Getting By With A Little Help From Strangers

A few years ago, I tried an experiment. I had written a blog to record my travels in Europe. At the time, I didn't intend to take it any further than that. I just figured it was an easy way to share my pictures and experiences with family and friends because I didn't have a Facebook or Myspace or whatever people were doing back then. But the funny thing was, no one actually ever read it. At least, no one who I had intended to share with bothered to look at it, or if they did, they never told me.
When I finished recounting our trip, I started posting pictures of our pets. After that I wrote whatever came to mind, which admittedly, wasn't very interesting. But then one day someone posted a comment AND began following my blog. I wasn't sure what made this one person think I was interesting, but it was enough to make me hatch a plan.
I started a second blog. This one was called, Your Blog Is Awesome, and the intention was to find other folks who had interesting things to say, but lacked a large audience to say them to, and feature them for others to find. I started out using the "Next Blog" button that used to appear at the top of the screen and then came up with an even better plan. I went to popular blogs (I can't remember all of them but I think Cake Wrecks was a top player in this scheme) and clicked the links on commenters that I thought had good things to say. If they had a blog, I asked if I could feature them. From there they suggested other blogs, and my pay-it-forward train got running. 
For a while, I noticed that my featured bloggers started following each other, which was great, but we weren't making the impact that I had wanted. Mainly, because I suck at promoting, managing, and scheming. So I abandoned ship, grateful at least that I had found a few good blogs to follow. Of course, then I fell off the internet for a year while I tried to become a writer. Some of the blogs I followed also slipped into obscurity, though others remained. 
I've only been able to reconnect with oneDiary of Mindless Minion Number 2,703, so in the spirit of this post , and because it is still a really good blog, I am sharing it with you. 
Now, fast forward to the present day, where I am trying to generate buzz about my own books, I still suck at marketing, and I still have a need to push the little guy into the spotlight because it seems no one else is. As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I now have a Facebook, along with eighty gajillion other forms of social media that I am supposed to be using to promote myself. 

This is the part of the post where I rant...

Do you know what I see on Facebook every single day? Shameless 'like' farming, that's what. Click like if you think this soldier deserves our respect, click like if you think cancer sucks, click like to give a hug to this puppy, and the oh so subtle: click like for no reason at all. People click 'like' because no one wants to be that jerk who says, "You know what, that kid deserved cancer!" 
You know what? Those likes don't matter. That soldier has no idea his picture is being tossed around the internet. Those gruesome pictures of people with cancer or other illnesses and injuries are exploitative and several of the people in them have spoken out against the use of them to no avail. Do you know what is happening? Your likes are being farmed. The owner of that page is then selling the page to other people who then advertise to you. 

This is the part where I sound like Ira Glass during an NPR pledge drive...

Most of you will ignore this.
(I learned that line from Facebook!)
There are people on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other social media who do need your likes. Local businesses, artists, writers, musicians, anyone who has a genuine product to sell or a statement to make, those people need your likes. But I know what you're thinking! It's easy to 'like' a picture of a kitten. It requires no investment beyond hitting a button. A local business or artist is going to want me to buy something! 
In a perfect world, yes. But that isn't how viral marketing works. For example, I 'like' a local cupcake business. Yes, I've bought their cupcakes, but as a diabetic, I don't buy them often. But I do click 'like' on their posts because then my friends will see it, and they might not have known that we have an independently owned cupcake business, and then they might buy a cupcake, or click 'like' so that their friends see it and so on. 

I still want to make an impact for others just as much as myself, so below is a little homework assignment. You can choose one, or do them all:

Subscribe to a blog that doesn't have many followers. Read it, enjoy it, tell others about it, and contribute a comment, even if its just, "hey this is neat!"

Like an independent a local business, preferably one with a low number of likes. Tell others about it. For extra credit, buy something they are offering, write a review if you have the option.

Like an independent artist who has something to give the world but no means to show the world. Now in this category, I know a little more about how to help an author, but there should be something similar for musicians and artists. At least once a month, I give away one of my books for free. Tons of independent authors do this because the idea is to get a product into the hands of people who are kind enough to review. Find one that looks interesting, but has no reviews. Read it, then review it. Artists probably don't have items to give away, but they do have Etsy pages and you can like those as well. Musicians have services where you can listen to their music and leave a review. Do this. 

I already know this post comes off as harsh, and I don't want the takeaway to be that I'm an elitist jerkface who wants to watch the corporate world burn. If that were the case I would be pretty hypocritical seeing as I'm posting on a site that is being hosted for free by Google. Just understand that the little guy is the little guy because he doesn't have the time or money to invest in a full blown marketing campaign. Sometimes a social media account that gets updated once a week is all we have time for. 
Since inevitably, there are only so many things I can say about robots, and I'll be busy writing my own book, I plan on using this space to do exactly what I suggested above. Obviously, since I read more than anything, I'll feature books that I fell in love with, but I'd like diversity, so if you know an artist who you think could benefit from the press, please feel free to put them in touch with me. Even if no one reads this, they would at least be exposed to one more person: me.  

Comments

  1. Well, thank you very much for the plug! I guess I followed your suggestion already. I reviewed your book. I have reviewed other artists on etsy. I agree totally. This whole liking thing, though, I don't know. I still don't quite get it. Where does all of this money come from? Where does it go? Who cares if I like kittens? That's what I don't understand.

    The one that gets me recently, "If you really are my friend, you'll like and share this. Write one word about how we met... Blah blah blah" What is up with that?

    I actually started one once, a few years ago, where you answer twenty questions about yourself. I thought I was sharing, but I changed all of the questions, and it was something entirely new. Everyone shared and answered the questions exactly as they were, and I realized that I was the only one who ever rewrote those sharing things to mean something different. My meme or whatever it was went all over the place. It was interesting to watch it spread. I saw no value in it beyond fun, though. Nobody paid me!

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