Friday, August 10, 2012

Social Networking: What Are YOU Getting From it as a Writer?

Photo by socialmediahq
Yes, here we are with another social networking post. I think as writers we're constantly trying to find a balance. Sometimes it's balancing family time with writing time. Sometimes it's balancing social media time with writing time, and so on. I keep hearing ratios on how much time you should be spending social networking compared to how much time you should be spending writing. And hey - I might even do a post on that soon.

But this post isn't about that. It's about what YOU are getting from the time you're spending social networking. Fairly recently I realized I was spending way too much time with social media. Worse, I realized I was spending a whole lot of time for a very little result.

Social networking is helpful to our writing careers. There are certain things social networking should be helping us accomplish at certain stages of our careers. However, if we're spending tons of time on it without much of a result, I feel like we need to analyze that time.

Say you're...

Unagented and Uncontracted

If you're in this category, social networking isn't as much about building a readership as it is about making contacts.

What should social networking be accomplishing for you at this stage?

* Helping you build a support system with other writers
* Helping you find critique partners
* Helping you make contacts, such as people you get to know who might be willing to recommend you to their agent or even give you mentoring advice
* Helping to make your presence known to agents (comments on their blogs and a chance to see your name around here and there)
* Giving you the opportunity to test the networking waters, either with a website, blog, Facebook, etc. in a moderate way, but enough to show agents and editors you're on board with future marketing

Agented and Submitting to Publishers

If you're in this category, publishers want to see you care about marketing your work, and that you have ideas and understand the resources to do so.

What should social networking be accomplishing for you at this stage?

* Helping you build a readership of people who want to read your books
* Helping you to connect with other writers who will endorse your books or help you market through Facebook or blog tours
* Keeping you connected with other writers for support and encouragement
* Keeping you current on marketing trends

Contracted for Publishing

At this stage it's more about the numbers. You want to draw in an audience and keep previous connections strong.

What should social networking be accomplishing for you at this stage?

* Helping you garner readers
* Helping you reach your readers
* Giving readers a place to research you and connect with you on a more personal level
* Providing opportunities for you to market your book

When I examined where I'm at in my writing career and what I need social media for right now, I realized I was putting more work into places that needed less, and the other way around. Social networking should be working for me just as much as I'm working on it so my time is used the most productively.

Is social media working for you? What tips do you have to keep that balance and make sure your time is used wisely?


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Social media is a funny thing. I understand it's value as a tool, but so often I get tired of the constant "spamming". I like FB's way of having a page for more of a marketing type page, but twitter has lost it's fun for me. I miss the little conversations. I now get new followers every day that I know are just using a robot to find new followers...and that is not what it's about, you know?

Of course, I am not in a stage where I need it to market and all that, so maybe my thinking is skewed. :)

Thought provoking post! Well done!

Susan Hollaway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cindy R. Wilson said...

Sherrinda, I know what you're saying. We're supposed to be making relationships, too, not just getting as many friends and followers as possible. Social media is definitely a funny thing!

Jeanne T said...

Cindy, this is such a helpful post. I haven't gotten super involved in social media yet. I've joined Twitter, but I don't get on either that of Facebook all the time. I do a lot more with blog interaction right now. I appreciate how you share how social media can best benefit writers at each stage of their journies (journeys?). I do believe I just found a word I don't know how to spell. :)

Oh, question. What criteria do you use for following someone who's followed you on Twitter?

Thanks, Cindy!

Jessica R. Patch said...

Great tips, Cindy! I enjoy hanging out on social media, but like Sherrinda said I hate the spamming. And I know when it's time to shut down and actually write! :)

Loree Huebner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loree Huebner said...

Great way to break it down, Cindy.

I recently started using a few hashtags for the region in which I live. I'm at the stage where I'm ready to step out closer to home.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Jeanne, that word journey's gets me too :)

I am not on Twitter yet, I stick to blogging and Facebook. When I get a new follower on my blog, I usually try to check out their blog, too, to see if it's interesting or maybe even a place I could connect or learn something. If they leave a comment, too, and try to connect, I definitely try to follow their blog as well, and make sure I'm commenting.

I'd love to see what the other Alley Cats think, though, or any other readers today. What's your etiquette for being followed on Twitter?

Cindy R. Wilson said...

That sounds smart, Lor. Connecting with people like that is a good way to build new relationships. Have a great weekend!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I like the way you compartmentalized the amount and level of social network depending on where we are in our journey. I think we use a "need to network" as a reason to spend time in social networking. I am guilty as well. I need to stay focused in my piece of the road and do that well so I can take the next step.
Great post, Cindy

Unknown said...

I like social media. It's's useful...but I realize it's up to me to keep it in its place. :)

Tips for balancing my time: I bought a software for 10 bucks that lets me shut off my Internet for however long I want, so I can get uninterrupted writing time. That's huge. Also, I tend to be pretty disciplined as to when I'm on social media. I know I need to keep getting better at it...I hate it when I feel like social media is managing me instead of me managing it. ;)

Ava Walker Jenkins said...

Excellent checklist at each stage, Cindy. I'm in the first stage and realized from your post that I've let down in one area: commenting and getting my name on agent blogs.
You are right when you conclude that time spent on social media may be disproportionate to what we get out of it.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Wow, this post is SO informative! Love the way you broke it down into stages. Tweeting this one, for sure! And now I know what I need to focus on (agented and out on submission).

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Cindy,
I enjoyed this post. I truely don't know if social media is helping me or not. My 3rd book will release in January. I've spent tons of time blogging on my personal blog and at Just the Write Charisma Blog with other authors from my publishing house, and at The Well Writer, the column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine,Pinterest, Twitter. I'm thinking it may not be worth it, but I don't know. It doesn't reflect in book sales and I can't tell that sales go up or down based on anything I do. I'd rather just concentrate on my writing and am beginning to think that's what we all need to do, but the bottom line is I just don't know.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

(Oh, just a thought about twitter--you can know fairly easily if someone is fake if they have no tweets. I just automatically block those people, unless I know them. I've found twitter a great way to find more writers/agents and I've found some possible influencers that way, too. It's also a great way to get a heads-up on great writing posts like this one! I'd say it's much more influential than Pinterest.)

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

This is great stuff, Cindy. A very wise and useful post. I hadn't thought about social media in quite this way before - love how you make the different stages so simple and clear.

My weakness is definitely following and commenting on blogs. I'm so time-poor at the moment, with little kids/ new baby. I only follow 2 blogs and even then can't always find the time to comment. The thought of making the time to follow more makes my head spin. I can see how worthwhile it is, though - perhaps in the next season of my life I'll get more into the blogging scene. :-)

Unknown said...

A timely reminder to stop and check what we're wanting to get out of social media. Great post!

Janet O'Kane said...

An excellent blog post - thank you!
I've been on Twitter for about 18 months and love it. One practical way it has helped me is I've got to know in advance fellow attendees at crimewriting festivals. No longer am I walking into rooms full of strangers but being greeted by friends, even if that's the first time we've met in real life. This is marvellous for someone like me who's a bit shy in crowded situations.

Jody said...

Just did a blog post on this very subject. I'm drawn to exploring it because I've gone from being resentful of the time it takes, to truly understanding its value.

I've been traditionally published for 30 years, but I'm now diving into the self-publishing world, something you didn't mention here.

It seems to me that beyond connecting with other professionals, which can be hugely important, social media allows your readers to find and know you. A lot of writers are shy, but it's time to move into the world, allowing readers to find you!

Good job!