It seems vital today that writers have a presence on some social networking platforms. In fact I am convinced I have made sales and been approached by schools wanting workshops because I have some visibility. My work at Salford University also helps and I note that my pages on various the web site there have had many hits. I maintain several blogs, I have several pages on Facebook but rarely use my wall, I’m on Twitter, I’m on LinkedIn and I’m on E-academy. I’m also quite active in a couple of groups that are supported by Ning.
However, I have noticed a quite disturbing trend, sadly on LinkedIn, which started off being such a professional organisation and on E-academy, which was originally a reliable business network. People join any group that has the remotest connection with what they do and thereby water down the possibilities of that group. Recently there was a whole campaign on Linked in within one sub-group where everyone was invited to like each other’s pages on Facebook. Many of the members of the groups only had the slightest connection with the topic. It wasn’t always clear exactly what there was to like. And frankly, I have better things to do with my time than simply click buttons on Facebook. I’m not saying there wasn’t something there to like – I just hadn’t found it yet.
No, no, no, I say. Let’s be genuine about this.
We have to take a little care that we don’t create an affiliate situation without a product behind it. Crowd-funding is fine as long as people fund because they like the product / project not just because they are friends with the project leader who has a great deal of charisma. Don’t vote for your friend’s story just because s/he is your friend. Vote for that story because it is actually the best.
I personally love Twitter. I treat myself to a look whenever I change task. It’s like meeting at the water cooler. I like the way it finds other people you might want to connect with, how you can show someone you approve of their message by retweeting it and the effect that then has on the way that message spreads, or you can reply to that message and give a bit of value-added. It’s all done in 140 characters so you’re not going to waste a lot of time. Often you can be directed to an interesting blog or a publishing opportunity. I’ve made a few friendships on Twitter – some people I knew before but I’ve got to know those people better and others I met for the first time there. I keep on top of the local, national and international news and I have some connections which help me with some of my projects.
Social networking is helpful, perhaps essential for writers. It must, however, include genuine connections.