Authors Online: The Social Media Dance

Facebook Icon and LinkI’m going to be honest: Figuring out how to navigate social media comfortably is a challenge, at least for someone with my personality (whatever that is), and especially when I use social media as part of a writer’s platform.

For example, I began using Facebook as a way to keep up with friends and family, and I love how it allows me to do so. There are few downsides.

But I also know that I need to use social media as a way to strengthen my professional community, my writing life and career, and that’s where I sometimes struggle.

Do I really want to bore my friends with blog post updates every day? Do the people I know on Facebook through writing connections get tired of news feed items about painting pottery or children coming home from college?

And why do writers have blogs, anyway?

The answer to the last question is addressed wonderfully in two recent blog posts:

Erin Reel’s piece explains why it’s good for writers to have an online presence, and Judy Dunn shows one way how to do so.

I find that every writer who is blogging or has a website needs do her own social media dance, one that works and is comfortable for her. For me, I am realizing this means keeping my writing posts separate from my friends & family posts (knowing, of course, that some people will be interested in both, but many will not, and some will even roll their eyes). That said, I have a request:

If you are interested in connecting through Facebook and receiving updates their for blog posts (my own as well as from terrific bloggers whom I follow), book resources (such as Rebecca Rasmussen’s reading and book signing in Mequon, WI on May 11th!), and other writing-related posts and discussions, please consider “liking” the Facebook page I’ve created for this purpose (and if you then want to “unfriend” my regular Facebook page, because you are primarily interested in writing stuff, please do so).

My choice of social media dance is a two-step I can master. It’s comfortable for this slightly uncoordinated Midwestern girl who still cringes at the phrase “self-publicity” or the idea of sending out into the world a steady stream of self news releases. If you also struggle with this aspect of the expectation for writers to have an online presence, be sure to listen to Joanna Penn’s podcast interview with Mark McGuinness for a refreshing and informative perspective. Here’s a taste:

“Create, don’t compete. You’re not actually in competition for the same $, the online world is all about sharing within a niche. If you get to know other people in the same area and then share and be generous, you will receive traffic from the others as well. It’s hard to understand, but blogging is a really generous and giving community. Being generous means everyone benefits. Traffic links everyone together. Online is also really social, as well as being good for business and you can meet people all over the world. Finding a community of like-minded people online is fantastic.”

How do you feel about the current expectation for authors to be their own publicists? What dance is comfortable for you?

15 thoughts on “Authors Online: The Social Media Dance

  1. As a fairly new blogger wanting to share some of my stories with my facebook friends and family I now have the accounts linked, however I disable this feature for a large portion of my blog posts as I don’t want to be a self-promoting nuisance either.

    At what stage in a writer’s career would you suggest venturing to create the separate facebook site? I ask this as I want to get off the ground right.

    • Using the disable feature (or selecting to whom status messages go) is a great idea. I think that you could create a separate Facebook site at any time.

      At the same time, I know writers who are comfortable having just one Facebook page for everything they do–real life friends and online colleagues and everyone inbetween–and it works just fine! So much depends on what makes you comfortable. The good news is that we have a lot of options. 🙂

      Congrats on your blog! I really like your “about” page. It makes me want to know you better. Fellow humanities majors, unite!

  2. Thank you. I was afraid my about page was too brief after reading so many “about” pages. Well, please feel free to explore my blog and I hope you enjoy it as I enjoy yours.

    Being new to this, I’ve realized not to let go of a good blog when I find one and subscribe to have numerous good reads daily, to learn and to grow. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Thank you for such kind words. They mean a lot to me.

      Your blog is delightful! We share a lot of interests, and I look forward to following your posts.

  3. Hi Lisa and thanks so much for mentioning my posts! I appreciate your spin on the dance idea. It is a bit like that and of course, the more you practice, the easier it gets!
    It takes time to grow your blog and social media presence organically, but it’s oh, so worth it!

    • Joanna, thank you for stopping by and for the words of encouragement! Your posts never fail to inform and inspire, and I really appreciate your common sense approach.

      “growing a blog organically”–that’s perfect

  4. Social media is hard and sometimes stressful. I think part of that “dance” is also balancing out how much time you put into a blog or a Facebook account.

    That being said, thanks for posting this. I like the blurb at the end, about creating and not competing. As I’ve connected more online, I’ve gained friends and, slowly, more traffic. Sharing and creating new connections is definitely helping me more than hurting me. And I love that because I hate competing.

    • Elisa, I can really relate to what you wrote. The connections we make online really do give social media meaning, and I genuinely enjoy and am excited by that part.

      I’ve realized that my competitiveness is with myself, but that, like you, I don’t like competing with others. Yet so much advice for bloggers is from a competitive marketing standpoint–a big turn off for folks like us!

      • I am, too! It’s great really because I’m a very introverted person and this is a way to almost be social in a way that fits my personality best. The fact that I can even do that and connect to others who are very much like me is wonderful!

        You know, it’s funny that you say that. I think I compete with myself as well. You have no clue how often I click my blog or my business’s site stats, just competing and competing with myself to see if it was better than the day before. Wonder if all of us do that to varying degrees?

        One thing’s for sure, being competitive online won’t get you anywhere. The rules of real life, in-the-flash marketing and competition don’t apply.

  5. Great post, Lisa! I like the idea of “Create, don’t compete.” I like to look at using social media to promote your work as another means to make friends and share resources. In the words of another industry insider I spoke with last week, “There’s plenty of opportunity to go around.” As long as you use your social media platform to communicate clearly, authentically, with purpose, you’re in great shape! It’s all work, but it CAN be fun. ( : And you’ll meet lots of cool people along the way.

    And thanks for the nod!

    • Erin, thank you, especially for this: “As long as you use your social media platform to communicate clearly, authentically, with purpose, you’re in great shape!” Just what so many of us need to hear! Thanks for always providing such a reliable compass.

  6. Thanks, Lisa. I wish I could edit that passage, though. What I meant was “As long as you USE your social media platform…”

    I’m glad to follow your blog – very inspiring and thought provoking.

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