Saturday, July 20, 2013

Like me back! A social media etiquette primer

Social Media Strategy
I believe—seriously—that most authors would prefer to remain virtually anonymous, to send their stories winging off into the world to fend for themselves and then retire to their caves to do what they do best, which is make up stuff and pretend that life outside our pages does not exist. That's probably just me, though. Unfortunately for the introverts among us, authors are required to have a social media (SM) presence these days. Whether an author's involvement in SM is major (think Nathan Bransford) or minor (think, um, me) there are basic rules of etiquette that should be observed or you just might find yourself wondering why everyone is ignoring you.

Actually, they're not ignoring you. They're just too busy interacting with the people who aren't ignoring them. Some people hate the idea of reciprocation in social media, but I've observed that the people who practise it are the ones who thrive in the virtual world. What does reciprocation mean?
  1. When someone 'likes' your page, site, blog, etc., you 'like' theirs back. Especially if you're just beginning to build your network. Especially if it's a fellow author. Those are auto-likes for me. 
  2. When someone makes a comment on your Facebook status, you either respond to it or 'like' it. The latter lets people know that you read their comment and appreciate that they took the time to leave it when there are thousands of other pages competing for their attention. When someone never acknowledges my comments on his/her page I not only stop commenting, I stop visiting. Social media is about interaction and conversation; I don't find any value in talking to myself on the WWW.
  3. When someone mentions you on Twitter or retweets your miniblog, you thank them or retweet something of theirs. It just takes a few seconds.
  4. Even if you're a SM star with many thousands of followers (the thought of which actually makes some of us shudder—or is that just me again...) and it's impractical to engage with all, you always respond to people who have read your book(s)—unless a reader is being a total jackass, of course. Be nice to a reader and you have a fan for life; I count personal responses from authors among the things I treasure and I make a point of buying these authors' books. Many readers will avoid excellent books by a writer they perceive as snobbish or churlish. Just ask VS Naipaul.
  5. If someone takes the time to comment on your blog post, acknowledge him or her. There are those who think it's all about the content or value of the post, but people will comment on the inconsequential post of someone who responds to their comments, or at least acknowledges them, while ignoring the brilliant post of someone who never responds to comments or appears to respond only to those they deem worthy of attention. People take the time to read and respond to posts of those who read and comment on theirs. So if no one is commenting on your posts ask yourself: do I comment on theirs?
Of course, some people just don't have the time for any of this. Some read everything but don't comment. Some don't care either way. My take is that just as in real life, a little politeness and reciprocation helps smooth our daily social media interactions. Whether it's a 'thank you' and a smile in person or a 'like' or 'share' on the web, it can't hurt and it usually helps, sometimes in unforeseen and wildly serendipitous ways.


Charles Gramlich said...

I think I do these things. I don't have very good social skills so I'm not always sure I'm achieving the reciprocity I want to show. I do get reposts and stuff like that. It hasn't helped my sails a lot that I can tell but who knows. I get a huge number of requests by people to "like" their stuff and it's fairly rare that those folks reciprocate. I wish they'd read your blog.

Liane Spicer said...

Charles, I too haven't seen social media involvement having much effect on sales.

As for the 'like' requests, I delete them if I don't know the people or the product. For the ones I do respond to, I started sending messages to the people saying 'I've liked your page; would you mind reciprocating on mine?' And I include the link to my author page. They generally reciprocate.

G. B. Miller said...

I do a lot of this (responding to comments on either my blog or on FB) but as of late, I see myself simply doing the lurking thing and only commenting when the mood strikes me.

And that basically goes whether I'm doing the blog thing or the Facebook thing.

As for "like" requests, sometimes I'll pay attention to them and sometimes I won't. It all depends on 1) my frame of mind and 2) whether its for an author or for a book.

More often than not, I'll like the page but make sure they don't pop up in my newsfeed. I know it sounds callous, but when your newsfeed has about 140 people and 160+ pages to begin with, you find ways to make in manageable.

Julie Luek said...

Good post and reminder that platform building is deeply rooted in forming relationships with readers and other writers. As in all relationships, those that are one-way will grow cold and stale. They take a little investment. Commenting on posts or FB or Twitter, taking time to respond to comments. It's not as time-consuming as people complain and it reaps rewards.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I wish I could say I practice all these things, but my online presence is very limited. When I do decide to increase my online presence, I'll definitely practice reciprocation and keep your tips handy.

Liane Spicer said...

GB Miller, I don't think that's callous. I too often unsubscribe from those feeds.

Liane Spicer said...

Julie, I agree that responding to comments and commenting on posts isn't very time-consuming. It's following intriguing links all over the place that eats the hours for me.

Liane Spicer said...

Jewel, having a limited online presence is not a bad thing. The most successful indie author I know personally also has a limited online presence, and she has pointed out others even more successful than her who have no online presence whatsoever. A conundrum, isn't it...