Tag Archives: facebook

Because it’s real

Ripples in a pond

Take a stone, any stone you like, Feel the weight of it in your hand. Is the surface smooth? Rough? Is it heavy? If you’re not happy with it, pick up another one. Because it’s going to be you.

Happy with your stone? Now find a lake, or a puddle. Somewhere with still water, and throw your stone out there. Watch the ripples surge away from the rock that is you.

Those ripples are the people you know. The closest circle isn’t necessarily your family, although for most of us it probably is, while we’re young. It’s the people you’re closest to, your very best friends, your partner, maybe your kids. The next ripple is friends and people you don’t see so often, but you share time with. Beyond that the ring widens to include people like your doctor, or accountant, people you know from work. And so it goes. The further the ripple is from you, the looser the relationship.

That’s just as true in Facebook as it is in real life.

Make no mistake, Facebook IS a slice of real life and for many people, it is a large part of their social life. I have Facebook friends all over the world. Some I’ve met, many I haven’t, and never will. The interesting thing is that where I have met people in real life, it has been exceptionally easy. I already knew them, you see. From Facebook.

I’m writing this today because one of my Facebook friends lost her battle with cancer a few days ago. Jo was diagnosed early last year, and went through a harrowing round of chemotherapy and radio therapy before modern medicine could do no more. She died at home, surrounded by her close family. Jo had many more Facebook friends than me. She connected readily with people. And she shared her cancer experience via her blog. Her stoic courage shone through in her words, admitting to tears, but always being upbeat, always being sure she could win. In an incredibly brave move, she wrote her final post and told her husband to publish it after her death.

I first met Jo online when she lived in Victoria near Hanging Rock, not far from Greendale, where Pete and I had lived. We shared stories about gardening, and weather. Coincidentally, Jo had grown up in Queensland near where we live, then lived in Perth for many years. I had grown up in Perth and now lived in Queensland. When Jo announced she and Tim were leaving Victoria to move back to her roots in Queensland I knew we would finally meet. I visited Jo and Tim at their home in Maryborough before they’d had a chance to make the massive changes they had in mind. It’s a beautiful old Queenslander with its cool, elevated veranda, high ceilings, and horribly overgrown garden stuffed with palm trees and bromeliads. They set in to make changes, bulldozing a dilapidated shed, removing the palm trees and bromeliads, and getting rid of some of the trees. Now there was room for a lawn and a cottage garden – place for the daisies Jo loved. I recall Jo’s blogs about painting the new white picket fence – during which process she broke her wrist. Jo visited me at home while her little white terrier, Daisy, was having her coat groomed in Hervey Bay.

The next time I saw her was in a ward at Hervey Bay hospital, when she was finally on her way home to Maryborough after months of treatment in Brisbane. Sure, she’d lost her hair, she was thin and weak, but that spirit shone through. She hadn’t been in the hospital long, hadn’t had a chance to get to know the staff. Because she’d come from another hospital, staff had to take special care to prevent any bugs being transferred. I waited outside while two nurses carried out a procedure, and heard her talking to one of them, asking about him, where he lived, his job. The young man opened up, and Jo had made another friend.

To reach an understanding of this lady’s impact all it needed was a visit to her Facebook page. All through her ordeal people shared uplifting messages with her, pretty pictures, videos of cats and dogs, jokes. She loved jokes. I’m sure those messages helped to give strength. When she died, her page was flooded with messages of sorrow. For very many people, all around the world, that loss was real.

Say what you like about Facebook. Yes, some of it’s yucky. Some people are horrid. Some people believe things I cannot. Some of my friends are devout Christians. Some voted for Trump. Some loathe the man. But that’s life, a slice of real life with all its warts and troubles and people struggling with everything the world throws at them. For me, Facebook is a learning experience. Every day I read what people share about their lives. I know a lot more about autism because one woman has shared her journey. I feel for friends who lost their homes in floods, people struggling with mental health.

Much as I dislike some aspects of social media, I’ll stay with Facebook. Because it’s real.

 

4 points to consider before you join that Facebook group

GroupSince Facebook became a paying concern, author Facebook pages have become (in my opinion) pretty much a waste of time. Here’s my take on that issue. However, that doesn’t mean Facebook is a waste of time. Increasingly, as Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms weed out posts from our friends and replace them with sponsored ads, people are turning to Facebook groups. And they are a great idea, collections of people with some sort of common interest, such as a writer’s group based on genre, or a bunch of fellow indie authors, or cover designers, or people with a penchant for wildlife, or raunchy men. It takes all sorts.

Such groups can be a valuable source of new friends, colleagues, ideas, and opportunities. I belong to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade (SFRB), a bunch of people who write (wait for it) Science Fiction Romance. They’re a great group of women and men who realise that we’ll make much more of a splash together, than individually.

I’m sure there’s a group out there like that for all my author friends. Join up and feel the love. But bear these points in mind before you do.

Is this the right group for you?

Read the group description and look at the banner. There’s no point in joining every group around because you can. As an example, SFRB focusses on science fiction romance (SFR). That is, a story in a science fiction setting which has a strong romance arc.

  • If you write SF without any romance, this is not the group you’re looking for.
  • If you write paranormal romance, this is not the group you’re looking for.
  • If you write fantasy, with or without romance, this is not the group you’re looking for.
  • If you write historical romance (without a time lord, or something) this is… get the idea? SCIENCE + ROMANCE

This is not to say that everyone in the group writes only SFR – I’ve written paranormal romance and historical fiction. But even my two novellas (Supertech and Ink) which are spin-offs from my SFR Morgan’s Choice, are never mentioned in the group’s discussion, or on its website, because they are not romance.

Abide by the rules

If the rules – and/or the banner – say ‘no promo’ then please understand that means you. If you do go ahead and post your promotional material spruiking buy me, vote for me, pick me, read me… if you’re lucky the admins will delete your post and send you a polite message pointing out your violation of the rules. Increasingly, patience has worn thin and not only will your post be deleted, you’ll be kicked out of the group. Without notice.

That rule is there because most of us are sick of endless promotion. Besides, what’s the point of promoting to other writers? What you want is readers. There are a besquillion of FB groups which allow, indeed encourage, self-promotion. Here’s a few I belong to.

There are plenty of others.

It’s not about you

Okay, you fit the profile, you join the group. Treat it as you would going to a conference. Let’s say an agent is there, somebody you’ve never met but does have a stable of authors writing your genre. You charge up, pushing past everyone else, your MS thrust out like a sword, and insist she takes your wonderful book. Right now. You’ll wait while she reads it. (smile)

Do you think that’ll work? She’ll remember your name all right. She’ll probably delete anything you send her, ever again. That’s how it works in online groups, too. Abusing the admins isn’t a good idea – not if you want to stay. Take some time to learn the group dynamics, ask questions, introduce yourself. Get to know some of the other members, visit blogs, read the shared posts. If you become a part of the group, you’re sure to benefit.

Get involved

Groups work best where people are committed. The SFRB has a lot of great activity to support its members.

  • We have an annual mid-summer (northern) blog hop with great prizes.
  • We have our own fan page on Facebook, where authors advertise their free offerings, new releases and the like.
  • We have blogging opportunities on our website.
  • Apart from that it’s a great place for ideas, asking for beta readers or critique partners, or hosts for blog hops.

But it all depends on members taking part.

Remember the old saying, ‘together we stand, divided we fall’. If you’re a participating member of a good group, you have a much better chance of getting ahead. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into, and become a part of the team.

 

I just un-liked your author page on Facebook

smiley_thumbs_downThis morning I logged onto a group I belong to on Facebook and read a post from an author bemoaning the fact that a friend had stopped ‘liking’ their author page. It’s not something Facebook notifies a page owner. This person simply noticed the number of people liking the page had gone down. In fact, it happened twice. Yep, hand up. One of those was me. And I’m going to be doing a bit more of that in the future.

It’s not meant to be hurtful or spiteful. It’s simply a reaction to Facebook’s new, bigger and better, privatised structure. I don’t have an author page anymore. Pages only work if you can get a LOT of fans – by that I mean in the thousands, not the several hundred I managed to muster, and that was in the days when FB shared everything to everybody. Now, a handful of people see what a page posts – unless you pay for the privilege. Boost your post. Buy advertising. Get more likes for just a small outlay. Want to know what buying FB likes really gets you? Check out this video. And the advertising? You can find lots of positive spin in a Google search. But maybe read this one, too. Mind you, a simple google search will bring up pages of tips and tricks for attracting ‘real’ page likes and real interaction. I’ll admit I didn’t try terribly hard to get followers. Even before the Big Buyout I had to wonder how much fresh, new stuff you can post about your author persona. And herein lies the reason for my defection from a friend’s page. This person pretty much duplicated the posts on the author page to their profile page, which means I got most of it twice. These days it’s hard enough to keep up with what really matters to me on FB, as opposed to what FB thinks I ought to see.

Why do I stay on Facebook? Because I interact with friends there, mainly in focussed groups. And the emphasis is very definitely on FRIENDS, not potential customers. Anyone who likes what I write is welcome to follow my FB account, or ‘friend’ me. Here I am. https://www.facebook.com/Greta.J.vanderrol Most of my posts are public. I share my photos and discuss my writing with like-minded individuals. Sometimes I’ll post about my books, do a bit of promo. Hey, it’s what I do, it’s a part of who I am. But I’m not very sociable, even on-line. There’s only so much time I’ll spend on ‘marketing’. I’ve found it works much better if I just go write the next book.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

This morning Australia caught up with the rest of the world and acquired the ‘new’ Facebook interface amid the usual howls of protest. Oh, yes, I know that for many people, the howls will subside to mutterings and soon they’ll have forgotten there was ever another way. But for me anyway, this latest effort might well be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. It’s taken a while, as the Facebook team has nibbled at my nerves and tested my mettle. Here’s a few I particularly remember.

1. Newsfeed defaults to your usual crowd

The first change that I found disturbing was when they changed the newsfeed so that it only showed the people with whom you often interact. It sounds good upfront, just talk to your usual crowd and the setting could be changed at the flick of a switch. But the alteration was hidden in the small print and needed for a few people to tell everyone else how to make the change back to seeing all news feed. It’s also self-perpetuating; if you don’t see what others are doing, how can you interact with them?

2. Press <enter> and you post

Sure, it saves a key stroke – provided you don’t want to paragraph your post. (In that case, you’d had to use shift/enter twice to add a blank line.) But we were all used to pressing <post>. Was this to emulate Twitter? Or so we could edit a comment (if we were quick)? It’s another thing one becomes accustomed to – but they were inconsistent. It doesn’t work like that on ‘fan’ pages.

3. Messages and chat were intermixed

All of a sudden all those little bits of inconsequential back and forth between me and some other person were mixed in with messages we’d exchanged. I was more than a little bit bemused to discover that all those bits of chat were still there, saved in some filing system in the sky. Silly of me, really, what goes on the net stays on the net. Nobody asked me if I wanted to see chats from 3 years ago. There it was. I sent messages to people when I wanted to keep the info (or not, as the case may be). Once again, what I wanted was pre-empted.

4. I could be added to groups without my permission

Back in the day, you invited people to groups. Then, if they wanted to join, the choice was theirs. Now, people can add me to groups without asking me. If I want out, I have to elect to do so. Then, if I change my mind, I have to ask to join and the request has to be approved. What is this? A pre-approved application for something I didn’t ask for? Do me a favour.

5. And now there’s f@#$ing tickertape

Fortunately, FB saw some sense and removed the hated chat interface they introduced down the right hand side of the page. But now they’ve brought in tickertape. I don’t know about you, but I HATE that little line of moving type down the bottom of the TV screen when news broadcasts or the morning show are on. Why? Because it distracts me and I read the damn thing instead of watching the show. A few posts ago I listed the five things I hate about websites. One I didn’t post (but plenty of other people did) was moving widget thingumebobs, which is what this tickertape thing is.

And all this without saying much about FB’s attempt to emulate Google +’s circles. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing – it preserves privacy. The difficulty is that on FB it has to be retro-fitted which is always a problem. Good luck to them, I guess.

One thing very noticeable around FB this morning was a plethora of signs saying things like ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. I know there won’t be a general stampede for the exit – many of us have too much invested in Face Book. But I’ve been sidling towards the way out for a time, now. I might keep a presence there but if I find a better way of doing my network social interaction, I will.