I might look all right on the outside but I’m spiraling right now.
As a social media professional, I have some pretty strict codes for how I operate my personal social networks. I try to be (relatively) amusing and self-deprecating whenever possible. I veer away from “Isn’t my life so fun?! Don’t you wish you were here right now?!” posts. I avoid vague, comment-baiting statements of despair or outrage. I try not to get too polarizing with my views. I don’t share anything that will give my Facebook-loving mother the vapors.
Oh and I don’t self-promote. Ever.
The majority of those self-imposed rules could be considered healthy social mores but the last one has been kind of an issue lately.
When I was a young, idealistic bookworm and decided at the age of 12 that I wanted to write my own books when I grew up, it didn’t occur to me to add in my leather-bound journal, “Oh and also I want to learn how to market the crap out of my books to everyone I know since it’s a longshot that I’ll actually ever be published since print is dying so I’ll need to become really good at selling my own stuff.”
Writing felt natural. Self-promotion did not. Writing felt rewarding. Self-promotion felt … icky.
It’s not that I don’t believe in the quality of my work, I do. I would just rather other people talk about it. When I see artist friends share their projects, their one-woman shows and their album release parties, their latest blog posts (hi Rob), I am awash with envy. It’s not that I feel like a model of modesty and them hubris or anything; I feel more like I’m lacking something vital in my being that others seem to come by naturally. For a long time, I avoided thinking about it at all but lately it feels like something that, if I don’t fix it, means I will languish in anonymity forever and never really get where I want to go.
Lately, I’ve taken some baby steps. When my partner and I write a new post for our blog, I immediately share it on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It helps that I’m sharing my partner’s photos, what I consider the main draw of the post, and there is far less emphasis on my own writing but it’s become enough of an ingrained habit that I don’t squirm in embarrasment as soon as I hit Share.
And then, last week, I noticed that a company I follow closely was running a contest where the prize is a new bike. I really want a bike and have wanted one for a long time. And I really love the company. But the contest required me to solicit people for votes for a week. Votes. People. Solicit. A week. A full week of self-promotion for a purely selfish goal. Is there a lizard in my shirt? IT FEELS LIKE THERE’S A LIZARD IN MY SHIRT.
I gritted my teeth and decided to go for it. And then, by some horrible stroke of fate, work told me that my panel idea for SXSW 2014 was now eligible for public voting. From the 19th to September 6th, it would largely be on me to get people to vote for it. In public. Online. Vote. Solicit. Win. At the same time that I was trying, half-heartedly and with great emotional turmoil, to win a damned bike. Double self-promotion time. It’s like immersion therapy! With tweets! Where the subtext of every line is, “Ha ha ha, isn’t this silly, I want to die.”
This morning, Day 2 of Bike Contest, I went online to see how many votes I would need to win and learned that the lead photo had 238 votes. I had 8. (Well, I guess just emailing my immediately family isn’t going to cut it APPARENTLY). If there was a towel in my hands, I would’ve thrown it at my laptop screen. I deleted the two sad tweets I’d published the day before. I’ll just focus on SXSW, it’s more important anyway. Tonight, I’ll just ride a bike in my dreams. That’ll be fun, right? My purple sadness bike. In dreams, no one can hear you cry. (This is what I don’t post on Facebook.)
But I was curious. I clicked on the profile of the girl who was in the lead. There, on her Facebook profile, she’d written a post about the contest and paid the $6.99 to Facebook to sponsor it. That’s pretty smart, I thought. I’d known, of course, that Facebook lets your promote your personal content but I think you can guess my horrified reaction when I read about it (oh, did I spoil it for you? I was horrified).
Instead of clicking away, I thought suddenly, I could try that. Why not? What did I have to lose, really? (Other than that bike, there’s no way I’m winning that bike) Could be a good experiment to see if the feature works, I reasoned, for professional purposes.
So here goes. A week of doubling-down and hitting up my friends and families to vote on my dog’s staring contest photo and my bid to get @SeinfeldToday to SXSW in 2014. A week outside of my social media comfort zone, so far out that I’m wondering if I should’ve brought a jacket.
I could be sneaky now and just hyperlink the pages where you could vote for both but I am not going to do that. Not today. Baby steps, you guys. We grow up but we never stop taking them.
To vote for @SeinfeldToday at SXSW 2014, go here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/17102
To vote for my submission to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams contest, go here: http://bit.ly/16FRhEY
Thank you. Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be in the shower.