Today’s Pondering~Are you engaged?
Sometimes I ask questions or participate in discussions online to see what kinds of answers I’ll get. Sometimes, I participate to get a better idea of just how many people are paying attention. It never fails that in these discussions there is always someone who thinks they have all the answers and that their answers fit every possible scenario. These are the individuals who believe that there are no real barriers to communication or that the truth is not being suppressed in any way. These are also the people who, within a few months or years, will have to either eat their words or pretend they didn’t say them. Sadly, there are a lot of people that this statement seems to cover. Or at least, there is the appearance that there are a lot of them. I have to question whether or not this lack of common sense and discernment is as widespread as it appears or if there are simply a sufficient number of bots to make it look as though that is the case.
There are clues that can tip you off as to whether or not you’re dealing with a bot or a real person. Obviously, if you see the same, canned responses and statements coming from someone day after day, post after post, they are likely not flesh and blood. And there are quite a few who simply cut and paste answers that others have given and claim those as their own. This is annoying and even if they are real people, they aren’t exercising their right to original thought. This makes them just as bad as a bot. When you get an answer that has some inkling of original language, thought, and intent, you will be able to identify it. It will be something you’ll want to engage with and it may even lead to a longer discussion than you’d planned to have. I say this bearing in mind that one huge problem with our online communication is that so many original thoughts are being suppressed or even completely eliminated by the algorithm or by those who don’t want you to engage in any kind of thought-provoking conversation. Heaven forbid!
I mentioned this in a group I belong to on FB and was met with the following response:
Thanks for sharing Rebecca! a lot of this comes down to the content we’re putting out there – making sure it’s engaging and relevant to our audience so it can cut through the algorithm and then also making sure we aren’t breaking any policies (swearing, adult imagery etc) which can cause content to be suppressed. Not all content will perform well and sometimes it’s hard to tell why! but really focusing on your reader and how your posts entertain / inspire / educate them can help!
Of course, this person had no idea that I run a faith-based publishing company and that for a very long time, I have worked doggedly to create engaging posts and promos for all of our social media platforms. She had no idea that I took the certification course for Social Media Professionals and that I’m always trying to find new ways to make my content more appealing. She just assumed that the fault was with my content rather than acknowledging that the algorithms out there are suppressing quite a bit of what some of us put out there. For example, on an average week, I set up about 30-40 posts across 5 platforms. I also write blog posts (usually weekly, but sometimes I miss a week). I schedule them on various platforms at the recommended times according to industry professionals. I have a decent number of followers, so one would think that engagement would be pretty high, right? Well, it isn’t. Not even a little bit.
Over nine years of publishing, I’ve noticed that the items I’ve had the most success in promoting were obviously the ones that the author was actually helping to promote. And it really depends on the author and the level of confrontational material being discussed in their book. I say confrontational because faith is very confrontational. People like to believe that their level of faith is just fine for their life and it should be fine for everyone else. They will face up to the things they are comfortable with facing up to, but in most cases they’re barely scratching the surface of what it means to live a life of faith. Or they’re stuck in a pattern of regurgitating someone else’s interpretation of what it means to live a good Christian life. They’ve adopted a definition that they can tolerate and they’re not looking to dig any deeper. That’s just the way it is. Not everyone wants to be so introspective. And not everyone wants to find the full truth. Just package it up in a punchy sermon on Sundays, let me throw a few dollars in the offering plate, and I’ll be on my way.
That’s how it goes for the majority. And this is evident in the level of sales I see for our best faith-based titles. We have a number of books that really get to the meat of what it means to be in the pit and to reach out to God for rescue. But they’re nearly invisible next to titles that tell people how to look younger, lose weight, make money, grow their Tik Tok following, or tell their boss to “take this job and shove it.” In truth, most people don’t want to know about your struggles and they certainly don’t want to learn from them. Most people are too preoccupied with trying to acquire the right things or be accepted by the in-crowd to want to dispense a bit of empathy for your situation. They don’t want to know how you made it out of a difficult situation unless your situation is so similar to theirs that they can’t help but take a look. Does this mean you shouldn’t write your book? Absolutely not. If you have a story and you want to write it or you feel compelled to write it, by all means, write it. It will eventually get into the hands of those who need to read it. But be prepared to hustle. Be prepared to spend countless hours coming up with ways to snag people’s attention. Be prepared to compete with all manner of unimportant fluff and in most cases, to lose that competition. Because in today’s culture, the more honest engagement your story inspires, the less likely it is to reach full visibility. If what you’ve shared sounds like it goes along with the popular narrative (no matter which side of things you’re on), it will probably sell like hotcakes. But if you’re being honest and sharing a very human experience where you’ve acknowledged that God has been your solution, prepare to be ignored. Unless you’re one of the top twenty or so darlings of the publishing industry, you’ll be doing great to have local visibility.
I don’t say this to discourage writers. I say this to help you understand that your mission is not necessarily to fit into the algorithm. In fact, if you do, you might want to ask yourself what that means. Is it a good thing given what the algorithm favors these days? I guess that depends on your overall goal. I’m the first one to tell you that I know I could be more successful if I would simply go with the flow. I could make more money if I just kept my opinions to myself. I could be a big hit if only I weren’t so opinionated. But at the point where I stop being the “me” that God created me to be in order to appease the world and to be a success here on this earth, I’ve given up my right to any reward that might await me in Heaven. And yes, I believe that Heaven exists. But I believe that it is more of a rejoining with our Creator than anything else. Just to have the opportunity when all is said and done to hear Him say that I did what He made me to do is the greatest reward I could hope for. If that means that I’m not so loved here on this planet, then so be it.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
algorithm answers author beliefs books business church faith fame gifts God people popularity self-expression society thinking Uncategorized writer algorithm audiences books confrontation faith people popularity post suppression sales society success truth writing
ronashively View All →
My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.
If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com and http://www.ronashively.wordpress.com and http://www.highergroundforlife.wordpress.com and http://www.leadingthefollower.wordpress.com. And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com.
Leave a Reply