Friday 5 June 2015

Self-promotion on social media needs to be moderate

And how to keep it so.

My love of social media

I love social media, I really do. Twitter is my all-time favourite but I also “do” Facebook, Linkedin, Streetlife and just recently, Pinterest. I’m just about on Goodreads, too. They all have slightly different uses, so I use them slightly differently.  I just love the power of Twitter, though. One retweet can take you to all sorts of interesting places.   
I use my social media interaction as punctuation between tasks and as a way of keeping in touch with the world. The latter is really important as because I’m both a writer and an academic I tend to work in an isolated way.


Why else we writers use it

Our publishers expect us to have a presence. We want to have a presence. It is a useful way of connecting with a lot of people. Of course we want to tell people about our books. However, we need to do this carefully. 

It can’t all be about self-promotion

In fact, anybody who only ever brags about their success and their books is likely to be unfollowed, blocked or at least hidden by me. I’m unlikely to buy their book-  partly because I have about 2,000 already on my Kindle,  Goodreads, Amazon and reviews I read keep me informed about what else I might want to read and I’m three years behind on my hard copy reading. I’m also slightly sceptical about what an author says about his / her own book. I will buy the book if I find the author and their theme or premise interesting. The same for any other sort of promotion – if I have some sort to relationship with whoever is asking and I like what they’re doing, I’ll react and maybe even put my hand in my pocket.
I’d like to give you here a couple of names to follow on Twitter so that you can see what I mean:
Nadine Muller – tweets as an academic, dog-owner, sports person, human being and takes some lovely photos 
Rayne Hall – tweets as a writer, writer’s advisor, cat-lover, human being and posts some great stylised pictures of herself
Both now seem like office friends. I trust Rayne enough to buy one of her books. Twitter for Writers lives up to its promise, by the way. I’m thinking of buying a second.     

The 80 / 20 rule

There is a theory that if you must promote, only do it 20% of the time. I do tell people about my books and my events but I also make sure that I then provide four other posts where I am just being me. This can be:
  • A comment about the weather
  • Telling folk what I am doing 
  • Asking a question – serious or frivolous
  • Favouriting and liking something
  • Retweeting an interesting link
  • Commenting on an interesting link
  • Getting into conversation    
  • Sharing a quotation       
And for every post I make, I also respond to four others.    


Be genuine

If we all like each other out of courtesy it starts to become meaningless, though, yes, we do it probably quite rightly for our very best friends. Let’s be genuine about this otherwise. And brave. Press the like or favourite button when only you agree, are amused or are touched. Retweet only if what you’ve just read will interest your followers and you also feel strongly about it. Comment only if you have something appropriate to say. These are other reasons why I like Nadine, Rayne and a bunch of other people so much.    
Perhaps what then emerges is a true picture of who you are. Others can then take that or leave it. It’s probably only at that point anyway that any recognition of who you are will lead anywhere that is useful.     

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