How’s your schedule? Been busy lately?
Yeah, me too.
Most of the authors I know are currently swamped and scrambling to find time to spend with their families while still making deadlines and advancing their status on various projects.
I’m not sure how others do it all. I’ve noticed that I spend less time on social media, which is great in a way, but is has seriously decreased my visibility. If you know me, you know that Facebook is my playground. I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and I have this blog sent over to Google+, but all my favorite fun stuff is on Facebook. That’s where I’m most likely to interact.
Hootsuite and other such services are incredible time-savers and allow you to bulk-post all over cyberspace either for free or, to increase visibility, for a fee. Frankly, I don’t know what I did before I used SocialOomph and then Hootsuite. Probably spent all my time posting on each individual site. How did I have time to write? I know I must have, because I do have books out, but I’m amazed. Social media is a massive time-suck. An Orick of minutes and hours.
So, yeah, you’ll hear me singing the praises of anything (like Hootsuite) that’ll save time. But listen to me carefully now as I sing in Latin: Caveat! Caveat! Caveat!
Services don’t replace actual time spent on social sites.
If you don’t spend time on the social sites, you’ll lose visibility. Facebook, especially, resents your absence and knows how to deliver pay-back: your visibility decreases markedly. They also recognize when you’re cheating by using a service.
When I have to be inaccessible for a while, I’ve played the game both ways: not scheduling and scheduling. Either way, I lose visibility.
The thing that’s frustrating about most social sites is that you aren’t visible to everyone who follows you anyway. The sites decide who will see you and who won’t. I’ve followed @KMWeiland on Twitter for years, but if I want to see what she posts, I have to look for her directly. I see people on Facebook that are friends only on Facebook, but have to hunt down my family and personal friends most of the time if I want to find out what’s going on (hence the idea of opening a new personal page).
When you’ve been gone a while and/or rely on services, even those who usually see you are fewer in number.
So what’s a poor writer to do?
First, realize that’s just the way it is and plan a big come-back when you come back. With Facebook, it’s fairly easy: post something that people will respond to. “What’s your favorite rainy-day song?” “What’s your favorite summer snack?” Do it personally and respond.
Second, if you can find time and internet power, respond to your scheduled tweets and FB posts while you’re away. Android apps are great for this.
Third, if you do have internet capabilities and you’re doing something fun, post pictures and video. That will not only keep you visible, it will increase visibility.
Fourth, don’t put all your eggs in one social basket. Keep your website current, increase subscriptions to your newsletter (Ryan Zee is great for this), and link your blog to as many sites as possible. This one is linked not just to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, but it also shows up on LinkedIn, Goodreads, and my Amazon page. I can schedule posts and be visible even while I’m gone.
Fifth, join groups in Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn instead of simply participating in the newsfeed. That way, you can announce that you’ll be gone and easily step back in when you return. Anything that you can do to participate in a more personal level trumps general participation.
I’ve noticed big-name writers spend less time on the internet. Some never post anything until they have a new release coming. Some play occasionally, but nowhere near the extent we lesser being are. For those of us struggling for visibility, however, social media is vital. Despite its traps and punishments and downfalls. We just need to make it work for us. Or become overnight successes to the extent that we no longer need them.