Welcome to another WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to making your social media experience the best it can be by offering additional tools and insights on topics from my new book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.
One of the biggest reasons I decided to write a book about social media is that it seemed that there was a lacking of common sense. And much of that is birthed from our own insecurity or lack of knowledge. When faced with something new or overwhelming, often we make life harder than it really needs to be. Hey, I’ve been guilty :D.
Social media is just that…socialization. I hear all kinds of bad advice when it comes to social media for authors, and much of that bad advice I believe stems from a lack of understanding about a writer’s unique plight. Until we are huge like Stephenie Meyer or Stephen King, we are people, not corporations. What this means it that what works for corporations can actually hurt us as individual writers trying to build a platform. We need to act like people and socialize like people. If social media is, um, socialization, then doesn’t it stand to reason that a lot of the same rules would apply?
How many of you love talking to someone who only talks about herself? She never gives back or asks about your day or wants to know about your opinion? Just on and on and on about her, her, her.
Have you ever had a stranger be really nice to you, maybe even offer a compliment or even seem genuinely interested in you, but the second you let your guard down they tried to sell you something?
How many of you like door-to-door salesman? Nothing makes your day like a knock at the door and some guy with a big smile and a freezer full of meat.
No one? No takers?
It seems as society becomes more technologically advanced, the more isolated we have become. We talk to computers more than people. Checking out at a grocery store? Computer. Want your bank balance? Computer. Pay a bill? Computer. It also appears that this lack of face time has done something whacky to our human sensibilities. People talk less to each other and normal “rules of engagement” have gone by the wayside as we try to carve out new social rules for new forms of socialization.
But does it need to be that difficult? Today I am just going to point out some common sense manners when it comes to social media. Here are Three Social Rules to Social Media Success:
1. Be Low-Maintenance
How many of you just looooove high-maintenance people? No one? Then make sure you aren’t being one on-line. I have been on MySpace or Facebook where authors have used pictures of their BOOK COVERS as icons, yet I had to solve a string of CAPTCHAs, know their real last name and their e-mail address to make them a friend. Are they on MySpace or in Witness Protection? These authors made it where only people with the secret handshake could be their friend. I guess those are the only people they want to buy their book, too.
True story. I actually tried to follow an author/speaker on Facebook who claimed that she teaches social media for writers. Awesome! I figured I might learn something from her. Problem was, I had to answer a string of questions to be her friend. Seriously? Sorry. Not that motivated. Next.
Make it easy for people to befriend you. It is not that difficult to log in once a day and delete SPAM.
Making people on Twitter click on a website to verify they are human is being high-maintenance. Maybe it is a personal pet peeve, but I dislike anyone who makes me have to click on an outside link and go through a bunch of steps just to follow them. I will just move on to people who don’t make me run a gauntlet to be their friend. My opinion is that, if you are that high-maintenance before I even know you, that does not bode well for our future.
How many of you like shopping at a store where they have security guards at the door, cameras everywhere so you can see yourself shopping, convex mirrors on every corner of every aisle, anti-theft tags on everything, and a burly guy to search your bags before you leave? Most of us really don’t like being treated like thieves. Guess what? We don’t like being treated like spammers and phishers either.
Again, it is not that difficult to unfollow someone on Twitter if they misbehave. One click. Two if you choose to report them to Twitter.
2. Be Friendly
Treat Internet friends like friends.
How many of you looooove SPAM and junk mail? How many of you feel really special when you get an auto-follow message? Hey, thanks for following me. Check out my blog. Auto-follow messages are junk mail. If you really appreciate someone following you, say it publicly. It serves reciprocity and it is genuine. It takes all of ten seconds to click on a Twitter bio or a Facebook page, scan, then write something personal. Don’t have time for that? Fair enough. Most of us are not so insecure that if we don’t get a personal message from every person we follow, we’ll end up in therapy.
Yes, businesses send auto-follow messages, but businesses want to be perceived as personal. When actual people send automated messages, it has exactly the opposite effect. We become no better than a bot, which is counter-productive to building a platform.
3. Be Genuine
Only send genuine & personal messages. Limit group messages and form letters.
Social media is a direct reaction to the continual media bombardment that made us love our DVRs and spam filters. Facebook faced millions of ticked off users when they were busted for sharing personal information of Facebook users with companies for the purposes of soliciting. Why? Because many of us are on social media to escape being spammed all the time.
We are on social media because we long for community. We are not on social media to provide spammers a new way to slither into our personal lives. There are few things I find more frustrating that befriending a writer, only to soon be blitzed with form letters and links so I can buy their book, read their blog, download free e-samples, etc. I have yet to buy a single book from any of these uncouth writers who vested nothing in our “relationship” before they wanted my money or time. Provide community and people will reward you.
I know that as authors there are times to send out group invitations, and that is fine for once in a while. Yet, it is my opinion that this is something that should be relegated to a fan page. We expect form letters and group invitations from Starbucks, not from a friend. We risk being perceived in a negative light if straight out of the gate we are blitzing people with marketing. Fan pages, unlike a regular Facebook page, are perceived to be our “corporate side” which is one reason they are beneficial for writers. They give us a way to take care of business without wrecking how people perceive us.
As a general rule, just remember that social media is social. Think of Facebook and Twitter like one big social event. A great big cocktail party.
Is it okay to do business at a social event? Sure! It’s why I always at least keep a couple of books stashed in my car. Most of the time, in conversation, it comes up that I am an author and I have a new book out. Being a prudent businesswoman, I make sure I can get them a book if they ask to buy one.
But don’t you think I might offend more than a few people if I walked into the party, unfolded a card table, set out stacks of books and a credit card machine and then started pitching to everyone in the room?
In the end, this is just good old-fashioned common sense. Follow these Three Rules of Engagement and you will have a far better social media experience. If we are low-maintenance, friendly and genuine, we really won’t have to work that hard. People will want to connect.
Did I miss any social media faux pas? Post them here and share. We might have spinach in our teeth and not know it :D. Help us out!
Until next time…