Just like a sheep, a human being is a herd animal. In my opinion, that’s not such a bad thing.
‘LOOK OUT!’ I could yell in a crowded place, pointing to my right. Without thinking, the heads of everyone would snap to look in the direction I’m pointing. As a species, we are hardwired to react to each other. It’s easy to understand. If I had seen a swarm of bears (yes bears, no typo) flying towards us, it would be of use for the rest of the herd to share in this information.
With this in mind, I want to expand on my last post about adding value, this time when it comes to interaction with others.
You got yourself a writing project. So you join Twitter, make a website, and broadcast about your creation to the world. You want to build your fans, so you go about following anyone and everyone on social media, in the hope that they’ll follow you back. The problem with this is, you’re only thinking about one thing; £££/$$$/€€€/INSERTCURRENCYHERE. Ironically, it’s probably also one of the worst ways to get what you’re after.
There are two reasons to engage with someone on social media. You believe that they can benefit you, or that you can benefit them. The best time to interact is when both these boxes can be ticked.
Let’s go back to the herd idea. Pretend you’re off out in the wild in ye olden times xtreme. You’re pretty good at making food traps, but you’re appalling at fending off flying swarms of bears (continuity of insane idea). Then you meet Bill, scourge of bear hives for miles around. Only, flying bears aren’t that edible, and he’s getting pretty hungry. You both have a skill that compliments the other person’s ability. You also know a few other hunters, and he’s got friends in the dragon avoiding society. Plus, he doesn’t only talk about bear swarms all the time. You’ve met a load of people that only do cave drawings of their one skill, but Bill draws all sorts of things about his life, and makes humorous observations about the wild boar his father once dated by accident.
Fast forward to the present day, and not much has changed when it comes to social media. If you just follow anyone on twitter, it’s likely that you’ll get pretty tired of using it. Following 3,000 people just to get them to follow you back does not make a strong herd. But if you’re following artists, writers, editors, musicians, and bearswarm scourges who you genuinely find interesting, that’s gonna give you a better group to interact with.
And when it does come to sending your tweets out to your followers yourself, think about that value thing again. You got a book or whatever else, and you’re dang proud of that fact. Excellent, draw attention to it. Once in a while. But not all the time. You think of something random and hilarious? Shove it into 140 characters and put it out there. Show that you’re interesting and exciting to engage with. Plus, look for the value in others.
About 7.6 billion tweets go out every millisecond about how good writers are prolific readers. This is one of those things that happens to be true, even if it is pretty overstated. I love the idea that someone will want to read my work in the future, but I’ve found some pretty exciting stuff to put my mad fanboy hat on about too.
I discovered an author called Dan Malakin, who has an excellent collection of short stories called ‘Smiling exercises and other stories.’ I thoroughly enjoyed a short story by a writer called Sian (twitter name @Sianushka), and her other work is now on my ever growing ‘to read,’ list. I found both art and amazing writing by Ursula Vernon. I’m currently enjoying a new book called ‘Paternus,’ by author Dyrk Ashton. If I’d filled my twitter feed with thousands of random people just for the sake of it, I never would have had the pleasure of discovering any of that talent.
This is the part where I steal the line about how I have a dream. I’d love to be part of a society where I create things for other people to enjoy, but where I get to enjoy just as much and more from other creators. And I think it’s only possible to get that by genuinely engaging with people. And that’s more than a simple ‘K thanks 4 follow, we never spk again now,’ message. Give and receive, folks. That’s what I’m trying to say here.