(a Twitter / Facebook / social media how-to)
Okay, look, there are lots of discussions going on (one at Thrillerfest this weekend, moderated by our own Allison Brennan), wherein Social Networking is dissected and analyzed and pondered and ground to a pulp. Since I sadly was not at Thrillerfest (whimper) and missed their terrific panel, I have no clue what was discussed there… but I’m willing to bet that there was at least some reference to using social networking sites for “branding” and “getting your name out there” for the public and “keeping a presence” on the interwebs and promoting your book.
But, mostly, social networking is really just supposed to be social. You know. Fun.
[I will tell you one thing–I have had people follow me in order to be able to DM me about their latest release. It’s not a personal DM (direct message)… it’s a canned message. Spam. I hate it. I will not buy a book if I’m spammed like that. If you have a review that you’re proud of, that’s great. Or a blurb? Terrific. If someone is excited about someone else’s book and mentions it–wonderful–in fact, I’ll tend to pay more attention if someone is mentioning you than if you’re doing it yourself. I will follow links to reviews and I have bought books like this. But a direct spam in my private in-box? No. No no no no no. And really? No. Don’t do it. You don’t want to look smarmy and socially inept. You wouldn’t show up at my door in a shiny leisure suit when I was having a casual party for friends and barge in and announce that your book was out today and you had this great offer and by the way, what was my name again? Well, maybe some people would, and those people get deleted and ignored.][I don’t care *how* famous you are.]
So, back to social networking. I think it’s okay to mention what you’re working on, talking about the process of what you’re going through. It’s okay to mention when your book is coming out, because that’s an event in your life. But if all of your posts to Facebook and Twitter (etc.) are promotional, people are going to tune you out. You will become the equivalent of the DVR’d commercial: zip, on to the next interesting thing, instead of hanging around and getting to know you.
Instead, social media should be used for fun. Networking and promotional stuff is just a side benefit, a little lagniappe, if you will. Take, for example, this exchange Friday night, wherein we pick up this story with Colleen crouched on her sofa, wielding a spatula:
I’m not afraid to eat fried worms but I am afraid of this monster flying roach thingie that’s aiming for my head. #whyineedashotgun
@colleenlindsay A fast remedy for the flying roach and you’ll think I’m crazy, but it works–hair spray. If you don’t have bug spray.
@ToniMcGeeCausey Er, um, I have a buzz cut. Thus, I do not own hair spray.
@colleenlindsay oven cleaner? windex? really anything spray-able. Also, I now know what to tell your clients to get you for Christmas. 😉
@colleenlindsay Got any Raid? And a lighter? Instant flame thrower!
@Jinxie_G The way my luck has been going the past three weeks, I’m just as likely to set the whole house ablaze. Good suggestion, though!
@colleenlindsay Yeah, I thought of that after the fact. LOL Seriously thought, what Toni suggests should work with the sticky wings.
Damn it, SIGOURNEY WEAVER would know how to kill this giant roach!
@colleenlindsay uh, Sigourney didn’t fare so well by the third movie. She was having alien baby, killed self. Do not go down that path.
I swear to God Stinkyboy just offered that roach a martini.
[note to reader: Stinkyboy is Colleen’s cat.]
@literaticat I am not denying my inherent sissy nature. I AM NOT ASHAMED TO BE A WUSS.
@colleenlindsay Scrubbing Bubbles Foam will kill any multi-legged beastie & make your surfaces gleam while it’s choking the life out of ’em.
@JM_Kelley I HAVE SCRUBBING BUBBLES! I will BUBBLE it to death!
ACK! Just dive-bombed my head again.
Sneak attack! Have disabled Mothra with Scrubbling Bubbles. It fell behind stove. Not waiting around to see if it crawls back out, dammit!
Meanwhile, in a related conversation, after HC mentioned she had firebombed a spider once…
@ToniMcGeeCausey He pissed me off, trapping me in the house like that. I finally got so mad, I made SURE my revenge was not served cold.
@HC_Palmquist LOL… damn, girl, you’re hard core. I’ve Raided ’em and WD 40’d em and Lysol’d em, but I have never firebombed one.
@HC_Palmquist of course, given that it’s *me*… me+firebomb would be a very sad thing. I once tried to shoot a rat with a gun, tho.
@HC_Palmquist managed to kill a really nice piece of molding and a desk leg.
Then a few minutes later… after we hadn’t heard from Colleen in a while…
Waiting for Fat Biped to fall asleep. We will then offer her up as a prearranged sacrifice to the Great Flying Roach God. Shhhh! Don’t tell!
There were signs the next night that Colleen lived. Stinkyboy will lounge to doublecross another day.
We had fun, goofing off, all of us. I don’t know Colleen, other than she’s a literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management. I did not start following her because she’s an agent — I am extremely happy with my agent, Stephanie Kip Rostan of Levine/Greenberg. (Exceptionally happy.) I started following Colleen because someone retweeted a funny comment she’d written.
Here’s the thing… Colleen accomplished something pretty smart with her playfulness — she demonstrated that she’s got a great sense of humor, she’s self-deprecating, she’s easy to interact with, and she’s human–not at all stuffy and scary, the way so many agents are perceived. She does a Q&A every so often (I haven’t kept track of when–perhaps she’ll mention it in the comments), and if I were ever asked by anyone if I knew anything about her, I’d say that I thought she was a lot of fun, and clever and approachable and yet, I’ve also seen her answer questions very professionally. Now really, she wouldn’t have accomplished that if she were telling me she was fun and clever and yet, professional. She simply showed it.
Show, don’t tell.
Treat your social media as fun; be a friend, interact as friends. Ask people about their day, see how they’re doing. Respond to what’s going on in their lives. Don’t try so hard to be anything important and for heaven’s sake, don’t just interact to promote yourself. Do pass along links of interest and contests you’re sponsoring–those are often appreciated, but don’t get so aggressive that you pass along every freaking contest you’ve ever seen on the internet. Most of all, relax. Twitter and Facebook are the equivalent of gathering for a break at the water cooler. If you were standing there, you wouldn’t want to hear someone evangelize or detail their latest colonoscopy or try to sell you some Amway. You’d just want to hang out, have some fun, maybe talk about something interesting in the news and then go back to work. You’ll remember the people who made you laugh and you’ll avoid the ones who were hounding you for something. Social media works pretty much the same way.
Plus, you learn that Raid + lighter = flamethrower, and you just never know when that might come in handy.
So tell me, ‘Rati, what odd / fun / interesting thing have you learned lately from a social media site?