Social Networking Part 2: Beware

*This was originally posted on my alternate blog, Writing in the Modern Age.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Social Networking Part 2: Beware by Marie Lavender

Back in March, you may have seen my post about social networking and how useful a tool it can be.  I still stand by that statement with the exception of a few things.  

Facebook is a good social networking tool.  Remember how I said to connect with as many people as possible to expand your presence?  You should.  And joining discussion groups on Facebook is a good idea too.  If you are published, your publisher may have its own authors group.  Definitely join.  It will save you a lot of unanswered questions.  Facebook is a really good tool.

However, Facebook has this funny way of preventing you from adding friends like crazy.  I have been blocked before.  This is basically like putting a hold on your account for a certain length of time.  You can do everything except add new friends and send direct messages to people you aren’t connected with.  The only way you can get new friends is if people add you and then you confirm.  I know it's not great while you're waiting for the wonderful people at Facebook to take the hold off of your account, but it's something.  I think part of it is Facebook’s fault.  The other reason you get blocked is because the people you have tried to add have nothing better to do than to report to Facebook that you are a complete stranger or are spamming them.  It is simple.  They don’t have to confirm you as a friend.  They can simply hit “ignore”.  Instead, they chose to report you.  The only good reason I see for blocking someone is if they are sending you creepy or threatening messages.  That is just my take on being blocked.  Unfortunately, Facebook has their own rules.  So, that is one of the disadvantages of adding friends like crazy on Facebook.

LinkedIn is still a tool I would recommend.  Having said that, there is one hiccup you’re bound to come across at some point.  LinkedIn lets you join 50 different discussion groups.  This is nice if you have joined good ones.  It is not so nice if you have not.  I mentioned the notifications you’d receive before.  Just be sure to change the notification settings on each of your groups so you’re not bombarded with messages in your inbox.  

The one thing I want to cover with LinkedIn today is knowing what those groups are about.  Read the rules of each group.  The moderators can get really picky with what they allow.  I encourage you to join discussions.  Make sure your website and any other information is on your profile so others can see it and link to it.  Posting discussions can get hairy though.  You need to decide if what you post goes with that specific group.  One of my discussions was removed recently and I was flagged to be moderated in the future.  All I posted was the fact that I was interviewed by a blogger.  It’s not like I was doing multi-level marketing and trying to get people to look at and buy a specific product.  I was just excited about the interview.  So sue me.  LOL.  For future reference, just keep an eye on what you’re posting and what the group is all about.

Twitter is also a neat tool to use.  You can tweet about pretty much anything from your book to interviews to where you went to eat last night to how you took your dog for a walk.  I’m not kidding about the last two.  People actually do that.  Nowadays, it’s becoming the standard to talk about things besides what you really want to post.  That is why you see the celebrities you follow tell everyone they just ate a bag of Doritos or painted their toe nails.  Really?  That’s nice.  I know.  Not very exciting.  And not very hopeful for the burgeoning writer.   

So, there are a few things you can do to ramp up your presence on Twitter.  Sure, you can post news about your writing.  I recommend it.  Also, try to gain a following by following other authors or your own interests (i.e. companies or brands you like, people you admire).  Chances are they’ll follow you back.  And on the left side of the page, Twitter gives you recommendations, kind of like the age old, "if you like this, you'll like this" notion.  And always try to follow those who have followed you on Twitter.  If someone direct messages you, asking a random question like, “What is your favorite food?” or maybe they want to talk about how they just finished a needlepoint project, go ahead and reply back.  This puts out the idea that your efforts are not self-serving and you actually do want to talk to people, which is most likely the case.  The downside of Twitter is this:  some of the people you follow are not exactly professional, and you may get some pretty nasty comments or propositions.  The best way to handle this is to go through your list of followers and unfollow those rude people.  They may still follow you, but by unfollowing them, you have just saved yourself a big headache and a ton of embarrassment.  

In my previous article, I did not mention any other tools that could help you network and give you more of a presence.  But, I will now.  Some of these include blogging and email lists.  Blogging is a good tool.  Start your own blog.  Find a niche market, something to write about.  You want to write about writing?   Go ahead.  You want to tell people how much you love baking pies?  You can do that.  In most cases, if you say you’re a writer somewhere on your profile and have a link to your website, curiosity alone will cause people to go there.  Will they buy your book?  I don’t know.  But, it’s worth a try.  The important thing is you have something to offer people, something that brings them back to the blog again and again.  You’ll get subscribers.  That’s a good thing.  You’re building a web presence.  I have two blogs, one that showcases my books and one that is all about writing.  Obviously, you’re here so you know which one is which.  LOL.  Then, you want to look up ways to advertise your blog.  There are many sites where you can list your blog and thereby draw attention to it.

Now, I’m going to say something about email lists.  Sure, you can take a bunch of your connections and email them like wild about your books, etc.  But, I don’t recommend it.  You’re mainly going to piss people off.  They’ll end up blocking you in some form or other.  And you’ll get some replies back, mostly ones like, “Stop emailing me” or “Take me off your mailing list”.  The same could happen if you buy email lists.  But, if you go that route, mostly what you’ll get is a bunch of non-deliverable emails sent back because those emails were out of date.  Probably the best thing to do is to make connections or even friends on LinkedIn, Twitter or in real life and simply ask them if it’s okay to put them on a mailing list for updates or news on your books/writing.  

So, that’s my spiel for the day, folks.  Yes, there are a few disadvantages to social networking.  I’m sure there are more than I even listed.  But, without these tools, we would have no presence as writers.  Gone are the days when all books ended up on shelves in libraries or bookstores.  This is the digital age.  E-books are the thing.  If someone can read a book on their Kindle or Nook, then we have to use the tools provided to us in the digital age to try to reach those readers.  Though I love traditional books as much as anyone else, even I have to evolve with the times.  

Thanks for reading!  Keep an eye out for further posts.  I am still doing author interviews, guest blog articles and I am beginning to take book reviews on my blog.  Enjoy, or read back through the archives of Writing in the Modern Age.  Have a great day!

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