The Basics

Last Updated 9/16/2012

Social Media: a site in which two or more users can interact with each other and the world on a social level.

When you are using social media, you are putting something up on the internet that, for the most part, will be seen by the public and will be a reflection on you.  Because of this, you need to use common sense on what you put up, and the words that you associate with those posts.  Remember that once something is up on the Internet, it is forever.  Even when you take it down, you can not be certain that someone hasn’t made a copy, a screencap, or reposted your words to share with others.

Are you scared now?  You should be.

But as long as you use social media in a professional, decent way, you have nothing to fear.  In fact, you can use any of the social media sites to work on building stronger relationships with your audience more so than any other generation of author has had the ability to.  All you need to do is remember a few things:

1. The golden rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated.  You may find that there are people on the internet who, for the lack of a better term, enjoy being a troll.  They never have anything positive to say, like to start verbal wars, or just have snide comments with no real reasoning behind it.  Just because they exist, however, doesn’t mean you need to turn into a white knight and go off on a troll hunting expedition.

When faced with an internet troll, the best thing to do is to either ignore them, or to block their access quietly without making a fuss about it.  Remember that your social media sites are yours to maintain, and no one wants to troll at a party.

However, this is different from people who have valid, educated opinions that are different from yours.  These people are just like you, who want to start a discussion with an opposing opinion.  Perhaps it was a bad review on GoodReads on your latest novel, or someone who has a critique on a piece of your newest project that you leaked a free sample of.

You have just found yourself an asset, as these are people who can offer you ways to look at your work and see if either your writing can have a  misinterpretation, or if there is a good point of debate on it.  When confronted with these, treat the person with respect as if you were the one talking to your favorite offer on the same kind of topic.  Don’t dismiss them or lash out in anger at them.

After all, if one of your advance readers brought it up before you published it, wouldn’t you have done the same to them?

Treat them as you would want to be treated.  It will go a long way for your online reputation, and bring in more people who may enjoy reading the discussion the two of you have and go and pick up your book just to read and see what their opinions on the matter are.

2. What you give is what you’re going to get:  Fans won’t just show up because you set up a Twitter account or a Facebook page.  You need to put a bit of work into them to be able to get noticed.  The more you interact (not just post, but actually interact with people), the more people are going to want to hear more about what you think and follow you.

The thing you want to avoid, however, is becoming a marketing spammer.  If all your posts are “look at me, look at me!” type posts pushing your books, and you post every 15-20 minutes, people are going to drop you.  They don’t want to see you taking over their feeds and not bringing anything to the table beyond your own publicity.

Rule of thumb is that on Facebook, you should only post 1 thing every 3-4 hours at max.  This will keep your 5 things for the day from being one big lump people will pass over and forget, and will also remind people that you’re there and to look at your topics.  Twitter, unless you’re in a tweetchat or having a discussion with someone, runs about the same.  If you’re having a discussion, as long as the person’s @ handle is the first thing in the tweet, it won’t spam it out to your followers.

By setting limits and making the most out of your posts when you do put them up, and then interacting with those who reply, you will create a more professional relationship with the media site, and those who follow you.

3. Use only the sites that are right for you:  You do not need to have a presence on every single social media site in existence to make yourself “available” to everyone.  That is what your website captures in the end.  You should only focus on sites that (1) you are comfortable with the layout (2) you agree with their privacy policy and (3) are sites that you enjoy spending time on.  Facebook and Twitter and the two major players in the game currently, so you should at least set up on them.  Google+, Pintrest, Myspace, and LinkedIn are runners up, with YouTube, the world of Journals, and Tumbler being more specific to your type of interests.

You also want to make sure that you are able to adequately follow #2 in that you can get the most out of the sites you do use.  You want to be able to have good relationships with the people you interact with.  If you’re on 150 different sites (and growing), how can you give each site a dedicated amount of your attention?  Less is more in this case, and fit your choices to your author persona as well as what you like.

4. Adding to your Website: this is the easiest advice – make sure that you have on your website buttons or links to take your fans to your social media sites so that they can follow up with you there.  Otherwise, how are they going to find you?

5. Time Management: Social Media can become a time vacuum, so make sure that you schedule time to use it, but don’t let it take away from your time to write.  You want to make fans, yes, but you need to make sure that you still have time to write the books that you want them to buy.

There, now you can’t blame me when you go into a zombie state and wake up 4 hours later still on Pintrest.

Nashville Parthenon

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