Mar 7, 2011

The Platform and Keeping Up with Social Networking

Most of us are here to build our platforms and up our visibility in the world. We've all read how it's a must for writers these days, for our success and longevity. We must be on the interwebz.

Most of us have discovered there is a learning curve at becoming adept at any one of the possible network builders, and know it is never too soon to start. We can't be everywhere and be proficient at them all. It's impossible unless some of you have figured out how to clone yourself or can afford an assistant. On a beginning writer's salary, most of us can't afford any help. So, we have to choose. What you choose is as individual as what you write.

Although I am on several social networks, I concentrate primarily on Blogger and Twitter. It used to be Blogger and FB then I discovered Twitter's charms and switched. Why? It's fast. If you use it with an app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, it's a snap to keep track of who mentions you and who retweets you. Plus, you can also message FB, MySpace and LinkedIn simultaneously [through Hootsuite]. The new Twitter makes it easier to gain followers quickly with a 'who to follow' feature. There are many other apps to help manage Twitter like seeing who doesn't follow you back so you can return the favor [although some you will want to follow anyway], seeing who among your followers has clout and seeing who your best Twitter pals are [people who mention you or retweet you often].

One of the secrets to Twitter is to RT tweets posted by other people. Not randomly. Pick what fits your platform. For me, it's astronomy, scifi, writing then some random things. There are hashtags. #amwriting is a good one to meet up with other writers and talk to them. Yes, talk to people. Don't just market at them.

Watch what other people use as #hashtags and find more relevant to you. Ie, there's a #litchat once a week and a #scifichat on Fridays [11 a.m. pacific time US]. I've learned many things off Twitter. A fair number of connections now in the blogworld came from Twitter. I talk to astronomers at observatories doing research and scientists from NASA. Mostly, I talk to other writers. #WW writerwednesday and #FF followfriday are ways for writers to promote each other for more followers. The more people you follow, the more information at your fingertips to RT to your followers. Some people will then repay the favor by retweeting you or including you in their daily news journal.

Don't be stingy about following people back. As long as they're people and not spammers or marketers. There is no real benefit to keeping your follow list small. No one expects you to keep up with their every tweet. That's not what Twitter is about. I check it a few times a day, looking for anything of interest to pass on to my followers, respond to folks talking to me and the like. It takes a few minutes - usually 5 or less and I'm done.

Like any other social networking option, it takes time to build your Twitter presence and learn to use it effectively. Yet the attraction of Twitter, to me, is its speed. It is not a time suck.

As most of us know, Blogger is. It's benefits offset that, however, as we network and learn from each other. I consider that invaluable and worth the time. Only wish someone would invent an app to help manage commenting on followers' blogs or to prioritize blogs followed. If anyone knows of any such existing program, do spill.

As our platforms grow, we can not visit every blog every day. I use Dashboard [when you first sign into your blog] to go through the blogs I follow in an orderly fashion. The drawback, blogs not on Blogger don't always show up. So, I still have to check my reading list for non-Blogger blogs. I wish there was a better way. I worry about people unintentionally slipping through the cracks. I value every one of my followers.

Speaking of followers. You know how your little icon pops up in the follow box of a blog you decide to follow? You should click yourself [not in comments, that will show your Dashboard / Blogger profile - the icon in the follow box takes your profile from a different source - Google]. See what info pops up. If your blog link is missing [it is for many people], you should fix that profile and add it in. Because if you don't then leave a comment, it's about impossible for the blog owner to track you down and return the favor. You can add links to your other sites, too. So, it's a good tool to make use of. Most people do want to return the favor and follow you back. Some still won't. Shrug.

It doesn't matter what genre another writer writes. We can still help each other out and learn from each other. Follow people. Talk to people. Yeah, socialize.

Choose your networks then learn to use them and get involved. Some take longer than others to catch on and build. So, be patient.

If you have any questions on how to use Twitter or Blogger better, I'll do my best to answer. I'm not an expert yet, but know way more than I did when I started. Which networks do you prefer?