Today I am going to talk to you about something that you may, or may not, have already had to deal with—social media etiquette. As a writer who is either already in the public arena, or who wishes to be, social media etiquette is going to be extremely important.
Why social media etiquette matters…
I’m sure you’ve heard of branding in relationship to being an author, but this goes even further. Social media etiquette is important because how your fans, and the general public, see you is most likely going to equate to clicks and hopefully sales. If you’re like me, then it grates a little to know that you may need to censor yourself, even mildly, in order to keep the masses happy. But here’s the thing—it’s not censoring yourself I am advocating here, it all boils down to being nice.
Be you, but be the nicest you possible…
How to be nice in the age of controversy…
Here are five tips, and why they are necessary in today’s age of controversy:
- Be open to honest and constructive conversation. If you have to talk about controversial things, do it, but avoid talking down to people.
- Speak about specific persons, events, or statistics. Try your best not to assume that one specific incident is true of an entire people group. ex. Not all cops racially profile. Also don’t talk negatively about entire populations; a racial group, a group of readers, a state, a community, just don’t do it. They tend to raise arms when that happens.
- Reciprocate. If someone follows you or shares/retweets you, at least with a thank you. A smiley face. Something. People remember when you are polite. They also remember when you are not.
- Be yourself. Swear. Use funny gifs. Tell ridiculous stories. Be you. But be the politest you you can be.
- Remember, the internet is forever. Let me say it again for those in the back. THE INTERNET IS FOREVER, and someone somewhere, screenshotted that awful thing you wish you could take back. So just to avoid it altogether, don’t say the awful thing.
A cautionary tale…
So now that I’ve given you the tips I live by, let me tell you why I feel this is so timely. I’m going to try and do my best not to name names. Not that long ago a very famous author said something on twitter that made me see red. Why? Because in a glib tweet she put down and mocked an entire state, and then I sat and watched her twitter blow up. I even shared her tweet on my author page as an example of how not to handle social media.
People who loved her writing told her they would never read her books again. They unfollowed her. Some tried to explain how wrong she was. But here is the thing, the whole twitter storm could have been avoided simply by not posting a tweet mocking an entire state. And this is only the latest incident in the past year of huge name authors saying things that have left their fans gasping with disbelief.
Learn from other’s mistakes…
Here’s the takeaway. The impact on this huge name author won’t be
long term. She has been around long enough that one twitter storm won’t harm her name or reputation, but an up and coming author? This could mean the black mark publishers won’t touch. As readers get more and more comfortable with contacting their favorite authors, they also get more comfortable judging them. And if you are judged to be a not nice person, it could ruin your career.
So please, as you start your writing career, or even if you are halfway through one, keep social media etiquette in mind before you post to twitter or facebook. Once it’s out there, it can’t be taken back, not completely.
We love to hear from our readers. How do you handle social media etiquette? Do you have any personal rules?