Getting My Social Media Life in Order

Changes are Afoot on Medium, and I Have to Prepare

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’ve never been a social butterfly. I’ve always found ways to get along with most people I meet, but there is a heavy streak of loner in me. I suspect that’s the same for many writers. Our craft requires too much solitude, too much silence. My temperament means social media has always been tough for me. That’s changing now as I’m making strides in turning freelance writing into a livelihood. I need to self-promote more, and I understand more clearly the power of social media platforms.

I’ve done pretty well on Medium, largely because the editors have consistently featured my work. Without this hack, it’s tough for someone relatively new who hasn’t amassed a large following to put up numbers, though. A couple of my standalone articles have done much better than some of my featured pieces, so it’s not impossible. It’s about to get a lot tougher, though.

Those of you who pay attention to the goings-on behind the scenes at Medium know that the company is leaning hard into bringing in established names to produce content for the site. Some of these writers have huge social media followings. They also have friends with huge social media followings who will share their work. In addition, if what happened with columnist, Jessica Valenti, over the past few days is any indication, Medium is going to give them a massive push on social media, in email newsletters, and on the home page. Each one of these slots is promo one of us won’t get. These writers are going to put up huge numbers, so they’ll keep getting those spots. We have to find some way to compete with them.

It’s going to be a knife fight — one that I’m ill-prepared for.

I don’t even have 300 Twitter followers. My personal Facebook account is private, and I never use it. I set up a separate page where I share my writing, and that’s public. The page has only seven likes and eight followers (sad trombone). I was mulling throwing both my personal account and writer’s page in the trash, but I took a look at my Medium stats and realized that for my pieces that do numbers, Facebook shares almost always outstrip Twitter shares by a huge margin. I’m not sure what that means for me and my Facebook strategy, but given the changes afoot on Medium, I think it behoves me to try and find out.

What I think this all means is that the rest of us who want to continue to grow our audiences on Medium but got into the ecosystem late have to find some way to reach readers off the platform and steer them to our Medium articles.

The upside of those big name writers coming in is that they’ll bring in new paying members. That’s what Medium is counting on. The Partner Program pot should grow, and there’s got to be a way to hack a path to increasing our earnings.

Social media is obviously the clearest conduit to readers. There are a couple of roadblocks, though. Although I can share to my Facebook writer’s page, I can’t connect it to Medium so it’s linked to my profile. Thankfully, Twitter works seamlessly. I do wish the social media follow buttons appeared in my articles next to my name, though.

I’m closing in on 100 stories on Medium, and I think I’ve put together a pretty good body of work. But I write on a variety of subjects and chose to collate my responses to comments in weekly posts. I’m realizing that the blog format without tags in the sidebar makes sorting through my work a bear.

Over the weekend, I started a Pinterest account, so I could organize my articles by topic in an attractive visual format. I actually really like Pinterest — it’s great for organizing ideas — and I wish I’d thought to use it for my Medium articles sooner. I’m in the process of adding all my articles, and I think it will be a good resource for anyone who wants to follow my work.

I’m still trying to figure out whether or not Instagram is worth it. It takes so much effort to create appealing content on the platform, and curate an aesthetically pleasing feed. It might be better for me to spend that time writing or doing writing-adjacent activities.

I had a brief foray into Snapchat a year ago, and while I think I produced some good content, it all got too tedious after a while.

I’ve got a lot to think about. As does anyone who’s writing on Medium and wants to be successful. I’m interested in hearing what you all think about the changes coming to the platform and how you’d like to see me and other writers use social media to share our work. Let me know in the comments!

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*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: books2read.com/u/mBOYNv | IG: kitanyaharrison

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