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« Our Dear Little Shamrocks | Main | Making Good Use of Pinterest »

Top Ten Observations About Social Media

Warning: Today's post might be a bit controversial. I'm just writing what is on my heart and what has been swirling in my head for a few months.

After yesterday's post about Making Good Use of Pinterest, one of the comments got me to thinking.... about self promotion and social media.

It's something that has been on my mind for quite some time. There are some things I just need to put out there and see if others in the blogosphere feel the same way!

I've also been wanting to join Top Ten Tuesday at its new home, Many Little Blessings.
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

When I put a little blurb out on Facebook about my writing this post, I received just the comment I was looking for. It was exactly why I wanted to write this post:

It seems like the only way to build a blog or website is to be immersed in social media. Then I have to stop and ask myself if building those things is really my first priority.

I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE A SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT. I am still learning - learning how to effectively use social media and how to not spend a lot of time doing so.

I AM ALSO FAR FROM PERFECT. I've noticed some things, however, about social media personalities on Twitter and Pinterest that disturb me. These things have almost made me want to throw in the towel on several occasions and give up on social media altogether.

What I've come to realize after three short years of blogging is that all of these tools are put out there for our use, and like anything else they can be used well or they can be ABUSED.

In this post, when I talk about "social media", I'm just referring to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Top Ten Observations About Social Media {for the Homeschool Mom, specifically}:

1. Decide if you want to even be involved with social media in the first place. Will it meet a specific need for your blog? For me, it is a good way to build community and grow readership for my blog. Some participating is necessary for reviews I write.

My blog is a tool for homeschooling my children. It brings me free products, valuable friendships with great ideas, and numerous other opportunities. I know several great bloggers who do not participate in social media and I respect their decision to do so. Everyone is different.

In fact, most of the wonderful bloggers who share their best ideas with me (usually via Collage Friday) DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN SOCIAL MEDIA! I think that's interesting.

2. Social media can be automatic - by that I mean you don't have to do a lot of extra work to participate. When I publish a blog post it immediately gets shared on Google+. From there I share it on Facebook - which automatically links to my Twitter profile. When I share a photo on Instagram, I can automatically have that photo tweeted at the same time. Same goes for Pinterest - if I love a pin, I'll have it tweeted. I RARELY ACTUALLY LOG INTO TWITTER AND POST TWEETS. If I read a post I love I will tweet it using Buffer (I LOVE BUFFER!).

3. If you don't monitor your time, social media will SUCK YOU INTO A VORTEX OF WASTED TIME! Enough said... you are smart and can manage your time well.

4. If you are using social media to ONLY PROMOTE YOURSELF people WILL NOTICE. I consistently see those who only tweet about their own posts or the various events of their day. Occasionally this is acceptable, but I liken it to the person who, in a social setting, monopolizes the conversation and then no one wants to be around them! I think I used to be like this to a certain degree. Now, I try very hard to lift others up and in doing so, we ALL WIN. Other faithful bloggers in your community will lift you up on occasion - it's just a nice way to behave. DON'T TALK ABOUT YOURSELF ALL THE TIME!

5. Quality, not Quantity! A little bit of GOOD information goes a long way. I do not barrage my Facebook page with links all day long. I try to upload a few Instagram photos each day. The same applies with Pinterest and I've already talked about Twitter.

Also, don't collect friends, followers, or whatever people call them, just to have them. AND.... please don't SUCK UP to people via social media. That's just not pretty. Do you have a genuine interest in those you follow, and is it worth your time to be following those people or are they just NOISE?

6. You are not nearly as important as you think you are. Think about all the images and articles and blog posts that bombard you when you get online. Don't think that everyone out there in cyberspace is waiting for your latest tweet or Pin - they're not. Don't waste a better portion of your life trying to please your "audience".

7. Never put social media ahead of your most important daily job: training your children. If you wake up first thing each morning and should be reading your Bible, or folding laundry, or whatever is needed to prepare your home for the day - and are instead tweeting with your online friends, something is wrong. I know, because I used to do this. Some people are very disciplined and can schedule this time into their day and then put it out of their mind when the allotted time is over. My personality doesn't work that way! I do not go to the computer unless I am ready to start our day and have extra time (which isn't very often!).

8. A word about Pinterest: Please don't just repin what others are pinning. Pin what is relevant to you and pin from the original source. Sometimes when I scroll through my Pinterest stream I see multiple pins that are all the same! This shows me people are just repinning like crazy.

Also... (and I've never actually read this anywhere, so I could be wrong) I think it's poor etiquette to Pin a lot of your own posts. If you have a great post, chances are someone else will pin it. It all goes back to not being nearly as important as you think you are.

9. Be careful with what you say. Being snarky or sarcastic on Twitter (or any other social media site for that matter) isn't nice. Here again I'm going to emphasize that I am not perfect, but IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON'T SAY IT AT ALL.

10. BE YOURSELF! Don't try to imitate the style of another blogger just to gain friends... write and share about what you know and what is on your heart. Since the start of 2012 I have been doing this... just blogging about HOMESCHOOL methods and ideas, and guess what? I have been blessed beyond measure with friendships, ideas, and new readers.

What are your thoughts about social media? Do you use it? Why, or why not?


Reader Comments (22)

Ahhh! Social Media. I am not a big fan of it. I use it, but not much. In fact, I have quit pinning on Pinterest. I don't search the web, so I rarely find things I think are awesome, but when I do, I usually go to the source and pin from there. Facebook, I usually post one to two comments a day about what I am up to. But then again, Facebook is only used to keep up with my family. I don't use it for anything other than that. I might post some really good news stories, inspiring things, or links to something else, but rarely.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel E.

I rarely use social media. I have a Pinterest site but I use it only for things i want to "bookmark" and come back to later. Next coop session I am hopefully teaching a class on art journaling, so I am working now to gather ideas through my art journaling page. I don't think of others when I use Pinterest.

I use Instagram but I have the share option off. I only share with two of my closest friends.

I have debated closing Twitter but I would have to relink my Disqus site and other things that I have linked to it and right now I just don't have the time to do that.

Social media is definitely a part of today's culture but I think the key is making it work for you, rather than the other way around. From Pinterest, to Instagram, to Twitter and my blog, I do all these things for me. For me, that makes all the difference.

Great Post!

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

This is really timely for me. I recently started a blog and from all I read, social media is essential for getting people to even see it. I wake up an hour early each morning to zip through Twitter, G+, Pinterest & Facebook then to browse through favorite blogs. I repeat the process after lunch then again at night. That's at least three hours of my day, spent on social media and networking, not to mention the time writing posts!

I find I get a lot of inspiration for our homeschool and hobby farm from seeing what other people are doing and pinning, but sometimes it's almost overwhelming & contradictory to what I'm trying to achieve for my family: simplicity and a more back-to-the-basics approach to life.

I will be reflecting on these thoughts today and ways that I can perhaps change things before time spent on the computer gets out of hand.

Great post! I feel like it was written directly to me this morning. :)

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJan

There are three things I do online - check a farm forum, email, and write/read blogs. I got out of social media because of many reasons (most of them being that I was appalled at how people were behaving through it). I used to have a Facebook account connected to my homeschooling blog, but it just turned out to be a place where people would fight about a link I had posted or make obnoxious comments about what I had written on my blog post. So many people who were on my Facebook page would never show any commenting activity on my actual blog, and would take all the conversations over to the Facebook page. After a couple months it seemed like I was spending more time on the facebook page for my blog than the actual blog myself. The facebook page wasn't serving its purpose for me and so I don't do it anymore. I'm not sure about Pinterest or any of the other things...never used them. Now that we have the farm and my online time is less, I have to be very careful about how I'm using that time, so for me, there isn't room for the facebook/twitter/pinterest/social media aspect. For me, I guess blogging IS my social media! :)But I do think your post today is relevant and people should definitely take a look at how they are using social media and what their intentions are and see if it really works for them! :)

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMamaTea

Well said! I know I have cut back on my computer time as well. I use Facebook more than anything. If I see a post I like (like yours), I share it with others. Social media is very addicting and we do need to be careful to not get sucked into it! Thanks for sharing!

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Great observations Mary! Like all things - in moderation. Social media can definitely take over and rule your life if you let it. Good tips here!

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHodgepodgemom

I don't do anything much to promote my blog or even participate in social media personally. I think I'm totally out of the loop on how to even go about doing most of it, and I don't want to learn. I enjoy the slow (er), thoughtful process of blogging much more, and I value the friendships I've made through my blog (like yours!). I find I'm distracted from my real life enough just through my blog! ;-) oh, and I don't even use a reader (or whatever those things are)--I just go to my favorite blogs old-school style, by inputting the URLs or bookmarking them on my computer. :-)

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy @ Hope Is the Word

I'm still choosing abstinence when it comes to social media! I've never participated and I'm more and more grateful as the list of social media sites grows. Did you realize just how many places you listed that you participate in? Even if you spend just a few minutes using some of them each day you're adding a lot of sitting in front of a screen time to your day.

As for increasing readership - I don't blog so others will see my ideas. I would blog the same if I had only family reading my blog as I do now. Readers have found me, true. I'm over 750 followers and have never needed social media so they could find me. But really, numbers don't mean anything.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTristan

I love your comment, Tristan --- and you were one of the people I was talking about when I spoke of those who don't participate in social media at all!!

The increasing readership is interesting - I like to broaden my audience so that (selfishly) I can learn more from readers! I get so many great ideas from bloggers like yourself.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHomegrown Learners

This is such a great post and as I thought would happen, I agree with so much of what you've said. You've offered great tips and advice for using social media without having it control your life. And it can control your life if you let it. I am so tired of seeing social media get misused. The purpose of it is to be "social" - to interact with others. It is not to promote yourself or your ideas so that you can get bigger and bigger...for what??? I'm quite honestly not sure. It all seems so meaningless at times. I am learning to write for myself and for my family, to share what is important for me, and to stop focusing on numbers of readers and/or followers. I trust that those that want to or even need to read what I have written will. God has used the words I write in some lives, and I am so thankful for that...but if it were just one, then I have been faithful to what I felt I have been called to do.

My family is my priority first and foremost. Period. I thought of this last night as I got into bed after working on Project Life. It's a post that I do for me, but I feel like I have a "deadline" to get it done and that stresses me out. Then I thought...this is not a job, I don't want it to be a job. This is fun and when it stops being so, or it starts overtaking my life, then it needs to stop.

I so wish we could sit down over a cup of coffee and truly chat. I relate to you and your heart so much!! Thanks for being a kindred spirit in this online world.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

You know, since I let CowsDontMoo go I've started a new blog, I kept my Twitter account and just changed the name so I still have many followers, I started a new FB, I have 13 likes.

You know, I keep in contact with a few of readers, through email or texts or FB. But for the most part...I've just let go.

Now, I blog 1-3 times a week, I haven't tweeted in 3 days, I have less than 20 post on my FB page.

And you know what...I don't care. It's okay! I'm enjoying my time with my kids and my husband and my friends and family, I'm enjoying not feeling chained to the computer, I enjoy not having to check the computer as soon as I wake up...I'm enjoying not trying to hard!

Great post Mary!

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonita

Mary, great post! I need to evaluate all forms of social media. I also need to figure out how to get those automatic postings going. :)


March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmi

Very informative! I do have a twitter account and facebook account (4 likes!-lol) and do use instagram and Pinterest sparingly. I do not plan on making a google+ account just because I have no idea what it is, lol. Social media's what you make it and I always try to remember that Jesus sees everything :)!

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

I guess it depends on your purpose of your blog. For me, I write my blog for me. A journal of sorts. It's a great way to document what we've done, what we're learning and give me a visual and remind me of where God has called me. So, to me, garnering followers and spending all day on Facebook to 'drum up business' isn't my cup of tea. I don't have a page on FB for my blog but I will post my link for the week to share with family and friends. I am questioning more and more the value of Facebook, actually, so perhaps my opinion is already skewed but I think FB has gotten out of control and I can't stand being on there anymore. I am thoughtfully going through and deleting whom I follow and whom I am friends with (just because we met each other once a long time ago doesn't mean they gain access to my private life, etc.). I just don't like how FB changes people - competitive, attention-seeking, snooty and superior attitudes, some, downright rude in expressing their thoughts and opinions.. all the characteristics God asks us to leave behind. So, for me, it all goes back to seeking in your heart the motive and purpose of using it. To promote yourself? To gain in popularity and 'followers'? I'm not sure these venues are leading us down a Godly path... :/

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSheri

I like your comment, Tristan. I'm headed toward abstinence with social media too. I would have done away with it two months ago but, sadly, that is my only form of communication with a sibling. :( So, I'm trying to find a way to 'reclaim' my time because, Mary, you're so right.. Facebook ALONE is a HUGE time sucking drain! And, I used to be addicted to it. ONce I realized that and realized that I didn't like 1) who I was when I was on there (stirred up lots of unhealthy emotions); 2) the fact that I was spending my time tethered to the computer more and more; and 3) that I was voyeuristically watching others live their life while mine drifted on by.. made me turn away from it. I now get on Facebook once a week, usually, to post my blog post for family and friends, then I shut it down. I've deleted the apps from my phone and bookmark toolbar and I'm just about ready to walk away.. just got to get this one sibling (whom I haven't physically spoken with in 11 years but he will via Facebook...ugh) to communicate with me via my email address, I'm thinking I'll delete my account.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSheri

I love your comments #4, #5, and #7 are my favorites. Great list!

It's easy to get sucked in to all things social media, and not hear your children's quiet (or not so quiet) requests for your attention. Great reminder!

What a great post! I stepped away from a lot of social media, as I did find it time sucking. The only one I really use now is FB, and much of that is due to close friends. I admit social media can bring people to your blog and is useful but I had to weigh my time over having followers. I completely agree if you are going to use social media it is just as important who you connect with, as it is what you share with them.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

Social media can be dangerous. I find it so easy to get sucked in. (Or using it as a way to put off things I don't want to do.) I actually have a blocker (called LeechBlock) on my Mozilla browser that cuts me off of social media sites (the ones that I told it) after 45 minutes in a 24 hour period.

I haven't joined Google Plus yet. I figure I'm going to have to sometime, but I just don't want another account to check. ;)

I totally agree about bombarding people with messages. I read somewhere once that it's better not to post to your blog's Facebook wall more often than once an hour. I use that as a generally guideline. (Even if I haven't posted all day to it, if I write something, I wait at least another hour.)

Come on now, where's the cute little button for me to pin this? :)

But on a serious note, I think it is something that all of us need to evaluate from time to time. Where are our thoughts and time going into, and is it the priority God wants us to have?

March 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTicia

Good comments. (I'd love to know how you get your blog to publish automatically to Google+; I have mine do that to Facebook through Networked Blogs, but I haven't found anything like that on Google+.) I agree that self-promotion gets old; one writer friend of mine pushes her novel EVERY DAY on Twitter. Same novel. I've heard about it before. And yes, I'm starting to notice that I can waste a lot of time here on social media. (So I'm getting off now...)

March 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKoala Bear Writer

I agree with so much that you have to say here. I blog about our life, but my life is not blogging!! I too like to encourage and "promote" (for lack of a better word) others too. Working on the group project I did with some other bloggers for Advent was one of the most satisfying projects I have done. I wish I could have more opportunities like that. Also, I have been wanting to do a Top 10 post and I think you just inspired me to finally do it!! Thanks Mary.

Great post I have not joined in the rush for twitter, or facebook. I blog for my self and my family if other read it great if not I am okay. The only thing I do is link up to various blog hops, maybe I should look into why I even do that.:)

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Adventurer

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