In which I, firstly, have a plan, and, secondly, lack a plan

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I had a plan for this week’s blogging. It was twofold. Firstly the blogging was definitely going to happen yesterday and secondly it was going to be about how David Cameron announcing that he doesn’t want a third term as prime minister isn’t news, and doesn’t demonstrate in any way that he’s a stand up guy who’s not motivated by ‘glory, ego or wealth’.

I would have been a good blog post; basically it would have pointed out that by ruling out a third term Cameron has created a whole chunk of news coverage based on the unspoken assumption that he’s going to win a second term, and secondly I’d have argued that Cameron is vulnerable to a leadership challenge straight after the election if he fails to win an outright majority for the Tories. At the moment an outright majority for any party looks like being a tall order, and so Cameron is shoring up his own position by discouraging potential rivals from challenging the incumbent leader too soon. Why would they risk it, if he’s going to stand down in a few years anyway?

But, having failed at the first part of my plan, a whole 24 more hours has now elapsed, so the tiny political hoo-ha feels even less like news, and I have become distracted by other things – primarily by how I think I might be doing social media wrong. I’ve suspected this for a while. Every time I find myself gathered with writing chums, either at conferences (occasional), places with cake (frequent) or, indeed, online (bascially all the time), the conversation invariably turns, at some point, to social media and How To Do It. And every time, I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I do not have a strategy. I basically live on facebook and twitter, and I do post links to blog posts and new book releases and I RT book related stuff that looks interesting, but mainly I just tell the world about my lunch or the shiny thing I’ve just seen and then sort of chat to people. I don’t have a system for checking who’s followed me or unfollowed me or isn’t following me back. I don’t really schedule tweets or statuses, although I use TweetDeck so I totally could, but it would involve deciding what I wanted to tweet more than 4 seconds before I tweeted it, and I don’t know what shiny thing I’m going to be looking at in the future, do I?

Somehow I seem to have found myself embracing social media in a weirdly luddite sort of a way. I like just chatting. I like seeing pictures of the weird stain that random people on the other side of the country have found on their carpet, and musing about what it might be and how to get it out. I like feeling that if I RT or share someone’s post it’s because I think it’s interesting and not because I’m trying to get a certain number of reciprocal retweets every day. I like having a place (albeit a virtual place) where people who spend a lot of their time sitting on their own in their pyjamas can feel like they’re slightly connected to the world. I even quite like getting outraged en masse about some minor thing that does not matter at all, and then sort of sheepishly sidling away when we all calm down. Basically I like being social and chatting to people; I don’t really like to have a strategy for how I’m going to chat to get the most benefit out of it. Chatting to people is the benefit.

And here endeth today’s lesson. I had a blogging plan and I failed. I have no social media plan at all, and therefore can’t even say if I’m failing or not, which is nice I guess. How about you (especially you writer types)? Do you have a system for social media-ing and how does it work?

If you enjoyed these random musings and would like to read more by me, I also write actual novels and novella. Details here.

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5 thoughts on “In which I, firstly, have a plan, and, secondly, lack a plan

    John Jackson said:
    March 25, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I’m in the same boat. I Tweet and FB post mercilessly. I tend to be more discrete about re-tweets and re-posts though, possibly because my friends fall into at least two distinct camps.
    I find myself getting a LOT of Twitter follows and FB friend requests and I am tougher on those. If we have the same interests or some friends in common, well come on it. If you are in the UK I may even follow back. If you are trying to sell me something then I’ll cheerfully consign you to the seventh level of social media Hell!
    Have a nice day, now!

    Liked by 1 person

      Alison May responded:
      March 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

      I’m quite circumspect about accepting FB friend requests. I’ve got a huge list of requests I haven’t responded to because rejecting them feels mean, but I don’t want hoards of ‘friends’ trying to sell me their books incessantly…

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    MarinaSofia said:
    March 25, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Phew, relieved to hear that I’m not the only one without a plan for world domination. I was asked recently about whether I blog daily for a purpose and I said that I don’t blog daily, just when I feel like it. Sometimes it’s daily, and sometimes there’s nothing there for a week or more. I know, I know, that consistency is supposed to be the key, but for me Twitter and blogging (I don’t use FB except to connect with long-lost friends now living abroad) are, as you say, opportunities to chat about topics that interest me with like-minded people in the comfort of my pyjamas and home.

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    Helen said:
    March 25, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    The whole point of social media is being social, so I think when people draw up a plan (as I’m supposed to be doing for work at the moment) it can seem very calculating and therefore *not* very social. I think some people (I daren’t say most) can tell when the “voice” they’re hearing on social media isn’t very natural.

    You expect that when an organisation like a university or Virgin Trains is tweeting, but when it’s an author, you want social media to give you the impression that you’re hearing the real person. So your approach is probably quite ok! I don’t know how people cope who want to be very private, and yet are told by their publisher that they must do social media or they’ll fail to sell any books.

    Then again, I quite like it when organisations break frame a bit and sound more human, like the hilarious tweet that Bute Library at Cardiff Uni did last week just before the eclipse: IF YOU DON’T PAY YOUR FINE IN THE NEXT 45 MINUTES WE WILL BLOCK OUT THE SUN. Brilliant! It’s very funny, very topical, and it rightly got lots of likes and retweets, presumably from many people who don’t even know what Bute Library is, let alone have ever stepped through its doors to borrow a book.

    I find the idea of blogging every day or what-have-you a bit tiring, to be honest, and quite frankly, I don’t expect people to have amazing ideas for brilliant blogs on that sort of regular basis. You have to be a very good blogger indeed to manage that, and if you’re writing other stuff – y’know, like novels – you don’t want to get caught up in Bloglandia. I find that if I’ve got an idea for a blog, I might go “live” with it then and there, or if I’ve just blogged the day before, I’ll schedule it to go out a few days later. If the idea seems like it might tie-in with something that’s happening on a specific date, then I’ll schedule it for then. But that’s as calculating as my blogging gets!

    I’m more careful with Twitter, but as Jon Ronson’s latest book points out, you have to be. I tried to set it up to be professional, but quite quickly, I found myself talking about the fact that I was out on the tiles in Liverpool with my friend… I think it’s just inevitable with social media. We humans are social beings after all, so there’s nothing wrong with being human on Twitter.

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    […] posted a couple of months back about how I don’t really have a strategy for social media and how, apparently I’m very much supposed to have one. Well since then, nothing has really […]

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