A Fresh Start

Photography AdS

Making a fresh start is not easy. What will it look like? What will I leave behind? Is it not worth fixing? How much time and energy are involved in fixing it and isn’t it easier to start fresh? That was me considering my social media accounts.

During the (ongoing) pandemic, a lot changed. Understandably, people were scared and were looking for the patient’s perspective. If I get ill, what to expect and what does it feel like? How long did it last, etc. id you get vaccinated? Did you experience side-effects? But at the same time, the haters and trolls came out in real force.

And now this happened.

Since the last Supreme Court decisions, many changes have become fundamental. Accounts that used to be fun to follow became dark. Dark in tone, dark in passive-aggressive reactions, dark in the subject matters. What was once conversational and explorative (think brainstorming) has become confrontational and exclusive. Say one word against a person or an issue and you get muted or blocked.

If the discussion could not be had in tweets on your main feed, than the DM (direct messages) and subtweets flooded your timeline with other people pouncing. Engaging and interacting on Twitter had become a chore. You needed to find those who would not explode if you gave your honest opinion.

All this, combined with those who are only on social media to collect followers, likes, or (video or newsletter) subscribers, made me consider to just close down and start from scratch. I briefly thought about losing over 20’000 Twitter followers but then I got clarity.

Perspective

My website’s traffic (not this blog) is fueled by keyword searches, not by social media. And, I never checked the main feed on Twitter. I had split up accounts in lists. I made those lists a long time ago to make it easier to follow people’s conversations. I had one for local accounts, one for law, one for forensics, of course, one for stationery, etc. I made them private too. So, why not start fresh?

Size really doesn’t matter

I now have a new, small Twitter account but with lively discussions. After I follow someone, they immediately get added to one of my new, private lists. I have less visibility but there is a lot less drama. And that is fine with me!

How much social media do you need?

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I could not list all the social media (SM) platforms there are today if my life depended on it but I can answer this question: how much social media do I need. Answer: one to interact (Twitter) and one to post images, which I do on Pintrest.

Now you may wonder how I got to that answer. It was trial and error.

When I started my website in 2009, I jumped on all the then available SM platforms after finishing my post. I would share on my feed, in groups, and for a while even participated in ‘comment-for-comment’ groups just to get the cases in more newsfeeds. It was exhausting. I had private and professional accounts, had to keep track of what to post where, remember several sets of passwords, and had to continuously come up with new ways to present these cases.

I wish I had known then what I found out later because not only do these three points below make sense, they produce great results.

Three things to consider

1: How much time do I really have to dedicate to SM?

2: What is the quality of my followers’ list?

3: Where is my site’s audience?

Time to spend on social media

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I will be the first to admit that my scrolling time increased during the pandemic so maybe that isn’t a good measure. But, pre-pandemic I really watched how much time things took and, at what times I didn’t mind spending that time.

It is easy to say that your screen time should be limited however, that might not enable you to reach your goals. The better way to keep screen time in check would be to decide on a goal when you log in.

Uploading a new case or a post does not take much time. WordPress can do this for you if you use Publicize and grant WP access to your social media accounts. You can tailor the headline, add a brief description, and schedule the time and date. Once you set up Publicize posting is easy. What you now need is to get people to read and share your work.

Getting your readership engaged to the point where they actually share your work, is time-consuming. You cannot expect others to read and share your work if you never return those favours. What so I do?

On Mondays, I follow #MondayBlogs on Twitter and that streamlines a lot. I usually try to read four to eight posts and then share those on my feed. I do that in the morning and the afternoon. To make sure I get a good selection of blog posts I search for the hashtag MondayBlogs and select not just the top tweets but also the latest on Twitter. I have also made private lists that do not get shared. This way, reading up on your posts is easier as you are all on one Twitter feed. For the rest of the week, I use the WordPress Reader. I try to read up daily in between writing breaks.

Now, to answer the question how much time this all takes, it really depends on your work output and of course, what is going on in my life. I really cannot guess how much time. But you see, that doesn’t matter as it fulfills my goals: reading and sharing. And I learn a thing or two from all of you. What comes next is more important.

The quality of your followers

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Whichever SM platform you use, unless you have a private account, you will gain followers and not even notice it. I’d like to encourage you to check from time to time who is following you though.

You see, one of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that a big Twitter following amplifies their ability to get shares, likes, or retweets. It doesn’t. Retweets do not come automatically once a follower scans over your post. That retweet can only come from the follower themselves. That’s why the quality of your followers matters so much.

You will find that followers can trickle in one by one or they come in bursts. Some have a big following and some don’t. Which kind of follower is better?

The people who consistently show up in your mentions are the ones to place on a private list. Those are the people reading and sharing your work and you should return the favour with theirs. Now I can hear you wonder ‘what if only two or three people are in my mentions?’

No problem. These two or three people share your work with their followers setting the amplification in motion which gradually expands your reach, getting your work into new people’s feeds and new networks. Two people consistently sharing your work are better than hundreds of followers who never engage.

Your audience

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After you have been online for a while, check where your readers are. You can use WordPress, Google Analytics, StatCounter, etc. Do most of your posts get seen by people through SM? Email subscribers? Which other sites refer to yours?

Most of my website readers come from keyword searches, google snippets, Wikipedia, or other crime website references. Most of my blog readers come from the WordPress reader and #Bloganuary.

Having this information for my website made it easier for me to decide which SM platforms to keep so I can use my screen time to achieve my goals. I deleted all other accounts. It didn’t hurt my readership or SEO ranking. Pintrest is fabulous for sharing images. I just upload and done. I do not engage much there. Twitter is best for starting interactions, conversations, and collaborations.

Knowing that most of my website readers came from keyword searches, I pay close attention to SEO, tags, and the accuracy of my website’s databases. I link back to other people’s work, to newspapers, and magazines. For my personal blog, I follow back other bloggers, try to comment, and read posts of those who comment on mine.

Is this a perfect system? Probably not. There’s always room for improvement but for now, it works.