Why am I asking this question?
You see, I have a book published by a small company in the USA, so the people I need to reach are in a completely different time zone (for most part, a day behind me). My Twitter and Facebook are set to New York time, so I can publish at moments that are relevant to this audience.
But lately I’ve been wondering what has happened to this audience.
I sometimes suffer from insomnia, waking up around 3.30 to 4.30 am. So if I can’t get back to sleep I check my Twitter account. In the US it’s early afternoon, so there are many people online to converse with. I’ve become part of conversations already happening, or I’ve started some.
But lately when I’m up at those times, no one is really home on Twitter. Sure, there are tweets, but not tweets generated by people actually online at the time. The ‘age of the auto tweet’ to gather new audiences has taken over.
Self-promotion to ‘How To Gain More Followers’
Even in prime-time I see automated links to blogs and other social media generated for the user; tips on how to get more followers; authors promoting the rating they’ve received from a critic, or people re-tweeting stuff other people have posted.
And yes, this always existed. And yes, I use auto-tweets to speak to an audience who are up when I’m in bed. But what’s missing are the human generated tweets that overtook the auto tweets ten-to-one.
Most communication to real people is done through the ‘Friday Follow’ these days, and even these don’t need a human hand on the keyboards.
Where has everybody gone?
I fear that people have discovered people again. You know, the real ones we see when we look out our windows. They are out sharing a meal and a drink with friends. Meeting strangers at parties. Sleeping in on Sunday mornings. Reading a book. Gosh, is that even legal in the twenty-first century?
Balance has restored.
Perhaps the novelty has worn off. We’ve become used to social media and use it when we have to, rather than it deciding for us when we need it.
At first it gave people a new voice, and having found that voice, we’ve become complacent with its magical way to reach new acquaintances. We’ve moved on, just as we do with most things when they’ve given us what we needed at a certain time relevant to us.
That’s not to say ‘social media is dead’. It, just like television, has finally been put in the place it needs to be in our lives – to enhance it, not to control it.