For those of you who visit this website (as opposed to simply subscribing to the RSS feed), you may have noticed some snazzy-looking social media links in the right-side column. I’m by no means an expert in any of them (I’m downright irregular when it comes to the stuff), but as I chart this journey into writing, I thought it might be interesting to talk about how I’m approaching social media.
The biggest ones out there (… as far as I know) are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and Pinterest. Since I’m focusing on writing, I don’t quite know what to do with the latter two (though other authors do use them!), and I’m also throwing Goodreads into the mix.
But having social media accounts and using them are two separate beasts. I’m still in the early stages of navigating all this, but I thought I’d share how I’m considering approaching each of these.
Currently the biggest name in social media. I have both a profile (which I’ve had since college) and a DolanWrites page (which I created a short while ago, but is currently not published). I’m not super active (this will be a running theme), but I anticipate this would mostly be announcements of published stories/other projects. That said, given its user base, it’s probably the best place to actively try to engage people.
As of this writing, Twitter just increased character counts to 280 characters. I’m not very active on Twitter either, but I usually use it to share cool links or the occasional witty thought. Going forward, I hope to be a little more active — especially because of the big social media sites, it’s the one that most lends itself to focusing on the writing.
You may also notice that I have a Twitter timeline along this blog’s sidebar. Having one that updates regularly will in turn make this site more attractive to search engines.
Similar to Twitter, but with pictures. So this relies on me not just doing something cool, but something visually cool. Currently, I have it set up so that anything I post here automatically gets posted to my Twitter profile too.
The thing is, writing isn’t a very visually-interesting process. So I’m not sure if there’s a way to consistently create compelling pictures that are writing-focused. There is a #bookstagram subculture of Instagram, but it isn’t something that I’ve dived into, and I’m not sure how well it would mesh with writing rather than reading. Needless to say, I’m still figuring out what to do here.
Unexpectedly, this is possibly the social media service I’m most active on. While I don’t engage with any broader Tumblr community, I’ve been using it to keep track of the books I’ve read for a few years. When I began, I’d just take a picture of the book’s cover and include a brief description of the story. Over time, it involved into a micro-review that’s rarely more than two paragraphs. Really, they’re so short that I hesitate to even call them reviews — they’re essentially a brief collection of thoughts about the book.
My anything-goes perception of Tumblr also makes me think that it would be a good place to consolidate all my random thoughts. Book reviews, cool links, clever witticisms, etc. While I think this blog should be focused on writing, stories, and my personal authorial journey, Tumblr could be the metaphorical window into my mind.
You might ask why I’d write book reviews and then post them on Tumblr but not Goodreads. Well, the first Tumblr post I wrote was literally a two sentence summary of King Solomon’s Mines with incomplete punctuation. I had a feeling that wasn’t going to fly on Goodreads. But since then, these posts have grown in length as I’ve injected more personal thoughts on each book. They’re still a paragraph or two, but they’re long paragraphs.
I’ve posted a few of these reviews on Goodreads, but it’s nothing I’ve done on a regular basis. I’m not sure what the standard Goodreads review length is, but I think there’s value in short, paragraph-length reviews that (in my opinion) hit all the main points. The rating system is a big turn-off for me, but I think I could get back to just posting reviews without subjectively rating each book.
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Going forward, these are the social media sites I hope to use. There are other ones out there (YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Patreon, Google Plus, etc.) that may merit a new post one day … but for now I think these five will be more than enough for me and my schedule.
All that said, social media is an enormous resource, and it’s not uncommon for companies to devote several employees to maintaining their presence. Fortunately, I’m not aiming to be a great success in that realm. Right now, I view these as opportunities to interact with readers, boost SEO, and basically “get my name out there.” I don’t intend for them to replace writing, and I’m not going to worry about neglecting them if it means I’m focusing my attention on that pursuit.
But enough about me. What are your thoughts on social media? Can you recommend some writers who use it really well? What do you think about its relationship to writing?