Saturday, October 27, 2012

Social Media in the Slowlane

A screen shot of my too often neglected Twitter page

When my teenager wanted a MySpace account a few years ago I let him have one, but part of the agreement was that he had to give me the password. From time to time I would check it and, if he posted something particularly offensive or inappropriate (which was often), I would log in and do a little judicious editing. While I was in there I would poke around, seeing what his friends were up to and checking-out any of their parents who also had pages. That was my introduction to social media. I could see why my son liked it, but I didn't really get what all the hype was about.

Then facebook came along. I wasn't really sure what it was at first, or how it differed from MySpace, but people started asking me if I was on it. Eventually I decided to dip my toe in the pool and make a page of my own. I quickly got caught up in the fun of connecting with people I hadn't seen in years (not to mention being reminded of why I had been avoiding some of them in the first place). It was especially gratifying to connect with my cousin in Ireland and other relatives in far away places.

Twitter, on the other hand, still confounds me. When I joined I expected to like it, but instead I found it overwhelming. It always reminds me of a big block of skyscrapers in the city, where the occupants all periodically open their windows and randomly shout something out into the courtyard. Maybe it is just me, but I can usually only take a small dose of the shouting before I feel the need to firmly close my own window and go find something else to do.

As writing is becoming more of a priority in my life I am working on building a "platform." This means rather than just posting pictures of my cat or what I made for dinner last night (two of my usual subjects), I'm supposed to be using my social media accounts as a tool to build an electronic brand for my writing. In addition to this blog, I now also have a website, a separate facebook page for my blog and, of course, the dreaded Twitter.

As platforms go, I'm well aware that mine is the bargain basement version. The lack of a single, cohesive look and feel between the various elements gives it a bit of a Tower of Babel effect that I wasn't really going for, but "free" is the best I can afford right now so it is what it is. I'll just have to use the installment plan strategy to improve it over time, Slow Lane style.

How has social media impacted your life? If you are a writer I'd especially love to hear how you approached building your platform, so feel free to share in the comments below.


  1. Social media has made a big difference to my life. Firstly because that's how I came up with the idea for my novel. I noticed how obsessed people were becoming with social networking. I saw a bandwagon and I jumped on it, writing a book about it which included Facebook style comment threads.

    As a writer, for my marketing, I can't say I've found it particularly useful for selling any books. What it has helped with is connecting with other authors and readers. I've had support from authors and readers through Twitter that has been invaluable in the last year or so.

    On a personal level, I have mixed feelings about social media. I do love the fact that I find out what's happening in the world, not through the news, but on Twitter. But I hate the fights it's caused in my family. Somebody sees something, takes it the wrong way, all hell breaks loose and before you know it your Facebook profile is virtual Jerry Springer. I've made friends on social networks who have been important in my life, but I've made other friends on social networks that I should never have associated with. One in particular is my life's biggest regret for the trouble he caused me.

    I think you should definitely use Twitter and Facebook to connect with readers and writers, but for marketing yourself and your writing, the blog is best.

  2. Hi Lacey, thanks for the feedback. Blogging has gotten easier over time, but I still struggle to find where I'm going with it sometimes. Let's just say it is a work in progress, shall we? So far the best part about blogging has been meeting other bloggers and, through their blogs, getting a window into other parts of the world.