Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Social Media: 2015 Edition (The Good Side)

Once or twice a year I get asked about what's the best way to use social media as an author in my writing group. It happens, people are new to the whole Internets thing. The reason I do a post or two a year is to have my thoughts written down and shared about what is working and what has changed in any given year. It's all fairly reasonable.

Do you know what I have a love/hate relationship with? People who comment how to use social media on social media 365 days of the year. I think that deserves a, "What in the fuck?" Don't be that person.

Here is a good side and the bad side of social media. I'll only cover the good in this post, because I don't need to make a graduate paper out of this topic. The bad side of social media will be later. Anyways, let's stop wasting time and get right into this. 

There are nearly no rules to use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr, and the like. The key word is nearly. There are certain things you refrain from, such as spam, automated message selling your product. You know, the common sense stuff. The good news is you can be you or not, it doesn't fucking matter. Do you post once every three days? Great. Do you post 300 times a day? Wonderful. I am sick and tired of people trying to direct others in the "proper" usage of their online space.

I've seen people who hardly use their Twitter accounts become successful, and I've seen people who post constantly see very little traffic. There is no rulebook here, use each platform as you see fit.

Pick a select few platforms that accentuate your passions and strengths. Each platform is different, and they all have their own strengths and deficits.n Twitter is nice because of the character limit. Facebook is a monolithic entity most everyone is plugged into. Tumblr is captivating for visuals. Google Plus has a great community system and has most of the strengths of all other platforms, except for the active install base. Use one for a week and see if you take to it. If you don't like it, don't use it.

Keep the number of platforms you maintain low. You will have to spend an almost daily regiment (Or not!) to be active on them. It's much easier to spend your time on one website, than six. I've seen people who spread themselves thin on too many platforms, and not even four months later most of them ended up being ghost towns. What you don't want to happen from my example is having all those links on your website directing users to those unused platforms. Nothing says amateur hour like seeing the last update two years ago.

Have a website hub. I don't care if you use WordPress, Blogger, Wix, or all the others out there. This will typically mean a blog of some sort as well, but if you look back to the start of this list, there is no wrong way to use these resources. It also helps visitors to know there is a central rock they can go to, in case something is going wrong. Maybe you stop using Twitter, and your Twitter follows say, "What's happening?" so they check your website where you said you were taking a break. One hands washes the other.

For some people I follow, their Twitter is the place to find any official news on them, others is their YouTube channel, and others their Tumblr.

Don't worry about what you're doing. Is this a repeat? Yes, but that should go to show you how important it is. What's worse than a lukewarm post? Being paralyzed from posting anything at all.

Here is a list of social media that can help authors:

  • Twitter. I like it. I keep it casual and talk movies, video games, sports, and sometimes writing. Sometimes I tweet a lot in a day, sometimes I can go days without tweeting anything at all. 
  • Google Plus. This is my business casual platform. There is no limit character counts or word limits. The community feature is fantastic. This is the harder platform to crack for most people, because they don't want to do even the slightest bit of learning on their part, because if they did, they would find one of the best social media platforms today.
  • Facebook. The king of social media that can do it all. What it may lack in some areas, it makes up for in sheer volume of users. 
  • Tumblr. One of the more recent additions that can service users as a blog and a virtual scrap book. Images and GIFs really helped this platform carve out its niche and become a viable contender.
That's a good jumping off point and some sound advice for today. In fact, you can go out and carve out your slice of the Internet right now if you want. It really is that easy.