IF I’M MISSING I’M WORKING

If I’m missing I’m working,” as said by the mighty Chuck D.

Social media ain’t working, so in effect you’re missing.

When I see big media outlets reaching just 3% of their audience, with full-fledged social media and marketing teams on staff? HAH.

As far as the 97% of your followers who haven’t seen that post?

You’re missing.

I know that’s now what Chuck D is talking about here, but he’s been off Twitter. Long enough for someone to say “you went missing.”

Nah.

He’s working.

Get working on things that work.

SOCIAL MEDIA LAST GASPS

This post from Cory Doctorow has pretty much ended it for me:

This is just what Twitter has done as part of its march to enshittification: thanks to its “monetization” changes, the majority of people who follow you will never see the things you post. I have ~500k followers on Twitter and my threads used to routinely get hundreds of thousands or even millions of reads. Today, it’s hundreds, perhaps thousands.

My biggest project is Heavy Metal Email, and I usually hype my recent posts on Twitter with some fancy videos or the cool images I make. Then I’m careful not to include a link, since that’s frowned upon, and I just mention LINK IN BIO.

Well, in the past month, I’ve gotten less than 20 clicks from LinkTree.

And that’s from Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook combined.

So tonight I put out a new GOODNIGHT, METAL FRIEND mix (#32 right here) and I’m not going to promote it all via social media.

I’ve go a newsletter going out to 17 people at 8am tomorrow (subscribe here if you want). So they’ll get to see I have a new mix that I just released.

And I’ve now got 38 or so “followers” on Mixcloud, so those people will get notified of my new mix.

Eh, let’s see where it goes from there, because social media ain’t gonna help a bit!

NOBODY CAN COMMENT

Sure, paying someone to “handle you socials” is nice and all, but you can do the same thing with the format of your choosing.

Millie doesn’t have social media on her phone. Someone else handles her Instagram and Facebook pages, the only social platforms she hasn’t deleted, and she went to therapy to handle the constant bullying she has faced online. It’s hard to escape the fact that people are obsessed with everything Millie says and does. The actor has been inappropriately sexualized for years, something she’s tried her best to ignore, but the effect of trolling and harassment has been severe. Before she deleted Twitter and TikTok, Millie had been constantly bombarded with hateful messages, angry threats, and even NSFW missives from adult men.

Now Millie only speaks directly to fans via blog posts that read like diary entries on the Florence by Mills website. It works because, as she says, “Nobody can comment.”

NOBODY CAN COMMENT. I love this.

We don’t owe ANYONE a direct line of communication.

Want to make a comment? Eh, go start your own site, or post it on social media for no one to read.

We owe no one a conversation.

SOCIAL IS TRASH

So TikTok spied on Forbes journalists.

Twitter showing everyone how many times there posts have been seen. What a fucking TRAIN WRECK that’s gonna be for media outlets and labels. I’m sure this will be reversed by the weekend.

The UK based Center for Countering Digital Hate says “the TikTok algorithm takes just 2.6 minutes to show vulnerable girls videos touting restrictive eating plans and self-harm content.”

When anyone asks which social media network I’m looking to join next, I tell them NONE. I have this website. A few newsletters. An email address.

Bye.

LESSON LEARNED

Against my better judgement I tried “boosting” a recent post on Twitter. I was guided through the process online, answered some prompts, hit OK and away we went.

In all I spent $15 and got 379 “extra” impressions, which led to zero new sign ups, clicks, or follows.

I know, I’m sure there’s 1000 things I could’ve done differently through the set up process, but hey, $15 for a few likes… eh. I just wanted to see how it’d go, and wow, I’m glad my day job doesn’t involve social media ad buys.

And well… I feel bad for putting any more money into this idiots pocket. Making sure to spend $15 on some bands later today on Bandcamp.

SOCIALLY ACCEPTED TIME SUCK

We didn’t always used to “do” social media, and I think it’s okay that we step away.

It’s quite the distraction. The fellowship is nice, the LIKES, and the support from others is fine and all, but it’s like a campfire, constantly needing fuel, and time, and direct support.

Collectivley we spend 1000s of hours a day probably, shoveling our lives onto multiple third party platforms. It’s like a duty, a part time job.

We could devote that time to writing, learning a new language, talking on the phone, knitting, or a million other things.

But social media pulls us close, with the allure of our friends. How “evil” can it really be if our friends are there?

If I hung out at a bar that welcomed nazis, sexist jerks, and racist shit bags, I know this – I’d fucking leave.

I’m working on that.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE FOOD COURT

Photo by Artyom Malyukov

In high school, you needed to be at the mall (this was the 90s, work with me here).

During practice with the first band I was in, I remember walking to the mall on a Friday night. Some of us started driving, so then we piled in the car.

You’d go to the mall to see your high school friends in a non high school setting. See and be seen.

Where my “social media is the food court” thing breaks down is that with social media, movie stars, pro athletes, rock gods, and everyone else are there, too.

An off-hand Tweet could get you on the nightly news. It could get you fired. It could get you laid.

Getting laid was a possibility with the food court analogy, but still.

As the big conversation focus on “where do we go next,” I just see how it’s like growing up, and getting away from hanging out at the mall.

Some people went to clubs, some people went to bars or diners, some people started broom hockey leagues (it me).

We have some Discords, which feel like bars or coffee shops.

And some people are heading to Mastodon, or doubling down on Instagram (owned by another person of questionable character), or god forbid LinkedIn.

This all just feels like moving our hang out sessions from Perkins to Chilis or IHOP, where we keep putting money into the pockets of giant corporations, and where we sign up for their set of rules and regulations.

I saw a group posting about “well, if Twitter goes down tomorrow, you’ll find us somewhere.”

As if buying a domain name for $15 and setting up a SquareSpace site for $20 is some impossible, herculean task.

We all figured out how buy tickets from Ticketmaster and then installed their shitty app and showed them at the venue to get entry, didn’t we? We figured that out.

We figured out how the fuck to make Instagram Stories, and assorted video assets on TikTok and Snapchat.

Some of us printed out directions from MapQuest back in the day to get to shows.

We’re smarter than we think.

And if you don’t know how to do it, you can just ASK THE INTERNET.

Google is right there, people.

My headlight burned out. I was able to find three videos on YouTube, for my exact model car, and learned how to change the bulb in 10 minutes.

And if you have a website, everyone can find you.

Fucking EVERYONE.

Not everyone is on Instagram, or Twitter, of Facebook, or Mastodon, or whatever other tech-bro, VC backed bullshit app comes out that exists to harvest your data and sell it to ad brokers.

Will we have all the addictive qualities Twitter, with the pull down “arm” of the slot machine, always able to reload with some bullshit update from a friend of a friend talking about their favorite vegetables?

Most likely not.

And will we randomly be able to find someone who got fired from Starbucks for unionizing their store? Not easily, no, not if we’re all hiding in this digital silos, walled off from the entire fucking internet in some bullshit app.

I’m bummed for Len, I am! But if Twitter burns to the ground tomorrow, how the heck will we hear about this horrid behavior from Starbucks? (here is Len’s GoFundme link, BTW)

Well, I guess we can start with this website: Starbucks Workers United, which looks like it’s run by The Rochester Regional Joint Board.

It’s maybe not updated at the same rate as someone like Len is Tweeting, but it’s there. And there’s room for other people (like me, or YOU) who are interested in this are to start covering it, which is vital since so many newsrooms across the country are gutted.

Someone could start a newsletter on Substack and get 100 subscribers in a week, I’m sure (I searched and can’t find one). Or a YouTube channel.

Build a site, set up an email address for it, and ask people like Len to send you updates here and there. Get the word out that you’re pissed, and want to help.

The same could be done for the tragedy at Club Q, and all the senseless shootings. Or the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Or the local art scene in your city.

Will you be the biggest coolest viral website in the world? No. But it might help a few hundred people unionizing their coffee shop in a small town.

We’ve been spending HOURS every day scrolling through social media, uploading our photos and thoughts and ideas. Imagine if we spent hours learning WordPress, writing newsletters, and editing videos?

Imagine if we started building small teams around big ideas?

Yes, social media was great for a time (by design). Friendships were born, and we learned a lot, and it was VITAL work – social justice, Black Lives Matter, the me too movement, but these CEOs are not going to roll back the clock.

It will never get any easier to get the word out on social media platforms.

All the bands promoting their next show, to Starbucks unions, to the fight for reproductive rights – it was all built on rented property.

We all fell for the promise of eyeballs and audience, like foot-traffic at the local mall food court.

But Zuckerberg and Musk own the eyeballs and the audience. They own the mall, they set the hours, and they keep raising the rent.

From Heavy Metal Email

It’s time to get back to updating websites, and sending out newsletters. The web is free and open. We’re smart, but we put all the power and energy into building our storefront at the mall, and they just changed the hours.

Is “getting the word out” on social media easy? Technically, like uploading a photo and adding some text? Oh yes. Beyond that, we’re fucked.

On top of all this – no one is owed an audience.

Your band has riffs? Man, I got 50 years of riffs. What makes you so special?

You got inspirational words about doing great work? Fantastic, 80,000 similar posts were just uploaded on all the major social media platforms – today. It starts over tomorrow.

But Starbucks unionization?
State wide reproductive rights?
Local and regional show listings?
Development, homelessness, gentrification?
Lack of diversity in the workplace? In politics?
Selling records or VHS tapes from your cool store?

Let’s stop figuring out where we go next, and start building our own thing.

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

The decline of Twitter has really intrigued me, and it’s sort of bittersweet. I mean, I love seeing a rich jerk completely shit the bed, but dammit, I’ve been on Twitter since July 22, 2006. I’m user #2,873. This site has been a major part of my life, and now it’s just burning to the ground.

I mean, I know it hasn’t been great, and it hasn’t been a joy to use since 2016 and all that nonsense (ahem), but wow.

It’s not that I’m going to “miss everyone,” as I see the same people around Instagram or Facebook, and I text with some of them, and have phone calls with others.

That idea (above) is what gets me. You can literally post something in the morning, and be on a late-night TV show later that evening.

Tweet something before you get on a plane, get fired before you land.

You could Tweet at a major musical idol, or movie star, and they might reply.

So there was a lot of tension on there. The ability to call truth to power, gather support, raise funds – big stuff.

It was all in one place, and now it might be gone.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS ARE BLOG POSTS

We’d all leave social media if there was just somewhere else to go, right?

Somewhere else, though, is “a service run by tech-bros that wish to create value for shareholders.” Like, we just want reverse chronological order, photos, and the ability to message or leave replies.

You know that’s a blog, right?

Come on – you’re smart. You can set up a smart phone, navigate your state’s DMV website to renew your car registration, figure out Calendly, pay for tickets and use your phone as entry into a show – you’re fucking smart, you can set up a blog.

PLATFORMS

Saw this on Twitter recently, from Adam Bartlett of Gilead Media (copying and pasting because I don’t trust Twitter embeds will be around forever):

It’s so wild to watch the entire indie label world go from being based around forums and newsletters, to social media, and now on to…what? There isn’t a single platform I can think of that isn’t a complete shit hole right now.

Am I shaking my fist at a cloud right now? Maybe, I guess. But things were definitely cooler before the ALGORITHMS took over and I think that’s probably an indisputable fact.

via Twitter

Adam ain’t wrong.

Back in the early 2000s bands had websites and email list.

Along came MySpace, and lots of folks jumped there, and it became the #1 music site in 2006.

In the same year, Twitter launched. I think Facebook opened up to everyone, too. Bands and labels eventually moved the bulk of their “getting the word out” operations to these sites.

So over a decade of neglecting email lists and websites, as social media sites have revealed who they really serve (investors, advertisers, their boards, Elon Musk), and we’re left with a bunch of “followers” and “engagement,” which is about as useful as “thoughts” and “prayers.”

Email still works, regardless of the few people who leave comments saying “my inbox is a wreck, I miss so much stuff.”

These are the same people who follow 3000 accounts on social media platforms, and are probably among the 70% of the people who don’t see your social media posts anyways.

Start an email list, send to an email list.

“Yeah, but my fans don’t use email.”

Bullshit.

They use emails to sign up for social media accounts. They get receipts emailed to them for concert tickets and vinyl orders.

What’t the alternative? Are we just going to start making more video content for whatever Instagram is becoming? And TikTok?

A majority of bands and labels can’t even figure out how to use Twitter which has been around for over 15 years, but you’re telling me they’re gonna “figure out” the new breed of social media platforms?

Make music videos.
Post your songs.
Release your vinyl.

But for fucks sake put it on your website, email you fans, and go drink some coffee. Use the countless hours of banging your head against the wall over social media algorithms and go write a good song, or strike up a partnership that will go a lot further than a $20 “boosted” fucking post.