This past week, someone in my community hired me for some one-on-one tutoring. She asked the questions and I answered them.
Because people new to social media sometimes don’t know what to ask, I also filled in gaps with what I thought she might need to know.
At one point, I wanted to say to her, as lovingly as possible, that she needed to admit that she was a social media cynic.
Why lovingly? Because the fires that ripped through Northern California devastated my community. One thing I learned from this experience is that we all need to be as kind as possible, especially now.
Anyway, I was saying that you need to figure out where you stand in relation to social media. It’s what alcoholics do, right? If they want to get better, they need to first admit the disease.
Not that being a social media cynic is a disease or that there is anything wrong with being one. Well, not unless you want to use social media to promote your books.
It seems incongruous to say you want to use social media and then be reluctant to use it in a manner that would serve you best for promoting your books.
I don’t mean to be snide or sarcastic or mean. I really don’t. But for some people the roadblocks they experience when trying to embrace social media are those that they create.
Many – if not most – writers are introverts. So self-revealing can be a scary prospect. I get it. And self-reflecting before self-revealing is an excellent practice that I teach parents of teens.
But as authors, most of us need to let go more.
In her example, she felt that posting once a day on her Facebook author page (not her profile) was too much. In reality, we all need to post twice a day.
We don’t need to worry that others will think we’re posting too frequently on Facebook. Know why? Because of Facebook’s darn algorithm that doesn’t allow the majority of our status updates to penetrate our fans’ newsfeeds.
In other words, most people won’t see our two posts every day. (This is the crux of my love/hate relationship with Facebook, by the way.)
Soul Searching over #MeToo
Last week I had to make a deeply personal decision. I usually post superfluous items on my Facebook profile. You know, sweet pictures of pups (I’m allergic to cats) and lots of quotes.
Then the fires happened in Sonoma County. Suddenly, all I could talk about was how sad, anxious, and even sick I felt. As I read personal accounts of friends escaping the inferno with just a car or a nightgown covering their naked bodies, how could I not respond personally?
In the midst of this fire was the continued story about Harvey Weinstein followed by Alyssa Milano’s call that women who had been raped, assaulted, or sexually harassed use the #MeToo hashtag.
I thought, “Do I really want to tell people my secrets?” Then I thought, “Why the hell not?! I’m not to blame for what those men did to me.”
So I joined the chorus of women on Facebook. Mind you, I don’t easily self-reveal on social media so this was a difficult decision. Then again, what did I have to hide?
Shouldn’t women who have been disgraced in this manner tell the truth to the world? Then, and only then, will people (mostly men) realize how prevalent the problem is.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you go from being an introvert to telling the world about your rape experience. But you need to let go a little.
The truth about Facebook – and let’s get honest here – is that the more personal you are, the more engagement you have. You need comments, likes, and shares for your posts to rise in Facebook’s algorithm and the more personal you are, the more “viral” your posts become.
That’s the way it works and I didn’t make up the rules.
The Fires Changed Me
Getting accustomed to social media as an introvert isn’t easy. Like I said earlier, typically I post uplifting quotes and pictures of dogs. Anything to keep the spotlight away from me.
It was difficult for me to embrace social media, truth be told. I especially had a hard time with Twitter, the social platform that’s become my favorite. So I come from a place of understanding when it comes to social media cynicism. Believe me when I say that.
But something inside me changed. It was the fires. And realizing how short life is and how things can change in a flash. One moment you’re sleeping and the next your nightgown is on fire.
And it was the charred hillsides and all the horrible stories I read every morning in our newspaper.
Why waste my time posting superfluous items just because they’re neutral? What am I afraid of?
So I had a bit of soul searching to do.
Indeed, what are you afraid of? All of you who are reading this post who are also social media cynics, what are you waiting for?
Social Media Isn’t a Vacuum
Do you want to promote your books? That can’t happen in a vacuum.
As much as you want people to learn about your books, your readers want to learn about you. They want to know you. They want to know where you write, when you write, how you began your career.
You can’t live in a vacuum in the virtual world. You need to demonstrate your humanity online.
One day on Facebook I wrote in reference to the fires: “The uncertainty of all of this makes me want to vomit. Harsh truth, folks.”
A few days earlier I wrote: “Am deciding what I will and won’t post on Facebook in the future. Superfluous items are out. Important shit and dog pics are in.” (What can I say? I love dogs.)
On October 17th I joined the chorus of #MeToo and admitted to being raped, sexually assaulted, and sexually harassed. As of my last count, thirty-seven people responded to that post. The majority of them left comments.
The more personal you are on social media, the more engagement you’ll have because people want to get to know you. Yeah, it’s scary.
If you want to sell books, let people know who you are. They don’t need to know that you were raped or that you are so anxious you could vomit.
They definitely don’t need to know what you ate for breakfast or lunch. But they want to hear from you during good times and bad times.
Your readers want to feel touched by your humanity. Demonstrate your humanity in all of its shades.
Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.
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