This is a guest post by Lela Davidson. If you want to write for Daily Writing Tips check the guidelines here.
Love it, hate it, or tolerate it, Facebook is here, maybe not to stay—because nothing is changing faster than media—but it’s here now.
Facebook is an important way to reach readers and network with clients, fellow writers, and editors.
I use Facebook every day to engage readers (and potential readers), and to network with those who can help me reach more readers.
Through significant daily interactions, ‘branded’ messages, and posting links to my work, I hope to build that all important ‘platform’ we someday-to-be-bestsellers need.
A Short History of a Reluctant Facebook Junkie
I opened my Facebook account under duress. A client required links from a Facebook profile to the blog posts I’d written. I’d already tried (and given up on) social bookmarking sites like Digg and Stumble and I resented the extra time it took to pimp my posts. I wanted to be a writer, not waste time working the system of you-click-my-link-I’ll-click-yours.
However, in the short time the assignment lasted, I got hooked on Facebook.
Interacting With Readers and Others
Chatting up old friends on Facebook was training for how I use it now, which is more strategic, but not too different. I’ve branched out from my ‘real’ friends, embracing the concept of “Facebook Friends,” who may or may not be people I actually know IRL (in real life—do the kids still say that?).
The decision about what to share and with whom is the biggest challenge for writers wanting to use Facebook for professional networking.
For me it has been a seamless transition from my friends, to their friends, and beyond because most of what I write is personal. If I’m writing about the hair balls in my bathroom for a magazine essay, I don’t mind telling you about them in my status bar. Facebook allows me to engage readers and convert would-be readers, by giving them a preview of my longer writing.
Keeping Your Distance
If you don’t want to get too personal with readers you set up a Page, which is different from a Profile. Readers can become fans of your page and this fan status shows up in the information section of their profiles. Interaction from a page is limited, but it’s better than nothing.
In addition to frequent status updates, it’s also extremely important to comment on your Facebook Friends’ status and links. This is interactive media. If all you do is talk about yourself, eventually no one will listen.
Developing a Platform
Both established and aspiring writers need a platform in order to sell their work. In Get Known Before the Book Deal, author Christina Katz defines platform as:
. . . all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential, or actual readership.
Katz emphasizes that platform development is important not only for authors, but also for aspiring and soon-to-be authors.
Interaction with your Facebook Friends builds the foundation of your relationship so that when you post a link, they may read it or pass it along via the Share function of Facebook. This lets every one of their Facebook Friends know that 1) it exists, and 2) they think it’s cool enough to be associated with.
And Finally, Posting Those Links
Wherever you are in your writing career, you have a core fan base of people who like what you write because they like you—family, friends, neighbors. Even my ‘real’ friends who aren’t interested in my writing are still interested in me. Maybe their friends and family might like what I’m writing. Facebook is the easiest way for them to share my stuff. The more I interact with them the more they are likely to find something they like. When that happens, the spread can be viral. I hope.
It’s important to note that links are different from status updates. They don’t show up in your status bar, and unless they get a lot of Likes (thumbs up) or comments, they may not show up in your Facebook Friends’ news feeds either. I don’t feel like I’m pestering people with my links if I occasionally post more than one in a day.
Also, when I’m commenting on someone else’s status, sometimes it’s natural to include a link. For example, I write a lot on family topics so whenever someone posts a status about their kid losing a tooth, I’ll comment with a link to an essay I wrote about the inflation of Tooth Fairy payouts.
Friending Editors and Fanning Magazines
As my essays have started to get picked up in more print magazines, I try to Friend the editors and become a Fan of the magazine’s website. (Sorry, fellow DWT guest author, but Friending and Fanning are verbs.) A lot of print magazines publish online versions. When the piece runs, I post a link, as well as thanking and tagging the editor in my status update.
Before an editor has bought something of mine, we can connect as Facebook Friends. Though we may never meet in person, Facebook savvy gives me an edge over the hundreds of other writers hitting the inbox. Many of those editors use the same email on Facebook as they do for submissions, so I use Facebook’s automated ‘Find Friends’ utility to identify them.
When it comes to social media there are no experts. So jump in—from wherever you are—and play. That’s what I did. Facebook has expanded my reach, helped build my ‘platform’, and put me in direct contact with readers, clients, and editors. It can do the same for you.
Lela Davidson’s award-winning column, After the Bubbly, appears regularly in Peekaboo magazine, and periodically in other magazines throughout the country. She is the parenting columnist on HubPages and a regular contributor to ParentingSquad. Find out more on her wildly entertaining blog. Or just Google her. She loves to be Googled.