Social Networking: CAVEAT SCRIPTOR

Proceed with caution.

Much has been written on the effective use of social media, especially for authors. We hear the importance of building platform, and several sites are devoted to some of the most important aspects of using social media. Mostly, they focus on writing effective copy, branding one’s self, and building your “tribe.” I won’t go over those with different wording on the same subjects, and since I don’t Tweet and haven’t posted to my own blog since October, I’m not so super-qualified to write on those subjects.

I do want to discuss what I’ve come to discover is, to me, one of the most important aspects of social networking, specifically Facebook, since it’s where I spend most of my online social time.

I have many online “friends” from among our AQC writer compatriots. We chat rarely but often comment on or “like” shares and posts. We get to know each other’s likes and dislikes. A most important step in finding your “tribe.”


We become personally invested in one another. Even an occasional response to a comment is a personal connection. Every source I’ve read says that developing a personal bond, or link, or whatever you want to call it, with your friends or followers is the most important thing you can do toward finding and developing your tribe. People need to care about you to care about your product.

I can say for sure that those are the people whose posts I will read, and when they post that their book is available, I’ll grab it for my “stack” of Kindle reading.

But there is an opposite of that and we can easily sabotage ourselves.

Many authors, since that’s primarily our group of interest, have both personal pages and author pages. Their personal pages tend to be where they (we) show their interests, social and, sometimes, political leanings. Author pages, on the other hand, tend to be, in many cases, mostly self-promotion.

If there is nothing coming from that author but “here’s my book,” “here’s my book cover,” “here’s how to win a free ARC of my book,” and, oh yeah, “here’s another book you might like,” one, at least this one, becomes very quickly disinterested.

You may not want to share with online acquaintances the same personal info you share with family and close personal friends. Honestly, I’m not in love with reading where you have breakfast or that your kid finally learned to poop in the toilet (true post.) But, still, even if I overdose on funny cat/dog memes or love/hate political memes, I still feel more invested personally in those authors, maybe because of their wicked sense of humor or whatever, and consequently, I want to support them because they’ve personally interacted with me.

Isn’t that why we’re repeatedly told to personally reply to comments made to things we post?

Personal connection.

And there’s the rub. A tenet of effective social networking is not to pitch one’s self or one’s book or blog tour constantly. It may seem professional to only post things pertinent to your work, but, there’s no personal connection in that, and therefore, no feeling of belonging to that person’s “tribe.”

You can certainly refuse a friend request and refer someone to only Like and Follow your author page, but you are likely losing that person as a tribe member. If the only posts I see from a particular author are self-promotion, I soon pass right on by them.

I don’t pass by those fellow travelers with whom I share even a modicum of rapport. Because we have exchange on a personal level, I will always go to their author pages when they post from there.

But when all I see from an author is self-promotion, if that author doesn’t want to be a “friend” and let me see who they are, their likes, dislikes, random silly comments and such, then I’m not invested, and I don’t bother.

We know that a simple act of unfriending someone can have negative repercussions. (Although there are trolls, certainly, who deserve not just being unfriended, but having their heads held in a toilet.) We don’t need to friend everyone on the Interwebs. I’m only suggesting that, when deciding whom to friend and whom to refuse, we proceed with caution.

If you decide to refuse a friend request but want that person to follow your author’s page, and that page is only about your book, its cover, its pub date, etc, and maybe some friends’ books promotion, you’ve chosen not to allow that person to be part of your tribe.

That’s not how to build an audience, and what is platform but audience?

And when it comes to buying and helping to promote someone else’s book, whose are you going to buy?

I’d put my money on the one by the person you feel you know, with whom you’ve had some personal exchange. You may not even particularly love their genre, but you feel connected to them, so you’ll shell out that $2.99 and put in on your e-reader. Right?

I bet so.

I’d love to hear what you think in that regard.


6 thoughts on “Social Networking: CAVEAT SCRIPTOR

  1. I try to be a better version of myself on my social networks. That is, less timid, more vibrant. Instead of sharing my things, I usually share posts I liked, even though I don’t think I have many followers but those people who posted lol.

  2. Debra, that’s still a way of interacting. People see that you’re sharing their postings. Making a comment, is a step closer. A better version of yourself is fine, even good, but be yourself, because it’s YOU people will relate to, what you think, what’s funny or sad or moving to you, what makes you happy, frustrated or furious. I think the key is just to engage.

  3. Richard,

    Great posts, and very thoughtful, as usual.

    Another point is being active on line, My schedule is hectic right now, but I find if I can get on line and share a thought or something it helps.

    Think of this like a reservoir. Each time you comment on something it puts a little more water in your pond. To fill it you need to interact. Like something, comment on something. Being positive and friendly builds this tribe. It raises the level of your reservoir. Start early, and when you are ready for those following you to read your works, they are ready, willing, and able.

  4. Thanks, Dean. You make a good point. Some of our compatriots are very active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc. I have limited time and tend to limit my online time to FB. I have yet to jump into the “rapids” of Twitter, except to read tweets now and then. But even if our participation is limited, I do think it’s important to participate. As you say, it can be as simple as liking someone’s share, or sharing it again. Commenting is even better. Again, it’s all about connection.

  5. Very good point, Richard! I have separate, and I try to keep from shameless self promotion, but I do keep my personal and author separate. If you are allowed near my personal, it means I don’t mind you seeing the funnies, or the car porn I find, or how my kid makes me laugh, or the things I feel very strongly about.

    I don’t get a lot of time lately to do any social networking, and barely have time to remember my name, but I do try to be nice. Hopefully.

    • Many authors keep separate pages, and often the personal pages post things we read and pass by. I’m not particularly interested in older Muscle Cars (although I did own a ’65 yellow GTO convertible in “65 and loved it.) That said, I still get a connection with you seeing those posts and knowing your interests. Same with things people’s kids do. Those are the things that make us feel personally connected, even if in a small way.That personal connection is what I’m talking about. (And you are nice.) And now and then we, all or us who allow each other into that part of our lives we post (hopefully not airing dirty laundry and such), see and like or comment on each other’s moments. It develops a caring for each other. Then the author’s page is another look, a look at the author’s writing world. When that’s all we’re allowed to see, promotional posts, the connection is diminished or not there at all. .

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