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Don’t be a Fool! Avoid these Social Media Blunders by Rochelle Melander

file000985612072Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen. —Carlos Ruiz Zaffón

Nearly every day, I see writers commit one of these foolish mistakes on multiple social media sites. But you don’t have to be one of them. Follow my advice and become a writer with social media savvy!

Foolish Mistake #1: Make it all about you. I see many writers using their social media feeds solely to promote their work. Every single post shouts their successes: publishing deals, book awards, blog posts, and more. Some will say, “Well, that’s okay on Twitter and LinkedIn, just not on Facebook.” I disagree. If LinkedIn is like a giant networking event, Twitter is like a huge block party, and Facebook is a reunion with people from all parts of your life, how do you want to show up? Do you want to be the person who shouts about how great they are and shoves examples of their work at others? Probably not.

Wise Tips
+Look at your social media pages. How many of your last 20 posts were about you or your work? If your content ratio (posts about you to posts about others) favors you, work on shifting it. There’s no hard rule for the perfect ratio, but as a reader, I prefer at least 5 to 1: five posts about others for every self-promotional post.
+ Think about your online persona as an extension of you. Look at your last 20 posts and ask, “How do I present myself? What do these posts say about me?” If you don’t like what you see, change it. Let your posts reflect the best of you.

Foolish Mistake #2: Ignore other writers. I’ve noticed that some writers act a bit like big corporations. They’re happy to post about themselves, but they rarely interact with others. They don’t acknowledge the success of their peers, repost the work of other writers, or interact. Sometimes writers take this approach simply because they’re busy: relating to others takes time. I hear you. But remember: social media is mostly about connecting. Writers who succeed interact well with others.

Wise Tips
Review your social media activity over the last few weeks. Get a sense of the numbers:
+What platforms are you interacting on?
+How many people do you interact with?
+In what ways are you interacting?
+Are others interacting with you?
If your review turns up a less-than-positive view of your interactions, don’t despair. Try this:
+On Facebook, wish everyone a happy birthday. Use the LIKE button, offer supportive comments, and reshare (with credit) helpful tips.
+On LinkedIn, congratulate people for their successes and promotions. Comment on their content-oriented posts.
+On Twitter, retweet! Ask questions. Invite dialogue.

Foolish Mistake #3: Connect solely to promote. It used to surprise me: I’d get a connection request from a stranger and within 24 hours of accepting, I’d receive an offer to buy their book, use their brand new book marketing or publishing service, or promote their work on my blog. Now I’m used to it—and sick of it. I’m cynical—when someone connects with me on social media, my first thought is: what do they want? In these days of extreme platform anxiety, we might feel pressure to connect quickly with LOTS of people. Instead, take a deep breath and slow down.

Wise Tip
A single real connection is better than hundreds of “kind of” connections. Instead of trying to build a huge list of connections, join a few groups (online and offline) where you can build relationships with others. Help connections promote their work. Then when you do have something to promote, they’ll be happy to help you, too.

A final word. I’m trying to remember that we’re all doing the best we can. We’re human. Social media changes daily. We’re going to make foolish mistakes. (Accept it, forgive, and move on!) As writers, the best social media strategies are individual and flexible. What works today may not work in a few weeks. It helps to review and revise your plan frequently!

Your turn: What’s your social media pet peeve?

5 Responses

  1. If I follow someone and get a private message about buying their book?? Cme on, I thought we stopped doing that in 2012.

    I check out the last twenty or so posts from anyone I follow. If it’s all quotes, all promotions, or all POSTS (no replies, no retweets), excessive posts from facebook/tumbr/pinterest, I don’t follow. I don’t want to go ‘somewhere else’ to read your words. Lots of complaining, negative comments about other authors, genres, sites….nope. I generate enough of that in my head; I don’t need to take yours on as well.

    If the person doesn’t have a website listed I am a little wary. I like to connect with other writers, read their words, read about them, follow their journey. SUPER SECRETIVE writers irk me. How does anyone know about you if you never share?

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