Are you thinking about getting started with or spending more time on social networking? This post may give you a nudge from my perspective. As always, feel free to drop any questions or comments below.
This week I had lunch with an old friend, and we got to talking about social networking sites. He’s not as technically-inclined as I am — so as I tried to explain, it got me thinking about our new world of social networking.
Back in the day, I was blown away by the Internet. And today I’m still constantly amazed with all we can do today online.
I’ve always loved technology, but I really resisted social networking at first. I thought it would be a complete waste of time. But I’ve grown over the years, and learned that it’s about how you use it.
Now I truly appreciate and love social networking. But I also have a strange love/hate relationship with it. Here’s what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of social networking on social media sites:
1) Make friends and reconnect with old friends.
2) Connect with readers. Get feedback, reviews, and word of mouth buzz.
3) Promote your work and brand. It’s a balance so be careful and don’t overdo it with too much direct promotion. Social media can be a great way to connect and build relationships with your target market. I find Twitter to be a fun and effective platform that drives traffic to my website, as well as positive reviews and word of mouth referrals to my books.
But even when I’m just playing on Twitter, it helps my writing business. For example, my random tweets and retweets show my personality, which helps build familiarity and trust in my brand. And they provide exposure to new readers, as well as friends who will spread the word for you.
4) Network with other writers. It’s similar to connecting with readers because most writers are readers, too. Many writers enjoy learning from each other and networking within a supportive writing community.
5) Entertaining. It’s a diversion that makes me laugh or think. Sometimes I just read my timeline for interesting updates.
6) Informative. Find useful research, author indie resources and writing blogs to hone your skills. If you have a problem, try throwing it out in the Twitterverse and you may get the answer you need.
7) Convenience. You can squeeze in a few minutes here and there when you have breaks. Or take a few days off. You don’t need to keep up with it constantly or consistently if you don’t want to. But it’s always on and there if you’re feeling social or have an announcement.
1) Distracting. It can be a huge distraction, depending on how you use it.
2) Addictive. You may need to manage and schedule the time you spend on various social media.
3) Keeping up. It’s not terrible but some days, I feel a little overwhelmed. It’s always nice to feel popular but there are days I’m not available or in the mood to retweet, follow back, thank, etc.
4) Spammy bots or people. You can block, ignore and report them. But they are annoying and pointless time wasters that give marketers a bad name. It’s not marketing. Social networking is about being a social, and it requires a delicate balance of promotion.
In my experience, there are far more compelling benefits than disadvantages to using social media as a writer and/or reader. It’s just about recognizing and managing the challenges.
I’m willing to try other social media sites in the future. But for now, I’m sticking with my top four to maximize my time and ROI.
Favorite Social Networking Channels
1) Twitter – Currently, it’s my favorite. There’s a learning curve but in my opinion, it’s worth it. Twitter is free and quick to sign up, and you can always start slowly. When I’m not busy with life or writing, I love jumping on Twitter to connect with my readers, writers, and new and old friends.
2) Pinterest – I’m a visual person so I love Pinterest. This relatively new social site is a fun way to save and organize pictures online. It’s a visual pin board with social sharing options. It could be a good creative and branding tool. I like that it’s low maintenance; I spend just a few minutes, a couple times a week on it when the mood strikes me.
3) Facebook – I’m rarely on Facebook but it’s another way for readers to find me. As an author, it can be useful as another platform to network and connect with your audience. It’s quick and easy to sign up under your author pen name and create a business fan page.
4) Goodreads – I’m pretty new to Goodreads and don’t spend a lot of time there. But it’s a good social media site for writers and readers. As an author, it’s another platform to promote your books and connect with readers. As a reader, you can rate and review books as you read them, organize your book reading lists, and share reading recommendations among friends.
Social Networking for Writers and Readers
Of course, there are tons of other social media sites like LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr. They all have their own unique advantages and purposes.
But you don’t need to sign up for all of them. As one person, you can’t possibly keep up with it all! Most people pick a few sites to focus on. For example, I mentioned I’m mostly on Twitter but occasionally hop on Pinterest, Goodreads and Facebook, too.
You may use social networking for personal and/or business reasons. For writers, I understand that many are not comfortable with marketing and new technology. And some are more social than others. But those who are willing to step outside their comfort zone to take advantage of social media in the right way will be the big winners in the social media marketing game. And it’s fun, too.
So where do you hang out online (if anywhere)?
Do you have anything to add to these lists? What are your thoughts, loves/hates, or questions about social networking?