I learned back in the mid 2000s to never read the comments. When you give a bad review of an album, fans (and sometimes the band) will sometimes have a few comments about your review.
Tricky is a smart, brilliant, informative show about online journalism, social media, and more hosted by Heather Chaplin and Emily Bell, from the Journalism and Design program at The New School. In their latest episode they discuss comments and moderation with Andrew Losowsky of the Coral Project, who rips into a few great points here (time stamped link to the audio, give it a listen).
I love the part of the “precarious position” when offloading your comments (and community building) to 3rd party sites like Facebook and Twitter. Think FB live video interviews and Twitter. Two types of “fan building” strategies, but like Losowsky mentions, you are “handing over the ownership of the direct relationship between you and the reader, to a 3rd party who will monetize that and sell it back to you.”
It’s true. All of it.
Seeing all that engagement and interaction on FB and Twitter looks great, and it might even get you more followers and likes. But think about it: what does Facebook require of you to reach 100% of those people who clicked “like?”
The same is true of Twitter if you look at your analytics – ain’t no way all your followers saw your last Tweet.
Yes, trying to do the same thing on your own site is harder. It’s not as good looking. It probably won’t net you the same number of likes or faves or whatever.
But if it gets you one email address, then you can reach someone directly. If they signed up for your mailing list, you’ve now started a relationship.
Sure, the same could happen on Twitter. You can meet some great people on there – I HAVE! But we don’t all have the time (or sometimes the headspace) to “hang out” on social media all the time to build and maintain these relationships. I’m not talking about short changing the relationship, or devaluing one email to a mere transaction.
Instead I mean this: if the goal is to be a 24/7 news outlet with employees and an office, do what you have to do. But if you’re a lone artist, musician, writer – chances are your efforts are better spent on your craft than on building up digital badges on social media.
Even now as I write this I feel like I need to push the link more on Twitter, and “engage” in conversation over there about this subject. Then other people can chime in! Look at this big, public discourse!
But I also want to go for a run. I have client work to do, too.
Just as a newsroom may not have the resources to moderate comment sections across their entire website, you, a lone creator, probably don’t have the resources to do 432098 things at once, either.