This month, we're doing a social media throwdown, where each of us give our take on how we address social media. You can read Fae's post here.
My Love/Hate Relationship
I have a love/hate relationship with all social media. As someone whose half-century mark flew by more than a year ago, I'm still astounded by a free system of information sharing in which I can post something about my life and seconds later a friend in Australia can like or share it. Through social media, I've built and/or maintained friendships across many miles.
However, social media also allows people to obsess about small stuff, rant their opinions, criticize people without having to face them—not to mention that the providers of such technological magic are hardly wizards the likes of Dumbledore. They are far more cold and conniving with the information we share, using it to control what we see and market to us accordingly. But I digress...
And then there's my personal quirk of being far more of a word person than a visual one. Any social media that relies heavily on images is not my cup of tea. So Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat? Sorry, but we will always be acquaintances more than close friends.
How Do I Use Social Media?
So where I have landed in the scheme of social media? Once I passed about a thousand followers on Twitter and followed as many, that platform became overwhelming. I really only use it to share articles, check in on current events, and track certain hashtags.
The rest of the time, I default to Facebook. Even then, Facebook has this annoying habit of not showing you what you elected to see, tailoring ads to you based on any internet activity you've done, and changing perfectly good features for no good reason while not correcting issues they should have fixed back in 2013.
Thankfully, Facebook added a feature I genuinely, truly love: Groups. While I certainly look through my feed, post to my regular profile, and comment on other's posts, the biggest benefit I've gotten lately is from being in groups that congregate around some shared goal, interest, or experience.
Unlike your regular feed, Facebook doesn't keep you from seeing group activity. If you opted into the group, you will get notified of new posts.
Groups also appeals to my introverted side, since groups can be anywhere from two to thousands, but you tend to see certain names again and again. So you can develop real relationships.
Let's just look at few of the groups I'm in to see how this feature can be used.
Local Writing Chapter
Many writing chapters maintain a group where they make announcements, provide inspiration and encouragement, and get to know one another better. Yes, email loops are also active places for writing groups, but Facebook has the added advantage of being able to easily post images, videos, and links with a preview. Also, if settings allow, members can share announcements to their wider audiences, like when you're having a special speaker come in or hosting a conference.
Book Cover Designer
When choosing a book cover designer, I joined a few designer's groups, which allowed me first peeks at their portfolio and any premade covers they were releasing. More importantly, I had the opportunity to watch how they interacted with their clients and potential buyers and learn about their process. When it came time to order my next cover, my Facebook group experience helped me know just who I wanted.
I'm in two groups that provide software support, for Scrivener and for Dragon Naturally Speaking. Oh, the free information that comes from these groups! Just watching the questions and answers that come up provide many helpful tips from experts and users who know how to do things I don't yet. But if/when you're stumped, you can also ask a question and will usually get a much faster answer than if you went through official support channels.
Within a group, an administrator can set up a separate page for an event. So a writing chapter could have a page for a conference, an author could have one for a signing, and a business could have one for an event. Cruising Writers maintains event pages for each of its cruises; once you place a deposit, you're invited to the page for that particular trip, and it's been an invaluable benefit! Event pages provide a place to make announcements, field questions from members, and encourage bonding among attendees.
Remember how I said you could have a Facebook group with only two people? My critique partner and I set up a group where we share about a specific topic. You could easily set up a group for you and one other or a small critique or even a friend circle. It's helpful to have a place where you can share ideas, images, and links and revisit them. You can also pin posts to the top to easily find what's most important for the time being.
I'm also in groups that address the topic of book marketing, that keep my Golden Heart finalist class in touch, and that provide writer camaraderie and inspiration. You can use groups for anything you want.
So a quick last list of benefits with Facebook Groups:
- It's a contained space with parameters based on the group's goals.
- A group can be anywhere from two to thousands.
- You can easily share information, images, and links with previews.
- If you opt to receive group notifications, Facebook will show you all of them.
- The administrator(s) can moderate who gets in the group and what gets posted (as well as kick someone out if they misbehave).
- A group can establish an event page for specific events and moderate that membership as well.
- Group have a search option so you can go back and look for particular posts.
You'll still find me on regular Facebook and on Twitter at times. I try to say hello on Instagram now and then as well. But my favorite social media spot lately has simply been Facebook Groups.
Have you used Facebook groups? What other benefits or drawbacks have you experienced?
Julie Glover often gets mistaken for an extrovert, but she is an introvert through and through—known for reading novels in her closet as a child. Julie writes mysteries and young adult fiction. Her YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®. She is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.