Keeping the “social” in social media
Sometimes my experiments in social media don’t work, like last week, when the live-stream icon on FB for iPhone vanished suddenly, and I didn’t notice it until 8 minutes before my promoted start time for the video. FUUUUU….. This is stupid, I whimpered to my friend, who had watched my FB wall and waited in vain for the live-stream video window to show up. This is stupid. I feel stupid. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t understand any of this.
I feel like this OFTEN, distressingly often, with every new social media platform that comes out, with each new little widget or gadget or bit of added functionality. I feel like a slow ur-rodent whose hind paw is feeling the uncomfortable heat of the creeping tar pit. I feel like I am this close to being a fossil.
This internalized age-ism on my part is a bonus insecurity on top of what’s already there as direct result of being in showbiz, of trying to stay connected and in touch, which is even more necessary for fringey artists than for the A-list celebrity types. They’ve got platoons of PR people to hang around on Hootsuite and trawl through Twitter. We indie performers, we have to do that all on our own.
And yes, we have to. Because we don’t always know where our next gig or couchsurf or weird prop will come from, and we don’t have the budget for FB adverts, and it feels like we’re all just one fun post or cheeky video away from going viral, wouldn’t that be fantastic? And I don’t know when that’s going to happen, and I don’t know where my next big donor might be, and I might need volunteers for this other thing, so I throw different things at the wall and see what sticks.
It’s not very scientific, and I’m always trying to learn more, but right now it’s the best I can do, as a marginally paid, self-producing artist. We are our own everything, and that means we have to keep on digging and listening to find where the people are and what they’re talking about. This is market research and outreach and all of that stuff. I have to think about it.
But I also want to think about it. See, when I tried the live-stream function again yesterday—the icon was back, WTF Facebook—and I saw the first person watching—okay, not that first one, that was my friend, but I could SEE that he was viewing, hooray the technology worked!—when I saw the numbers slowly add up, I didn’t care how the viewers found out about the live-stream, where they lived, whether or not they were anywhere near my next show. I didn’t have room for market research in my brain. It was just too full of excited sparkles, that people all over the world could see me and hear me, right then, and I could correspond with them. Right then! Somewhere between 12 and 18 people at a time were seeing me, witnessing, laughing, saying hi, asking questions, hearing my answers. Right then! This tells you how old I am, maybe, that this sort of thing still feels like a miracle.
Now, the live-stream on FB is one-way, not a conference call, so no, it’s not a perfect sort of group conversation. It’s not the easiest to archive either. But yesterday's half-hour broadcast turned out to be a very appropriate technology for the way that I want to move through the world.
Because see, I meet lots of people. Maybe I met these folks once in passing. Maybe I spent two weeks in their city, and won’t be back again for another two years. I make friends; I find fans. Sometimes it’s hard to know where one ends and the other one begins. Friend-fans. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post, but for now, let’s just say that I crave personal connection with those people. The more I travel, the more I want those connections, but they become increasingly more difficult to maintain.
Which is why live-streaming yesterday felt like such a breakthrough. It’s another way to reach and be reached. I can’t individually Skype with every friend or fan or, you know, friend-fan that I have. But with this they can see me, and I can see what they’re saying right away. It’s enough, until I come to their towns again, or even if never. It’s enough. That connection is still there. It’s live. It’s unscripted.
It’s space for the viewers to be more than a click on a Like button, and for me to be more than the loudmouth pervert. We are all more than is visible through our status updates.
That's stuff that I really want to see, and I really want you to see my stuff, too.
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