Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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September 16, 2011

White-Knuckling Your Author Platform: How to Rein in the Social Media Pressure

by Roni Loren

It's no secret that writers are supposed to be building their online platform and brand from the get-go. You can find a bazillion posts on that very thing. Blog! Tweet! Facebook! Tumblr! Get lots of followers! Get lots of comments! Your name must be out there! Blog about writing! Don't blog about writing! Build a niche blog! Be broad! Make everyone love you more than their cat!

And now there's this wicked thing called Klout where you actually get a grade on how influential (read: popular) you are. I even saw a post today on how to increase your Klout score. And I actually found myself thinking--crap is my score of 60 good enough? *headdesk* Are we back in high school again? Because good Lord I never wanted to go back there.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of the social networking thing. I love blogging and Twitter and I have all the other things--the Tumblr, Facebook, Google Plus, Goodreads, etc. However, just like anyone else, I hit my limit sometimes. And the Klout thing was just too much.

I see it all around the web. Each week at least one of my fellow bloggers is posting something about how they don't know how to get more followers to their blog or that they're unsure what to post about when there is so much conflicting advice or that they're getting less comments than they used to. There are apologies about not being able to respond to comments or how they've run out of time to visit everyone who visited their blog.

SO MUCH PRESSURE we put on ourselves.

And you know what all that pressure results in? White-knuckled, desperate social networking. It becomes a job, an albatross around our neck, something we begin to dread. And that ruins the entire beauty and magic of this medium.

The most successful bloggers/networkers I know are the people who tap into the things they are passionate about and who put those things out there in the world. If it's blogging about knitting sweaters for dogs, that's fine. If it's blogging about writing--that's fine,too. I've built a successful blog and presence blogging about craft, so that has been a good move for me.

If you post about things that excite you, it will come across in your writing. People respond to that positivity (okay, Blogger says positivity is not a word, but I bet the New Kids on the Block would disagree so I'm using it anyway.) No one wants to go read a blog where someone is always whining or being negative Nancy. Readers can also tell when you're phoning it in and just blogging or tweeting or whatever because you're supposed to.

If you are not having fun doing it, people won't be having fun reading it.

Now that's not to say you can spend all your time being completely random and navel-gazing. You have to keep your audience in mind. But try to find where the balance is between being uniquely you and also providing something to readers whether that be information, entertainment, a laugh, community, etc. (I talked more about the four types of blogs here and what each provides to the reader.)

And when you find yourself dreading some aspect of social networking, cut it out or streamline it. Only focus on the things that sizzle your bacon. For instance:

    • If you hate blogging, try Tumblr* or some other form of "microblog" or don't blog at all and stick to Twitter or Facebook. 

*Tumblr is like 30 second blogging where you simply reblog things that are interesting to you. Like a web scrapbook. (Here's mine if you'd like an example, but be warned, it's 18+ and sometimes NSFW because well, I am an erotic romance author after all.)

    • If you hate Facebook (like I kinda do), download something like Tweetdeck where you can simply send your tweets from Twitter to copy automatically to your Facebook.

If you hate Twitter and Facebook, you can try Google Plus.

    • Hate all of those "update" style sites like Twitter, FB, and Google+? Then maybe try joining discussion groups on Goodreads, Absolute Write, Yahoo Groups, or Amazon. Talk with others about books and writing if that's all you feel comfortable doing.

I think as long as you have a presence in a place where people (and eventually readers) can have discussion with you, you're going to be okay. So make sure you at least have a home website (either a static one or a blog) and that you're networking on at least one or two platforms.

If you want to expand from there (and are still enjoying it), then go for it. But never do some social networking thing just because you HAVE to, you're wasting your time then because we're all going to be able to *feel* that you're white-knuckling it.

Be genuine, be you, and have fun with it.

Oh, and if any of you have a better Klout score than me, can I sit at your lunch table? I'm hoping to get a prom date with a guy who has at least an 80. 🙂

So have you felt the pressure of having to do it all? What social media platforms do you dread or struggle with the most? Which do you love and have fun with? If you could only pick two social networking mediums to be on, which would you choose?

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has.
Her debut romance CRASH INTO YOU will be released January 2012 by Berkley Heat/Penguin. If you want to read more posts like this one or follow her journey to debut authorhood, you can visit her writing blog FictionGroupie or her author blog. She also tweets way too much for her own good.

0 comments on “White-Knuckling Your Author Platform: How to Rein in the Social Media Pressure”

  1. Hi Again!
    I love this post and now ya know I'm gonna check out my Klout score (never even heard of that before) and then I'll probably go pout. I do little with Facebook (but I have a page) and I don't Twitter. I don't have time. I think it's enough to have an active blog and some day I'll have a website. I just don't feel the need to do that until I get an agent and a publishing date. Good luck with CRASH.

  2. When I took the dive and started my own blog earlier this year, I didn't realize I'd love it so much! One piece of advice I got was that the only thing worse than an author (esp pre-pubbed) not having a blog, is an author having an abandoned blog.
    I feel what you say about an albatross around the neck. Some weeks I don't feel like doing it. But I picked a few regular things I like to do, interviews on Fridays and SyFy Question of the Day on Tuesdays, and I make sure I always do these. Some weeks I have seven blog posts. Other weeks, just those two.
    But navel-gazing... now that would be an interesting feature! Just pictures of lickable abs...

    Choose just two? I'd keep the blog because it gives me the flexibility to share everything. I don't want to give up facebook because all my personal stuff is there. But I love twitter and G+ too... I'm on Goodreads and I like it, but if I had to give it up, I could.

  3. Great post! I enjoy FB to a point, and Twitter scares the peewodden out of me, but I'm trying. The biggest obstacle is letting it take so much time away from writing and life!
    Karen Nelson

  4. Tweetdeck is my favourite thing in the world! I can watch Facebook, Linked-In, and Twitter all at the same time, and it sits nicely in the background on my desktop so I only pay attention to it if I have time.

    I resisted Twitter for a long time, but now that I've started using it, I'm unexpectedly enjoying it. It's fun to see other people's little brain-snippets, and I also find it has increased traffic to my blog. So (never thought I'd say this), Twitter gets my vote. 🙂

  5. I can totally relate to this post, Roni!! Two years ago I didn't even have a facebook account - not I spend half of every day trying to keep up with blogs, guest blogs, interviews, facebook, twitter, google+, etc, etc!! Some of it I love, and it's easy - like twitter . . . some, although I have the best intentions (Goodreads) I just don't feel the love for. I know I should, I know I NEED to, but you're right, if you don't like it, it shows!! I think I'll just keep concentrating on what I do easily, that's more than enough to keep up with!!

    As for Klout - I obsessed about it for three days and then swore I'd never check it again - Amazon sales rankings are more than enough pressure for me 😉

  6. Really helpful post! I'm on FB, Twitter and blogger but already wondering what it's all about.

    Plus...If so many people are building platforms how will we all know when the train comes in?

    It's like everybody working anywhere nowadays wears a high-vis vest. So how can we see the one likely to drop a brick on your head or warn you away from a hole?

  7. It surely veers out of control at times. Twitter is gonna be the death of me! 🙂 I think the recommended choices have a lot to do with the person's specific goals. Authors, for example, simply must have a blog with which they can engage their fans. This seems a solid concensus. Anyway, nice post.

  8. My book isn't out yet and you set my mind spinning! I have tons of trouble selling myself on any soical network platforms. The "buy me...buy me" posts can't possibly be effective, at least not for me. So I participate in blogs or tweets or other sites, but only on topics in which I think I can make a contribution.

    All that being said, and to finally answer your question...I enjoy guest blogging and facebook.

    1. Hey Jerrie!

      Congrats again on your book! And "buy me" posts definitely DON'T work. It's more about just chatting and connecting with people over whatever you're interested in. I block the people that only promote themselves. So annoying.

  9. Great post, Roni! This, for me, fits hand in hand with a post Nina Badzin put up a while back about general career fatigue for writers. People are wearing themselves out on more than one level (project choice, word counts, social networking...), and then wondering why what they used to love isn't fun anymore. It's great to hear someone we admire (like you and Nina) say that it's okay to pick and choose, that's it's okay to scale back and do what you enjoy – not what you think you're supposed to.

    As for me, I've pretty much cooled it on Google +, and I keep my Facebook personal. Tumblr has turned out to be a blast for me, so I'm letting myself do that more and the others less. Thanks for this blog! I feel less stressed already. =)

    1. Yeah, the last thing I want is to get burnt out. This is our dream, we don't want to sully it by running ourselves into the ground. I'll have to check out Nina's post. And yay for Tumblr! 🙂

  10. Very helpful post, Roni. I don't know what Klout is, but just the name sounds intimidating, so I'll go check it out. Thanks for the link. I started a blog in May and decided if I didn't like it, if it wasn't fun, I wouldn't continue with it. I'm surprised at how much I love blogging. I'm taking it slow, still make lots of mistakes, but little by little I'm learning. I really enjoy reading other blogs and getting to know the people behind the blogs. Twitter is more challenging for me, but I actually do like it and am meeting more fascinating people. I was already on Facebook and now find that I struggle to find time to keep up with it. I figure I'm at my limit and am happy with these. I'm going to forward this post to my writers group because many of them are just getting their feet wet with the social media scene and aren't sure which way to go, or if they should even try it.

    1. I was surprised how much I ended up liking blogging as well. I'm the girl who never used to stick with journaling and such, so I figured it'd be the same. But the people I met made it all worthwhile and then I was hooked.

      Thanks for sharing the post with your group! 🙂

    2. Lynn,

      I adore blogging. I mean really, flat out LOVE it. I started here at Writers In The Storm and had so much non-writing stuff to say that I started More Cowbell (my solo blog). The two have ended up complementing each other quite a bit. Plus you get hooked up with other amazing bloggers (like Roni)!

      I'm delighted you're forwarding the post on to your chapter. I see so many writers worrying about social media and this is SUCH a helpful post.


  11. I so get becoming overwhelmed with social media scene! Love to blog, & know I have to do the rest but . . . I did finially download Tweetdeck so I hope that will clear up the time issues. I don't resent doing any of this stuff but it's a huge time suck! I can see my crit partner Jen rolling her eyes at me as she reads this. She taught me what I needed to know. Now if I just climb out of time sink hole, I'll be fine. 😉

    1. I'm not rolling my eyes. Well, not very much. 🙂

      I think that as you get exposure to a broad network, then the social media time becomes easy because you have people who will help guide you to the new things without you having to spend time finding them.

    2. Yeah, balancing the time is a constant moving target. I vacillate between being overwhelmed by social media and just wanting to write and then wanting to bury myself in social media as a distraction from getting writing done, lol.

  12. Oooooooooh, blog about knitting sweaters for dogs out of dog fur...
    Wait. There's already a book on that. I kid you not!

    Do what you can, give yourself a pass on the rest. At least that's my take. *s*

  13. So apropos! The pressure is ridiculous. The best advice I've heard is to keep your focus very narrow at the start, then build or change to fit your personal style and comfort level. Thanks so much for a great read.

  14. When I realized rather belatedly that I was "supposed" to have an author platform to help promote my first published novel, I was terrified. Not only was I scared, but I was uncomfortable, unhappy, stressed out, and self-conscious too! I created my Twitter account reluctantly, a lump firmly planted in the pit of my stomach, and broke out in a cold sweat when I was finally forced to tweet. Even posting a comment on someone's blog gave me the jitters. My first comment took me an hour of proof reading and fingernail biting before I finally pushed the "post my comment" button. It was horrible. Fortunately, I've conquered my fears. Mostly. I still worry that I'm going to tweet something stupid, make a typo, hit return before my tweet or comment is ready, etc., but I'm not as stressed about it. It's even possible that I'm starting to like Twitter. The access to information is unparalleled. I love reading other people's tweets, their blogs and even commenting occasionally on posts. The interactions have been really positive, which is awesome! I think it helped to give myself permission to be scared and take things slowly. It took some of the pressure off.

    I recently took the same approach with my blog and am feeling much better about it. 'Experts' say that I should be posting weekly on my author blog. Worse, they say that if I can't come up with at least 15 to 20 interesting ideas to write about then I must not be much of a writer. Well, I guess I should go be a lumberjack or something, because I still haven't come up with more than a few ideas for my blog.

    I'm not giving up though. Nor am I going to write random stuff just because someone said I 'should' be posting once a week. I've decided to simply do the best I can, pick what's fun for me and leave it at that. It's a strategy I'm much happier with.

    Roni, thanks for giving me a place to rant about my platform building stresses! I enjoyed reading your post. As far as the platforms I enjoy, I'm just using Twitter (@KatBayless) and my website right now. Just today, I created an author FB page, but it's hardly more than a shell. I hadn't heard of tumblr or klout. Maybe I'll give them a look-see. And if I decide not to, I am NOT going to stress about it. LOL

      1. Hi Jenny! Yes, I do follow Kristen's blog. Love Dr. Twuth! LOL And, if I remember correctly, I found this very post by reading a tweet with the #MYWANA tag. (I absolutely love TweetDeck too, btw.) Kristen has a TON of great info for a new writer or anyone who needs to build their social platform. However, the comment I made about being told that I should have a starting inventory of 10 to 15 blog posts (related to my topic) for 'strategic content' came from her book--'We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media'. She also suggests brainstorming to come up with 50 to 100 ideas for my blog that will appeal to the demographic audience for my book. "If you can't reach 50, then forget about it. Adjust your brand. Ask yourself if this is something that you could see yourself staying excited about writing for years and years." Well, my brand is me, isn't it? You see my problem with this? I hold Kristen in high esteem. She has extremely useful and smart things to say about social media. I subscribe to her blog and enjoy reading her posts. However, that one comment totally deflated me in regard to my blog.

        I LOVE writing. I'm not going to stop doing it. My blog may not be the best it could be and I might suck as a blogger, but I'm not going to give up just because I am struggling to come up with 50 ideas for blog posts or 10 interesting ones ready to go in my inventory. I need to be excited about the topic, or blogging is going to turn into a chore and this will will undoubtedly show in the quality of my posts. Anyway, I don't need any more chores. So far, the post that I had the most fun writing was an interview with my main character. And I am currently polishing a post about memorable books that will hopefully go up on my blog later today. My blog is a work in process. Okay, so I don't have 10 to 15 posts ready and I still don't have a ton of ideas in my head for post topics. Eventually I'll figure out what topics are going to turn me on and will also be interesting to my fans. I'm muddling along, but I refuse to stress about it. Well, not too much, anyway. 😉

        Sorry about the length of this comment! Clearly you and Roni brought up something that's been weighing heavily on my mind. Thanks again for the post!

        1. Katherine, Here's one of those situations where one kind of advice doesn't necessarily fit all. I love Kristen's blog and her book. However, I'm in the same boat with you about having all the topics lined up in my head. That is NOT my process. Just like my books, my blog is not plotted ahead. It's completely flying by the seat of my pants. I don't know what I"m going to write about until I get up that morning. And I never have posts planned ahead. At most, I may get a whiff of an idea and jot down a reminder to blog about that one day. It's a very organic process for me because that's the only way my brain works. So I don't agree that if you can't come up with 100 ideas, you're sunk. I think that was Kristen's way of getting us not to set up too narrow of a blog and then running out of ideas. So don't beat yourself up if your brain just doesn't work that far ahead. : )

  15. I like Twitter and blogging the best. Then my next favorite would be Google+. Facebook is definitely an "because it's expected" thing. 🙂 And Goodreads I use for book stuff, but not so much the social aspect of it.

    And can I join you in saying how much I dislike Klout and everything it stands for? To me, the idea of trying to improve a Klout score is like "teaching to the test." Heaven forbid we use social media the way we feel comfortable. *sigh*

    1. "teaching to the test" is a great way of putting it. That's really what it feels like. And then you can get people to go give you +1 points to raise your Klout or whatever--so then that feels like cheating and not a true measure anyway. Ick.

  16. Thank you for easing my mind a bit! I love blogging, but feel pressure to put something out there that is so fabulous everyone will stand up clapping. Um, yeah I don't think that's happened yet, but I'm new so maybe soon? ; )

    I adore facebook. That's my first love and I know some people don't like it, but I've made some great friends on there and I love the interaction. Twitter is starting to get like that for me since I'm making more of an effort to understand what exactly Twitter is and what my TweetDeck can do (still not totally sure, baby steps).

    I don't even know what Tumblr or Klout are and that's okay. I'm sort of on Google + (again, not sure what it does or how to do things).

    Mostly I remind myself that if I don't sit my behind in the chair and work on my novel, then all of this is just fluff. Getting the novel completed needs to always be my first priority. Right?

  17. Roni, loved this post. Someone in my RWA-WF online group introduced Google + the first week it exploded into cyber space. I don't think so. I have decided to learn more about twitter from people like Nina Badzin and Kristen Lamb and get a comfortable balance between that and the blog. Recently announced a change from m/w/f post to Wednesday's only. That's what makes me feel comfortable.

    It is true that social networking can become a "chore" and that is when it also becomes a great big bore. How to get followers or subscribers, how come 57 people a day don't comment, when do I do it, mornings or--- I keep Facebook mostly to listen to my kids and their friends and steal pictures of my grandchildren my son never gets around to sending grandma and I have a modest group of "friends" who are also other writers. My first love, after the work itself, is the blog. It is true that it can be whatever we wish it to be. I've seen blogs on cats, food and of course the never-ending stream of writing advice. I take these all in with a bit of caution, picking where to put my precious time. Twitter might be fun, but I first need to learn the "language" of it all. How do you reduce a url to those shorter symbols? What is an @ as opposed to a # and how can a long-winded Italian from Brooklyn learn how to say it all in 140 characters?

    I've read you blog and your twitter-tweets and love your candid views of our writerly world. My choices are my blog and twitter. I can give myself time each day and enjoy what others are saying and not feel pressured. When it's not fun ... it's not worth the effort. Thanks again, I'll see you out there 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! Glad you enjoy the blog. And the one blog a week thing can work really well. Anne R. Allen calls is slow blogging and she's done really well with it. 🙂

  18. Too often I find myself tweeting instead of writing...or posting on FB instead of writing...or stressing out over what to blog about instead of writing. Then, of course, I'm stressing out because I'm stressed out about not writing. So then I ease back on the Social Networking and get into my writing, then I realize I haven't tweeted in a while and you can hear crickets on my FB page...so then I rush to catch up and end up looking like a bot! I'm forever chasing my tail and I just wonder how much longer I can keep this up.

    Thank you for this post and reminding me that I don't have to be so focused on the networking aspect of writing, at least, not to the point where I'm stressed out and not writing!

    1. Yeah, putting even more stress on ourselves is no good. We don't want to feel like we're barely treading water. Some things have to give sometimes.

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