SOCIAL MEDIA OVERLOAD: Or Why I Spend All My Time On Twitter

A few weeks ago I discovered Klout, the social media influence measurement service. Upon seeing my score was below everyone I knew (and most bacteria), I proceeded on a quest to increase my social media capital. After all, though I love blogging, a big part of why I pursue both The Diversionist and The Signal is to build some kind of reputation for quality content with you, the folks on the Internet. Isn’t that journey for nothing if I have no influence?

Well, in the past month, my Klout score has risen from 25 to 40. I’ve gone from 21 followers on Twitter to, at last count, 63. I’ve joined Google+, re-joined LastFM, and started posting updates to LinkedIn. I’ve even, in a step I refused to take in the past 5 years, begun fusing my MZP-tv persona with my real life one. Not all of these things are related to my social media hunger, but none are completely unrelated, either.

I don’t know how I feel about my social media addiction.

On one hand, it’s helped somewhat with what, at times, feels like total isolation. I’m spending the whole summer away from the city, the first time since I moved there in 2008. The first summer after I moved away from home, I spent the entire summer bouncing between them, but a 4/3 split every week is very different from going cold turkey altogether for three months. I miss the city, the thrum of people I don’t or barely know; I interact with the same 5-10 people every day here, and the Internet is my only connection to the wider world.

And it feels like progress. I want to build a name for myself, and in some ways, I feel like I am. The Signal is growing, for example, and I am being followed by plenty of Twitter folks, mostly fellow writers. By most measurable social media metrics, my score’s rising.

Except for, I think, the ones that really matter. For example, the hits for The Diversionist. They’re still in the basement. And unlike Twitter, which is essentially screaming into the void, these writings mean something to me. They contain my voice, my opinions, my experience. Whatever I have to offer, it’s more likely going to show up here, not in my Twitter feed.

My Twitter feed is also a point of consideration in my appraisal of my Social Media Overload. The fact is, though I’ve earned more followers than ever, I don’t think it’s increased my influence or my standing that much. More people see what I tweet, and I tweet more, but none of it is really building anything. It’s largely brief updates for projects they know nothing about and links to interesting articles that I’m too lazy to spend time posting to the blog. I don’t offer anything of real substance there, and if I ever did, it would only be seen by the 2-5 followers online and reading their feed at the time.

So, I’ve built up social influence by offering the world nothing of real value, while the works I spend time on don’t really garner that much in the way of notice. This seems like my priorities are skewed. I’m using Twitter more, but not in a way that benefits my followers or myself, and I’m forgetting to promote the writings that actually do influence others’ view of my and my writing.

One of my favourite parts of social media is the ability to start discussion from far away, between people who have never interacted. And though my slight increase in Facebook activity has led to some conversation, my avid tweeting and blogging have been less successful in starting a conversation. The Diversionist rarely gets comments, and The Signal (while recently featuring a comment purportedly from Switched at Birth showrunner Lizzy Weiss!) isn’t that much better. This is a reflection of the above issues: there’s no content to talk about in my tweets, and I haven’t led folks to properly check out and engage with this blog.

The best blogs are both a source of education/authority/entertainment, and have a lively community of commenters who follow the blog and engage with the work – and with one another. Alan Sepinwall is brilliant because of his incisive TV commentary, but his comment sections are legendary because of the consistency of their breadth, and their consistency. His Twitter account engages not just in one-moment tweets, but in conversation with people. While Klout is interesting, THAT is the type of engagement, of social capital, that I believe matters. Do I regret digging into social media like I have recently? No, not at all. But I’m discovering that numbers aren’t everything, and that there’s more to this social media game than blindly chasing the numbers.

What do you think?

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