Friday, April 2, 2010

How "social" is social networking for you?

Social Networking. The term has become a part of our everyday world, and I doubt it is going anywhere. Seriously, when my mom is on Facebook, something tells me it is here to stay. But for writers, social networking takes on an entirely new dimension. Go to any writing conference and slip into a workshop on marketing or P.R. I'd bet you my next book advance that the term "social networking" will be talked about as a way to broaden your reader base. As writers, we're told that we need to be "accessible" to readers, and platforms such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, and the like are the perfect place to connect with fans.

But how social should a writer be? Should you assume fans only want to hear about your writing, or do you think they care about what's going on in your everyday life? At my personal blog, I find myself talking more about what's going on in life in general instead of sticking to writing-related topics. For example, the last three weeks (and several weeks to come) have been about my recent trip to China. Although I haven't had many responses, the site statistic show that I've had more visitors tuning in than usual. Would I get the same interests if I was griping about the struggle I just had with the last chapter I wrote?

I've touched upon this before, and continue to struggle with what face I should show on social networking sites. On sites such as Facebook and Twitter, readers get the real me. If they don't want to read about how much I love the TV show GLEE (new season starts on April 13th!), or how I think the new Dark Cherry Mocha at Starbucks is delicious sin in a paper cup, then they really don't want to be my friend.

But something in my gut tells me that readers are okay with seeing the quirky, real side of me. That's the point of social networking, right? To be social. And, to my chagrin, I'm starting to enjoy it more and more.

What are your thoughts on social networking? For the authors out there, do you consider it a burden or have you embraced it? For readers, how much interaction are you looking for when you "friend" or "follow" an author on a social networking site?


Liane Spicer said...

I've embraced it, but it's a burden all right: it consumes time that can be better spent elsewhere, like on the WIP.

I find my best connections on FB are the ones that I've already met on other places like my blog, my writers' groups, and Goodreads. Also, I find I get a much better response (such as when I sent out an invitation to my cyber book-launch) from people I already know elsewhere than from the random people who befriend me on FB.

As for the nature of the interactions: I'm a very private person by nature so I usually try not to get into stuff online that's not book/writing/reading related.

Phyllis Bourne said...

I like Twitter, but I liked it better when I did it under my old blog name and just yapped about make-up (and who in the hell ate the Pringles?).

FB is a struggle.

Anonymous said...

I think social networks are great for both work and play, as you've rightly pointed out. One thing I wish more writers would do, is to keep the two apart a bit more. I know I'm guilty on my own blog, of mixing up trivia with more useful content. Having separate channels for writing-related things and daily gossip (or whatever) would make it a lot easier for readers to find the information they're looking for.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I've only recently gotten into social networking and I already find facebook a burden. It's only so much bejeweled updates and gifts from cafe whatever I can handle.

Worst yet, I don't really want to know what people had for dinner last night.

However, for those of us who neither have websites or personal blogs, it is an excellent way to interact with readers and market your books.