From this year : How I don't follow social media rules (on purpose)

Towards the end of every year, I try to revisit some of my favourite posts from the past. This one from April was a good exercise for me (and seemed to resonate with a few of you, too), eventually leading to a pretty big bloggery-leap. :)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you want follows, you gotta follow. And then they follow you back. And then you follow each other.

The end.

I'm super bad at playing the Twitter / Facebook / [insert any other social media platform here] game. I only barely know the rules, I don't ever post at the right time, and an average of 40 people even see my posts pop up on Facebook because I won't pay Facebook to "boost" or "promote" my posts (update: this will worsen significantly in 2015... subscribe via email so we can stay connected!).

Clearly I am winning the game.

So here are five ways I'm not following social media rules, and why I feel pretty good about it (also known as: How Not To Grow Your Blog).

1. I only follow who I want to follow.

For sanity's sake, I have a carefully culled list of 385 people, news sources, friends and organisations I want to keep up with. This keeps me invested in people and issues I'm already fond of and encourages engagement that I can keep up with and grow within. Yes, this means I *only* have 336 followers after blogging for 6 years and being on twitter for over 2 years. Oh well. I've found my tribe and I'm happy it's small. My blog may stay small because of it, but I don't want thousands of followers who don't give a crap what I have to say. And vice versa. If you're like me and you follow 10,000 people, that's probably 9,900 people you don't care about.

Follow who you want. And forget about the rest.

2. I don't schedule tweets or Facebook posts.

I tweet and use my FB page when I want to. And when I write a blog, I want to share it right then, when I'm thinking about it. Occasionally I will schedule blog posts, especially if I'm in that amazing place where I can't stop writing and want to spread out the awesomeness. When this happens, I'll go back to it that day and share the post, but don't give all that much attention to when it goes out.

Unfortunately this means that sometimes my peeps in America are asleep. Or my Irish friends are at work. But those I engage with frequently (see above) will still read and like it and are all kinds of encouraging and wonderful about it.

Write however you can, whenever you can.

3. I don't (usually) promote my blog on my personal page.

I don't know, it's weird. I have this thing where I feel like I don't want to over promote myself or share too much of my writing - which is often inadvertently intimate - with my real-life friends on Facebook. And yet I'm super cool with a group of strangers reading my stuff. In fact, I want them to! But I struggle with blending these boundaries. And sometimes... well... I want to go out on a limb and really say something, and I'm afraid at how it will be taken by people who actually know me. So I either hold back in my writing, or hold back in my sharing of it within my close circle of friends and family. Case in point: last week someone close to me told me they were bothered by my "voice" on an issue. It was a surprisingly painful example of why I'm guarded in what I'm willing to write about, share and cross-post.

I'm hoping, trying, to grow in this area, to keep my voice authentic so readers AND friends will recognize and honour it. And I'm actually thinking of doing away with one or the other (delete my personal page and keep my blog page, or vice versa), but we live far away from home and our families need instant grandkid gratification.

Write what you need to, promote what you want and keep boundaries in place if you need them.

4. I overpromote everyone else.

On the flip-side of under-promoting myself, I over-promote the brilliant things my family, friends and wanna-be-friends do. I'm kind of a stalker, so if there's a blog, writer or article that moves me, I will share it with you a half dozen times or so. And when people close to me curate festivals or write praise albums or create literary art, I want to share it - a lot - with everyone. I'm hoping my overindulgence reflects poorly on me as opposed to them. I can be a little overeager.

Share what you love. More than likely, they'll return the favour.

5. My name is not my brand and my platform is not my identity.

Spoiler alert: this is the one change I made this year. You'll remember how I fretted over The River Into Words running its course. And even after the big leap from TRIW into Karen give-or-take-the-O Huber, I still struggle with "branding." This blog runs the gamut from Christian mommy blogger to expat blogger; from faith journaling to a very public Dear Diary. Do I have something else, more or different to say?

Stake your claim on a name, but be open to how the words, ideas or questions move through you.

Oh, and bonus:

6. When in doubt, always post a picture of a cute kid and an ocean.

Nobody can withstand the cuteness of a kid and an ocean. Instant followers for life.

So, that's how I don't do social media well. How do you do it? Are you OK with playing by your own rules?