How much social media is enough? Can we do too much? What’s the magic number of platforms to manage to successfully build an audience for your writing? And how do you still find time to write? The honest truth is that some days, between social media and my work, I don’t find time to write my fiction. I have to schedule time for my fiction just like all my other writing.
I’m on the following social media platforms:
- Google Plus
- 2 different Yahoo forums
- I also have accounts on photobucket, flickr, and a couple others I’ve forgotten about.
Anyone else on Goodreads? That one just looks like fun… And Smashwords…
Then there’s the blogs I follow and try to comment on regularly.
Facebook is where my family and close friends are, so I’m there anyway. Marcy and I have also been networking there. I quit Twitter – twice. It was too chaotic for me. LinkedIn has it’s purposes but that’s not where my audience is so it’s not a priority. I’ve had three invites to BranchOut on Facebook now, but reconnecting with people I’m already connected with seems redundant. I’m resisting…
How many is enough? How many is too much? The obvious answer is to do one really well. For Marcy and I, our primary priority has been this blog, Twitter for her, Facebook for me, and we both dabble with G+. We just don’t have time to be active on any more than that.
Monitoring vs. Being Active
First, for me there’s a difference between monitoring my presence on a social media platform and being active on a social media platform. I use Google Alerts, email notifications, Google Reader, and iGoogle to keep track of everything. I have a sorting system on my email so notifications land in the appropriate folder instead of my general inbox where I field work emails all day (less distracting that way).
The Balancing Act
I’m not a morning person, so I use social media to slowly wake up. I spend about an hour and sift through my personal Facebook notifications and post there. Then I check here at GWP. Then I’m on to gmail where I check my email and G+. Then I switch to Google Reader and see who’s posted that day. I glance through the blurbs for the two or three most interesting posts, and pick one to read. I’ll also trawl G+ for good posts to share. I post on the GWP Facebook Page and maybe G+.
As I eat breakfast, I prioritize my day, and get down to doing some paid work. I do the social media rounds again at noon, and typically spend my lunch hour reading the other blogs that interest me that day and leave comments here and there. I try to leave a comment on at least one blog every day (and not the same blog as the day before). At the end of my work day, I make the rounds again – if I’ve participated in a particularly lively discussion I may check back there and see how that’s shaping up. Usually I check again before bed.
Throughout the rest of the day I have my iGoogle page set up so at a click I can see if something’s come up that needs my immediate attention, but otherwise I stick to my designated 15 minutes stints. It can become a real time-suck if I’m not careful so I discipline myself to that one hour in the morning, my lunch hour (which ends up getting lost during school vacations because I’m also mom and have to make lunches, etc) and no more than 15 minutes each time I check later in the day.
Building a platform through social media is hard work and it takes time. This is not something you can automate on Hootsuite, networked blogs, friendfeed, or any other tool and expect to grow an interactive community. You have to be there, be present, be authentic – often. And it takes time. Unless you’re already a known author, your Facebook or blog community won’t spring up instantly after one month or a few blog posts. You have to build up trust and credibility. Pick one or two platforms that you really enjoy and do them well.
Marcy – now she’s a different kettle of fish. She’s a morning person, so she’s most active first thing in the day. First, she’s on TweetDeck and plans all her tweets for the day. She’s already written her posts for GWP about a month in advance, but when it’s her week to post she regularly monitors the blog comments and responds. If she’s going to respond to a blog, it’s usually first thing in the morning too. But for the rest of her day, she uses social media like a reward system – finish this assignment – check TweetDeck and respond there. Finish another assignment and check GWP. (I know she watches her email almost constantly).
How many social networks are you on? If the point of doing all the social media is to create or build a platform – what’s the point if you don’t have time to write? How do you manage to balance your time there so you can get other things accomplished?