Sunday, October 30, 2011

Social Networking: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve been involved with social networking on a daily basis for over three years now and, while I’m still no networking expert by any means, I have learned a few things. I used to think social networking was all about book promotion, but I’ve come to understand that this is only one part of the experience. What’s become most important to me is to simply let people know I exist, that I have something to say, and that I’m happy to share it either through my fiction, my blogs, reviews, or tweets, or comments to others’ ideas. It’s not about telling people about my books as much as it is about interacting . . . developing online acquaintances and even friendships, which has been incredibly rewarding.

You know that old adage, less is more? Well, I’ve come to learn that this applies to social networking. I’ve written before about virtual burnout that many writers have experienced over recent months and that burnout is still going strong for many.

I’ve cut back on a number of networking sites this year, and now only take part in Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Kindleboards. But I also post blogs on AuthorsDen and MySpace. I’m a reluctant member of LinkedIn, having joined only because a relative—a non-writer—requested a link, but then 60 or 70 writers invited me to link with them. I only knew five of them previously. LinkedIn seems like just another promotional tool for authors to chat and promote their books, which is fine, but at this point in my life it’s simply one site too many for me.

I’ve also come to realize that of the 1,400+ followers I have on Twitter, maybe twenty of them I interact with regularly, which is not to say that others aren’t interested in what I say, or my work, but all 1,400 of them? Too many writers only post links to their books and nothing else, so I think it’s time to prune the Twitter tree. I don’t have nearly as many Facebook friends, but I’ve noticed that some of these people I haven’t really chatted with in over a year, so again, maybe it’s time to cut back there as well.

I love social networking, I really do, but after three years, I’ve decided to go for more quality and less quantity, especially since the spamming on Twitter and LinkedIn is increasing. If you have your first book out and are wondering which social networking venues to join, I still recommend Facebook and Twitter, but be cautious about who you friend and follow.

If you have published an ebook, is a great venue to promote your work, interact with others, and build friendships and support. They have a lot of different categories and places for readers, writers, and for those who want to talk about things that have nothing to do with books. Like many social networking sites, though, they can be real time wasters if you let them, so put a cap on the amount of time you spend there. Also, learn the rules. Each category is closely moderated and if you stray off topic and promote where you shouldn’t there are repercussions.

Some of the best supporters and virtual friends I’ve met came through forums, but sadly, some of those forums have now developed into some of the most hostile places you’ll ever see. So many indie authors have used these forums to promote their books on threads without bothering to learn what the threads are about, that members have grown increasingly hostile to any and all promotion whatsoever. The complaints against promotion became so strong that amazon decided to separate promotion threads and place them under a category called Meet Our Authors. If an author mistakenly promotes on threads outside of this umbrella, well things can get truly ugly with name-calling and a barrage of one-star reviews. If you want to promote on amazon forums, do your research first! Also, if you’re over-posting, or posting inappropriately, amazon moderators will delete your comments, and I’ve known at least one author who’s been blacklisted from promoting any of her books period. Her books are still listed on amazon, she’s just now allowed to promote them. Sheesh!!

So, I’m curious, how do you all handle the volume of opportunities and friends or followers? Do you keep it small and simple? Do you unfriend or unfollow people regularly? Let me know how your handle your social networking adventures.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at


Karen said...

I use lists on Twitter to manage my feed and interactions. I have lists for my business life, writers, Vancouver and other interests. It helps me maximize the value and minimize the noise. Twitter is now my favourite news source, but I sure hate it when people try and sell me things by DM after I follow them.

For me LinkedIn is a valuable professional tool - I've had job offers from reconnecting with past clients and colleagues on there (but no time to accept!). Facebook is a weird animal. I see it as purely social, and am getting annoyed by the blurring line between it and Twitter. If people try and sell me something on Facebook, they're gone.

I love social networking. As a communications consultant, it really keeps me connected with the outside world but it is getting pretty darn crowded. I just can't bring myself to add Google+.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks for your comments, Karen, and I agree about Twitter. It's a great resource, but I don't like the DM sell attempts either. I haven't tried LinkedIn as a job resource, but I've heard from others that it's worthwhile. I don't have any desire to try Google+ either. Quality over quanity, I think