When I got serious about publishing my novels, the research began about what it will take to stand out to lit agents and publishers. What surprised me the most was all the information about how one’s social media platform is taken into consideration at times for publishing these days since it guarantees readership.
My first thought: I’m screwed. My social media platforms are close to nil. I am an introvert (INFJ) and have a limited bank of energy to extend out into the vast universe each day. With my family, close friends, cooking, writing, reading and trying to squeeze in a little self-care, that energy bank is usually zeroed out by each night. Social media? I tend to steer clear since it’s typically more draining than fulfilling, quicksand when you’re trying to accomplish big goals.
So, I did what any writer desperate to be published did: tried to turn a weakness into a strength by building my social media platform. Let’s be honest; it felt awkward. I was forcing myself to post because I was supposed to, not because I wanted to.
Instagram was, in theory, the easiest platform to build since people can double their follower numbers overnight with all these great Follow Me loops. Within a few weeks of this initiative, I did three different follow me loops: two for writing and one for bookworm cohorts.
I went from zero to sixty with an outburst of social media activity. I was drained from the overwhelming number of notifications. All the people I purposely followed before the loops were buried in swarms of posts from random people I had no connection with. Instagram was the one social media platform I would check the most. But after the loops, I lost the desire for it since everything of personal meaning had drowned in the sea of new followers.
Sure, some of it was great because my feed grew with inspiration from new people who see the world the way I do, share the same passions, and have similar goals. Those are the people I was excited to connect with. That made the loops worth it.
But then there were a lot of other people who were sharing things I just did not jive with. Since there wasn’t a personal connection between us, it didn’t make any sense to continue following them, especially when they only hid those that I truly cared to see. So I- *insert audible GASP here*- unfollowed them!
THEN came the FOLLOW ME LOOPERS, people crazy passionate about the concept of gaining as many followers as possible and hating on those who would follow just to unfollow or not follow at all. And I mean, HATING. Angry cursing and unnecessary names
I get it in some ways. I mean, if you’re going to do the loop, play fair, right? Do what’s expected from both sides. You want to grow your numbers; so does someone else. A symbiotic relationship through social media.
But this is what bothered me the most when it came to the end of each loop and the people irate about followers unfollowing them: Since when did social media become all about the numbers and no longer about deeply connecting with others?
If I followed this method of simply gaining as many followers as possible, I’d continue posting when I didn’t want to for engagement stats sake, join an insane number of loops, and lose Instagram as a means to truly stay connected with people I have relationships with. What that does is turn IG into a completely inauthentic tool. I don’t want people to follow me if they don’t care about what I post. It completely defeats the purpose. Likewise, I shouldn’t be obligated to follow them if I am not feeling in line with their posts or have any personal connections to them. I do not have the interest in or have the energy for anything that doesn’t bring any sort of meaning into my life.
From this experiment, I learned losing followers doesn’t bother me (especially if I don’t have a relationship with them).
And that’s when I realized that gaining followers probably shouldn’t be something I worry about either, regardless of the expectations set forth that my future publishing or readership successes might heavily depend on it. I’m going to have to trust that people will want to follow me because of what I write, which will then set the foundation for budding relationships moving forward.
Instagram Follow Me loops are not for me. They would be if there was an underlining notion that it’s okay to only follow those that you are truly excited to meet through the loop. But clearly, that’s not the case for the majority of them.
So, if there are any literary agents or publishing houses that appreciates your average awkward-with-social-media-introvert, I’m your gal.