Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to help you make the most out of your social media experience. I teach, specifically, social media for writers. Writers are unique. Our social media presence is different than a business or even a casual user. We straddle both worlds, and often we feel as if we are in social limbo. We have to make sure to be friendly and personable and interact, but we also must remember that we are a business and have an image to build and a reputation to protect.
In my book We Are Not Alone, content is my primary focus. For me, walking a reader through signing up for a Twitter profile isn’t nearly as important as coaching that individual on what to do once she begins to “tweet.” What should she say? Last week I wrote a guest post for Genreality and I introduced the concept of T.H.I.N.K.ing before we post anything. Before our hot little fingers can dash across the keyboard, we need to engage our brain and T.H.I.N.K.
Is it TRUE?
Is it HELPFUL?
Is it INFORMATIVE?
Is it NECESSARY?
Is it KIND?
Social media is, above all else, social. Yet, it is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when we are sitting in the privacy of our homes. Our main goal as writers is to use social media in order to build a platform of individuals who know us, like us and support us. To do this, we must be personable, kind and genuinely interested in others. We must also be cognizant that everything we do is a calculated business decision. We are free to do anything we want on social media. We can gripe about other authors, agents, and publishing houses. We can grouse and get into Twitter fights. We can tweet dirty jokes and rant about the economy, the war, the state of public education. We are free to do all of these things. No Writer Police will show at our door and haul us away. But, even though we are free to do all these things, we must ask ourselves if it is wise from a business perspective.
In my book and in last week’s Genreality blog, The Power of Positive Tweeting, I recommended that writers stay away from subjects that are polarizing. Sex, politics and religion are topics guaranteed to quickly divide people and create ill will. So, unless these subjects are part of our platform, it is just a good idea to steer clear.
Gasp. Why, Kristen, we have beliefs and a faith and a viewpoint!
Okay, fair enough. So do I. But I imagine most of you are a lot like me. I like being friends with all kinds of people, not just those folk who believe the same as I do. I want all kinds of people in my corner, buying my books and wishing for my success, not just those people who believe the same things I do. As writers trying to build a platform, we are wise to think of social media like one giant social gathering, and that means we need to be great hosts. Others are a guest on our blog or in our space, so we should show them kindness by making them as comfortable as possible.
Few people are logical. We operate on emotions. Recently I had a writer ask me to evaluate his blog. It was a 1200 word ranting about a politically volatile topic. I felt sick to my stomach by the third sentence and I literally felt bludgeoned by the third paragraph. Do I believe the writer intended that response? Of course not. He was being bold and passionate and blogging about something he believed fiercely was right. But I would wager that, for at least 50% of his audience, reading that blog would likely rank up with dental surgery as in not an experience we care to repeat.
If he is a fiction author, then what did that blog just do to his platform? It split it clean down the middle by alienating half of his following. Any comments on the blog would also be split. One side would think he was a grand ideologue, and the other half would want his head…and would likely tell everyone they knew to steer clear of him and anything he wrote.
Remember our little acronym, T.H.I.N.K.? Was it true? For him, yes. Was it helpful? He certainly thought so. Was it informative? Oh, indeed! Ah, but was it necessary? For a fiction author, probably not. Thus, this author could fracture his following needlessly by blogging on a divisive subject that did nothing to support his fiction platform. For a political writer, this is great blogging. For a novelist, this is a needless travesty.
Emerson once said that good manners are made up of petty sacrifices. Am I asking writers to give up who they are and what they believe in? Not at all. But I do firmly believe in your talent as writers. Surely those of you gifted enough to create entirely new worlds are talented enough to be yourself in a way that always makes others feel welcome and included. Yes, it takes more work and takes self-discipline. And, yes, sometimes it will be maddening to not bait to some other party’s on-line rant. But think of the goodwill we will be spreading to others! Our tweets and blogs and status updates will be a welcome refuge, a safe-haven from a world blighted with pessimism.
Humans crave positive feelings. We can’t get enough of them. Blogs that educate, encourage and inspire? Those are the blogs that gain our subscriptions our loyalty and our referrals. I recommend Tawna Fenske & Jody Hedlund every chance I get. Why? Because I KNOW their blogs are guaranteed to make me laugh, to make me think and best of all….to make me a better person.
Ben Franklin once said, “If you argue and rankle and contradict you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you never get your opponent’s good will.”
When it comes to how we will use social media, we all must make one key decision. Would we like to have an academic victory or a follower’s good will? I would endorse good will any day of the week.
So here is to making the world a brighter place one post, one blog and one tweet at a time, :D.
Until next time….
The Mash-Up of Awesomeness
Literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s In It for the Long Haul for those who want a CAREER as a writer.
Need some inspiration? What do the most highly paid authors have in common? brought to us by The Creative Penn
Mary Carroll Moore has a fantastic blog about Creating a Page-Turner
Editor of Writer’s Digest Jane Friedman, as always, has an wonderful blog, “The Future of Publishing: You Get to Decide” about all the different avenues of publication.
10 Simple ways to Become a Powerhouse Blogger, brought to us by the fountain of excellence @4KidLit on Twitter.
Want to know more about how to win friends and influence people on social media? I recommend a tried and true classic. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People should be a staple in every writer’s library.