Writers: Are you building platform or chaos?

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:

  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Google Plus
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • WordPress
  • 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.

woman balancing on one legThe Balancing Act

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?

Lisa

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15 comments on “Writers: Are you building platform or chaos?

  1. I just started with social media–I did not even have a Facebook account before this summer (I was a “lurker”). So far I find Twitter to be the most comfortable. FB seems too personal and I am having trouble figuring out how to work it in the rotation. As far as balancing my writing and social media, I’ve realized I have to set a writing goal each day. It can easily eat away at my day. Thanks Marcy and Lisa!

  2. Oh, I appreciate the balancing act section. I’m going to check out iGoogle. I haven’t sorted out my gmail into folders, but really need to do this. I love Google Alerts. I use it for everything from news about the specific development I live in to my memoir topic to book titles. I’m considering TweetDeck or Hootsuite for Twitter, because sometimes I fear I Tweet in bursts (when I take the time to check in) and it might be too much for folks. Spacing them out seems like a good thing. I signed up for Rach Writes’ platform building campaign, so we’ll see if that helps or makes the social media time more hectic.

    • I find TweetDeck super helpful because I can schedule out the “regular” tweets (which is what I call tweets about good blog posts or other interesting items I’ve found) and then I can socialize and reply to people on my “reward break” check ins that Lisa mentioned in the post. Doing that saves me time and keeps me from overwhelming someone’s Twitter stream with a bunch of links.

      Marcy

  3. I have Twitter, two blogs, a monthly magazine, Facebook, LinkedIn, and recently discovered the addictive quality of Klout – which is more about tracking the effectiveness of your social networking than the actual networking itself. It is definitely a struggle finding time for actual, you know… Writing. Your Twitter tips are particularly helpful, as I too tend to Tweet in bursts rather than spacing them out over the course of the day. Thanks for this – it’s nice to know I’m not alone in the balancing act!

  4. I’ve heard lots about Klout but haven’t checked it out yet. We’ve both written about using Facebook and Twitter under the Marketing For Writers tag here. I hear so many people list off the many platforms they’re on, but they post the same content on Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn at the same time using Hootsuite or networked blogs. They just blast out info about themselves and their blogs – there’s so much more to social media. Even though Marcy and I are both on the same platforms, we try to space out when we post about our blog so it hits newsfeeds at different times and doubles our exposure.
    Lisa

  5. Unfortunately, I am a bit all over the place at the moment. I don’t have any real system in place. I mainly focus on Goodreads and Facebook, although I try to use Twitter more often now as well. I visit certain blogs once or twice and week, lurk, and then seen if there’s something I’d like to comment on. Other than that, I haven’t been great at delegating a set amount of time to it, like you mentioned you have. I think it can really cause problems with your writing schedule and any other job or priorities you have, so perhaps it’s time I start delegating set hours and time limits to social networking. I think it’s also a great way to monitor the frequency of your social media voice, so that you don’t suffocate people with your status updates and what not. Thanks for this post and for your thoughts!

  6. This is a hot topic. Thanks for sharing. It is a fine line to walk between beneficial and time waster. As a very new author only time will tell if my choices are well spent. However I have to agree with your comment to just do a few well.
    I know I need to do more but finding the right one to invest in can be time consuming as well.
    I appreciate what you said. Thanks

  7. I’ve read quite a few articles on this topic and the main point being made is essentially what you said, use a few social networking places but use them well. I use WP and Twitter for the most part, Facebook I dip into every few days. I prefer to get a grip on what platform I’m using and make connections that are genuine, as you said, rather than feel as if I’m spreading myself too thin, wasting a lot of time flitting from one to the next instead of making a couple my bread and butter. No toast pun intended!

    Great topic! I love to hear how other folks manage their digital presence as a different point of view can prompt others to give it serious thought.

  8. I think you are on WAY too many platforms, LOL. Truthfully, just pick one or two and do them well. You are authors who need a platform. Platforms can be very solid with one or two social sites done WELL. I have steadily risen to become the social media expert for writers and I think I stand apart because I appreciate that writers need to write. Your job is to sell books, not be social media experts.

    Twitter has MILLIONS of people using it. You could hang out on only Twitter and still have a healthy platform. You have a pool of MILLIONS.

    The WIP takes precedence and I am with Warren Buffet. Diversification is not necessary for success. If we feel we need to be on every last social site, we become crazy social media day traders at the expense of good solid relationships that will eventually drive sales.

    • Wow – thanks for visiting Kristin 🙂 I’m only active here on the blog (which I share writing and administration of with Marcy) and I manage the GWP Facebook Page (I also have a personal profile on Facebook I’m active with). I dabble with G+.

      The others I’m on, but might not visit for weeks. Most of them I was on there long before I was writing full-time, or as a way to share photos and such with family far away. I should have made a distinction between personal and professional social media time.

      Lisa

  9. I have accounts with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, SheWrites.com, Pinterest, Tumblr, my blog on WordPress…and quite possibly other places I forgot about. But that has more to do with the fact that in my previous job, I needed to be well versed in various platforms.

    LinkedIn I’ve kept simply for resume/old networking purposes. I rarely do much with it, but work comes my way simply by having my information there.

    Pinterest is for my own enjoyment – I’m not particularly social with it, but I have “pinned” items for inspiration in my writing.

    For the sake of connecting with other writers and potential readers, I spend the most time on Twitter, She Writes next, with Google+ and Facebook in a tie for third place. And I blog 3-5 times a week.

    I’m social when I want to be (often using my phone) and I don’t let it interfere with time I’ve designated for the WIP. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants person, otherwise I’d probably set a schedule, but I find that as long as I set a schedule for the WIP writing, the social media part falls into place.

    I think, regardless of what or how many platforms you are on, you stated the key: “You have to be there, be present, be authentic – often.” Particularly the authentic part.

    As always, great post.

  10. I’ve resisted being on more than Facebook and already resent the time that and email takes from my actual writing. I even struggle to stay relevent on FB, often just commenting on others although I sporadically make comments on my own. I like those to be genuine and personal enough to make it interesting rather than coming across as if I’m just trying to be “seen.” So I continue to learn.

  11. So far I’m only on Twitter — I think spreading myself too thin would make it seem as though I don’t update or correspond as much, while just sticking to one or two networking sites gives you a stronger presence. I don’t think I’ll make a Facebook page, only because when I’m linked to a FB page from someone’s blog, I always end up clicking off and checking my own notifications, and then I never go back to that page. I do link to things on Pinterest, YouTube and other similar sites, though.

  12. Found your site and this post while researching for my Tuesday post. Love the title. Yes, I’ve felt the chaos. And I’d much rather write. Excellent advice here. I recently advised a new author to choose her marketing tools wisely, to not spread herself too thin which is sooo easy to do, and to not fall for unproven methods.
    I’ll recommend this article in my post: “What are the odds?” Thank you for sharing!

  13. Pingback: What are the odds? « Desert Muse Publishing

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