Social media is a pervasive aspect of contemporary life in many ways, and it can even be used to effectively boost your writing pursuits if you know how to approach it. Social media (and the proper management thereof—after all, not all attention is positive, as the celebrity scandals on Twitter demonstrate) can be particularly handy for entrepreneurs, small companies, self-publishers, etc. Here are some tips for how to keep your social media image clean and efficient.
Know Your Audience
If you are acting in a professional rather than a personal capacity, you will need to consider every move you make on social media for the sake of your business—it’s not just your own image at stake. This requires understanding your following. The people and companies that follow you will likely have some interest in your work, but you will have to maintain and further cultivate that interest, and that can take time, effort, and a keen understanding of who’s actually listening to you out there.
Post regularly and be sure to keep the content within the range of what you do. For example, if you are a self-published author, post about your writing process; give updates about your new work, book specials, or upcoming readings; or write about the work of other self-published authors—those both inside and outside your circle. You should approach social media as a marketing tool, but also as a means of developing a community around your work.
Know What Not to Do
If you have any sort of following to speak of, you are in danger of having everything you say meticulously analyzed and screen-grabbed before you’ve even had a chance to second-guess it. As a professional, you will have to make sure that everything you publicly post goes through necessary internal filters and appropriately represents you before it sees the light of day. For better or worse, what you post on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr will come to represent you, and one wrong step might see your whole image trashed.
Know How to Make Up for Mistakes
If you do mess up, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world—not as long as you have a damage-control plan in place. If you’ve made a blunder and have been called out on it, the worst thing you can do is react quickly and uncritically. If you find, after seriously considering the matter and possibly consulting experts, you don’t have very clear reason to believe you are in the right, you should take it upon yourself to apologize as clearly as possible. Stick to the point—don’t go apologizing for things you haven’t done or you could really make it worse. If you handle the situation well, people might even come to think more highly of you than before.
To avoid this scenario in the first place, it’s absolutely important to remember that context and tone are much harder to convey online (especially on sites like Twitter that have character limits), and this can often lead to misunderstandings. But if you manage your social media well, even when things get dicey, you will find you’ve embarked upon a relatively inexpensive way to market your business, build a community around your company, keep that community both growing and engaged, and have a good time doing it.
Robin Field holds a BA in English and Linguistics from the University of Cape Town where she is currently working toward her Master’s degree in Linguistics with a focus on gender and game studies.