Gathering ‘like’s

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Difficulties, Marketing & Promotion, Writing
Tags: , , ,

facebook likeA year or two ago I signed up to one of those author hub sites with various tools, resources and networking thingamajigs. One of the things they promoted was, Hey guys, let’s ‘like’ each other! Not actually like, of course. Just facebook ‘like’.

What the hell, I thought. I was building up my facebook page. It can’t hurt to garner a few more contacts. So I left the details of my facebook page, and went through the list, selectively liking some of the previous entries. Before long I began to receive a few likes back. The way this happens is that someone finds my details on the list, comes and ‘likes’ my page, then leaves a message saying, ‘Hey, I just liked your page! How about you like mine back?’

I know this is the deal I signed up for, but it makes me very uncomfortable. It’s so blatantly un-genuine: I have no interest in what you do or say, I am simply making a transaction.

Every few weeks I will duly look through my messages and visit the pages of the people who have liked me. The trouble is, sometimes I don’t like their pages. Sometimes I really dislike their pages.

Because I know it’s a networking thing, and because I know it’s an exchange thing, I let my usual standards slip a little in terms of what I will like.

It’s all about romance novels?? Aw! But wait, lets look at a few posts… Okay, she posts links to some interesting and useful articles. Okay, she gets a like.

It’s all about romance novels, and her posts are those ones with pictures of angels and kittens, and messages about believing in some higher power, and finding the strength within yourself to blah de blah de blah? No. I’m sorry. There is nothing on that page I have the slightest interest in. Not only can I not in good conscience like it, I don’t want to see it in my news feeds because it will make me cross and irritated.

I try to reciprocate most of the likes. But I don’t know how to handle the ones I don’t like. Up to now I have simply been ignoring them. I recognise that is not a good solution, I just don’t know what else to do.

The problem is intensified when someone sends another message a few weeks later firmly reminding me that I have not liked their page, and please do so now. If anything was likely to deepen my dislike for them, this is it.

What do I do now? Continue to ignore them? Shut up and click the damn button? Explain to them precisely why I don’t like their page and can’t be seen to publicly do so?* Extricate myself from the networky ‘like’ exchange program?

I’ve been back to visit the site in question for the first time in over a year. As far as I can see there is no unsubscribe from this system. It does state on the page that anyone who does not continue ‘liking’ will be removed from the list, but that seems like the only way to get off it. Maybe I could write and request removal?

The thing is, I do like to network with people; I do like to meet new people and see what they’re up to (when I’ve got time, which I haven’t much lately). But I’m coming to dread each new ‘you’ve been liked’ message that pops up on my page.

I will also occasionally get messages from authors advising me that I have only liked their page from my author account, not my personal account – and those likes don’t count towards the total of likes! If anything proved the futility of this like system it is this complaint.

I liked your page from my author account, so that when I’m in author mode I can go to that home page and see posts from authors I am interested in – YOU, in fact. But you are unhappy with that because you didn’t get to see your number go up? For realz??

Through the process of articulating all these thoughts, I am seeing several obvious answers: a) man up; b) you made a deal, keep your end of it; c) why the hell did you ever sign up to such a spammy nonsensical thing in the first place?

I no longer know what the point of the exercise is. So my facebook likes have gone up to 270? Big whoop. How many of those people who technically liked my page (and it is fair to assume, also liked the pages of dozens, if not hundreds of other people off that list) ever see a post I write or interact with it in any way?

I can’t answer the first part of the question, but I can answer the second. Very few. There are a bare handful of other authors I interact with on facebook with even the slightest regularity. Five at most.

So I wonder, what am I gathering ‘likes’ for? And what are they, these likers, gathering likes for? Just to see that number go up? What is the point?

I don’t care about the number of my likes. I care about interacting with people, making connections, having conversations, sharing information. Why does that seem like a problem?

Something needs to change in the way I handle my facebook account, but I’m undecided which way to go with it. Request removal from the whole thing, or just start managing it better – putting a bit more time into it, maybe creating a list of those pages I actually do genuinely like, and accessing them that way?

So, anyone else have experience with this? Am I over-thinking it? How do you handle it? Are you honest with people about why you can’t like their page? Or do you just like it, and then remove it from your feeds? That seems both pointless and dishonest. But I’m coming to the conclusion that it also seems easier than mithering on about it like I am!

* Though tempting, this seems an unwise move. Even apart from my own pathological fear of confrontation, everyone knows that hell hath no fury like a writer scorned. I have no interest in getting involved in a word feud (unless its that game I play on my iphone that’s a bit like scrabble, but just different enough to avoid legal action…)

Comments
  1. MishaBurnett says:

    I’d suggest writing to the site administrator and asking to be removed from the list. There are a lot of people who seem to think that collecting large numbers of followers on social media sites is some kind of magical formula for success, and I suspect that’s what is going on with the people who are complaining that you haven’t “liked” them.

    I follow users on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress based on my interest in the content that they post. I don’t expect people to follow me just because I follow them, and I don’t automatically follow people because they follow me. The probably means that I won’t ever get 100,000 likes or whatever magic number is supposed to make an agent take me on as a client, but I’ll just have to live with that.

  2. That’s messed up. That’s the social world, I suppose. I was in a similar boat when I started my facebook. Now I have a heap of people there I’m sure have never read any of my work. I look at pages and see stuff that makes me sick. I write black-comedy twisted stuff, not romance, and they have some weird stuff on their pages, such as the things you’ve mentioned. I did post on my wall, at one point, if you haven’t read my work please cut yourselves. Not too many replied. I didn’t join a grouped arrangement for likes. There just seems to be one or two people, who then all teamed up, then liked me. I like a few back then noticed they were all mutual friends. They then came in like a pack of romance writing bees to a black comedy writing flower. I’ll cut a heap of them soon – once I identify who isn’t really into my stuff.

  3. Devorah says:

    I’ve participated in a list such as you described. I discovered some writers I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. (It could be how I discovered you.) I also learned quite a bit from seeing how other people put their Page together. I’ve removed one or two from my feeds after a few days but not that many. Nearly everyone has something interesting going on.

    • elwoodcock says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Devorah. That’s why I’m kind of reluctant to leave the list, because it does help me to meet some interesting people; I just want the freedom to be selective and exercise quality control – but that doesn’t seem to be part of the deal :-/

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