Thursday, March 26, 2009

Random Thoughts: promo and social networking sites

We got dumped on today, here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains -- and throughout Colorado. All the snow that's been MIA showed up today. I made a futile effort to go to work in Denver this morning, but only drove up the street a mile or so. After sliding across the road every time I hit my brakes, I decided it would take hours to get to the community mental health center I work for and I'd be a stressed-out, white-knuckled, basket case by the time I got there. So I turned around and crawled home. Turns out the center closed about an hour later. I'll even get paid for the snow day! YAY!

Okay. I'll admit it. I don't jump into things quickly. It took me a very long time to buy a computer (I finally bought one some time in the late '90s) because I was fine with my word-processing typewriter thingy and saw no reason to change. Email? I don't need no stinkin' email! And, what's up with all the www.coms? After watching a friend surf the Net and be able to communicate instantaneously anywhere in the known universe via email, I was sold. (I'd be lost without email now -- and blogs!)

But I wasn't totally on board yet. Every new experience threw me into a tizzy. Copy and paste? What the hell is copy and paste? I'm too embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to realize how basic and easy the process is. I think the problem was that I didn't understand what the words MEANT. I'd somehow missed the "click and drag your mouse along the line and highlight it" part. And, I complicated things by buying an iMac and having a dial-up connection. I couldn't do half the things I should have been able to do because it took for-frickin'-ever to do the simplest stuff. So, I just assumed I hadn't been born with the computer gene. More evidence of my inadequacy (I feared).

Which brings me to all the social networking options. Once again, I resisted MySpace. I thought it was a place for kids and teenagers. I couldn't see how it could possibly benefit me. Until, that is, I read a post by an author on one loop or another about her use of MySpace as a place to promote her books, then the light bulb went off over my head. I started friending 20 people per day until I reached 3,000, then I was able to simply accept the people who asked to friend me. MySpace has been a marvelous promo and communication tool. I got phished once, but I learned my lesson and am very careful what I click on now.

Facebook is a different story. I created a page a long time ago but I've never been able to figure out how to use it to my advantage. Unlike MySpace, where I can find friends who like vampire books (for example), on Facebook I have to know who I'm looking for. I think. So, I barely go there.

And Twitter? I'm still at the "what's the point?" point.

What about you? What's your experience with these places (and others). What am I missing about Facebook and Twitter? And then there's Second Life. A couple of my author friends are very excited about SL. What's your experience with it? What's the next big thing? If you were going to recommend one best author promo option, what would you choose?

18 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth L'Inconnu said...

Twitter...??? The jury is still out on that one. Face Book might be useful - there are a lot of "discussions" going on regarding publishing and writing, in certain groups. This could be beneficial. There are also blogging tours being set up by various groups. Does any of this help? I really couldn't say, but it is interesting to get other authors and publishers perspectives on the business. And who knows, in the end, it might.

Just don't get lured into playing with the fishes! LOL

8:26 PM  
Blogger Marie-Claude Bourque said...

I am a big MySpacer, love it there. Both FB and MS have their use and I like both. But you have to work them very differently.
Try playing Vampires War on FB, you suddenly might get tons of friends who are into reading Vampires as well.
Unfortunately, I play Mafia Wars, which I wrote suspense LOL!

10:02 PM  
Blogger Davina said...

I'm sort of the opposite to you here... I can't bear MySpace. I find it too flashy and bright and there are so many awful layouts on people's pages!

Facebook, I love - it's a great way to keep in touch with people I don't see very often, without any effort. You just see what they're doing in your news feed; if you like you can comment on it, and if you don't, you know one more thing about them than you did before!

I'm still getting into Twitter, but I use it regularly and find it quite good just for little chats, and again, keeping up with people. I can definitely see the benefits for networking too, and there have been a few times when I've had, for example, a web design problem, and a quick tweet gets me answers in seconds.

As for SL - I tried it and liked it, but have pretty much given it up as it was just such a time drain! The same is said about other social networking schemes, but because I can do those whilst doing other things at the same time I don't find them such a problem.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Lynn Reynolds said...

Lynda - I'm an Internet junkie, but even I'm getting sick of all the various social networking options in cyberspace. It's getting to the point where I have no time for real life, so I'm starting to resist the "social networking flavor of the month" trend. First I had to get a newsletter, then a blog, then a myspace page - now everyone says I need to do Facebook and Twitter. All this virtual networking can be fun in moderation, but I really doubt whether it's selling that many books for authors.

Quite suddenly, everyone I know - non-writers included - is going on and on about Facebook. I have friends who literally don't have time to get together for lunch anymore because they're busy playing Mafia Wars or some other game at Facebook. It's a little creepy, especially since they are all people who had zero interest in the Internet prior to this! I smell an evil insidious alien plot to take over the world. . .

7:05 AM  
Blogger Kara said...

I set up a My Space account but thought it was silly. Then a couple of days ago, I heard from an old friend of my that I haven't seen in years - she found my on My Space - we are getting together this weekend to catch up. So I now think setting up my account was useful.

I haven't done the Facebook or Twitter thing (don't really understand Twitter and what it is all about). I heard about too many viruses on Facebook which scares me about using it.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Joe Vadalma said...

Personally I think all these social networking site take too much valuable time that I could be writing. In fact, I made a new years resolution to do less promoting and more writing. People who are looking for something to read are more likely to go to an online bookseller or maybe they've seen some of your shorter work in an E-zine

7:43 AM  
Blogger Melissa Mayhue said...

Good subject, Lynda. Much like you, I'm a MySpace fan but can't seem to get the hang of Facebook. Maybe it's because I started with MySpace and spent my learning curve there. :-)

I'm just getting into Twitter, and I think I like it. Fast little blurbs and flashes of incoming information.

And, of course, you know that I think Second Life has great future potential as a place to connect with readers.

~ Melissa
www.MelissaMayhue.com

8:08 AM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Elizabeth: I'll have to check out the groups on Facebook (if I can figure out how to do that). I guess I could see being on Twitter if I had a lot of people following me, but since I'm not posting many tweets, there's not much to follow. grin. Thanks for stopping by!

Marie-Claude: I'm afraid I'm even more limited at playing games than I am with computer things in general. My brain doesn't seem to work that way! But thanks for telling me there are games on FB. I had no idea! Nice to see you.

Davina: MySpace has been an excellent tool for me to keep in touch with people. I like being able to send bulletins to everyone on my list and I've had people contact me that I haven't seen in eons. I do see what you mean about using Twitter for problem solving. Great idea. Thanks for commenting!

Hi, Lynn: Thanks for stopping by. I agree that it's easy to get lost in the newest social networking flavor of the week. Mostly, I'm at the place where I respond to requests to friend me and once a week I try to remember to write a sentence on Twitter, but that's the extent of my involvement. Since I'm all about author name recognition even more than book promotion, I like having lots of different ways to float my name out into the cyber universe. LOL! You could be right about the alien plot!

Kara: I think that's one of the best uses of MySpace: connection. Of course, you'll also get your share of silly/obnoxious stuff, but I'm very good with the "delete" button. grin.

Joe: You're sure right about that. If we let them, the social networking sites are just time drains. But I do think they are great for name recognition, so I'll probably keep spending a few minutes daily sticking my toe into the cyber pond. Nice to see you.

Hi, Melissa! Nice to see you. I hope the roads are clear tomorrow for driving up to Ft. Collins for our multi-author book signing event! And lunch beforehand. Yes. I find MySpace easier to use than Facebook, but I'm probably just resisting, as I always do! (Melissa and our friend Elaine Levine are already pros at navigating Second Life. They've been very generous about teaching me the ropes, and I'm coming along slowly.) Sounds like it wouldn't hurt to Tweet a line or two daily. Thanks for stopping by!

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Betty said...

Your thoughts on MySpace vs FaceBook are interesting. I use FaceBook as a true social network, getting in touch with folks from as far back as elementary school. LinkedIn is for my "professional network" but wouldn't work as well for, say, book promotion. I guess all the social network sites have their niche.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Jackie M (Literary Escapism) said...

I like facebook. I'm able to use it as a calendar of events for Literary Escapism as well as have a page there where I can announce things. I do, however, use it more for myself personally and as a way to network with other book junkies, but since I do put stuff up about my family and my son, I tend to be a little selective.

I like the groups. I find it's easier to navigate through them than on myspace. Although the one thing I hate about mySpace is how gaudy some people can make them. Lots of flashy lights and sounds and weird color combinations don't really work for me. I like simple and Facebook gives me that. On facebook, it seems like it's more about the content and the image. Plus, everything you do on Facebook is on that first page where you have to click through various places on mySpace. For instance, any time you upload a picture or write a note/blog on Facebook, it shows up in a feed on the front page. However, both of those are separate pages on mySpace. I gave up on mySpace a long time ago, so I have no idea if it has gotten better, but I'm a facebook junkie.

I still don't get the point of Twitter and I've never heard of Second Life.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Crystal-Rain Love said...

I absolutely detest Facebook. It's so boring to me, and I can't figure out where to find some things on it, like, um... my people I befriend.
Myspace is so much simpler and I love the profiles. It helps you learn instantly what people you are friending are into. I love it even more now that there's the find-a-friend feature on there. I love the blogs and bulletins, and events.
Twitter? Seems like it would be annoying so I don't bother with it.
I've found some readers on Myspace so I'm happy with it. The only hang up about it is every once in a while I get messages from people from waaaay back that I wish would have stayed waaaaaaay back. LOL! High school is over. I don't want to go back there. aaaaaaaaaaaaah!

(I've never heard of Second Life either)

11:26 AM  
Blogger Elaine Levine said...

This is a great topic, Lynda. I keep waffling on the subject. The thing about all of these social networks is that they are free, which make me feel as if I'm the one in charge of my success in this arena.

I think reading is becoming an increasingly social thing to do, and these social tools are helping it to grow in that area. Which is great for readers and authors because social networks are the perfect place for both groups to meet and interact.

You do have to find that line between usefulness and wasting time. And it takes a while to establish a presence in these different media.

Lynda is putting Second Life to good use over the next month. The authors at Colorado Romance Writers are meeting in SL to listen to pitches from our fellow authors in preparation for our biennial conference in May. That's an excellent use of that virtual world. You have to speak your pitch out loud to another human--it's great practice. And at least we'll be spared looks of horror or boredom from across the table.

Lynda, Melissa Mayhue and I are also hold "salons" in SL where published authors gather to interact with readers. We have one scheduled on 4/17 at 7 PM MDT if anyone would like to join us!!

12:02 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, Betty: I'd forgotten about Linkedin. I have a page there but that one falls into my "clueless" category. I do believe in putting myself out there in any way I can, so I'm on LinkedIn as a professional (psychotherapist/ hypnotherapist). I'll have to think about if there's anyone I'd like to locate on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi, Jackie! Nice to see you. Thanks for commenting. I love Literary Escapism. I'll have to pay more attention to the groups on Facebook. It never occurred me to check them out. (Note to self: figure out how to do that. grin). You can check out Second Life here: www.secondlife.com

Crystal-Rain: LOL about the high school friends. I was a lone wolf in high school, so I doubt if many people from that long-ago century remember me. I do check in with the classmates website sometimes, but I haven't joined. I find that I'm contacted more (on MySpace) by musicians I worked with during my rock and roll phase than by school connections. Thanks for coming by!

1:44 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Elaine: Thanks for talking about Second Life (Elaine knows LOTS more about it than I do!) SL does seem to have potential to be an awesome resource, especially for authors. I participated with Melissa Mayhue (Elaine set it up) in Second Life in a book reading event in a West Ireland library. It is a new experience to be somewhere in your avatar form, speaking to other avatars who've gathered to attend your event. A little surreal, but fun!

1:48 PM  
Anonymous trading computers said...

I'll just stick with myspace...

8:16 AM  
Blogger Libby Polson said...

hello lynda!! =-) first off - I LOVE YOUR BOOKS! I thought id say it for the hundreth time lol...

I think with all these social networking sites, that if you're really serious about promoting your books or anything else alike, that you should probably just try them all. That probably doesn't sound as helpful as it should... but my theory is that everyone has different tastes and levels of education when it comes to these sites. I, for example love myspace. I go on frequently and use it for a million reasons, like keeping in contact with people I havne't seen in yonks, keepin up to date with what everyone is up to, even comedy tours, videos and music. I'm kept pretty entertained by it all... But I can't for the life of me understand how to use facebook and ended up deleting my account after two failed attempts of trying to figure out how to simply use it. I haven't even given a thought on starting a twitter account.

My friends and family have different opinions though, and think myspace is lame (lol) and facebook is better, etc etc. some have even started up twitter and deleted their other social site accounts..

Basically, give them all a go? lol They all have different helpful gadgets that are pretty cool and useful..

well I hope that made sense and helped =-P

5:55 AM  
Blogger Vickie said...

I have a Facebook page, but don't have my face on it. I possibly have a MySpace page, but haven't been there in forever.
I mostly update my blog and post on WeightWatchers message board Booktalk.
Twitter is inane in my opinion. Who cares what I am doing right this very second? It's stalker worthy.
I love blogs, especially book related ones. I could meander my blog roll forever.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous SUPER PC said...

MYSPACE!!!

1:55 PM  

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