too. But, to my surprise, I found I really enjoy the communities I’m now part of. There are people I talk to every day and who miss me when I’m gone – which is always comforting in a someone-will-find-me-before-the-pets-totally-consume-my-body kind of way.

But Maureen is dead-on about the shysters, the shills, the snake-oil salesmen. One author I unfollowed after less than a day because he tweeted, in all caps, to buy his book, every hour, all day long.

No no no.

It’s no fun to be friends with a brand. That’s what it comes down to, really. I might like Burt’s Bees, and expect a certain quality in the products that pleases me with its consistency and nice scents, but I don’t expect to interact with my Beeswax Lip Balm. Beyond keeping my lips kissable, of course.

Authors are different. When we love their books, we want to talk to the people who wrote them. We have this odd tendency to feel like they’re friends because we spent time wrapped in their view of the world. And man authors – certainly not all – like to interact with their readers because, well, otherwise we never really get to be part of that experience.

Storytelling is intimate. Personal. It’s not like selling lip balm.

I am not a brand, she whispered quietly to herself.

7 Replies to “Creepy”

  1. Love this!

    I've been really intrigued by some of the discussion about social media these last couple weeks (both Maureen's post, and the one last week from the guy essentially saying social media is a waste of time).

    I think we're all saying the same things, essentially — people who see social media as a platform from which to shout their sales pitch do not have a firm grasp of what this is all about and they ARE wasting their time.

    But people who understand that it's about having dialogue and forming relationships are the ones who get it (and who will likely reap the benefits).

    Great post!
    Tawna

  2. Oh, good reminding, Tawna! I found that post really interesting, too, and bookmarked it because I thought his list of what you could be doing to promote your book besides social media was useful, so I'll put it here, in case anyone wants to look it up:

    http://chipmacgregor.typepad.com/main/2010/05/the-hidden-costs-of-social-networking.html

    (Although I did comment asking if he really believed that newsletters were useful and not archaic and my comment disappeared. Hmm…)

    I think you are a great example of someone who's made social media work for you. But that's because you have fun with it.

  3. Isn't that what it boils down to? If you aren't having fun out here on the interwebs, why are you here? Don't you think it shows when you're not having fun? It's sort of a sociology experiment (or maybe psychology) waiting to happen – the fact that most people can detect that uncomfortable combo of corn and cheese in mere text interactions that say someone's obviously pushing a 'brand'.

  4. It's OK, I started out using social media for the same reason you did. But I found that I made the most amazing connections. Connections that would not have been possible otherwise. And I think that is what social media has done, for the writing community anyway. We can't all travel to conferences and spend 100% of our time doing writing-related stuff. But with the Internet, we can connect with amazing people from whom we can learn and draw support. It makes the world and smaller, and I think better place.

    And if we get some attention for our work, that's nice too. But it's more like a side benefit than the purpose.

  5. Marcella, it *is* a fascinating experiment, isn't it? It's amazing to me just how clearly people do come through. Love how you put it "the uncomfortable mix of cheese and corn." Ha!

    That's such a good point, Elizabeth, I've been just amazed how many fun writers I've met and how supportive the community is. Twitter really is ideally suited for us lone individuals, tapping away on our computers. I liked your post today, celebrating that, too!

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