Too often I hear people spout that social media is the bane of our generation. Many people believe that social media is sucking the life out of relationships, turning us into robots, making us dumb, and overall just a plain bad idea.
I’m here to tell you that while these social media platforms might be overrun with “selfies,” superfluous status updates, and private details about someone’s life that only a medical professional might want to know, once you know the right way to harness social media, you can build a supportive community and gain some major name recognition.
While learning how to wrangle social media for your benefit is way too much information for simply one blog post, let’s dip our toes into the (current) mother of social networking – Facebook.
First things first, you have to set up profile. Instead of grunting and ho-humming your way through this tedious process, think of it as a way to get people to know you. Sign up for Facebook. What are your favorite books? Your favorite authors? Your favorite movies? This is your chance to find people with similar interests and find your community. Spend time searching through pages to find groups that interest you – writers, writing groups, writing advice pages, etc. If you already have a profile, don’t be afraid to revamp it every now and again. The more specific your profile, the more satisfaction you’ll feel from your writing community. Also, don’t forget to add a profile picture!
Once you have your profile set up, it’s time to claim your author page. Many people don’t realize how important that is, so let me tell you – IT IS VERY IMPORTANT. Even if you don’t think you have enough merit yet to have a fan page, you need to claim that page before someone else does. Even if it is just a placeholder with your name and a photo, at least it’s there for when you’re ready for it.
Next, you need to begin finding your community. Find your friends, your family members, your mentors, your role models, anyone who is supportive of you and your goals as a writer. If you aren’t friends on Facebook yet, send those requests! You want to build a large network of supportive peers who will share your work and help you achieve your goals – but remember, you must do the same for them.
Now that you’ve got an awesome profile, a stand-by fan page, and a bunch of supportive friends, it’s time to start posting. The great thing about Facebook is that you can post anything you want, but this is a double-edged sword. You want to be sure you post things that people care about. Don’t let your posts scroll by on someone’s screen – you want them to stand out. Shout-out your publications. Announce writing contests. Share a funny story. Ask a question. But most importantly, keep your audience wanting to interact with you. This will build a supportive and trustworthy community that aids in name recognition.
It’s great if you’re posting a lot of engaging content but remember – you need to engage with others, too. Scroll through your Newsfeed and talk to your friends. Give them a thumbs up on a job well-done. Ask questions about their work. Share their posts with your friends. If you’re supportive, they’ll be supportive of you.
And now, it’s your turn. Go sign up for a Facebook account, and start building your writing community. Don’t forget to send me a friend request.
Jordan Mapes is a Fall 2013 graduate of the UN MFA fiction track. She currently lives in Omaha and works as a copyeditor and a freelance video editor. She is also the current UN MFA media expert and blog manager.