“The polish on your toes and the run in your hose/And God knows, we’re going to talk about your clothes.” Then he sings, “I wanna talk about me/wanna talk about I/wanna talk about number one/ . . . what I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see.”
We’ve all had that experience. We’ve spent time with friends and acquaintances who hog the stage with their stories and look distracted and bored when we take a turn. Now take that experience and multiple it by hundreds, thousands, or several million—and you’ve got the experience of social media for most of us. We go on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn—and it feels like walking into a loud party where everyone is shouting about themselves: Did you see my new blog post? I just went to Fiji—look at these awesome photos. Six agents are fighting over me and my great novel—what do I do?
In order to survive and thrive as an author in the brave new world of social media, it’s essential to practice good social media etiquette. In other words, we need to learn how to behave well online. In order to do that, we need to create our own social media strategy. Here are the basic questions to ask yourself before you begin to share.
Who am I? List the roles you hold. These will include professional and personal roles: writer, author, parent, partner, or community leader. Also list your strengths and values such as communication, curiosity, or family.
Who do I connect with online? Start from your inner circle and move out. Who are the people you connect with on a regular basis? Who would you like to connect with?
What do I share with each circle of connections? List the information you share with the people you connect with. Put down as much detail as possible—this will help you to decide what you want to share online.
Who do I represent? When you are online, you will represent yourself. You may also represent your company, your profession, your various roles (e.g., yoga teacher, editor, author), and so forth. Make a list of who and what you represent online.
What do I want to accomplish through social media? We can use social media in a multitude of different ways. (Check out my blog post on Five Ways Social Media Can Boost Your Writing Career for more information.) Create a list for each social media venue you participate in. What do you want to accomplish at each place?
How do I want to represent myself online? Developing a social media policy is a lot like creating a plan for how you want to show up at a networking event or a family party.
*Think about your answers about who you are, who you connect with, and what you share with other people. What does that tell you about who you want to be online?
*Consider each social media outlet (mentioned above) and your overall social media roles. Who will you be at each venue? What will you and will you not share?
Evaluate Finally, set up a method and a schedule for evaluating your social media strategy and goals. Set aside some time every month to consider:
*Am I reaching the people I want to or need to reach?
*Is my social media time producing the results I want?
*Why or why not?
*What do I need to do differently? (e.g., Do I need to spend more time online? Do I need to post more regularly? Do I need to interact with people differently?)
*How can I accomplish this?
Your turn: How did you develop your social media strategy? Share your questions and tools!