Is social media worth it? I tackle what it means to me and what it can do for you.
Sorry for the long post, but there’s some background that I had to work into it.
Although I haven’t posted any new content while I finish illustrating a children’s book I’m working on, (in case you hadn’t heard) I’ve moved all of my comics to Google Plus.
At this point, I’m really excited to post new comics, but I’ve prioritized the children’s book and the holidays with my family – so my G+ experiment will have to wait a little bit.
Recently, fellow comicker Dave Barrack asked me what the big deal with G+ was anyway. He wasn’t buying. Dave admitted he was a “social site curmudgeon” and uses them solely for promoting his comic.*
I can see where Dave is coming from. If you’re developing a comic, have a full-time job and/or other responsibilities, sitting down and making social media a part of your life is not easy. I’m in that boat with Facebook and Twitter. They are perfectly good social platforms and I understand why people use them, but to me they are “work”**.
Overall which platform you use depends on what you’re using social media for and what you want out of it. If you just want to promote your comic and don’t intend to add much more, then it doesn’t matter which platform you use because to your audience you’re not adding value – you’re just link spamming and people will act accordingly – they’ll ignore you.
My goal with G+ is to interact, share and get feedback. The latter is like emotional crack to me – I’m needy, what can I say.
Therefore, I try my best to get into G+ and add value so when people see me post something, they might be more inclined to slow down while they’re skimming their stream. I’ve circled tons of people I don’t know with the hopes of interacting with people outside the comics crowd which I haven’t been able to do with either facebook or twitter. No offense to the comics community, but I don’t think you’re my audience – at least you haven’t been for the most part.
What happened for me was that I realized that it’s a LOT of work to develop my own site AND maintain the site, keep up with updates AND try and attract people to my site (which I’ll have to do again and again every day with the hopes of making it a part of their daily routine) AND go back and comment on comments to show my appreciation AND PUSH to social media AND provide valuable content outside of just my comic. That’s a lot of work based on something I’m not getting paid to do. That’s a lot of work outside of the thing I love to do – my comic. That’s a lot of work outside of my day job and outside of my family time and outside of other obligations (hopefully it’s obvious that I haven’t listed those in order of importance).
I had to stop the madness. I had to stop getting so crazy about it.
It dawned on me that I had the solution right in front of my eyes. I was making new friends and discovering incredible art through the more visually appealing benefits of G+, sharing and posting my own content meanwhile building my personal brand as an artist and marketing expert – during the whole process I was getting feedback. Immediate feedback. And I liked it – a lot. It fed my eagerness to share, discover and become part of the culture – something that facebook and twitter didn’t do – and that’s EXACTLY what I wanted from social media. Immediate and visual interaction without the extra work. At its best it’s an intuitive and seamless exploration of the Internet. At its worst it’s animated gifs and people sharing the same links over and over (but that’s not exclusive to G+)
I like the ability to view artwork in the G+ format rather than going to a new page like on my site. I like that it’s easier to share, comment and just give a nod of appreciation. It’s not perfect and I’m sure when Google adds functionality of their other applications it will only get better. It’s taken Google a few tries, but I think they finally got it right.
For the time being, I’m trading ad revenue and selling my wares for image hosting and site management.
Which brings up an interesting dilemma – specifically monetizing my comic through ad revenue or book sales. While I have ideas, I’ll be honest – I haven’t exactly figured it out yet. What I have figured out is that I’m relieved that I can work on monetizing my comic instead of a dozen other things that take me away from what’s currently important.
*If you’re über curious, you can see my original conversation with Dave Barrack here (it’s on a post about me having an allergic reaction – to detergent, not social media).
** A quick explanation on why I consider Facebook and Twitter “work”. Facebook is littered with information and a poor user interface in my opinion (and some others and others and others). It’s information overload and I prefer to use it for family and friends – so I have a limited audience there (most likely people that are not interested in my or many other comics). My problem with twitter is different. It’s a text based interface that reminds me of looking at HTML. There’s a reason I like WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors like Dreamweaver over straight coding. What I mean is that if you post a link, someone has to GO see what it’s about – and I may not be interested at all. Another step in the process. There are apps and plugins that will allow you to preview a link and other add-ons for twitter, but it takes away from the simplicity I’m looking for.
Now it’s your turn! What do you say? Is this just lazy? Is it a short term gain sacrificing long term benefits? Is the sky blue?
Ken Drab (me) of RicktheStick.com has a small brain but a savant-like interest in branding, marketing and design. He better, that’s what he gets paid to do in real life. In make believe – he’s a self-proclaimed comic artist.