Writers and Social Media
Do you use social media? Most writers are acutely aware that writing, for the most part, is a lonely endeavor. For me it begins in my small office with perhaps only a cat as company. Much comedy is made from all the wonderful little tasks writers do to postpone the actual writing process. One of the big time holes for writers can sometimes be perusing Facebook or Twitter. But for all its loneliness there is a camaraderie of sorts among writers.
As one of the managers of the Facebook page for Writers of Kern, a Bakersfield writers group, I find something quite baffling. As part of a volunteer-run organization the task falls on me to create posts, find content, and encourage writers. Facebook etiquette prevents one for asking for “Likes” or requesting “Shares”. From behind the curtain, I can see how many people actually view a post and how many people ‘Share” or “Like” a post.
The baffling part? The Writers of Kern Page gets very little action. Now normally I would take the blame for such a situation. “If you post good content they will come” is the Facebook mantra. If people don’t “Like” or “Share”, look first at the content. While the content may not be great, it certainly is at the level of good, so what else is happening?
It’s poor form to blame the audience, I know. But they’re writers for crying out loud. One would think they would have an opinion…on everything. Some of the other “non-writing” pages I manage have people, who have no idea what they are talking about, go on for paragraph after paragraph. Is it the general affliction of low self-esteem that dogs most writers from speaking up?
A few writers with an aversion to Twitter and Facebook often claim they are “technologically challenged”. The world has changed people. Publishing is open to everyone. To say you’re technologically challenged today would be the same as Hemingway saying he can’t figure out the typewriter works. One need look no farther than Andy Weir author of The Martian to understand the opportunities writers have today. Andy published The Martian online, one chapter at a time, before putting a Kindle version on Amazon. He built a league of followers on social media. From there it caught the eye of publishers, and eventually movie producers.
In the early days of Twitter I had more time to follow different threads. I came across a literary agent Tweeting regularly. Over a period of half a year I saw more than one Tweet where she was pitched a story AND several congratulatory Tweets to authors who got published. Authors she met through social media.
What about the time suck that happens on social media? You sit down to look at a few notifications and 90 minutes later you are still there. That’s not social media’s fault. You don’t have to watch the puppy video, or the cat video, or the “He was just a bear in the woods, but you’ll be amazed at what happens next” video. There is a smart way to use social media. Like anything else, have a goal. For me, I use Facebook to connect with other writers and see what they are doing. Fifteen minutes, then I close the browser window. If I see a writer friends’ writing oriented post I’ll “Like” it. (If it’s a post about his trip to Disneyland, I keep moving along.) If the post is positive and encouraging, I’ll “Share” with my friends and fellow writers. The process takes literally 5 seconds.
Twitter uses a hashtag system. In the Twitter search bar you can put some like #writing or #JustWrite and every Tweet with those hashtags come up. And, if you do Tweet, always use a hashtag of some sort so people can find your Tweets. That’s why many Writers of Kern Tweets end with the #JustWrite tag.
If you are a writer who is not on social media, maybe it’s time to take another look. And if you are please take a moment to like or share a Writers of Kern post. It makes me look good to the boss.
Writers, do you use social media to your advantage? Let’s hear how – leave a comment.