Thursday, July 7, 2011

Social Media Etiquette for Writers

Some people are totally clueless when it comes to interacting with people in general. Then, they get online, and the problem only gets worse. However, even people who aren't completely clueless could benefit from a refresher on basic social media etiquette--at least, I know it helps me to think about these rules every so often.
  1. Complete your profile...completely. This doesn't mean you have to sign up for Mafia Wars or Farmville on Facebook, but you should include the basics: name, e-mail, url(s), accomplishments, publications, professional experience, etc.
  2. Have a reason for actively friending or following people. Look for people you know in the real world first. If you want to expand your network, choose people to friend and/or follow with a purpose. Remember to build relationships, not numbers.
  3. Check out friend requests. On sites that require you to "accept" a "request" to be "connected" to someone else, do a quick check on why they might've made the request. Quick hint: If it's a hot guy or gal who wants you to send them an e-mail, you should decline the request. As with number two, you want to make meaningful connections, not just build numbers.
  4. Don't be a pest. This means you should not continuously blast your friends every five to ten minutes 24/7 with ways they can benefit you. In fact...
  5. Find ways to give more than you take. If you want your network to grow over time, then you need to find a way to offer value to your potential audience. By the way, plugging your book and/or writing like a used car salesperson does not bring value to your potential audience.
  6. Listen to others. As mentioned above, social media is most effective when you're building relationships. Relationships are formed through the sharing of information. This means you should absorb as much or more than you put out into the world.
  7. Don't post when you're overly emotional, especially if you're angry or depressed. That doesn't mean you should hide your emotions, but it does mean you should give yourself a little time to simmer down before posting--to protect yourself. Also, it's never a good idea to post when drunk.
  8. Don't try to game the system. There are good principles for building your social network, but it involves building relationships. Getting on Twitter and immediately following 2,000 Tweeps and hoping all 2,000 will follow you back is a strategy for failure.
  9. Be accountable. Some people get a little crazy online because of the perceived anonymity. But if you're a writer trying to build your social network, you don't have the option of being anonymous. In fact, that's exactly the opposite of what you're trying to do. So be an upstanding and accountable member of your social networks and respect the toes of others online. Really, it all comes down to this...
  10. Follow the golden rule. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. In short, be nice.
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Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer. Or connect with me on LinkedIn. Heck, find me on Facebook. And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter on the right-hand side of the page.

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So now that you know how to behave online, use the following resources for the real world:

13 comments:

Cate said...

Great tips! I enjoy reading your advice! :)

Sundry said...

Great advice, especially #5.

Perhaps include one more: 11. Don't get involved in flame wars. I've seen instances where authors get involved in online verbal warfare with trolls, or with sincere folks who just didn't love the author's work. I've never seen a flame war result in a winner. Everyone involved looks bad.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

This is terrific advice!! Thanks for posting. I especially love numbers 2-5...er actually, they're all good. ;o)

Carol Marrs Phipps said...

Your advice, as usual, is right on the money. Thank you for these great tips. I will certainly work on using all of them from here on.

Anne R. Allen said...

What a great post! I always check to see why somebody might be "friending" me. I often find very good reasons, and they can result in actual friendships, but you gotta make sure.

And Sundry is right. Of course it's covered in #7, but "don't interact with trolls" is an important rule. It's good to get discussions going, but when somebody flames, it's best to delete the comment and ignore any follow-up.

Heather O'Connor said...

Great advice--thanks.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone! Sundry, that's great advice!

GeminiWriter said...

Great tips! Thanks!

JillWrites said...

First let me say I definitely appreciated reading this. I endeavor to be such an accountable & ethical member of the civilized interwebs. However (it even pains me to "however" at people), I'd like to bring up the dilemma of people like myself who write comedy--and sometimes sexy romantic comedy. It's not all censorable, and you certainly haven't said that it should be, but much etiquette advice does make me want to throw in the comedy towel. Of course, like a parent who have to point out guidelines and exceptions to kids, I have to address with myself the parameters within which different writings are intended, and strategize for my style accordingly. (Pardon the lengthy comment: I did want to reach out in a substantial manner.) Have a nice day!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

No, that's a good point, Jill. There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule. Maybe I should've called these guidelines.

susansonnenmuses said...

Excellent tips! Thank you. :)

Cameron said...

#5 is definitely a good tip. Often I think I'm engaging, and often I think I'm spamming, and strangely, it all depends on the feedback I am getting, not by what I'm actually saying. So by giving feedback to others, I can at least make them NOT feel like THEY are spamming the world :)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, Cameron! Comments help me feel more useful too.