In part one of this discussion on social media and writers, Kelly Page explained how creatives can use social media to share and create new work, and become part of a community of writers and readers. In today’s post, she shares tips on how to get started if you are not using social media, and ways to expand your use if you are already have an online presence.
RP: Can you give us some general dos and don’ts?
KP: Here are some tips to get you started:
Dos for Writers
- Think of social media as a practice in sharing with others, rather than the marketing of self.
- Approach social media practice as writing practice. See a tweet, FB update, comment or a longer blog post as akin to the sentences in your book, albeit shared in a more conversational voice.
- Approach social media practices as a daily writing practice. Set time aside each day to share with your friends and community.
- Be selective in the social media services you want to use and on which you have a writer’s profile (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon). You don’t need to be on everything. It is better to participate in a few spaces well and regularly, than many poorly and inconsistently.
- Craft an author profile to use consistently across social media services to present yourself to the world. Your profile is the main way people will recognize you and your work.
- Develop an editorial plan for the week, month or year ahead and consider the topics or items you want to share.
- Reply to people when they comment, retweet or share your work and engage them in conversations for deeper relationships with people on social media.
- Always lead with gratitude and respect when sharing and interacting with others. If you wouldn’t say it in person to someone or publish it in an article in The New Yorker with your name as the author, don’t type and share it on social media.
- Be authentic in who you are on social media. Be true to your values, your hopes and dreams. People connect to people more than they do content and messages.
- Have fun and consider social media as a creative social space where you learn from others and about yourself.
Don’ts for Writers
- Talk just about yourself or your work. Being social (as opposed to self-interested) is about sharing with others and the world around us, as well as yourself.
- Fall into the trap of thinking social media is easy and takes no time at all. It requires daily nurturing to develop relationships and build a community of interested people around you, your work and ideas.
- Outsource your social media to others to manage, unless these people are intimately aware about who you are, your ideas and work, and you trust them with your identity – after all that is what they are managing for you.
- Be defensive if you receive negative feedback or comments from others, or if people disagree with your work and ideas. Social media has made reviews and feedback more accessible and more public than ever before. Always be polite and thank people for their time, and consider how you can learn from all feedback in positive and constructive ways.
- Correct people’s writing on social media. While you may be an excellent writer and communicator of ideas, not everyone has the same access to educational opportunities to develop their writing and communication skills.
- Set-up social media accounts and never use or post to them. It is better to have no account than an account with very little activity. Even if you only post once or twice a week, some activity is better than none.
- Rely only on social media for feedback on your work. Participate in writing groups, continue to take writing classes and share with your peers. Social media is but one part of a bigger community from which we as writers can learn.
- Spend all your time on social media (unless you are like me and it is your main field of work). Social media can take up a lot of time, and it is easy to lose track of how much time you are spending on social media. Schedule your time to ensure it doesn’t impact on your time for writing.
- Attack people or organizations through social media. If you have had a bad experience, be considerate in how and where you share your feedback, the language you use and your intended impact.
- Share about others without being considerate. When we share about ourselves it is our choice, but when we share about others it is our responsibility. In education we teach children this acronym: THINK. Before you share consider:
T – is it true?
H – is it helpful?
I – is it inspiring?
N – is it necessary?
K – is it kind?
RP: If someone is not using social media, how should they get started?
KP: Start by following and learning from other people. Identify a list of people you admire on social media — it doesn’t have to be writers, it could be music artists or companies, and learn from them. Their voice will be different from yours, but pay attention to how and what they share, and how they interact with others through their profiles and content.
Make notes about what you like and dislike, what inspires you to comment and share, and what doesn’t. Learning is a social act, and social media is a wonderful space in which we can learn from so many people. Remember the Parisian café, or the writers’ group. Then start to develop your voice through the creative practice of writing or creating characters, scenes or plot. Your social voice will emerge over time.
RP: What is the minimum in terms of platforms and time that one should be prepared to commit?
KP: This depends on what your reasons are for being on social media. For example, are you observing and sharing only about others, and their content, or are you actively involved in creating your own? At a minimum I would say plan to spend one hour a day to share a few tweets or comment on Facebook posts. But to develop a community, and develop larger pieces of work such as a blog, Facebook page, and video, it takes many more hours.
RP: How often do you need to show up and post?
KP: This depends on many things, especially the presence you want to have on social media in terms of how interactive and conversational you are, and the needs of your community of friends and followers. Some people use social media like a mass media – posting content without the desire to talk to people (which is very difficult unless you ignore people’s comments). I encourage writers to schedule time at least twice a day to post or share content and these can be scheduled in advance. Monitor your accounts through notification services so you can respond or converse with others in a timely manner. Over time you will learn what schedule works for you and your community.
RP: Do you have any other ideas or tips that you feel are important for the novice?
KP: Consider updating and reviewing your social media accounts through a mobile device when you are in a café or social venue, and as a break from your writing. It helps to be social with others when you are engaged in some way with the world around you.
Your social media channels can also serve to inject more social activity into what sometimes feels like a lonely and isolated life as a writer. Enter into for conversation whenever the desire to connect with other writers or people occurs.
I hope this information helps you see social media as another way to build community. To find out what Kelly is up to, follow her on Facebook here. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and please share this with other writers and creatives who might find it helpful.