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How Social Platform is Like a Video Game

A couple caveats to start off with:

- I fail at playing video games. Unless it's Lego Batman, I'm going to die fast.

- I fail at social platform (most of the time).

- If life was a video game, I'm stuck on the difficult mode, and I opted for something a little easier.

That said, I've heard frustrations about social media platform building. Heck, I've had them myself. Whenever I have someone pitch me at a conference, tight wrinkles form in the corners of their eyes when I ask about their social presence.

I get it. Believe me.

Because every author now has to have an online presence. So where do they go?

Level One - Facebook

Facebook first. So now every author has an author page, since Facebook's algorithms discourage selling or advertising on personal Facebook accounts.

But now every author has a Facebook page and has asked all their friends to like their Facebook page, and now that only 50 of their 500 friends liked the page, they have to expand. So they go to groups of other authors and readers to find more followers. But those groups have specific rules. Self-promote and get banned. They try to friend request everyone they and their brother knows, but then they discover that Facebook put a 5,000-friend limit to discourage such activity.

So they move to other social media sites.

Level Two - Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

So they try to level up in as many skills as possible on other sites. Yet, they lose followers as quickly as they gain them. They discover the cruel trick of the influencers who like to do the follow/unfollow bit.

They get frustrated. They keep trying the same things, but they lose more followers or remain stagnant. And they spread themselves too thin trying to get a million-followers-within-a-week, and finding they got two, if lucky.

And by this point . . .

They give up.

Trust me, I understand. I've wondered how certain influencers managed to gain 40K followers on Instagram posting about smoothies. And with Facebook and the other sites changing their rules constantly, less and less in favor of artists and authors, one can easily grow discouraged.

I did.

Then I thought of social media as a video game.

Each video game has rules (explicit and implicit)

I don't use ten hashtags on Twitter. On Instagram? I can go for it.

I don't post twenty times a day on my personal Facebook. (I know some people who have, and their notifications are currently on mute.). On Twitter? Post every half hour if we want.

While we build platform, we should watch and observe the other players. Yes, the sites give us codes of conduct so we know the "rules." But tons of implicit rules exist for each platform that most users know without explicitly mentioning them. We have to learn these as fast as we can and play by them to succeed and level up.

Each level gets harder

Annoyed that Facebook and Amazon keep making it harder for authors to reach readers?

Welcome to the club.

Instead of ranting about frustrations about Facebook on Facebook, I try to think of each new change in the algorithm as the next level. Can't post on Hootsuite without Facebook flagging that post and making it less view-able because I didn't post it on the site? Fine. I'll find ways to work organic posts into my daily schedule.

Some games make us pay to play

Remember how certain games like Candy Crush would allow us to have extra turns if we paid a dollar or two? Or how we could unlock certain features, outfits, or skills in a video game if we slipped them a George Washington or Lincoln?

Welcome to Facebook Ads.

Now social media sites can make it easy for possible to unlock exposure and possible followers if users send a little green their way. Again, like with video games, no one has to pay. But the levels will take a great deal longer to accomplish a goal if they don't.

Through it all, we should remember to celebrate each goal (not just each level)

Sure, I may not have leveled up any time recently. But video games teach us to rejoice in small accomplishments. I may have gained a new skill by testing out Canva for some Instagram posts. I may have updated my Goodreads page that needed an overhaul.

Either way, I can find ways to smile that I made it further along in the game than I had the day before.


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