Don’t ya lurve it? Don’t ya hate it?
Is it the best platform ever for raising the profile of your writing? Is it the biggest time-waster ever?
Perceptions of social media vary according to age and gender, with younger females being the keenest and older males the least enthusiastic. Often, when journalists and bloggers write about the merits of social media, their prejudices come across loud and clear, to the point where you can’t take what they are saying seriously. So, before I say my piece, be aware that I’m a middle-aged woman and an IT tutor.
When commentators refer to ‘social networking’, they are mostly thinking about Facebook. According to Digital Marketing Ramblings (accessed 29 April 2013), Facebook has by far the greatest number of users (1 billion active), with Twitter and LinkedIn both on 200 million. Facebook is a true social media – chat between friends – so it’s use to writers as a marketing tool is limited. They can exchange writing tips and news, and ask each other specific questions, but using it to promote your work always looks pushy. There he goes, flogging his book again. Click on to someone else’s status quick.
Twitter, despite its name, is more serious. Its short Tweets lend themselves to a ‘look at this, look at me’ culture and users go to Twitter to find promotions. Clicking on ‘Discover’ and using hash tags are also a lazy search facility. For instance, #writing comps produced a lot of useful results. People go on Twitter when they are looking for something specific, so you cannot use it to advertise your book to the masses.
LinkedIn is Facebook for people in work. For full-time writers, it is useful for showcasing what you can do, what you have done and for finding out what other people can and have done. Very serious, very boring, very useful.
Of the others… YouTube is for music, funny videos and many other things, but of limited use to writers. Writers write. Would you actually choose to watch some writer’s promotion video? I don’t think so.
A year or so ago, my students used to be like alcoholics over Facebook. If you asked them to close it, it would reappear immediately. They had to know what messages had appeared in the last few seconds. Now, it’s less of a problem. Similarly, a friend at church used to post statuses every few hours and, when she stopped doing so, I actually messaged her to ask if she was OK. Now she posts only every few days. I write statuses rarely and I’ve stopped the link which automatically alerts me when a Facebook ‘friend’ puts something up. In my opinion, people are becoming bored with Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media have never caused the same problems.
Of course, individual ‘addicts’ linger on. I’m sure that a writer who was stuck or unsettled could waste his/her valuable writing time on social media. Numerous software applications exist to block your access to block to social media while you are working, but it is my belief that we will need them less and less. If that writer’s friends are not posting so frequently, he/she won’t have anything to read or look at.
Don’t get your knickers in a twist about social media. Facebook has peaked. The social media applications are about to become like faxes and brick mobile phones. They’ll still be there, but will have a much lower profile in future.