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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Mailbox: Facebook Questions


Facebook questions.

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer them each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox.  


All of today's questions have to do with either my Facebook page, which is dedicated to promoting Writing About Writing.  Of course anyone is welcome to join W.A.W.'s Facebook page.  I always love new followers.  I don't recommend Facebook for reliably following W.A.W.'s updates, but it got a lot of memes and comics and such.


Mike asks:

You're posting a lot of non-blog stuff on Facebook. Do these social media efforts work? I'm trying to find ways to promote my own blog, but I'm not sure a facebook page would be worth it.

My reply: 

I'm not sure it's worth it either, Mike.  The verdict is still out.

Right now I'm still in an experimental phase with much social media and exactly what it can do for me and how.  Some of it is obviously instantly awesome like Stumbleupon.  Stumbleupon immediately gets me hits and if someone who sees one of my posts gives it a little thumbs up, that post immediately goes out to even more people. I have literally gotten five thousand hits over the course of a weekend because the cascade effect of people liking it didn't slow down for days.  However, Stumbleupon has an internal ad blocker so while it's good for exposure, it doesn't really help any financial numbers unless those people come back.  Some of it is long term awesome, like G+ where the immediate reaction is very small (even if someone shares an article) but affects regular Google searches (in a way I do not understand) and is far more likely to get me a steady trickle of hits.

And some are clearly not going to be worth the time and effort that they would require to be effective....like Reddit.  Reddit is where social media dreams go to die.  Not just a quiet death like Grandpa Jenson who fell asleep after a nice night with the Kendlebrooks and never woke up; no they die like the lawyer in Jurassic park; ripped to pieces, screaming, and covered in shit.  The games people play on Reddit to get positive karma so that their "real" posts will be seen by more people require a lot of time and effort to keep up with.  They are the stuff of legends, and about the furthest thing from writing that someone could possibly do without doing some one handed web-surfing if you catch my drift.

I just can't quit you, Facebook.
Facebook, though....  Facebook is its own particular kind of animal.  It's like Mark Zuckerberg wakes up every day with two new ideas.  One to make his product more vital to anyone who has an online presence, and the other to make that same product epically infuriating to those same people.  I can reach more people through a page, but they black out posts to most of the page giving you a much much higher glass ceiling and much much slower progress than just posting something on a personal page.  I can promote a post, but only if I pay the same amount as a multi-billion dollar corporation.  Facebook gets W.A.W. just enough hits that I wouldn't want to just give up the effort (about 7% of my total traffic), but not enough that I imagine a "full court press" on Facebook pimping would be useful.

It's like country music or the smell of gym socks.  I want to be repulsed, but it is.....strangely compelling.

I activated (and reactivated) that page for one main reason: I didn't want my personal page to be annoying.  Posting a couple of links to my blog a day was bothering some of my friends who sprained their scroll wheel fingers and really wanted to get on to the pictures of kittens and facile gun control arguments.  So I tried to "ease the burden" of my posting by throwing in lots of funny images and stuff I found elsenet that I liked.  Well, the end result of that was friends asking me to ease off the throttle a little.

Some friends want me to post less blog.  Some friends want me to post as much as I want because it's what I'm up to and they're interested in what I'm up to.

Some friends complain if there are too many memes and not enough what's really going on in your life.  Some complain if there are too many high text updates that they don't want to read.

Some friends complain if they don't hear from you.  Some complain if they hear from you too often.

It's like your friends want only to see exactly as much of you as they want and the aspects of you that they want and will insist that it is your problem to adjust to them if you color outside their lines.

They won't be.
And it's not really helpful to get crotchety and
 remind them how their fucking scroll wheel works.
I had a name for those kinds of friends growing up.  I called them....

You know what, I might be a little cranky about this.  Maybe I need a nap and my ba-ba.

In the end, rather than tell everyone to fuck off and die if they didn't like what I posted, I figured I could take my enthusiasm for writing (you know....since that's such a small part of who I am as a person) over to a little corner of Facebook where those who were interested could check it out if they wanted to, and those who weren't interested could still pretend they care about what's going on in my life enjoy the parts of me they find a little more engaging.  Each morning upon waking up, I make a butthurt vs. willpower check to see if I'm going to call my page's fans my "real friends" for the duration of the day.

I fail that check.  I fail it a lot.

The problem isn't "can/could I make this work if I put enough effort into it."  The answer to that seems to be a tentative yes.  If I want to go all Batman vs. The Joker on it. When I take the time to scour the net for quality stuff, and post about every hour, my analytics improve  I'm slowly gaining new page likes that aren't folks who are already my friends. The problem is I don't want to spend my days promoting myself on social media--I want to write.  And every moment I spend doing the former represents a theft of time and energy from the latter.  That shit is time intensive and it gives me this feeling that I've been on the computer all day, even when I haven't.   Posting memes and staring at analytics isn't writing, and given how integral the internet is to my particular approach, that brand of "not writing" is a slippery slope I have to pay especially close attention to.

Right now, the results of my Facebook page are discouraging, but like so much of Facebook, just un-shitty enough to keep trying.  Yes, of course I want to be like George Takei and get 50,000 likes when we post the color of my sputum after a sneeze, and make about $10,000 every time I mention that "Oh by the way, I wrote this book."  Reality though it's more like "Oh look, I got a new fan this week. I shall give myself a gold star!"

Ultimately, it's a bit like writing itself.  If you like it and enjoy it, you probably will find it to be work but rewarding and enjoyable work.  If you don't like it, you will find it tedious and unrewarding.


A asks:

Will you put your Facebook photos into photo albums?  Like a Star Wars album and a Reading album and a Motivation album.  That'd be great!

My reply:

You know I can't read that particular turn of phrase without thinking of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space with a cup of coffee in his hand, looking in on a cubicle.  "Yeeeah hi.  Hey, Chris.....what's happening?  Hmmmmmm....listen, if you could just go ahead and put those photos into albums, that'd be great.  Oh.   (~pause ~)  And if you could go ahead and make Puns album and a Star Wars puns album, that'd be terrific.   Thanks a bunch, Chris."



Sorting 500 pictures into albums sounds like something that would be very time intensive, and very boring.  I will do that if Facebook ever becomes a real boon to me.  Right now I have 87 fans--74 of whom are friends of mine (and of THOSE about 20 of whom liked the page because I asked them to and who don't really use FB). If/when I ever get a larger audience over there, one that pulls people here who wouldn't otherwise have come, then I will respond with a sort of equivalent effort on that page.  Right now though, that might just might push me over the edge, and I will snap and post nothing but interracial lesbian threesome porn until I get banned for life.

Which might be kind of fun, but it probably wouldn't bring my blog more pageviews.


Dave says:

This page* is hilarious.  You should put all of these into a series of Potpourri posts.  I bet they would get lots of traffic!

*Facebook Page


My reply:

I'm sorry, Dave.  I'm afraid I can't do that.  I'm afraid that is something I cannot allow to happen.  Along with opening the pod bay doors.

Well, except for THIS Star Wars pun.
Wait for it.....
I'm not a copyright lawyer, but I know posting a lot of that stuff on a blog where I'm hosting ads and making money is just asking to get pwned by man eating lawyers.  I've heard one of them even jumped out of a pool and grabbed Samuel Jackson in the middle of a speech and dragged him off to where other lawyers tore him apart.

Sharing a meme on a social media site where I also happen to do some self promotion is....well it's not completely kosher but it seems to be pretty common.  If they're going to scourge Facebook of all unlicenced images, a little page like mine will probably have enough warning to protect myself.  Lots of pages/groups do it, and some like George Takei have created a bit of a phenomenon doing so.  I know many of these pages would start getting "Cease and Desist" notices if they got too big.  (Some companies like their proprietary property becoming viral and essentially getting free advertising  and some don't.)  I know if anyone claimed an image or asked me to take it down, I would in a heartbeat with profuse apologies.  But I do also know I'm already on thin ice.

Now, if I am making money off of any of these images, that is completely inappropriate--even if it weren't technically against copyright law--and even if it's just a fraction of a cent.  So putting them on the blog is both legally and morally shady--far more so than just sharing them on a social media that is rife with that shit.  I mean...if 20th Century Fox (or I guess Disney these days) wanted to crack down on Star Wars memes, that would be their right, and I'd gladly pull them all, but man what royal fuckwads they'd look like.  However, it's a lot more reasonable for them to have a problem if someone's making money off of those memes.

As it is, there are still Potpourris (and entries) that are back from before I was really getting more than double digit traffic and before I had ads with images that I need to remove.  That's why I've been consolidating some of the older Potpourris into newer, bigger ones and getting rid of the old ones.  I'm slowly attributing or removing copyrighted images from the early days.  I just wasn't as careful back then, and it's a big deal.  I'll put a meme in my blog if it's not obviously a screenshot from a movie or TV show and if I can't find any copyright information on it, but anything that is obviously proprietary, I steer clear of.  Certain incredibly ubiquitous memes (like the Dos Equis guy or Willy Wonka) I may still use, but I consider that towing the line pretty close as it is.

I also DO post an occasional copyrighted image with attribution because hypocrisy and rationalization are part of the human condition and I am nothing if not spectacularly human.  But they would have every right to demand I remove them too.  (And to sue me if they thought I were making a lot of money off of their creative effort.)  So I may split the hair mighty fine, but I do try to avoid gleefully leaping off the cliff with a cry of "Fuck you.  I'm a dragon!"

Posting tons of such images is just inviting trouble.  And not like "Hey trouble, we're all going out later, do you want to come?"  I mean like handing trouble an invitation with frilly edges and embossed lettering and everything.

And as someone trying to break into a career in which I will almost certainly lose a non-trivial amount of money to piracy, not being careful about this seems extra douchy.

So all those Star Wars pun memes and Dr. Who memes and stuff, you'll have to go to my Facebook page to enjoy.


Amanda asks:  

I've noticed most days you do your regular post and an old post.  Why do you do the old posts?  We've read them all.

My reply:

Well, maybe YOU'VE read them all (and just the idea of that makes me swoon with appreciation), but not everyone who is here has been around or paying close attention since last February.  I pick up about one follower a week on either G+ or Facebook, and that means one person who hasn't seen ANY of my old articles.  Most people who start to follow my blog probably aren't gong to go back to read through the 464 previous articles.  But one at a time is a little more feasible.

So to generate some interest in older articles, I put one up each day along with the new article.  New articles usually get about 100 pageviews in the first 24 hours and then settle down to a trickle or a dribble depending on how popular they are.  The "rerun" posts usually get about 30 pageviews before they settle.  I stick with what you might call the "best of..." when it comes to reruns.

Think of it like introducing a new friend who really likes Serenity to Angel and Buffy or one who loves Tennant as Dr. Who to the old Tom Baker episodes.

Anonymous asks: 

What's the deal with all the puns?  They aren't exactly about writing.

My reply: 

Words, my friend.  Words.  The writer's bricks and mortar.  When you build all day with them, you start to see them in a different way.
If they don't hurt a little, you're not doing them right.

It's hard to find a word nerd who doesn't love to hate (or hate to love) groaning from bittersweet punishment of a good paranomasia.  Sure some want to expunge them and find their scent the worst kind of pungent odor, but a lot of their compunctions come from the fact that they are just no damned pun.  The more someone reads and writes, the more likely they are to appreciate a punny meme, punctuate their lives with such humor, and find a good play on words or punctuation shift to be the punniest kind of humor around.  It's not that the punsters pundits are punks.  They're just punitive.  Punchy pungineers puncture our brains with delightful impunity.

And if you don't know how to love them, then get thee to a punnery.

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