Princess Stomper answers your dilemmas (more seriously this time)

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With only five days left until Reinspired closes its little internet doors, I figured it was time to impart some wisdom (whether you like it or not).

1. I feel like everyone’s ignoring me

Are you talking about Facebook here? Because the very tool that promised to connect you is actively keeping you apart from your friends! You’ve heard it many times by now – if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product, and Facebook is cashing us in. After getting practically everyone in the world to sign up, it’s now actively hiding our posts from each other – and I’m not just talking about the 30% or so of your friends that you’ve stuck on ignore. 

Facebook news feed from MetaphoricalInking.com

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We have replaced our regular forms of communication with Facebook posts, so we’re utterly dependent on it to be connected. Now, if you want to stay connected, you have to pay for the privilege. According to an article on Cyber PR,

“Of FB’s $1.53 billion in revenue, 95% of what they earned was in advertising and 25% of that was from mobile ads. You used to be able to reach 100% of the people that liked your page on FB, but now you can at max reach 15% of them without paying.” [Marcus Whitney, quoted in Music Row]

By paying even as little as $15, you are FAR more likely to see true engagement happen on your posts, simply because Facebook is ALLOWING this to happen (because you’ve paid for it!).

With just $15 spent, we received 46 likes, 237 comments and most importantly (for the purpose of this ‘algorithm’ conversation), the number of people who SAW the post was 4,517…

A whopping 10 TIMES the number of our average post.

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Sure, that’s about pages rather than personal walls, but have you noticed the “promote” button next to your status updates? If you click on that, the next question is “how would you like to pay“?

The only way to ensure that all of the friends that you added to stay in touch with actually see your post is to pay £5.27.

This will ultimately prove to be Facebook’s undoing, because it now does not provide the service that it promised its users when they signed up. It’s the death knell of everything, everywhere – when you lose sight of your original objective or selling point, it’s game over.

I just tested this by clicking on the profiles of my friends. Those with whom I interact regularly, I recognised every post. People I love and care about, but rarely interact with, I found dozens of posts they’d made that I’d never even seen. When nobody even sees your posts, Facebook is even more of a timewaster than you thought it was.

Facebook is making a quick cash grab while enough people haven’t realised yet that they are shouting into the void. What we need is a viable alternative, and Google+ isn’t the answer – not just because Google is basically the devil, but because it also sells its users. Users have an ambivalent relationship with advertising – we clamour for it as a fair trade for free services, but then load up as many adblockers as our browser will take because they are intrinsically annoying. Typically, the only advertising-backed service with any kind of shelf life is television, and even that is threatened by on-demand subscription-based services like Netflix. What we want, in practice, is something that we pay for but can pretend to ourselves is free:

  • Delivery on Amazon Prime (“free” … for £50 per year)
  • Text messages (“free” … for £120 per year or more)
  • BBC television/website/radio (“free” … for £145 per year)
  • Using the internet (“free” … for £250 per year average unlimited broadband fee)
  • Water & sewerage (South West Water produced an average bill of £543 in 2012)

Whatever successfully replaces Facebook long-term is likely to be a bundled-in service, no doubt tied to something almost universally used. In the meantime, just accept that if nobody is commenting on your Facebook posts, it really is nothing personal.

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:edit: To manage your own view of other people’s updates, hover over the “friends” button next to each thumbnail in your Friends list. Make sure “show in News Feed” is checked for each person you want to follow, and then under Settings, change “Most updates” to “All updates”.

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2. Why is nobody reading my blog?

I covered this in depth a little while back (of course, nobody read it!), but I’m going to lay it out more bluntly still. Getting past the obvious – fewer people are reading this blog because posts are shorter and less interesting, because I don’t have as much time to put into them – there’s the aforementioned issue of monetization. Like Facebook, Google is now actively ensuring that only people who pay them money are seen by the public.

Which is annoying if you’ve written something clever that you think the public would really enjoy.

But think about it a little more. Is it really clever? Or are you just sneering? Because the numero uno thing that puts me off almost every blog is when the writers fall in love with their own cleverness and then make post after post slashing apart some album or film in an attempt to show off the breadth of their vocabulary and just how much more clever they are than you. And when the post is more about the writer’s ego than it is about the subject in question, it’s

  1. boring
  2. boring
  3. untrustworthy – because were you actually paying attention long enough to really digest the material at hand?

Nothing will put your readers off faster than obnoxious self-congratulation, and I have stopped reading many blogs because the writers have turned into arrogant tw*ts.

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3. My band was really popular – but now people don’t seem to like us any more. Why?

Short answer: it’s the coke. Seriously. It’s the most dangerous drug of all – moreso than heroin – because that stuff will just kill you, whereas this will make you overestimate your abilities and treat everyone else really badly.

I heard recently about someone going up to a once-highly-popular band and asking them to sign a copy of one of their older albums. The singer told them to “f*** off”.

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

That, more than the fact they haven’t put out a decent album since 1997, will be the end of them.

While we’re on the subject of fan-repellent, here are two more obvious mistakes:

(Caution: NSFW)

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dEUS undoubtedly thought their video for Ghost was extremely clever and subversive, but offending Christians is wrong on so many levels:

  1. It’s a dick move. Really, just insulting people for no reason is not cool. You’re not making some important political statement a la Pussy Riot, you’re just being a jerk.
  2. It’s like shooting fish – lazy, obvious, and only done because you can get away with it. As someone notes in the comments, you wouldn’t make a vid like that about Mohammed.
  3. One in three people in the world identifies as Christian, which probably includes a surprising number of your fanbase. Who now think you’re obnoxious. Way to go, guys.

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The final example is really minor, but really important:

About two months back, I published an interview with a rising band. I tweeted the link to the band and the label, and neither retweeted. I even sent it to the label again, just to make sure they’d seen it, and they still didn’t retweet it. Thinking it would be of interest to fans of the band, I linked to it in the comments section of one of the band’s Facebook posts, and the label manager “liked” it, but still didn’t share it.

  1. It says that I’m so insignificant to the band/label, I am not worth the fraction of a second it would take to retweet/share the link. I know on a logical level that of course I’m not very important, but hammering it home in that way is exactly like the band (allegedly) telling the fan to f*** off. Are you really so popular that you can afford to lose fans? Because I recall reading the same things about Tom Cruise in his prime and Brad Pitt: that they were unfailingly polite.
  2. I might be insignificant now, but you don’t know where I’ll be in the future. OK, so you know now that I’m giving up this blog, but the last time I gave up my website, it was because I was writing for national print magazines. (I don’t think you need to worry too much about me but use some common sense and be nice to the next sucker who crosses your path.)

And no, I’m not saying that you have to retweet every little passing mention or listicle placing, but if it’s something major like an interview, it’s just basic courtesy to pass it on to your followers when page-views is the only recognition that the writer is going to get.

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I figured it would be kinder to spell it out than say nothing and watch them lose fans. I recall one band back in the mid-90s who were really, properly popular – high-in-the-charts popular – and I knew them a little bit. This was a cocaine thing, but I watched that singer change, and be rude to people who later could have helped him, and by the end of the tour, even the band weren’t speaking to him any more. It didn’t take long for the band to stop having hits.

Do you think someone should have said something? Maybe they did. But that’s the thing about advice: nobody wants to take it, but everyone wants to give it.

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One comment on “Princess Stomper answers your dilemmas (more seriously this time)

  1. People were trying to use Diaspora before G+ came along and wiped them out. I liked Diaspora, but it was too hard to use for most normal people.

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