Friday, December 2, 2011

Unleashing the Power of Social Media

True confessions. I'm a dinosaur as far as social media goes. I can break out into a cold sweat just thinking about doing a Facebook update or signing up for Twitter. But I just did. I signed up for Twitter to at least reserve my name for the future. Because two weeks ago, I played to my strong suit, as in learning through a presentation, rather than on my own at home. I attended an excellent SCBWI workshop called "Unleashing the Power of Social Media" given by Greg Pincus, a former screen writer, now middle grade novelist, who specializes in guiding children's writers through the maze of new media choices.

For three hours, I made myself stay open-minded and listen to how to use social media options. And now I am not as stressed about it. I appreciated how Greg kept saying, "Did I mention these platforms do no good if you are not actually writing?" Yes.

Greg's key points:

1. Plan a goal for what you want to accomplish by using social media
2. Take advantage of tools that filter your information intake and help manage time (Google Reader and Alerts, TweetDeck)
3. Connect. Comment, update your own status, add to others' conversations.

I am not ready to deal with number two. I am still working on number one, but I know it is the key. Number three is the most doable, in the sense that I understand now that used efficiently, social media truly can be a wonderful to stay connected with other writers, learn about trends in publishing, even deepen one's knowledge of craft. It is not real writing. It is easier than deep revision. But I believe that understanding it better has helped inform my choices.

Next semester when I am not posting regularly on this blog, I will try to use that time to follow and comment on three other blogs. I have already been asked to post for Women's History month in March. This I can do.

I have figured out that one of my hesitancies on Facebook is that I am not supportive of others, as in clicking the like button or commenting on their good news. I hesitate to post my own good news because it feels self-serving when I don't support others.

What are you strengths in social media? How has it helped your writing career? Or not?


  1. I "follow" some industry professionals on Twitter. Many of our guest authors, agents, editors, etc. at Hamline use Twitter. They'll post "Do's and Don'ts," recommend books, discuss giveaways or alert Twitter-dom to their latest blog posts and other helpful tidbits for writers who are ready to submit. Otherwise, Twitter feeds my voyeur side. Facebook is distracting. I <3 connecting with friends and new folks, but it's distracting.

  2. I tend to cycle in and out of these things. I usually have to invest a bunch of time at the beginning to get the swing of the new element, and then can scale back to maintain it. Then every so often put in another extra burst of energy. They might be more effective if I was more consistent, but that's my current solution to juggling/managing them.

  3. A nice reader made a post on my website that I should consider adding a Facebook "like" button. My tech-savvy son did that for me. He also added a feature that posts to FB whenever I add a new post to my website. [My apologies to anyone who may have received seven updates from me yesterday when he first set it up!]

    Networking via Facebook really helps spread the word around. When I posted via FB that I had added photos from the book trailer shoot to my website, the number of hits at the site really jumped!

    I managed to create my own FB author page, and I'm up to 66 "likes" now. I could use more--hint, hint.

    One important thing--the more you comment on others' FB statuses, the more your posts appear on their home pages (at least that appears to be the case). When they comment on those posts, they also show up to their friends. When you read posts and send out comments and congrats to others, they do the same for you.

    My next goal is to figure out this whole Tweet business. At this point, the only time I "tweet" is when I've had a bit too much cabbage.

  4. Apparently a lot of people read my blog. They don't comment but occasionally I receive emails from people who I consider rather prolific in the book and writing communities and my heart leaps for joy.

  5. Thanks for the feedback, everyone. What strikes me is how individual each person's approach to social media is, just like one's idiosyncratic writing process. Venus, it is joyful to discover that surprising people are actually out there reading one's posts, as it can seem like a black universe.