Social Networking Review for This Writer
7.17.09 Some publishers send their authors on a book tour. My publisher gives me a computer and a Roadrunner account. I'm hook, line, and sinker into the innovation of social networking. But is it fulfilling any purpose?
I do not want to be one of those commerce-focused people who view every contact as a "marketing opportunity." I DO want to feel like my creative world is enhanced through a lively exchange with people interested in similar things.
Facebook. (Since August 2008) This has been great for catching up with friends and extended family. Now that I'm up to 75 friends, I keep from being overwhelmed by dividing my friend list into Oldies, Relatives, Locals, NewFriends, and Writers. I have a Fan Page and love that I have 22 "fans" but I'm not sure how to give them a thrill.
Twitter. (@madinpursuit, since Sept 2008) I'm following 240 people and have 199 followers. I've found lots of cool things and interesting people through links on the tweets. Definitely a discovery place, even though 95% of the tweets I get are crap. I use Seesmic Desktop -- very efficient.
She Writes. (Since July 8, 2009) A Ning social network for women writers, where you have to point out how you qualify before you're admitted. It's my current favorite because there are some really interesting professional writers taking part -- so lots of opportunities for inspiration and sharing. It has had explosive growth -- from 0 to 2000 members in a month -- but I'm not sure what good that is. And I don't know what being "friends" with someone there means. The problem with large groups is that the membership becomes a blur to me. My post addresses your post but when do we become person-to-person, real people behind the avatars? My Mad In Pursuit blog appears on my profile page here, via RSS feed.
I belong to several Ning networks. Anybody can start one up. I've joined I Antique Online, Direct Current (public radio), Pen 10 (writing short-shorts), Heutekunst (visual artists), Indie Readers, Self-Publishing Community, and Book Marketing Network. I join, become super active, then disappear. I guess that's the natural rhythm of life online, but it seems shallow. Actually I lose track of what I've joined unless they continually reach out to me, with email digests and newsletters. Ning needs to improve on this. (I tweeted about this and got an immediate response. Nice.)
Goodreads. (Since June 18, 2009) Been trying to find book people. So far, Goodreads is the best fit. It's fun going through and listing your books, with ratings and reviews and reading what others are saying about a book. I have an Author's Page and have joined several groups. I'm boggled by the volume of chit-chatting going on in these groups. You can get recent discussions in compact digest format, via email, but trying to be a good community member is still overwhelming. I post a blog here (usually writer-related posts from my Mad blog) and these are fed to my Amazon Author Central Blog (via RSS) and supposedly to my Facebook Fan Page (but it hasn't appeared...???).
Other people's blogs. I'm discovering lots of writers with interesting blogs. How do I keep up and interact? I use Google Reader (esp on my iPhone) to subscribe to the day's political commentary and don't want to be fire-hosed with dozens of long, thoughtful feeds from wordsmiths. But I discovered that Google Reader feeds can be organized into folders. Ah, now I chose what I'm in the mood to catch up on.
Janera: The Voice of Global Nomads. (Since July 15, 2009) I love "meeting" cosmopolitan people. Through a connection on Twitter, I joined this network of international artists and wanderers. Again, I'm not sure what "networking" here will mean.
Linked-In. This feels more important for job hunters. But I did find a few cousins and a couple of Jim's kids.
With all of these sites, I'm not so much worried about "what's in it for me" -- I'm perfectly capable of quickly blowing off or ignoring useless connections. I worry about fitting in -- in so many ways I'm still the shy kindergartener standing in the corner of the schoolyard wondering why everyone else seems to know one another already. I want to be a contributor, I want to be someone other people enjoy knowing, I want to show my work without being a show-off. Know what I'm saying? When does Pinocchio become a real boy?