I am a late adopter. There. I admitted it, as embarrassing as that is sometimes. For example, I only bought a smartphone because Verizon no longer sold phones without data plans. Otherwise, I just might still be using a QWERTY keyboard. Or worse yet, one of those keyboards where you have to hit the numbers keys one, two, or three times for each letter. And even now, I am carrying around an iPhone 4. I am shopping for a 6 right now though, only because I really need a better camera on my phone.
So it’s not surprising that I never had a MySpace account, but I am proud to say that I have been on Facebook for years, starting back when it was still a cool place to be for teenagers. Not surprisingly, that’s about as far as I have gotten with social media though. I have run a couple of blogs over the years, but I have not managed to master the art of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever other platforms have popped up.
Part of working on this screenplay has meant that I have been undergoing an education in the film industry. And that education has included meeting as many people as I can and attending as many workshops and seminars as I can fit into my schedule. And one topic that is repeatedly covered is the need to create a brand.
I actually knew this from the couple of years I spent writing a book. That was during a weird no-man’s-land time period when self-publishing was still greatly stigmitized but social media was in full force.
I made the circuit trying to find an agent or a publisher for my book. But the problem was that I was not a “brand.” I needed to show publishers that I already had a huge following, a guaranteed readership. I had to prove this through email lists, followers, and likes. That sounded exhausting. I wanted to write, not create a brand!
But here I am again. I love blogging – I’ve done it before. And I love taking you on this journey with me. But I also know that I need to embrace the rest of my online presence.
So my first foray into the world of social media with this project has been Twitter. My daughter has had an account for quite a while. And I am happy to say that I have provided her with plenty of material to keep her followers laughing. All at my expense, of course. But I also have to admit that I love her Twitter persona, and let’s face it, these online presences are personas. She is so funny and witty. I don’t know how she does it. But I laugh out loud more often than I would like to admit, unfortunately, since it just encourages her!
So I set up a Twitter account, with little help form either of my kids. I just got a lot of eye-rolling. I decided to set it up in the name of my dog, Captain, who, by the way, is my inspiration for my screenplay. He is a crazy terrier mix who has brought nothing but chaos to our lives. I figured maybe he could be the persona behind the Tweets! Check him out: @captainontrack
I found a cute photo of Captain, and then stared at it while I tried to figure out a witty caption using 140 characters or less. It took me two days. And I still did not come up with anything remotely memorable. But at some point, you just have to pull the trigger.
With Emily at my side, I held my finger above the Tweet icon.
“I’m so nervous!”
Then James came in from the other room. “What are you so nervous about??”
“I am sending this out to the world. I just want to make sure it is perfect before anyone sees it.”
“Mom,” James patiently reminded me, “Emily is your only follower. She is the only one who is going to see it.”
Oh my god. What the heck is wrong with me? I literally started sweating thinking about sending it! I have no idea what I thought would happen, but I have that same hesitation each time I go to send a Tweet. In fact, what I do is send my daughter a text letting her know that I will soon be sending a tweet. The I send the tweet. She courteously likes it and occasionally retweets one.
I have not bothered yet to follow anyone, and I keep forgetting to add hashtags, but I have sent out a few Tweets. Only a few though. Part of what is so embarrassing now is that each time I send a Tweet, I know my daughter is the only one who will see it. I feel so foolish because half of the Tweets are funny pictures of Captain that she takes and sends to me. And then I Tweet them. So I sometimes send her a text letting her know that I am about to send a Tweet.
Ok. Now I am embarrassed that I am writing all of this. It is so clearly ridiculous. But maybe seeing how ridiculous I am being will help me embrace Twitter. I need to let go of my perfectionism and just send things out, daily at a minimum.
The funny thing is that I actually do understand how all of this works because I enjoy following people who post on Facebook, for example, consistently. I love some people’s ability to just throw whatever they are thinking or doing into the newsfeed. And even though I understand that people pick and choose what they want the rest of us to see, I am surprised as to how easily I can buy into those worlds.
There are people on Facebook who I barely know or whom I once knew back in high school, yet after friending them, I “feel” like I know them. And as I scroll through the never-ending news feed, when I see their names, I slow down to check out what they have to say. I know what to expect, whether that expectation is political links, info on a film production, adventures in self-publishing, or relationship updates, they stand out and make me stop and look.
That was an important revelation. How many Facebook friends do I have who periodically post random, seemingly unimportant information? Yet I come to know what to expect from them. But it happens one post by one post over a period of time. It happens by not censoring themselves but putting themselves out there into the virtual world. It happens by posting so often that one single post means very little. It is the total work that counts.
Of course, being a lifetime introvert does not help either! I have spent most of my life hiding in the shadows and serving everyone else. One of the reasons I love Starbucks is that I can be somewhat invisible yet be in the middle of of crowds of people. So to be alone in my home office and expecting to speak to the world requires tremendous forethought and multiple rewrites. Clearly this is not the formula for success online.
I now declare that I am committed to letting go. I am committed to putting myself out there so that people have a chance to get to know me!
Any other introverts struggle with getting started on a social media campaign? Any tips on how to get started? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!