If you’re a writer these days, you pretty much have to engage in social media in some way or other, unless you are a sufficiently big name that maybe you don’t have to but it’s fun to do so (see King, Stephen and Rowling, JK). But there are a lot of social media options out there, and each one has its own “lay of the land”, so I figured I’d break down each one that I use a lot and describe how I use them.
An opening proviso: While different aspects of my personality tend to show up on each various platform that I use, that’s more by virtue of the nature of the social media things in themselves than some conscious decision I make. I know folks who are active on a number of platforms who expend serious effort in making sure that never the twain meet; folks who are open about their use of, say, Tumblr while uber-secretive of their Twitter handle. And hey, to each their own, but in all honesty, this degree of self-separation always strikes me as more effort than it’s worth. So if you check out what I do on any particular platform and compare it to what I do on another, and you come away thinking, “Geez, that doesn’t seem like the same guy!”, well, it is. It’s just that various platforms are good for different approaches, and therefore different aspects of my personality.
So. First, and for me foremost, we have blogging. I now have two blogs: this one, and my personal blog at Byzantium’s Shores. Why two? Well, when I launched this site, the blog format seemed to be the easiest way of maintaining a site whose content would change over time; I didn’t just want a page hanging out there for no apparent reason. Hence the blog format here. But I also didn’t want to ditch Byzantium’s Shores, because I’m kind-of invested over there: I’ve been posting on that blog for just about 14 years now! It’s got its own life. So I’ve settled on this as a division of content: this site and its internal blog is for content pertaining to writing in general and my books in particular, and that’s it (I mean, within reason). Everything else I might want to blog about goes to Byzantium’s Shores, so that’s where I’ll geek out about Star Wars and post music videos and photos of the cats and the dog and pie-in-the-face stuff and all that sort of thing.
I love blogging, and maybe two blogs is a bit excessive, but I think I’ve got it broken out by “focus” in a way that works for me. And if you’re worried about politics (of which mine are distinctly left-of-center), I post no political content on this site at all, and only rarely on Byzantium’s Shores. (Full disclosure: I’m a staunch liberal in my politics.)
I do have a Facebook page, which you can certainly ‘like’ and I’ll thank you if you do, but in reality, all I use that for is to post links to stuff here! By making pages into a source of monetary flow, Facebook has made its Pages not very useful at all, unless you literally pay Facebook to show your posts to followers. I have little to no intention of doing that, so Facebook is just kind of “there” for me as a social media thing. (My page is distinct from my personal Facebook account. I’m pretty selective about from whom I accept friend requests there; basically I have to already have some notion of who you are and have already interacted with you in some way.)
Then there’s Twitter. I hated the idea of Twitter for years, but then I came around, and now I think it’s indispensable. I honestly love hanging out on Twitter (probably a little too much), and I love followers and whatnot, so feel free to follow me there! I can get a bit ranty at times, but in general I try to keep my snarky side to a minimum there. Politics? Yes, sometimes, but not all that often – maybe 15 percent of the time, tops. I don’t really enjoy political argument, and I’ll usually only tweet about politics when something in the news really gets my dander up. I retweet more political stuff than I generate myself, and even that I don’t do very often. I like talking about writing on Twitter, and various geeky observations. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on the “conversational” aspect of Twitter, which is mainly because I can really only check Twitter a few times a day, and usually just for a minute or two. It’s only when I’m off-duty and can have a browser running for a while that I can do any real-time conversing. I am starting to explore the world of Twitter chats, though!
In terms of following people on Twitter: I follow folks I find interesting, and I find them by generic use of the medium. I check what people are like if someone I’m already following retweets something I like, or if I see an interesting conversation going on, or that sort of thing. I don’t blanket-follow people, and I don’t use any “follower management” apps of any sort. I do try to follow people back who have already followed me, but I can be kind of slow about getting this done.
I will also mute people who get on my nerves, as opposed to blocking. Like John Scalzi, I enjoy the idea of people who annoy me basically shouting at the wall behind which I am sitting in my room with my earphones on.
Instagram is my “happy” place. I don’t get political there at all, and I tend to get irritated when other people do. I like sharing photos from my daily life, whether I’m trying to take “good” photos or just snapshotting stuff to provide a sort of pictorial commentary on things. I’m generally good-natured on Instagram, which is why my avatar photo there is almost always me with my face covered with pie. For me, photography is an entertaining diversion. I try to take photos that are as interesting as possible, but I’m hardly a trained pro. I take most photos with my phone, although I do have a nicer point-and-shoot camera that I got last fall before our trip to NYC. Who knows? Someday I’ll be able to afford a nice DSLR camera, at which point I could really see photography becoming a big hobby for me!
What’s especially fun is that there are a lot of ways to post word-based content to Instagram, which is also something I do on a fairly regular basis. But even there, the interplay between visual design and the words used is a fun consideration. I find Instagram a lot of fun! (I’d love it if they would enable HTML links in the photo captions, though, just to make IG a little easier to integrate into the rest of my online life.)
Flickr used to be my primary photo-sharing service, and I still use it a lot, but nowadays, it mainly mirrors my Instagram content. This isn’t all I use Flickr for, but as I began adapting to mobile devices several years ago, Instagram took over because Flickr at the time was not nearly as well designed for mobile use. It’s significantly better now, but there’s a sense to which Flickr is a bit late to the party. Still, I like Flickr’s service and have no intention of abandoning it. I do need to spend some time organizing my photos, though…and that sounds like about as much fun as a long drive on I-80 through Nebraska. (This is not a comment on Nebraska. It is, though, a comment on the I-80 corridor through Nebraska.)
I enjoy Tumblr quite a bit, after being rather confused by it at first. Tumblr is built to make it easy to share content, and it’s quite easy to just sit there, hitting the “reblog” button over and over again. It’s also relatively easy to create new stuff, although Tumblr seems to be a much more visually-oriented service than other blogging platforms. Likewise, Tumblr’s mechanisms for interacting with other users is a bit unwieldy at times. Still Tumblr is fun and offers a lot of flexibility for creative use of the service. I do tend to be more political there than in any other social media platform. If I get a rant in my head about some issue or other, Tumblr’s where I go to let it out. Keep that in mind if you really really really want to avoid my politics. Even there, though, I’d say that my political content is no more than about twenty percent of what I normally post, and at times of slow political news, even that ratio drops.
Let’s see…that about covers them all, doesn’t it? I do have accounts on Pinterest and Linked In, but in all honesty I don’t use them very much at all. I’ve actually started using my Pinterest account more, lately, but I’m still not entirely sure I understand it! Meanwhile, LinkedIn is still the odd thing out. Once in a great while, maybe twice a year, I’ll log on to see what’s going on, but that’s about it. I apologize if I seem like I’m ignoring your attempted interaction on LinkedIn for months at a time, but I just don’t understand LinkedIn and I can’t see where I’m missing out much, and I just can’t be on everything at all times. Likewise, I use YouTube a little, but while I’ve occasionally considered ‘vlogging,’ the fact is…I don’t like the way my speaking voice sounds, and I haven’t figured out yet how to do silent vlogging. So for now, my forays into video will be sporadic at best. However, I do hope and expect that as I get better at self-marketing, I may have to do some video stuff and appear on podcasts occasionally (which is totally a troll for invitations, podcasters of the world!), so I’m just gonna have to get over my speaking-voice hangup.
So those are all of my hangouts and how I use them. How do you use yours?
And feel free to connect! Connection is great. I love connections!