Volte Facebook (Mistake #100)

It took me a while to succumb to the temptation of Twitter. Once I did, I found it enjoyable and very valuable – as a news feed, as a medium to interact with other writers, and to learn about opportunities I could pass on to my Writers Bureau Students (if not make the most of myself). In fact, many of the competitions I list on this blog’s Competitions page turn up originally in my Twitter stream.

Although I find it less useful than I did before (am I the only one who thinks the proportion of marketing and sales tweets, not to mention spammy tweets, has soared in the last year?), I still couldn’t be without it, and have accounts both for this blog (@WritersMistakes) and my main writing work and specialism of food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease (@HealthJourno).

Over a day of my working week, spread across days, is spent on social media; I now manage a dozen or so Twitter accounts, including the accounts of two clients, so it has become not only an important tool for me to do my various jobs more effectively, but something that I’m paid for to take part in on behalf of others.

Join in! Many of my students are social media avoiders, but I’d urge you all to reconsider, to just give it a go. I strongly believe all aspiring writers should experiment with writing on different subjects and in various genres – you simply don’t know what you might like until you try it – and to some extent the same applies with social media. I won’t go so far as saying it’s a definite mistake to avoid it wholesale, but it could be. It may not be for you, but it may be for you, is the point, and a whole new world could open up. Be patient, dip your toe in, give before expecting to receive, don’t brag, and go easy on the self-promotion. You’ll be fine.

Facebook, I’ve always been a bit more sceptical about. Although I use it for clients and have a page for my professional work, there seems to be less engagement there, and I’ve never fully got to grips with it as working or learning tool – this is perhaps understandable, as it was never really meant to be a medium for business, rather one for personal interaction.

Still, given that this blog has hit a major milestone – a centenary of errors, in case you missed it, so do send gifts of chocolate – it seems appropriate to finally set indifference aside and give the Mistakes Writers Make blog a presence on Facebook too. I hope you stop by occasionally – especially if you’d rather engage there than on Twitter.

But before you shoot off, and while you’re still here, I’d be interested to hear what you like and dislike about Twitter and Facebook. How can we use them more effectively, or make them more useful to all writers? Are their days numbered – and will they soon be usurped by the next social media ‘kid’ on the block, whoever he is? Have you tried them – and hated them? …

Comments 6

  • I love Twitter – for the same reasons as you, Alex. (Although if someone keeps tweeting 'buy my book, buy my book, buy my book', I'm afraid I just hit 'unfollow'!) BUT Facebook I'm not so sure about. I only really use it for a couple of writers groups that I belong to but more often than not, when I go on it, I feel disheartened and dispirited. It's hard not to feel that everyone but you has a book deal, has got a new agent (ahem, Mr Whaley – well done, I don't begrudge you that one actually!), is writing loads and loads… and I've often considered deleting my Facebook page. Maybe I actually will in 2016..!

  • I quite like both Twitter and Facebook, but they're good time wasters if we're not careful.

  • Simon has an agent! I'll add my congratulations in case he's reading. He can't have been bragging too much about it or I'd have heard! Hopefully he'll stop by as he often does …. 🙂
    That's a shame Facebook makes you feel that way. Is it the nature of the medium, do you think, or the fact that it's fiction (I presume), that might be at the root of it? As I only write non-fiction, which is easier (to both write and publish), I wonder if there's less …. *emotion* involved in the whole business for me and other jobbing factual writers, compared to more creative souls. Fewer ups and downs?

  • It is very easy to fall into extended exchanges as you fear being rude if you disappear when someone's being chatty. I try to use Twitter sometimes as a five-minute coffee break period … doesn't always work that way! That said, longer 'time wasting' has proven productive in other ways, though – making strong contacts and building relationships. You have to be careful though, as you say. Disciplined.

  • Me? Agent? Guilty as charged 😉 Eek! What have I done? Actually, I've worked hard to find someone with my sense of humour (poor woman!). It's taken me since 2011, but as readers of The Positively Productive Writer knows, you never give up because you don't know how close to success you are.

    I started off on Twitter, then got onto Facebook. I prefer Facebook's groups. I find my Twitter timeline difficult to follow. There are so many interesting people to follow! I've tried Hootsuite as a means of managing both, but I find it quite overwhelming. My web browser has small tabs that help keep both sites to hand. But, yes, the agent has said I need to be active on as many social media sites as possible.

  • Thanks for the tip re: groups – I only use my 'page' on Facebook (rather than my personal account) for posting, but perhaps I need to branch out a bit. Anyway, congrats again! Really pleased for you.

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