Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Social Media - Part Two

I learned some interesting things from the Writer’s Digest webinar on social media I participated in on December 9. These are some of the things I’ve learned, and some of the decisions I’ve made.
Facebook - I need to quit being afraid of it (don’t ask me why I find it so intimidating) and just dive in. I can share bits of industry news and interesting links, mixed in with a bit of promotion.
It’s not like I have to be posting constantly. I.J. Schecter (http://ijschecter.com/), presenter of the webinar, says that a moderate poster will post a couple of times a week. A high frequency poster will post everyday or several times a day. He believes there is a “sweet spot” between the frequency of the posts, and the focus or topic of the posts. If your focus is always the same, for instance, on writing topics, you are highly focused. If you post on variety of subjects that often have little to do with your primary focus, you are a low focus poster. Schecter believes it is best to be relatively highly focused and relatively highly frequent.
However often I post, I must always be conscious and safe. Similar to email, don’t write anything you’d be embarrassed to have certain people read, or be sorry about later. Always be aware of your tone – watch the snark! You want to project a certain voice in all your postings. That voice is your brand.
There’s that word again – brand. I know what I would like people to think of when they think of my writing; I’d like them to think of hard-to-put down romance, memorable storylines and unforgettable characters. I would love readers to think of me as an automatic buy. So how do I get there?
I can start by showing readers in my posts that I love writing. I’m also interested in sharing information on writing and technology with other writers. My hope is that by showing myself to be a warm and decent human being (hopefully!) readers will be interested enough to check out my books.
I.J. says that figuring out what you want your brand to be and how you want to present yourself to the world is a little like writing an outline for a book. Once you figure out all the plot twists and turning points, the actual writing isn’t so hard. The same is true for posting on either Facebook or Twitter. Once you figure out how you want the world to think of you, then writing the posts is easy.
Blogging – Blogging is a good thing, but only if you’ve got something to say.  Don’t do it just to do it. I.J.’s examples of blogs were very focused. For instance, his own blog is all about golf and golf courses. Sports writing, and golf in particular, is part of his writing career, and he’s decided his blog will be the place for public discussions about golf. I’ve decided to reduce to one blog a week, and I’ve decided that I want to concentrate on topics dedicated to writing. So beginning in the New Year I will be blogging on Thursdays only.
LinkedIn – At this point I don’t think I want to venture into another social media. But one thing I did learn is that LinkedIn seems to be the place to advertise yourself as a professional, in whatever profession you happen to be in. Eighty percent of employers go to LinkedIn first when looking for an employee. I’ve wanted to write magazine articles for some time, so when I get to the point where that becomes a reality for me, I would set up an account on LinkedIn under my real name.
Twitter – Many people claim it’s actually easier to use than Facebook and is more effective. But until I feel more comfortable using the social media I’m using now, I can’t add any more. That’s a project for the future. However, I am researching the Twitter-verse and trying to figure out how it works. Sage Cohen offers these reasons for a writer to tweet:
1.  Give Service. Share relevant information with the people who are seeking your advice on a certain topic or genre.
2.  Build Community. Connect with people all over the world who share your interests and inclinations. Exchange insight, information and inspiration with them.
3.  Evolve. Through the offerings of your tweeting community, you can discover new resources, learn about new opportunities, and plug into possibilities that take your writing life where you want it to go.
Click here for some really good tips and advice from Robert Brewer on how to make Twitter work for writers.
And my friend Hayley Lavik (http://www.hayleylavik.com ) offers up this super “Introduction to Twitter”:
I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable with social media and building my “platform”. There are other avenues I’d like to explore at some point, like Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/program ) , but for now I’m taking I.J. Schecter’s advice and not spreading myself too thin.
 Which social media do you use? Which do you feel most comfortable with? What new avenue do you plan to use in the future? Which do you think most effectively promotes you as a writer?

And just to blow my own horn a bit, I'm very excited that the release of "Flawless" is only 15 days away on January 5, 2011. To read a blurb and an excerpt, please go to my website at http://www.janarichards.net/


  1. I'll be thinking of all these things come the New Year when I sit down and re-evaluate how things are working and if I'm 'spreading myself to thin'. I'm having fun and that's a good thing but I'm not writing as much as I was and that's a bad thing.

    I like Twitter even though I'm still getting the hang of it! It's actually pretty informative (sometimes) so I plan on using it more in the future.

    Thanks for the tips!

  2. Another great post with great tips, Jana. I understand the whole 'spread yourself thin' and, unfortunately, relate to Karyn's comment about having fun, but not writing as much. It's a difficult balancing act when everything you read says to have a web presence, but the goal (to be published, for me) needs to have the majority of your time. I feel like I'm being pulled in two very different directions!

    Interesting about LinkedIn - I'm not even going to think about that! Still trying to decide whether or not to jump into Twitter in the New Year.

    Merry Christmas, Jana - and I'll see you on Thursdays in the New Year :)

  3. Hi Karyn,
    At least you're having fun! I have to admit that I wasn't. I was (am) feeling pretty overwhelmed with trying to learn about and use some of these new-to-me social media. Between Facebook, trying to come up with blogs, updating my website, and finding places to guest blog, there's not much time left for actual writing. I'm hoping to get a better handle on the amount of time I spend on promotion in the New Year.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Karyn. I hope you can join me at Janet's blog right after the New Year (Jan.5) when we launch my new novella. See you then!


  4. Hi Janet,
    I feel pulled in two different directions as well. It's like a chicken and egg thing; you have to promote (or maintain a web presence) or you don't sell. But if you don't have time to write, you have nothing to sell, so what's the point?

    The impression I got of LinkedIn is that it is very popular among professionals of all types, including writers. I could be totally wrong about this, but I think it would be of more value to a freelance writer than a writer of fiction. I'd like to hear other people's opinions on this.

    Thanks again for offering your blog as the launch pad for "Flawless". I'm looking forward to it!


  5. Great tips, Jana. I do most everything but LinkedIn. I'll have check that out. I, too, would be interested in hearing what others have to say.


  6. Very informative post, Jana. I do Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads. I don't know anything about LinkedIN but I think I've got enough irons in the fire right now. I've found that one of the biggest dangers of the social networks are the huge timesucks they can be away from your writing. Hours will slip away before you know it, so I highly recommend setting some sort of timer or "social networking time" and stick to it.

  7. This was a very timely post for me, Jana. I've been struggling with these questions since a few months before my first book was released in October. So far, I have a website and have done a fairly extensive blog tour.

    I've also been a little "afraid" of Facebook, probably because my 24-year-old daughter said it would be creepy if her mom was on it. I am on LinkedIn, but only in my day-job persona, and so far I haven't seen any real value in it.

    I really want to do better with social media, so I think I'll try Facebook first. I just don't think Twitter will ever be the venue for me.
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  8. Hi Steph,
    I haven't felt a great need to explore LinkedIn to this point. Maybe once I master Facebook and Twitter I'll think about. Of course, by then, something new will have popped up!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Hi Maeve,
    You're totally right about social media - time can really get away on you. Setting a timer for a specific amount of time sounds like a smart idea. I'd also suggest a set amount of time to read blogs. They're often so interesting that time can really slip away!

    I have a question about Goodreads. Is it something you have check in on/update a lot or just occassionally? I was thinking that if I can set it up and then maybe check in on it on a once weekly or monthly basis, it might be doable. How often do you check in on Goodreads? I'd love to hear from anyone else who is on Goodreads too.


  10. Hi Allison,
    I have to admit I find Facebook a little intimidating too. But the more I post the better I get. And my daughters, also in their twenties, are now my Facebook friends!

    One word of warning about LinkedIn. If you already have an account for your day job and then start promoting your writing on it, I.J. Schecter says you may give the impression to your employers that your day job isn't all that important to you (assuming you're using your real name for your writing). Just something to be aware of. Whether LinkedIn will promote you as a fiction writer, I have no idea.


  11. Hi Jana,
    This is a very interesting post - and timely. You're already putting into practice what you learnt on the workshop which is great. I use FB and Twitter, but I'm not sure how they affect sales. GoodReads is pretty good for exposure. I'm going to try Linkedin, but I'm a fiction writer so I don't know... You see? Posts like this are very popular.
    Sue (Happy Christmas)

  12. Great post, Jana!

    I have a fan page on FB, which is for my romance writing. My personal profile page is for close friends and family only. I like FB b/c as I build my fan page, I see it as a great way to interact in a timely way since I only post on my blog once per week. My fan base is small, but since I started posting at least once per day, 5 days per week, I've seen it steadily increase.

    LinkedIn is good if you want to interact with other fiction writers and learn tricks of the trade or about the industry in general. It's more of a professional network. Other than that, I don't see much value in it for fiction writers.

    I love Goodreads and you should check it out. I interact with readers and other authors on an almost daily basis. By reading/participating in the discussions, you learn what people like and learn about the industry too.

    I've recently cut back my time on Goodreads b/c I enjoyed being on there so much (lol). I highly recommend it. It's a great place to get recommendations for books too, and with my author profile I can see how many people have saved my book to their TBR list.

    Have a great holiday!

  13. Hi Delaney,
    I have a FB fan page too, although so far most of my "fans" are my very nice writing friends, some relatives, and at least one of my editors. Hopefully I'll start to build on that the more I post.I'm trying to get up to a post a day, at least 5 out of 7 days.

    Thanks for the info on Goodreads. I like the idea of connecting with readers, but I am worried about the time sink. I'll have to think about this one.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Hi Sue,
    Check with Delaney Diamond's comment about LinkedIn just below your comment. It might be a good place for information and networking among fiction writers, but maybe not the best place to find readers.

    Goodreads is starting to sound like a place I should try out. I'll just have to watch that I don't spend too much time there!

    Happy Christmas to you too! I'm looking forward to taking a break so I can start your book.


  15. Hi Sue, I agree with most of this except on the focus aspect to social media. The very premise of social media is to be social. If you show up on my wall as a friend, tweep, or LinkedIn associate and constantly hammer me about your excerpts, appearances, releases, contests, etc., you will alienate me and the very people you're trying so hard to reach out to.

    It's a challenge to strike a balance between promoting your work and luring readers - not AUTHORS - to you. (That's another mistake we all make because authors are much easier to find than readers.) I try hard to keep my really personal information off social media, but you can learn lots of things about me as an individual - you get a sense of my personality and interests beyond my books. That helps engage people. I spend some time visiting their walls just to say good morning, send the birthday wishes, make a comment about what they are saying. These are the activities that will enable you to be more successful in social media.

    I do sell books from Twitter and Facebook, by the way. I watch the referring URLs very carefully and I outright solicit and get requests for autographed copies of my new books when they hit the market.

    The subject, social media, fascinates me. I invite you to read a post on my blog from earlier this fall and look forward to your reactions. http://blog.romancewithsass.com/2010/10/09/embracing-the-social-mentality.aspx

  16. Margie, thanks for your information. I read your article and commented. Very insightful.

    I have a tendency to forget to be social when I'm on Facebook (I'm just getting into it). My thinking is always "If I quickly post on something on FB I can get back to writing." I'm always cautious about time. But I'm learning that I have to be patient. Your hunting/farming analogy in your article illustrates that very well.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  17. One of the things I'm learning about the media aspect is there's always 'one more level to learn.' Every time I think I'm cracking it some more information comes along.
    I find twitter very intimidating, facebook is better for me, but I know I've still so much to learn about it. Goodreads is an excellent place to be, and all are time-consuming :-)
    What I am taking away from this is 'focus'.
    Focus on what is important to you now, before going on to the next item. I, like so many others, jumped right in and spread myself too thinly, reulting in personal confusion and a sense of intimidation and 'overwhelm'. In the new year I intend to work out my priorities and work through them systematically.
    Jana, your posts and links have been very helpful, and reading these replies and some knowing others share my sense of intimidation and 'overwhelm' helps to lessen their impact on me.
    Jana, thanks for sharing and have a wonderful Christmas.

  18. Sherry, you bring up a good point. I've been thinking about jumping into Goodreads, but I really haven't figured out all the facets of Facebook yet. I need to be more comfortable in at least one social media before I venture into the next one. Thanks for reminding me of that.

    It is comforting to know I'm not the only one who is finding promoting myself on social media intimidating. I have good company here!

    Thanks for commenting Sherry. I hope you had a great Christmas and I hope your New Year is full of fun!