From time to time, other writers decide to follow me on Twitter. Some of them are self-pubbed, some traditional. I read their profiles and decide whether I want to follow them back – if they’re funny or interesting or wise, or they write in my genre, or we have something else in common that makes me think they’re going to enrich my Twitterverse.
Sometimes, when I do follow back, they promptly DM me with links to buy their book(s). No “Thanks for the follow”, no “Hi, nice to make your acquaintance”, just jump straight to the sales pitch. Which says to me that they weren’t really interested in me as a fellow writer or someone who could enrich their Twitterverse, just as another target.
I think that’s rude. If you’re hoping to get me to part with my money on the basis of zero acquaintance, zero interaction between us, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Like any customer, I need to be wooed a little. Why should I buy your book? What makes you think I would enjoy it, or would want to read it? You don’t know – you can’t know, because you’ve made no effort to engage with me, which means you are attempting scattergun marketing in the hope that if you throw enough links out there, someone will click on one.
Newsflash: that doesn’t work any more than spam in my inbox encourages me to buy fake Rolexes or help Nigerian bankers get millions out of the country.
What works on social media is networking. Joining the conversation. Engaging with other individuals and showing yourself to be an interesting person who has something to contribute to the online experience beyond shouting BUY MY BOOK every hour. Cos, y’know, that looks kinda desperate. And more than a bit unimaginative. And after a while it gets boring, and people tune you out, or unfollow. Congratulations, your marketing strategy is alienating people.
The latest writer to do this to me, I replied: “Um, don’t you think it’s a bit rude to hit me with a link to your book without so much as a thanks for the follow? Social Media 101: network, don’t sell.”
His reply was that he didn’t think much of rules, and that people who tried to impose them were a bit ridiculous (nice subtle implication there, eh?) but that he hoped I had a lovely week anyway. Mighty big of him.
I said: “There’s rules, and there’s simple politeness” and promptly unfollowed.
He wasn’t the first this week, either. The other one didn’t even follow me, just @messaged me straight out with his sales pitch for his child-abuse survivor memoir. Several dozen other people in my Twitter circle got the same message. When I said I thought he was doing the equivalent of buttonholing strangers on the High Street he claimed that I was being rude to him by reacting that way to an innocent “Friday Reads”, which might have been more convincing if it had been
a) hashtagged as #fridayreads
b) somebody else’s book, and
c) not an @message, including praise from one of his reviews, sent individually to 20 or 30 people.
World, is it just me? Am I the only one who gets utterly pissed off with this behaviour?
I know, it’s my own fault for responding and I should just Delete and Move On. Few people are capable of grace when told they’re being a bit of an arse, and trying to cram a lesson in Social Media Etiquette into 140 characters often results in one sounding a tad snippy.
Eee, I remember when all this was trees . . .
Images from freedigitalphotos.net