(The blog post in which I will reveal the social media site that is the answer to life, the universe, and everything)

Let’s face it there are a lot of different social media options out there for marketing and promotion. Facebook is the most popular, but it is certainly not an easy road to take. It is actually one of the most complicated and cumbersome social media to learn and use. And at every step it is tripping you up and bottle-necking your efforts, because the ultimate goal of Facebook is dominating the web and making money, and the best way for them to do that is by keeping people from leaving Facebook.

Have you ever noticed when you post a link that not a lot of people see it? That is the mysterious (and kind of creepy) EdgeRank skewing things in Facebook’s favor, locking the doors and swallowing the key….muahahahahahaha…now you will never leave, you are my prisoner forever…take that Google!!! 

Like I said–creepy.

Though, it’s not quite like that. Facebook will actually give you a day pass, as long as you pay the toll. (Note, however, the chain around your ankle that creepy uncle Facebook snuck on when you weren’t looking. It is only a day pass, after all–and not too far please!)

So, you are totally creeped out and ready to run away screaming. You think to yourself why would anyone use Facebook?? How is it worth all that time, hassle, and creepiness?

Because there are over a billion people who are willing prisoners. The walls are decorated kinda pretty, there are tempting goodies, and, with all the other people in there, the creepy uncle holding the keys in the corner is totally easy to miss. At least until recently.

The declining use of Facebook is notable.

People are starting to spend less hours on Facebook. Why? There are more options than ever before. Heck, even MySpace is making a come back.

But don’t we all just want one, big, awesome place to visit on the internet? Don’t we hate all this bouncing around? Wouldn’t we just rather stay in uncle Facebook’s room?

Maybe that is what people say (umm…not me). But our behavior and our nature tell a different story. We love standing in front of an entire grocery aisle devoted to the 55 different kinds of Oreo cookie. We crave the new, the exciting, the endless choices of a menu (even if we always pick the chicken quesadilla with extra sour cream). We revel in the feeling of freedom that options give us.

Sometimes we go with the crowd and flock to something new, and sometimes we like to stand out and go against the grain.

Oreo-Two-CookiesIn September 2006 Facebook became available to everyone 13 and older who had a valid e-mail address, and people craved it. But it was like a plain regular old Oreo cookie (now see if you can forget that creepy uncle image I planted in your brain). Awesome and yummy with it’s crisp chocolate wafers on the outside and familiar sweet center, perfect for dunking, crunchycreamysugary…

…just a sec, Oreo break….

….But a solid diet of the same thing every day, no matter how utterly delicious gets boring after a while, right? That is why Oreo started making vanilla wafers, and minty centers, and double stuff, and fudge, and mix n’ match wafers, and peanut butter and ice cream flavor! Some people stick to favorites, but there is no single kind that everyone buys anymore.

That is why we are doomed to never have just one kind of Oreo, or just one social media for everyone. That first plain old regular Oreo-cookie-Facebook introduced us to the idea of social media. It hooked us. But it was really just a gateway cookie, pulling us along to the endless variety of cookies to come.

In 2006 people like twenty-seven-year-old Sally Somebody, mother of a six-year-old, jumped into Facebook with both feet, scoffing at her fuddy-duddy parents who were too prehistoric to even “get” what was so special about Facebook. Fast forward to today and what has happened?

Sally now has both her parents, and even her grandmother in her friends list, and her 13 year old daughter is now old enough for her own Facebook account. Having a Facebook account is about as common as having a phone number or e-mail. People don’t say “call me,” they say “Facebook me.”

Having a Facebook account is kind of like having the whole world watching your every move, including your mom and your grandma. Right, mom?

Does Sally’s daughter think Facebook is cool? Probably not. She will probably still get a Facebook account, because, like, that’s what everyone else does, you know?

But secretly she is spending her time on My Space 2, where her parents don’t go and, OMG, it scrolls sideways!!

What does this mean for an author?

How does this answer the questions you have? (What social media should I be using? How much time should I give Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or Pinterest or YouTube or Goodreads or Tumblr? What do I need to do to sell more books?)

It tells you one thing loud and clear.

You better have a good understanding of your audience, and know where they are spending their time. (Did you know that Nielsen has free reports that can help you answer those questions?)

If you did your homework and you found that your audience is currently spending most of its time on Facebook. Great. Now you know where to reach them.

But does that mean you should only spend your time on Facebook?

Heck no! Your audience could still migrate. Imagine waking up one morning, sleepily pouring that first cup of coffee, inhaling that beautiful aroma as you download Nielsen’s State of Social Media in 2015, and…you drop your coffee in horror to see that all of your audience demographic has suddenly made the leap to Google+!

What would you rather have? A mad scramble to set up a new account, then blindly casting about…fumbling and bumbling. Or having a previously set up account, a decent proficiency, a solid presence…and login to find that all the people who jumped ship from Facebook have already found you?

Right! I thought so.

So you use those demographics and follow your audience to Facebook, if that’s their natural habitat. You keep some different flavors of Oreo in your back pocket for emergencies. And you stay on your toes.

And when you notice those little numbers below your post “4 people saw this post”…try not to get frustrated. That is just creepy uncle Facebook clutching onto his keys. And there are ways to get around him, without paying his toll (I will talk about that later).

Bottom line? No one social media site will ever be the answer to life the universe and everything (unless it’s forty-two-dot-com).