Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules on Social Media

Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules on Social MediaIn the past, I’ve recommended strict rules about social media use.

Don’t argue politics. Stick to neutral topics. Be aware of your readers’ differing opinions.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I’ve not only broken my own rules, I’ve shattered them. Yes, you heard me correctly.

You see, during the worst fire in California’s history, which occurred in my community, a lot changed around here.

For one, the way I kept in touch with the majority of friends during this time was through Facebook.

How could I, in the face of many friends’ tremendous losses, post empty quotes and information about my blog posts? It wouldn’t have made any sense.

So I got down and dirty, so to speak.

I expressed my sorrow for their tremendous loss. I shared my feelings. I expressed gratitude for my giving community. I posted about needs in my community. Through social media, I helped someone find her lost cat.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was during this period that I joined the #MeToo crusade on Facebook, exposing formerly tightly held secrets.

All of this ran against my self-imposed rules and inhibitions.

Safety for Me Was Being Milquetoast

You see, until that fateful week, I was pretty milquetoast online. It was safer for me to be that way.

On Twitter, I had delved into some social issues over the loss of too many black men at the hands of white cops, but even my foray into that controversy was pretty safe.

I merely liked some posts and shared one or two of them.

Recently, however, I completely let loose.

I even posted a comic that stated, “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.”

I related that comic to how I feel in the morning when there’s more news about what Trump is doing to this country.

Under normal circumstances, I never would have posted that comic or a negative word about Trump. Mind you; I would never call a Trump supporter a moron (like one of my friends has) or use any other derogatory term.

But I’d had it. I’d had it with the fires, with the loss, with everything around me turning to ashes. So I dipped a toe into politics and received 31 Likes and many comments.

I didn’t post the comic to win any likeability contest. I’d just had it with my world in every sense.

What did I learn? Well, the lesson that the more personal you are on Facebook, the more engagement you’ll have proved to be true. Engagement was high on my posts.

And I learned something about my friends I hadn’t known before. One friend merely commented with #MeToo. She didn’t elaborate and didn’t need to. I understood. Others elaborated more.

Above all else, people want to get to know you on Facebook. They don’t just want to read inspirational quotes. They want to know how you’re feeling.

In my case, they wanted to know whether I lost my house. Was I okay?

When I went to the gym today, people asked me, “Are you okay?” They used to just say hi. Now everyone wants to know “how you’re doing” meaning did your house catch on fire.

So you see, life’s not the same around here, and my life on Facebook has changed too.

5 Social Media Lessons During Times of Crisis

From my own experience, I offer these lessons:

  1. During times of crisis, stop marketing your books and blog posts and share what you’re going through.
  2. Relate to other people, especially those worse off than you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to reveal how you’re really feeling.
  4. Give as generously as you can, both online and offline.
  5. Forget about the usual rules about using social media. Just be real.

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances 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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Comments

  1. I prefer to be real anyway. The personal nature of most of my poetry means that it makes no sense for me to present some kind of perfect online persona. If only for myself, I need to be genuine in my online presence. I don’t post everything that crosses my mind (that’s just annoying no matter who is doing it), and I will use discretion when sensitive subjects are involved, but otherwise I post what I post and don’t worry much about it.

  2. That’s the difference between art and business—artists dare to feel, to take a stand. They also dare to be wrong sometimes, dare to change their position, dare to apologize, dare to forgive, dare to be alone. They dare. Rock on, Frances, nice to finally meet the social media whiz kid. You’ll probably have more fun now.

  3. On Facebook, I have a business page and keep any pointed social commentary on my personal (and more private) page. Twitter is business, with mild social and personal commentary. Works well for me, especially with FB, as I don’t want to alienate anyone following for author-writer information or annoy friends and family not interested in the writing and publishing world. In my business posts I do find it easy to link controversial or hot news topics to writing and storytelling, acknowledging issues without provoking arguments.

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