Friday, December 31, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Social Media

Several days ago, when I asked about some potential blog topics, one that was forwarded to me asked me to cover the challenges of using social media. I have to say, I have actually tried writing this one every day now since I first asked all of you what to write about. In the end, I would always find myself a bit frustrated with my comments so, in the end, the blog post was deleted and I would move on to something else. So, here I try again.

There are certainly a lot of challenges we have when it comes to using social media. It really is a necessary evil though in todays world of technology. As a writer, many publishers really push people to use that social media to promote their books. You need an online presence. And there comes the first of all the challenges.

Maintaining that online presence in a social media circle means a constant presence. With a blog or website, it is easy to leave it alone every now and then. With these social media sites, however, a writer has to constantly be updating and posting. I fully understand that pressure. With this blog, there are many days I struggle with putting something up here that is useful for writers. 5 days a week is tough. But I do it.

With the social media side of things, people expect to hear from you on a daily basis. They want the Facebook pages updated. They want to receive Tweets. They want to Friend you and for you to be their Friend.

The second challenge comes from something I have said before when talking about anything online. You have to be careful what you say. There is simply no delete button. I will have to say, I follow a lot of Editors and Agents on Twitter. I do it to hear of new books coming out or articles people have written. As I work, my Tweetdeck keeps flashing those news alerts to me in the corner. What amazes me though are the comments some of the people Tweet. Sure, we might think the same thing, but putting it out there publically becomes a huge problem. In fact, there are several people out there in the publishing world that I have a realy hard time with due to comments they have made. These are people I respected.

I think the last challenge comes from the level of professionalism. There is a fine line between being informed and being "a friend." I know other agents have said the same thing before but being a follower on Twitter, Friending me on Facebook, or Connecting with me on Linked In does not make you any closer to me. I created a Facebook Group for Greyhaus at the request of writers who wondered why I wasn't there. But I am still amazed at the number of writers who want to "Friend" me. I don't want to know about your dogs. I don't care about your family pictures. This is a business.

Out of all these ramblings, I think I want to simply say that we can use social media to keep people informed, but that is it. If you are going to use it, then use it properly.

Have a happy 2011 and I'll see you on the 3rd of January!



  1. Scott, I completely love and respect this post. I started my writing career as a newspaper reporter, so to this day, I find romance in the printed word. But to survive the economy, I had to take a job as a corporate communications writer and editor, and in the process, was forced into becoming a social media expert. Now, I embrace it more and see its professional networking potential. I began using my own Twitter account in September and began a professional online presence with a blog in August (both separate than the pages I run for my work). But I agree with you. I don't follow people on Twitter who post useless ramblings about what coffee they drank in the morning. I follow professional writers, editors and news outlets that offer useful or entertaining information (with an occasional personal post). I do have a Facebook page, but I only "friend" people who I really know and want to share my life with (i.e. family in other states, old college friends/roomates, etc.). If you're going to use social media, use it right, or else it does become a waste of time. Thank you for this post!

    Shari Lopatin
    (P.S. Should you want to visit me, I'm at

  2. Thanks for the post, Scott.
    Although I'm at the very beginning of my writng career (my first book will be published in Sept 2011) I very much share your opinion - writier's presence in Social Media is a business, so it should be businesslike.
    Unless, of course, they chose to be there as a private person.

    I decided to open a Twitter acocunt as part of 'building my platform' at my publisher's suggestion. I was initially reluctant and mistrustful but now can see benefits.
    I follow people who tweet about things that matter to me: the craft of writing, publishing world or even book promotion, but only if they share tips and suggestions for promoting; I don't like flogging!
    I was very disappointed to discover that many of well established authors tweet more about their dogs, grandchildren or what they had for breakfast than about their books and publishing world.