A question to the floor:
What social media tools do you use and for what purposes? We could talk all day about Facebook (or on Facebook) – where many writers have fan pages, or post most updates – but let’s go a bit further afield too.
- Pinterest – Launched in 2010 as a ‘virtual pinboard,’ Pinterest can be used for research (putting photos in buckets), inspiration, and conversation. Check out some really well-curated pinboards for examples: Arin Dembo, Elizabeth Bear, Holly Black, Jenny Lawson, Sara Mueller, and Craig Engler. Mine’s a bit sloppy, but I’ve found it a useful place to store things in buckets, so I know where to find them. Broadcast type: public.
- Tumblr - Founded in 2007, but rising in visibility recently. The tumblr technique is called short-form blogging by the company. I’m new to this one (which is the reason for this post). In some ways, Tumblr is also a pin-board, though its visual interface is linear where Pinterest’s is more of a tree. Both places, you can reblog images. The most creative uses for Tumblrs are found in running narratives that cross image, animated gifs, and commentary. Some, like Jillian Venters of Gothic Charm School, use tumblr tags to document daily gothic office wear (her tumblr has much more). Neil Gaiman answers questions and posts brief (and extended) pictures and photos. The Bordertown Series has its own tumblr and recently listed all its writers who are on tumblr. Broadcast type: public.
- Twitter – Started in 2006, so practically forever. For writers, twitter is both a way to announce new projects and a way to maintain conversations with … well, everyone. The best of them do both. Twitter crowd-surges have great power to change things – as evidenced by the recent Jay Lake / paypal situation (that was well resolved by paypal). Who to follow? Folks who make you laugh, think, act. Check out your favorite readers, and who they follow. What to do? Engage in conversations. Make connections. Don’t just send out marketing blitzes. Fun thing to try: rolling a twitter stream into your blog. Broadcast type: public.
- Facebook – Launched 2004. Use of Facebook for professional vs. private conversations varies a lot. For some, this is their public social media face. For others, Facebook is for friends. Mary Robinette Kowal explored the difference between a fan page and a personal page last year. It’s a great read. Broadcast type: limited-level private / public.
- Google Plus (and Hangouts) - Launched 2011. New and still relatively quiet, a great part of Google plus is its hangouts feature, which allows for group video chats with whiteboards and more. Broadcast type: tiered private / public.
- Blogs - from wordpress to blogger, to self-hosted sites, to livejournal, these are long-form presence sites where authors maintain ongoing conversations with readers (especially in the case of lj) and explore topics of interest. Check out (selected at random, using a d20) Scalzi, Laura Anne Gilman, Jim C. Hines, Jo Walton, Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Genevieve Valentine, and Maggie Stiefvater for varying uses of blogs as thought-containers up through full-presence sites. Foodies, see also the Inn at the Crossroads. Broadcast type: public (though lj has privacy settings, and some other blogs do too).
- Goodreads - Launched 2006 (in competition with librarything and other bookblogging sites). Used for cataloging social reading, reviews, as well as cross-blogging. Authors, if you have a story or book listed with Goodreads, will probably want to take control of your author page over there. Otherwise, a bot has likely done it for you and gotten some things wrong. Broadcast type: public.
One question comes to mind as I navigate these sites and as I use them myself. How much time am I spending building a presence vs. time I could be spending on writing? What’s a good balance? And, in the case of the social media sites above, what happens to all the content I’ve twit-face-boogled if the site goes away or changes policies (cough, Instagram, cough.)
After all this, my favorite social media tool remains stories – mine and others. Being part of that storytelling circle means reverting to notebooks, with a pen, so I’m not tempted to spend all my time not-writing. How about for you? What tools do you use?