[REALITY CHECK] Jumping on the bandwagon: Or “How to get lost in the crowd.”

As writers, we are very prone to the latest social networking craze that comes our way. How many times do we rush out to learn about a new tool someone has recommended to us? Do you know how many social networks you are on? If the answer is more than four, has it ever occured to you that perhaps you’re on too many?


Do you like to tweet? Do you like posting a status on Facebook? How the heck does Pinterest work anyway? If the answer is “no,” or if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then perhaps you shouldn’t be doing any of it.


How many of us joined MySpace when it first came out because someone told us it was great for author promotions and then migrated to Facebook for the same reason? How many of us joined Twitter, Pinterest, the list goes on, in the same way  because someone said this was the latest thing without considering if it was really good for you and what you are trying to do.


Besides, do you really know all those “friends” on your social networks? How many of those “friends” do you really think are following you and what you do with interest? Do you get my point? How many of those “friends” do you really pay attention to?


Scary thought, isn’t it?


Did it ever occur to you that social networking can be like multilevel or “pyramid” marketing when it comes to people like us? The first few people to join usually benefit the most, whereas those who follow usually get left behind, lost amongst the millions.


Marketing yourself or your work  isn’t just about social networking online; sometimes you have to do market yourself in person too.  But it’s getting harder for published authors to stand out of the crowd every day, and this is especially true with social networking online.


I used to tell all of our authors that they needed to create a webpage and a blog. While I do believe that is mandatory for an author to have a presence online, I no longer believe that they must have a website and/or a blog. These days, a website and blog can be the same thing. However, the person must choose what they like to do and what fits within their personality, not to mention their technical skill.


So how do you stand out of the crowd? I’ve been given this a lot of thought lately, and  I’ve drawn two conclusions:


1) Use the tools that you like to use.

Jack of all trades, master of none. This is how I think many of us approach social networking today. We follow people from one “sure fire” network to the next, and in the end, we have all these “tools” but don’t know how to use them or if they even work for us and what we want to accomplish. Specialize in only a few, or even just one.


Some of you may not have a blog or a webpage but just have a Facebook page. There is nothing wrong with that, especially if you like using Facebook and it’s easier for you to use that rather than maintain a blog. The point I’m trying to make is that you should use the tools that fit you and your needs regardless of what anyone else says.


If you prefer to use Twitter over Facebook and have both, then get rid of your Facebook account (or vice versa) despite how many friends you have. Shocking, I know, but it’s not against the law to delete an account. No one is going to come after you. You won’t have to turn in your author license. Chances are that if no one is really following you, then they’re not going to miss you.  Life is too short to put up with things that you don’t like to do, especially if it’s voluntary.



2) Give people a reason to follow you by letting them that get use to you.

What I mean by that is the old fashioned “build your audience” advice. I’ve preached this in my other articles (Curb Your Enthusiasm, When Authors Don’t Try). You must cultivate your sphere of influence. There’s no quick way around this. You will have to spend time doing what it is you like, whether it’s online or not, and then over time, build an audience a.k.a “a following.”


But how do you do this? Well, you can’t do it if you’re lost in the crowd. You must stand out. Be a leader and not a follower. Although I hate the cliché, I’m going to say it anyway: think outside of the box.


And you know what? Your favorite tool may not even be online! Think about it. Some of you are well ahead of me on this.


Be creative. After all, you are a writer. Ask yourself the following questions and see if it helps you focus:


  • What is it about yourself or your current project that you can use (dare I say, “exploit”) to stand out from the rest?


  • List all of your social networks—online AND off. Do any of them facilitate in transmitting your answer to the previous question to a large audience?  If not, can you create something that can?


 ©2013. Zetta Brown. If you like this post, then stop by Zetta’s Desk or Zetta’s House of Random Thoughts.


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Comment by Joanne Barney on March 10, 2013 at 3:48pm

Didn't see your blog, Zetta, until this morning.  That's how disconnected I've gotten from electronic socialization in the past month, and I'm sorry because what you wrote is exactly how I feel about the subject. Lately, my only internet networking has been with the company publishing my POD and dozens  of frantic emails to helpful employees who've answered my midnight questions.  Now I need to "exploit" my novel.  Unfortunately, it's about a serial killer and I don't know many of those to connect with.  Thank you for your supportive words. 

Comment by Zetta Brown on February 18, 2013 at 8:06am

Thanks for the info, Allyson. I've been invited by various people to join them on Google+ but I haven't because I don't have time to learn another social network. It's been on my to-do list. :)

Comment by Zetta Brown on February 16, 2013 at 3:43pm

@Stephanie - Thanks! I like finding pictures for my blog posts:)

@Cindy - Hey, if you can manage multiple networks--and like it--more power to ya! :D

@Kasey - It is so easy to get distracted by the socializing aspect of all of this, and it all piles up if you leave it alone for a few days. But the good thing is that no one can force you to do any of it, and if you want to take a day/week/month/year off from socializing on a network, you can. I'm not saying that there may not be consequences, but we're all adults here.

@Kathleen - I deleted my LinkedIn account a few months back even though I had a lot of good contacts on it. Why? Because I don't really see the point in it as an author. It's like preaching to the choir, IMO. Plus, many of my contacts I know how to reach in other ways, and I'm not (currently) looking for any services. I know from personal experience that LinkedIn works very well for other professions, but I personally don't think it works as an author.

I think the important thing is for an author to sit back and decide (plan) what would best serve their purpose and then do it. If you want to keep it simple, then do so, but if you want to go full tilt, rock on!


Comment by Kathleen Kern on February 16, 2013 at 7:29am

You know, you just kind of lifted a huge load off my shoulders.  I started a tumblr account a month ago and haven't visited it since.  I've hundreds of contacts on Linkdin that never have led anywhere (some of them have to do with my human rights work, but so does my fiction.)  So having gone through the torments of creating a website, I'm going to keep it.  Going to keep trying to figure out Twitter, and Facebook comes naturally and is my major source of networking, but it's nice say now, "Zetta says I can stop."  Time to put the effort into agent queries.

Comment by Kasey Arnold-Ince on February 14, 2013 at 10:08pm

Damn!  I'm always telling my clients that Social Media is potentially useful, but that you need to approach it like it's a hungry, potentially dangerous beast--because if you don't manage it well and feed it regularly, IT WILL EAT YOU ALIVE. 

But if you do manage it well (and feed it regularly), it can be a valuable asset. 

Thanks, Zetta, for being willing to look this potentially useful too/potentially wastful timesink in the eye and share what you see!

Comment by Cindy Brown on February 14, 2013 at 5:44pm

Well, just poke me in the eye, why don't ya! LOL, I am all over the place, but I enjoy it.

Comment by Stephanie Renée dos Santos on February 14, 2013 at 3:53pm

Hi Zetta, the photo you have posted with this discussion is apropos!


Stephanie Renee dos Santos

Email: stephaniereneedossantos at gmail.com

Blog: www.stephaniereneedossantos.com

Comment by Alexandra Caselle on February 14, 2013 at 10:00am
@Karen The timer is a good suggestion. I can use the one on my phone. Thanks!
Comment by Karyne Corum on February 14, 2013 at 8:30am

@ Alexandra-It is easy to get caught up in the platform craze and lose writing time. Keeping a focus on having actual product is very important. I can get sidetracked into clicking alot of blog links and losing valuable time so I use a timer on my laptop to remind me, time to move on.  Each segment, platform issues, social media, Facebook, even answering emails gets a set amount of time. When that buzzer goes off(actually for me its a wolf howling!), I move on and when the work is done, I am ready for the fun of writing.

Comment by Daphne Q on February 13, 2013 at 9:03pm

Great post Zetta... just because something is there doesn't mean you have to use it!


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