Social Media's Raging Storm: Follower Gathering

Lately, I've been curious about the phenomenon of gathering followers on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I've noticed certain people - often times new writers with their first or second book out - gathering followers like fisherman catch tuna in a net; as if the numbers alone will insure greater book sales. 

Daisy Whitney, a marketing guru and dear writer-friend, wrote an interesting post about social media recently. She pointed out happiness comes from within, not without, and that giving yourself a break from social media's raging storm (my words, not hers) can be an extremely healthy undertaking. Her main point being, "Don't Stalk Yourself!"

Please understand, my background is in marketing. In my early days, I managed and promoted my rock band, and later I worked in marketing for several architectural and engineering firms. That said, I wonder if we've taken this "follower gathering" (FG) thing too far. 

On Twitter, I only follow someone back if I think their tweets are interesting, funny, inspiring, or all of the above. I do not simply follow back in hopes their followers will soon follow me. I mainly stick to people in the literary world, but also include some musical and political folks. On Facebook, I operate the same way. I only friend people who I know and/or interest me in some way. I imagine, once I have a book deal, I'll be encouraged to increase my FG, though it may seem a bit disingenuous; following people for the sole purpose of increasing book sales.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this - it's the foundation of marketing. The more people who know about your product, the more product you'll sell. That said, I'm not sure why it irks me when I see: So-and-So now has 30,000 new friends! (I'm from New York, therefore I exaggerate.) Of course, there's the natural twinge of jealousy:

Hey, wait, she's got more followers than I do! WAH, WAH, SHE'S MORE POPULAR THAN ME!!!

What am I not doing that he's doing? 

Should I change my profile pic? 

What does he know/have that I don't know/have? 

Why does she have to be prettier (more successful, more interesting, more  hooked up with the 'right' people, more famous, younger...) than me?


(We humans are a real treat, aren't we?)

But, more than that, it bothers me because I love the personal schmoozing factor of social media outlets. I hate to think that could be obliterated by the need to use these outlets strictly as marketing tools. Plenty of people advise writers to watch every word they say on social media outlets in order not to alienate possible readers. I say, "Bah, Humbug!" If some people don't like my political views or sense of humor, so be it. Delving into the thoughts and lives of the artists I love makes me love them more. The more open they are about who they are and what they believe in, the better.

I hope my attraction to social media as a means of getting to know interesting people, having people make me laugh, making people laugh, being inspired, inspiring others, and sharing music and political views, etc. doesn't fade as my number of followers grows. Why? Because I'm human and have an ego and love when my follower numbers rise. (There, I said it!)

Curious to hear your thoughts on this. 

Feel free to share this on Twitter, FB, your blog, YouTube, Linkedin, etc. (Bwahaha!!!)
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