Updated: Oct 21, 2018
This past month has been a wild one. After delving back into writing (blogging and working on my next book) my promotion of The Little Red Boat has regained its rightful place on the front burner. Time to re-engage with the good old social media.
I was introduced to the world of Instagram. Everyone who is anyone says you gotta be on Instagram. There was no need to start a new account, I apparently already had one. I just changed my monicker to something more fitting, and off I went.
My wife helped me along, explaining to me how it all works. I had very little interaction with Instagram prior to my tutorial; I was rather green. I knew there were pictures ... but that was about the extent of my knowledge base.
She had me open up the app, push the + sign, select a photo from one of my albums, and presto! I was up and running.
"Okay ... now add some hashtags," she said.
"Ummm ... whaddya mean?" I replied.
"Hashtags. Add some hashtags."
Me again: "Huh?"
"Put a hashtag, then start typing in a relevant word or subject."
Voila! I had sent my photo out into cyberworld for all to see.
"And you can search different hashtags to see other content," she added. "Other writers, for example."
I did. And there they were, in front of my very eyes: Tens of thousands of posts, from other writers just like me –– with the exception that they already knew how to use Instagram, of course. There were photos of books, neatly juxtaposed with coffee cups, flowers, perfectly-placed pairs of reading glasses; pictures of an open book in a meadow, also with flowers. Apparently Instagram ... very big with the flowers. They were everywhere. All with nice little captions, inspiring us.
Man ... there are a lot of poets on Instagram, I thought as I scrolled through page after page after page. It seemed to go on forever.
I've never considered myself much of a poetry guy. I love Edgar Allan Poe, but who doesn't, right? But I found myself "liking" a lot of stuff. I saw a quick little poem that resonated with me and I "liked" it. I saw a photo of the Colosseum in Rome ... who doesn't like the Colosseum? So I "liked" it. A photo of a cute Boston Terrier. "Like." I started "liking" everything that I ... well ... liked. Apparently, that's what you do.
Then I started following people who had lots of photos, or poems, or quotes that I "liked." Then people started following me. Why they were following me was beyond my comprehension. But that's how it works.
People like to get followers. Who wouldn't, right? As it turns out, followers can be obtained in many different ways. You can even download software that will automatically follow people according to parameters you set. Maybe you tell it to follow any writers who post something. The software automatically follows them, maybe even puts an automated comment on their post: "love your page ... you have great content! Keep up the good work!" You are so flattered that someone likes your page that you follow their page. Then two days later, the software unfollows you and moves on.
Wow. Who knew? Apparently Instagram followers are the new bitcoin. Maybe in a year, we can sell all of our followers and retire to the Cayman Islands. But until then, I'll continue to block the obvious fakers and try to interact with the real ones.
And interact, I have.
I just finished doing a book promotion on Amazon, giving away free ebooks for a day. I did it on Friday because I liked the alliteration. You know ... Free Book Friday. If I ever give away free tacos, I'll do it on a different day.
Then it happened. I had a couple people direct message me that they downloaded a free copy of my book. They read it, enjoyed it, and left a review on Amazon. One such reader had some very nice things to say. We ended up chatting for like an hour. It was incredible. We chatted about life, about writing, about Instagram and the lengths people will go to for a few extra followers.
I've interacted with poets –– a not-so-rare commodity on Instagram, as I stated before –– some who are just finding their voice, others who have already published several books. I've met budding fiction writers, romance novelists, editors, book cover designers, photographers, you name it. I even met a guy down by the river who was selling Instagram followers out of the back of his van for really cheap. Although, I think they may have been counterfeits. You just can't trust someone selling things out of the back of their van these days.
So, here I am ... another branch of social media mastered; another arrow in my quiver of book promotion; another metaphor in my toolbox of metaphors; ready to take on the world of cyber interaction. But in a world that is oftentimes more virtual reality than reality, it has been a very real experience.