Our Friday Fox asked, “How has your use of social media changed over the years?”
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m online A LOT. Much of that time, I’m on one social media outlet or another. Sometimes I’m engaging as my personal self, other times as my author self, so I’ll break this discussion down into those two areas of my life.
Personal Use of Social Media
When I first started my Facebook account, it was mostly a way to find out about things my friends and family were doing. But then I discovered I could connect with people I hadn’t seen in a long time – high school and college friends, former co-workers, even distant relatives. I’ve had siblings and grandkids move far away, so I’m delighted to be able to continue to get a glimpse of their lives. Eventually, a few of my overseas cousins started accounts, so now I’m able to communicate with them, thanks to online translators and my limited Japanese.
As a teacher and a musician, I’m able to connect with groups focused on these areas. It’s wonderful to be able to discuss with another teacher various resources and teaching techniques. I’m also thrilled to swap stories with other musicians and discuss the merits of various interpretations of musical passages, the best way to adjust my reeds to create the best sound, or the best suppliers for the things I need.
Recently, I joined a committee to start planning my high school class’ 50th reunion. We’ve been meeting monthly, and one of our monumental tasks is to LOCATE everyone (We haven’t had a reunion in twenty years!). Social media has been a real help. Between Facebook, Instagram, Classmates, and Linked In, we’ve managed to locate about seventy percent of the 200 people in our class. Many of us have left West Michigan for warmer climates, and too many have passed on, but we’re hoping that we’ll have a good turnout this fall.
Social Media for My Writing Self
About twelve years ago, I finally achieved my dream of having some of my writing published. I joined a few online groups that made me see the value in making connections with readers as well as other writers. My time online then doubled, because I was interacting not only as myself, but as an author. I do share a bit of my family on my author page, but I try to be careful about the information I post. I also started using other social media platforms, with varying degrees of success. I like Instagram, because it’s simply sharing pictures and making comments. I use Twitter a little, but not as much as I used to. I discovered that I was able to use my connections on social media to not only advertise my books, but to help me write them. When I needed medical information to make a certain scene work, a nurse kindly helped me work through various possibilities. When I needed info about the real estate industry, I posted a question on my author page and almost immediately a distant relative connected me with a realtor. I’ve had people help me choose names of people and places, decide where to set a story, and figure out what’s keeping a couple from having their happily-ever-after. It’s like having a resource library at my fingertips!
Another thing that keeps me using social media is my PR work for my publishers. I try to find ways to help promote other people’s books by posting on the publisher’s accounts regularly, planning various events, and helping out new authors who aren’t familiar with social media. I’m having a lot of fun with this, and I’m learning a lot of new skills, like creating digital graphics and creating events. But there’s still SO much more to learn, especially if I want to reach my goal of self-publishing some of my homeless stories. When I manage that, I’ll try paid advertising on social media, and that will mean more time online.
I guess I’d better rest up!
How do you use social media?
Terrific response to this topic.
As I’ve said before (on several occasions, actually), I could just paste your text to my Hound Day blog and it would cover the territory very nicely for me. I’d only have to change a few words (like “Michigan”). LOL.
And, BTW, you’ve been doing a super job helping with the PR for Dingbat (and, previously for Clean Reads, as I recall). For all that creative effort — THANK YOU.
Ha! I imagine you’d have to edit the part about cousins in Japan, too. I imagine you’ll have plenty of tales to regale us with by Thursday.
Thanks for your vote of confidence with the Dingbat promo!
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Yes, good luck with the Promo!
I decided on this topic because I saw a real shift in where I was talking to people. I wondered if others had changed, since the place where others flocked past FB was not where I found myself.
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I tried some of the alternatives to Facebook, but just couldn’t get comfortable using them, and they seem to have faded away. I’ve heard about a few more recent platforms, but haven’t had the time and/or energy to try them yet.
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This is so hard for me. I don’t use social media well. I was glad to hear what you had to say.
Like you, Patty, I use my personal FB to see my distant family pics and hear about their lives. Sometimes, it’s TMI, but mostly I love it. For my author self, I use Twitter (some), Triberr, and FB. I tried Instagram, but didn’t have the pics to keep it up. I’ve heard good things about TikTok (is that right?), but learning a new skill seems more than I can handle right now. Social media takes so much time! I do enjoy Pinterest and use it for “inspiration for (name of book)”, even though I’m not a scrapbooker nor do I enjoy making idea boards using scissors and paste. It’s amazing what we can find out on social media. I’ve often fallen into the Black Hole of Research. LOL Good luck with your social media activities.
You are busy. I always feel at a loss about what to post on my author profiles. I think that is why I hardly ever post on my author pages. My kids have offered to help but they’re both so busy with school, work, and life in general that I hate to ask them.
I hope you have a good turn out for your school reunion.
Great post, Patricia. I like the way you broke it into personal and professional. Social media offers so many opportunities to stay connected with family and friends as well as to connect with readers and network with other authors.