Facebook 101: When they Say “Like and Share” Probably you Shouldn’t

If you haven’t already figured this out by the thousands of radio stations firing off memes on Facebook, let me spell it out for you. “Likes” are worth money. Here’s the part maybe you didn’t know: Likes can be sold.

My Facebook news feed is clogged with shit like, “LIKE AND SHARE IF YOU DON’T THINK CHILDREN SHOULD BE BEHEADED AND LEFT FOR THE VULTURES.” Or maybe “LITTLE CINDY-LOU IS DYING OF CANCER, LIKE AND SHARE SO SHE CAN SEE SHE IS LOVED ALL OVER THE WORLD. ONLY 2% WILL LIKE AND SHARE. ARE YOU ONE OF THEM?”

It’s always 2%.

Perhaps you say to yourself, “gee, I’m actually kind of against beheading children.” You like and share. Otherwise, you’re implicitly in favor of juvenile decapitation, right?

A few weeks later you get an item in your feed about vacations in Mexico. Not a sponsored item, mind, but a notification from a page you liked. “The heck?” you think to yourself. “I don’t remember liking anything about travel in Mexico.”

And in fact you didn’t. The Travel site bought your like from the child-beheadding page.

Well, to be more exact, they bought the page itself, likes and all, then just switched in their own content. People are making a sound business out of creating pages, getting likes any way possible, then selling the page.

These days, I block almost every item in my Facebook feed thingie that says “like and share”. When you look at the name of the source page, it’s amazing how often page name and content don’t match. Even when they do, I block. Don’t tell me what to like, Chumley, and I share only the good stuff. Which is maybe one thing a month.

1

Looking for the Joke with a Microscope

I was thinking about the movie Repo Man the other day, and a song got stuck in my head. I mean, really wedged in there.

“It could be worse,” I hear you all say. “The soundtrack to Repo Man is epic.” And it is. I could have “TV Party” running circles in my brain, or “Pablo Picasso”. But no, the song that keeps popping back up in my head is not on the soundtrack, even though it is an integral part of one scene. Someone even gets beat up for singing it.

Yep, I’m Feeling 7-up.

The Apocalypse has Arrived

I bicycle through a cemetery every day. It’s peaceful. Today, however, the place was filled with zombies. I think you know what kind.

Using my Photography to Promote my Writing

I’ve got a bold new venture in serial fiction kicking up, and I’m facing the simple reality that pictures sell. I can’t draw worth a lick, but I do take pictures and could possibly even shoot video. The thing is, I’m completely stumped about how to take pictures that support the particular story I’ll be flogging. I suppose I could put friends in costume and head out to the woods for a shoot, and then photoshop the crap out of the results to make it look less photographic, but…

There’s got to be a better way! As someone who claims to be creative, I have to admit I’m totally stumped by this one. Maybe I’ll just put the fish-eye lens on the camera and take close-ups of my little dog. Nothing to do with the story, but people love that stuff.

My Little Clickbait

My Little Clickbait

2

Banana Stickers

A banana sticker; this one an obvious ripoff of Andy Warhol

A banana sticker; this one an obvious ripoff of Andy Warhol

In the cartoon-for-grownups Metalocalypse, one episode involves the dysfunctional band’s agent hiring a counsellor to help the members get along. The members of Dethklok are given banana stickers when they act nicely toward each other. This works for a while, as the band covets the special prize, but in the end they discover they can buy banana stickers by the gross. The lead singer, Nathan Explosion, says, “We have found out that you can just, you know, buy psychological validation, so…” The band turns back into a bunch of backbiting jerks.

The Internet is filled with banana stickers. Little bits of feel-good validation that ultimately have no value. One site gave me a sticker for filling out my profile. MapMyRide gives me little trophies for my fourth best ride (out of four). My phone gives me banana stickers. LoseIt.com had me going for a while; some of the stickers they throw around are utterly meaningless, but others are not trivial to earn. So banana stickers don’t all have the same value. Someday I’ll get a sticker on Strava.

For the Web sites that offer these stickers, the reward is more tangible: return visitors. Getting banana stickers make you come back for more banana stickers.

The other day my allergies were kicking in and I pulled out the Flonase. I went to their site to review the instructions, and when I was done, a little window popped up that said something like:

“Achievement unlocked! You have read the Flonase instructions!”

There’s one for the resume.

2

Turning a Corner — With a little help, maybe?

I had a long episode all ready to go making a big announcement about The Fantasy Novel I’ll Likely Never Write (including the title!), but on more careful consideration I think it is premature. However, if you are an illustrator or a crowdfunding expert, I’d like to grossly underpay you for help giving TFNIWLNW wings. Nothing complex on either front; no people-drawing required (unless you like drawing people), and as for the crowdfunding I mostly need someone to explain what all that shit is and help me figure out what’s right for this project, or maybe it’s just a paypal tip-jar-thermometer thingie.

Any help greatly appreciated! You can hit me up at [email protected] I can’t pay much, but I’ll do my best to get you a walk-on role when the feature film comes out.

For now, I’m going back to making episode fifteen make sense. Expect to see it soon!

Just Put Me in the Shed

Today I drank a bottle of Glacéau smartwater and felt like a tool.

TFNIWLNW Reality check

While I remind myself that I am writing for myself and no one else, it’s been a while since the sweet-o-meter has been clicked for an episode of TFNIWLNW, and the comments have dried up, and as far as I can tell no one has shared links to the episodes with anyone else. So at this point I suspect that I’m writing for only me.

Through other channels a couple of folks have said they’re enjoying it, and I am Really Stoked about the upcoming episode (we get to see what the Soul Thieves are capable of), and overall that’s what matters.

But, if you like it, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you were to let me know. You’d even make my day if you mentioned what parts you like, and even what you don’t. And if someone else says something you don’t agree with, a little brush fire can be fun, too. Doesn’t mean I’ll change (that would imply a better plan than I have anyway), but I’d still like to hear from y’all.

And I’m not going to get that movie deal if people never see it. So pass it around. I’ll be adding previous/next links to the episodes to make the story easier to follow, and I think I’ll be adding more about the process in comments from here out to provide another layer of entertainment. But I’d really like it to be a discussion, rather than me going blah, blah, blah.

I think I may have discouraged discussion with my rather absolute pronouncements about back story and exposition in previous comments. Um… sorry? To make up for it, I think I’ll sneak in a backstory episode for Katherine and another for Martin — or maybe for his dark-bladed knife. That little piece of cutlery has a story to tell for sure.

1

The Class Action Channel

Sometime back in the dark ages a friend came back from Japan and said, “They have a TV channel there that is only advertising! People tune in just to watch ads!”

I was befuddled. In the United States, that tradition was, back then, reserved for the Super Bowl. (Hm… maybe not even then. This was before 1984.)

Now of course we have QVC, an enormously successful company that has television channels devoted simply to advertising. And people watch.

But that’s product advertising. Unscientifically, I think half the ads I blip past fall into two categories: new medical therapies (mostly drugs), and law firms suing companies for the side effects of the new medical therapies.

With all those dollars being spent, and the country getting older and frankly more cranky, doesn’t it make sense to have the Class Action Channel? “Call in the next fifteen minutes to get in on the ground floor of this major lawsuit! Lyon and Lyin’ have a proven history of corporate blackmail, but you only benefit if you sign up before the settlement. And for the next five minutes we’ll add a bonus Lyon and Lyin’ mouse pad, even if you’re not qualified for the settlement!”

It’s gonna happen.

Expanding my Footprint

avatarMy experiment over at Tsū is going pretty well, but that platform is not as text-friendly as I’d like it to be for sharing my writing. I’ve started an account at 3tags, a profit-sharing blogging platform, to house Jerry the Writer, while at Tsū I will be Jerry the Photographer. I will of course always be Jerry the Muddled Rambler right here.

3tags may become home to a more-polished version of TFNIWLNW, but first I have to come up with an actual title. Right now all the ones I come up with are too generic (“The Soul Thieves”) or too glib (“Stabbin’ the Soul Thieves”). Hopefully I can come up with something soon. The rough-draft version of TFNIWLNW will continue to accumulate here. (There’s about 1.8 episodes in the hopper as I type this.)

I have no evidence to back this up, but I think keeping identities focussed will be more follower-friendly. I’m not sure 3tags is the right platform for me simply because there aren’t very many people there – I was able to grab the user name “Jerry” — so building a following will be a long and slow process. One thing that helps is that 3tags makes it easier to announce new posts on Facebook and twitter.

When people read my stories there, I get paid! If you accept the following invitation and then you create things people like, you get paid (and, since I invited you, I get paid a little, too).

Currently only a handful of people over there will see my stuff based on the tags, so I really hope folks like you will click the links on Twitter and Facebook to see my words. This means I’ll finally have to figure out Twitter, I suppose.

Here’s my invite link if you’d like to check out 3tags — it seems like a pretty capable blogging platform, and I hope they hit critical mass. Heck, if you’re gonna blog, you may as well get paid for it, right?

Writing for Social Media

It used to be that here at Muddled Ramblings I would just develop ideas at my own pace and trust my readers to hang with me for a few sentences to let things get going (there is actually no evidence that they did that, but I like to believe). Lately I’ve become (perhaps detrimentally) aware that most of my audience is only presented the first couple hundred characters of my ramble before they are presented with a go/no-go decision.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to say that it has changed the way I open my episodes here at MR&HBI. I’m fishin’ for the hook.

Last night as I posted episode one of TFNIWLNW to a new social media platform, I was compelled to add a little preface. The thing is, in all these platforms, what shows to the casual feed-grazer* is only a couple of sentences. TFNIWLNW starts with sexual assault. So, aware that said assault is going unhindered for the first 250 characters of the story, I decided to graft on a little intro with two goals: tell readers that the asshole’s gonna die before we learn what the asshole’s doing, and to introduce the audience to the narrator’s voice. I’m pretty sure I had only a partial success, but you’re welcome to tell me I’m wrong.

Then, not knowing the culture on this new Social Media site, I put in a little parental warning that also used a pretty sweet metaphor and accelerated the understanding that our narrator is, in some fundamental ways, not a nice guy. From a literary point of view the extra words serve a good purpose. From a “goddammit tell me a tale” standpoint they come off as masturbation.

Writers have always needed to put a hook at the start of a story, but the hook now has to catch in the first few words. I’m pretty sure I unhooked TFNIWLW:1 in an attempt to fix it. But if I’m going to keep it up over there, i’ll have to be very careful with the first 70 words of each episode. Maybe that’s a good thing. A book where every scene starts with a hook is the kind of thing about which reviewers say “I could not put down.”
___
* I am a little bit proud of the phrase feed-grazer, so please don’t tell me how many times you’ve heard it before.

TFNIWLNW on tsū?

I’ve been pondering how to make it easier for people not interested in this blog per se to follow my serial fiction projects, without all the other blog stuff and without my commentary.

I’ve also been curious about a new social media thing called tsū, which shares ad revenue with its users. Get a lot of clicks, get a wee bit of cash. So if I were to publish things there that lots of people liked and shared, it would be cool.

As far as I can tell, tsū is really not suited for serial fiction, or even posts of more than a paragraph or two. It may be completely impossible for people who stumble across Episode 3 to find Episode 1. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a growing platform that would embrace words as well as pictures and memes and whatever the kids are posting up these days.

More likely, I’ll have to find a different platform. But it’s worth a shot.

I’ll keep posting TFNIWLNW here, so don’t fret, kids, you need do nothing to continue to enjoy the upcoming twists and turns, and maybe even a plot. Maybe. But if you’d like to check out what this tsū thing is all about, click this link and you can join up as my personal guest. Or just sign sign up and when they ask you who invited you, use the code ‘vikingjs’.

Tugging the Heart-Strings

TV playing silently in front of me, showing an ad with a kid, maybe twelve years old, on the baseball diamond throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a big-league ballgame. The kid did a pretty good job, a little low and outside, but with some zip. The catcher scooped it out of the dirt and held it up the way catchers do to show the umpire they have it. Then the catcher took off his mask and the kid lost his shit. It was his dad, back from military service overseas. Joy ensued.

I have no idea what that ad was selling. I wish I did, because if it isn’t shitty beer, I’d buy some.

Ripoffs are Relative

Most days on my way to work I pass a Shell station that advertises a price per gallon almost a full dollar over the going rate. These days, that’s almost a 50% markup. When I pass in the early-rush-hour morning, there is almost never anyone filling up there.

Across the street is a Chevron station which charges twenty cents less per gallon. That’s still a huge markup over the average price in the area, but I do see people filling up there. The price looks pretty good when compared to the Shell station.

Which makes me wonder…

What if the Shell station was only keeping a token amount of gas in its reservoirs for the occasional blind idiot customer, and the owners of the two stations split the profit on the sighted idiots who purchase the slightly-less-outrageously-priced fuel at the Chevron?

Perfect Marketing

I’m sitting in a bar right now, pooping out NaNoWords, and Thursday Night Football is happening all around me. Another day I will tell you how I personally cursed the Oakland Raiders, and how I’m not sorry and you shouldn’t expect the curse to be lifted any time soon. But not tonight. This episode is about a television ad.

The product was Duluth Fire Hose Pants (or something like that). It was a simple animated affair where a guy in non-firehose pants gets his leg torn to shreds when he fails to catch a wild boar that someone offscreen threw to him. Butterfingers!

The scene is then reenacted with the man (who vaguely resembles Bret Favre) wearing the proper indestructible pants. The wild boar deflects harmlessly off his leg, and our firehose-pants-wearing pal picks the vicious animal up and sends it back.

I want those pants. Seriously. I want those pants – as long as they extend the indestructible ethic to the pockets.

2