Thursday, September 20, 2012

Social Media Considerations for Writers & Poets




A few weeks ago I did this post, Social Butterfly: How to Deal with Social Media as a Writer. 

Today I'm going to follow up with what I've learned with the different social media outlets and how they can help or hurt you as well as how to stay consistent.


FACEBOOK:

Ah, Facebook.  My love/hate relationship with social media begins with you.

After being talked into joining Facebook by Jeannine Hall Gailey (I was convinced it was just teenagers and pedophiles--that's My Space, she said...)  I started out okay.  Only my real friends, family and poets I knew from the community and online were friending me.  I knew everyone.

Then once in a while, I'd get a request from a writer who knew one of my writer friends, but I didn't really know her/him, but I'd say yes.  The Facebook kicked in, more and more requests were coming, I was feeling overwhelmed with saying yes or no to people.

I hated having photos of my Christmas morning up for people I didn't know personally. I felt as if strangers were looking in my living room window staring at my in my PJs, knowing what my family looked like, what we were having for breakfast, how many cats I have (3, if you're curious), and having way too much information about my private life.  

I realized with Facebook is that I hated my family/private life merging with my writing life.

I first tried "privacy settings," which was a pain and not very secure because if you forget one person, or don't have them on a "list," they had full access to all my info and photographs.

Finally, I just said, Screw this.  Instead of deleting my page, which was my first thought,  I started a Facebook page where I would only contact my real friends and family.  I would have a private page where I could post that I saw a bear in my neighborhood, post photos of myself camping wearing an incredibly unflattering socks with sandals combo, have my phone number listed in case one of my neighbors, friends, or family needed to get ahold of me, post my address in case someone wanted to add my to their Christmas card list without feeling as if I am giving away too much information so I'm an easy target for identity theft.

And this is what allowed me to exist in Facebookland.

So here's my trick #1 -- I have two Facebook pages -- one for my writer/public self and one private account where I only am friends with people I know and have met in person.

It is amazing the freedom from worry this gave me.

I can now post family photos or private info on my Facebook page without worrying what info I'm giving out to people I don't know.  I have my privacy settings to the max and only have family and real friends on this account.

What I've Learned on Facebook:

1)  Use the writer name people know you by and try to keep your writer or personal Facebook account & Facebook page consistent.

Listen to me, but don't learn from my actions because I did not do that well.

You see, my Facebook page where people can "friend" me is: www.facebook.com/kellia because I was one of those geeks who was online at the specific time when Facebook added page addresses trying to get "kelli" - what I really should have tried to get was "Agodon" or "kelliagodon."

However, that said, this worked out for me because I started a Facebook page specifically for my writing and "Agodon" was free.  So I have www.facebook.com/agodon  as my main Page address which is good because my main website is: www.agodon.com

So -- Figure out how you want to be found by your readers and fan and keep it simple and consistent.

For example: If your webpage is:  www.joecoolpoet.com then your Facebook Page should be facebook.com/joecoolpoet and maybe the Facebook account where people friend you can be facebook.com/coolpoet  (trying to keep it stuff).

Also, if you don't have two accounts and you're giving people you don't know access to your page, use privacy settings so all your personal info isn't public including your Anniversary date and maybe links to your kids' pages.  You need to do what makes you feel comfortable.

If you realize if you're adding people to your personal Facebook page and they only know you as a writer and you're writing all sort of rants, snarky, or posting photos you've taken of yourself in a bathroom, that can be a turn-off for some.  So if you accept the reading public onto your page, try to keep it fun, but somewhat professional.

Personally, I love seeing the behind-the-scenes lives of my favorite writers I'm friends with on Facebook.  But I don't need a bizallion photos of them making ducklips or a lot of intimate posts that make me feel as if I'm lurking outside their bedroom window.   Mostly though, it's been fun to see how different writers share on Facebook and have mostly made me feel more connected to them then less.

Also, do not post anything on Facebook that you wouldn't want your mom, prospective employer, next lover, spouse, child, child's friends' parents or teachers, or basically *entire world* to see because really, Facebook is not private.  Anything can be downloaded by a "friend" and then make the rounds.

Please know, this isn't to scare you because honestly, I believe people are good, and well, there's so much on the internet, I really doubt that photo of you with your lipstick in your bra at a party because you were trying to recreate that Molly Ringwald scene from Breakfast Club will go viral, just know, if you post it, anyone can see it.

Other thoughts--

* Share posts on other writers, not just always yourself.  Tag writers in posts you write about them so they get some spotlight on their page too.

* Use the cover page portion (the thing everyone hated) to let others know your writer self.  I have my corona typewriter as my cover.

* Have fun & play around with your profile pic to keep things interesting, but mostly keep a more polished/artsy/interesting photo as a profile pic.  No self-portraits of you with your iPhone in the bathroom.

* Show something about yourself that's important to you-- say a literary vacation, a favorite activity (for me, mountain biking & paddleboarding), things that would be humorous or interesting to other writers and readers.

* Be yourself, but a better, kinder, version of yourself (stay out of fights and flamewars, no one ever wins these things).  The best motto I've heard about crazy threads on Facebook: When in doubt, stay out.

~

TWITTER!

I have admitted Twitter took me a long time to learn.  Plus, I hate that some person just decided that 140 characters was the max, I think it should be 150 or 160 characters, but that's just me.

Same rules apply on Twitter, except Twitter is 100x more public than Facebook.  Remember this.  Anyone with a Twitter account can search for keywords in your Tweet.

If you're on Twitter, chose as SHORT of a name that is consistent with your writer's name as possible.

For example, in the best of world, I'd be "agodon" - except that was taken, so I'm https://twitter.com/kelliagodon  - which is fine and good but takes up 5 more characters every time someone refers to me.

Thankfully my full name didn't fit when I signed up or I would have been kellirussellagodon as I had no idea that having a short Twitter name was better (thank you extra L in Russell).

Most of the short names are gone, so use your first and last name, or first initial and last name are good choices.

You also can upload your own images so if someone goes to your page, they can see the cover of your book, something to do with writing, anything so they know they may want to connect with you because you're a writer too.

~

YOUR WEBSITE:

This is your most important presence on the web.

Again, make your website address easy to remember.  I'm www.agodon.com 

Before you choose your website, imaging saying a thousand times to folks. Consider what it sounds like and if it's confusing.  I always think of those NPR ads where they have to spell out the website because someone got KreaTive with their spelling.  Like  Qwest.com pronounced "Quest.com" so they have to say Q West dot com.

So if you're being creative and thinking "WriteOn.com" is the best website name for a writer ever--remember, every time you tell someone that name you're going to have to spell out "write" or say "Write, as in writer" otherwise, you may have a number of people going to "RightOn.com"

As with Twitter names, shorter, simpler, easy-to-remember, web addresses are better.

And always try to go with your published name.  It's just easier and then you can put anything that connects with you (such as your own press, a writer's group or event you organize) as one of your website pages.

Again, we're in the K.I.S.S. mode, Keep It Simple, Sweetie.

~

Linked In--

Because Linked In is a professional outlet, keep it all professional here.  Professional name.  Professional photo. Professional info.  This is not Facebook, don't ever confuse the two.

Use your published writer name.

Use it to find jobs or offer jobs.  A strong resource for professionals.

~

Blog:

If you chose to have a blog, keep it updated (at least once or twice a month so it doesn't look abandoned) and again, use a name that connects to your writer's self.

I am not an example of this.  My blog was http://www.agodon.blogspot.com for about 5 years, then I had a case of "online shy" and deleted it.  Thankfully, I still "own" the name so if you go there, there's a link to my new blog.

My blog should really be at agodon.blogspot and not at ofkells.blogspot.com but I decided it was too late to turn back because everyone has my linked at this address.

If you're starting a blog, do it under your writer name.  Think about your other sites-- website, Facebook, Twitter, and try to make it consistent.  You see my message here-- keep it simple and consistent.  Make it easy for people who want to find you, find you.

Also, I've heard www.wordpress.com is better than blogger.  So you may want to check that out. I've never used it, so I'm not sure, but I've heard it can also host your webpage and you can get everything in one place.


~

Instagram--

If you want people/readers/the public to see the photos you post on Instragram, use your writer name, otherwise, use a nickname and keep it private-- you can do that.  You can choose to "Not allow followers" - I have one account like this and one with followers.

Mostly now, I'm getting tired of making all my photos look retro and weirded out, so I haven't been using it much.  I keep thinking my daughter will grow up and and ask, "How come for 2 years all my childhood photos were faded, square, and have weird edges around them?"  Yes, I think we will all ask that.

~

Tumblr / Pinterest --

If you choose to use these and want it public, use your writer name.  If you want to keep it on the down-low, use a nickname and connect it to an email account that isn't public.

~

So there we are.

The most important things to remember are:

1)  On the internet, everything, (including emails) are not private.  Never forget that.

2)  The KISS technique:  Keep It Simple, Sugarbeep. (Or sweetie, but sugarbeep is a favorite name of mine.)

3)  Be consistent with all your social media sites if you want to be found.  If you don't, use nicknames and personal non-public email accounts.  (You should always have an email account no one contacts you on, just in case you want to create a private profile somewhere.)

4)  Decide before joining or creating any of these accounts, how much you want to share with people you don't know.

Open, optimistic people are happy to share photos of their kids, family, location, inside of their homes, without worrying who is seeing them.  Introverted, worriers like myself, tend to want to keep a few boundaries up.

Both ways are fine, just know your own personality level, so you don't freak out when you realize you just posted a photo of yourself in your cutey pajamas to two-thousand of your not-so-closest friends.


5)  Be your best internet self by being kind, forgiving (people make huge online mistakes daily and sometimes you end up included in them-- remember that photo of you in high school doing something you're not so proud about now? -sorry, your friend just tagged you in it), and keep it fun.

No one likes an internet whiner or someone who only posts boring information about themselves.  Or someone who acts like a 1) victim  2) martyr  3) bore  4) curmudgeon  5) _________________ insert your favorite adjective of people who annoy you here.


6)  Don't always be online.

Sometimes I wonder how some writers have time to write as it seems they are always updating their Facebook post or twitter feed.  Be someone who also lives offline and enjoy that.

Be the person you hope shows up at the party, not the person who arrives early, leaves late, and eats all the cocktail weenies.

~

Hope these ideas help you with your social self.

Let me know if you have any other questions I can answer or offer my most humble opinion.  Happy Socializing, Butterflies.

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2 comments:

Shawnte Orion said...

I almost joined Instagram just to see what kind of sandwiches all my favorite poets are eating for lunch.

Shannon said...

GREAT set of instructions and reasons for the suggestions, Kelli. Sharing this one with my FB friends.

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