Here, there and everywhere – me and social media
(Adapted and expanded from a ridiculously long post I made on Absolute Write Water Cooler)
Writers used to be able to get away with being anti-social. It was almost part of the job description along with wearing pyjamas all day and only leaving the house to obtain fresh supplies of coffee, cigarettes and hard liquor. Those days are gone. But luckily we can be social and still retain the all-day pyjama wearing – thanks to online social media.
All writers are expected to create an online presence and platform to help market themselves and their books now. Some do so reluctantly, others embrace it. I’m warming up to it. So here’s a post about how I use social media and why I’m where I am.
I think it’s a mistake to try to be on every network out there. Even with automated cross posting you’d spend so much time updating your networks you’d get no writing done. You also repeat yourself over and over and over… So I decided to be selective about the ones I chose to use.
I have this here blog on WordPress of course. I decided to have a regular schedule to update every weekend, with others in-between if some news comes up. I’ve created a monthly schedule for it, so I have a particular type of entry for each weekend of the month, which at least gives me a head start on coming up with something to write about. I set myself a target at the start of the year to update it every weekend without fail and I’ve kept to that so far. The “schedule a post for later” option, and being able to deploy posts from the WP app on my phone have been useful for keeping to that a couple of times when I’ve been away from home.
I’ve had a Live Journal account for years – before I even had this pen name, so it used to be called something else and earlier this year I changed it. Live Journal may be a bit old fashioned, but it’s where I feel happiest. It’s not for formal blog posts like over here on WordPress. Just sort of “what am I up to and what am I thinking and wittering about right now”. I interact with other writers and friends a lot on it too.
I’ve given in to the peer pressure and made a Page on Facebook for my pen name. My WordPress blog automatically posts to it, and I post other things there too, mostly short news updates. I’m not that big a Facebook fan, but I’m getting more comfortable with it. I do prefer a Page rather than a Profile for my author self, for people to Like rather than Friend. That just suits me more.
I joined Goodreads back in 2009 and got an author profile in January this year when Liar’s Waltz came out. I use it a lot, but still mostly as a reader. It’s a great way to find new books to read and see what people in my genre, readers and other writers and reading and what they think about what they are reading. Like with Facebook it automagically picks up my WordPress posts to be my author blog on Goodreads. Automated cross posting is a real time saver!
Tumblr is new for me. I’m not sure what to make of it yet and if it will be around for a long time. So far I’ve mostly used it to post pictures, sometimes quite random things. It looks like a place to make posts that are longer than fit on Twitter, but don’t take the time, or merit a full blog post.
Twitter is where I’m especially active. I love Twitter. I will post promotional tweets of course when there’s some news, but mostly I’m just, well, twittering on. Sort of promoting myself – or at least my writing persona – as (I hope!) someone interesting, engaging, funny, approachable.
It’s also a great place to collect interesting links, especially if you follow lots of writers, as I do. That’s where a lot of the links on my monthly links list posts come from. So that gets me continuing value out of what is otherwise “here now, gone in ten minutes” content on Twitter. My Live Journal, Facebook, WordPress and Goodreads all automatically tweet when I make entries and updates. Hopefully this leads people from my Twitter feed to my sites with more permanent content on them.
Also, Twitter is just fun. I was on a while it before I was published, though I ended up creating a new account for my pen name and leaving my old one behind. (I know, I could have just changed the name, I did with Live Journal, but a new account was just the way it worked out.)
I think there are no set rules for which sites you have to use. It’s better to find a couple of sites that you’re most comfortable on and use them, than try to use one you don’t really get and have no enthusiasm for using. People will be able to tell if you’re only on that site because you think you should be and you’re not really having fun.
If you do use more than one, I think it’s good for have to be different purposes to each of them. My WordPress blog is one where I do regular entries of fairly formal blog posts. Live Journal I update ever couple of days usually, with more personal stuff about how the writing is going, and other things on my mind. Facebook is primarily short snippets of news and information. Twitter I’ll be on several times a day posting the usual nonsense people post on Twitter, and replying to other people’s nonsense. So anyone following me on all of those shouldn’t feel as if they are reading the same thing over and over. For example, I’d post on my Live Journal that I’ve put up a blog entry on WordPress, but I wouldn’t actually cross post the whole blog entry on Live Journal. I keep some separation between the different venues and what I do on each. Only really BIG news would end up being repeated across all the sites.
So that’s my strategy – what’s yours?