Being a relative latecomer to Facebook, I’ve embraced it enthusiastically. On a personal level, I enjoy knowing what my friends are up to without actually having to schedule a phone call in the middle of a busy week. Given how busy most of my friends are as well, I’m pretty sure that the feeling is mutual. On a professional level, I like to keep tabs on our clients and publishing colleagues – it’s helpful to know who’s doing and saying what, and, often, rumor and information get around faster on Facebook than through PW or Pub Lunch. And, of course, it’s undeniable that with the gazillion members and the sophisticated networking capabilities, Facebook is a great way to market yourself and your book. Thing is, you gotta do it right.
Because I’m far from being an expert in this area, I won’t go into technical details about what doing it right entails. (In fact, I would suggest that those of you trying to establish an effective presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, who have the means to do so, should seek help from a good brand building consultant specializing in this area.) But, I can share some of the things my colleagues and I have discussed as being turnoffs:
1. Be interesting. If you’re using social media to further your career, don’t treat it like the equivalent of sitting on your couch in an old t-shirt, watching reality tv and eating Doritos. You should make an effort to make interesting observations, post entertaining links, etc. Telling all your friends repeatedly that you love your cat, or offering local weather reports in your area, or what you had for dinner last night is nice every once in a while but if all your posts are the same, people will stop paying attention.
2. Don’t oversell yourself or your book. If you only post when you have a book event you want people to go to or use your update screen to post fragments of your novel, your “friends” will start to get annoyed. Your posts will become the equivalent of spam and be roundly ignored.
3. Try to read your friends’ posts and comment when appropriate – don’t just indiscriminately “like” everything or offer clichéd or throwaway responses to their posts. Remember, their friends are seeing your comments too and that’s an opportunity to expand your own network.
4. Avoid sending “gifts” en masse. A birthday greeting to a friend is fine. A “blessing” that will appear on the walls of your 1,500 friends…not so much.
What are the Facebook practices you all find irritating? And which other social networks do you find yourself and your favorite authors on online?