Deb Erika wants to take the Me out of Social Media

Erika MarksThe other day, while I was ranting talking about how so much of social media seems painfully self-promotional, my husband made the joke that you can’t have social media without Me—and I thought, Wow. It’s true.

I think one of the things that kept me so wary of social media for so long was my perceived lack of authenticity and a genuine desire to connect. To me, Twitter was madness. How could you build a community with a series of 140 characters spurts? How genuine could you be when you knew your “personal” message was being viewed by 498 followers in addition to the one it was intended for?

But all that said, I had read enough blogs to know that most everyone seemed to feel a published author had to have a social media presence. So when I found out I was going to be published, I knew what I had to do. I pulled up my socks and I got on board. After a two-minute sign-up, I had a twitter account. Now all I needed was to figure out what to do with it. I consider myself a genuine person (with the exception of the box-blond highlights I do on myself, of course) and I knew the only way I could make social media work for me (there’s that word again!) was to be as genuine as I could be.

To me, that means opening communication with people and keeping in touch. It means returning the favors of Retweets and shout-outs. It means when I see a tweet that someone I follow is facing a challenge, I send wishes for their recovery. It means treating one another like friends. Not followers. Friends.

But there’s still the M word. And like the elephant in the Tweetosphere, it thunders around. So what to do? Is it possible to be self-promoting and still genuine? Boy, I hope so. And I know I do my best to make it so.

How do I know? Because the connections I have made on social media ARE genuine. Like any friendship, it has to be give and take. If all someone does is get on Twitter when they have a book coming out/signing/conference appearance/etc and tweet promo after promo, we’re wary. Understandably. We like to know that the people we’re taking the time (and those precious 140 characters) to share with, are people who will share with us. At least I do. Call me old-fashioned. Or just call me old.

Now I won’t lie and say I don’t appreciate the power of social media as a marketing tool. I do, and I suspect we ALL do, and maybe that’s okay. But I do my very best to balance those moments of All-About-Me with What-About-You? Because it turns out, almost a year after starting my Twitter account, I have made a community of friends I hold dear and look forward to catching up with each day, and I hope they might feel the same about me.

So in that spirit, allow me to ask: What about you? How do YOU keep it real in a virtual world?

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13 thoughts on “Deb Erika wants to take the Me out of Social Media

  1. Another blogger and I have embarked on an experiment of promoting other blog posts we enjoy and, so far, I’d say it’s going pretty well. That’s not to say we don’t promote our own posts too, though.

    • Hi Kathy! I agree we can (we should) do both–and if we see blogging/social media as a team effort, I think that helps build the sense of a real community, and certainly the sense of connection to one another.

  2. “But I do my very best to balance those moments of All-About-Me with What-About-You?” <--That's the key, I think. The interaction. Keeping it a dialogue (as much as possible) as opposed to an endless monologue. 🙂

    • Oh, bless you, my fellow “Ex-actress” for coming up with the wonderful monologue analogy. Exactly right. Being a good listener is evident on social media–the same as it would be over a cup of coffee with someone in a cafe. You can tell when you’re being talked WITH vs. AT.

  3. Well, I for one think you’re doing a great job, Erika. I have the same fear of being too ME ME ME, and have found my Facebook to feel very one-sided. I used to be a bit more open and informal, but I have so many ‘friends’ over there that I don’t actually know. But I really like Twitter because it allows for quick and easy interaction. I can post responses to other people’s tweets AND promote my book AND talk about the Grilled Cheese truck outside my office all within the span of a few minutes. Twitter is as ADD as I am, it seems.

    • Thank you, Joanne–and thank you too for saying what I struggle with re FB vs. Twitter. I prefer Twitter for the reasons you put down–it just FEELS more like a community to me–and not so one-sided as FB. There’s no question I spend more time on Twitter than FB…

  4. I agree on Twitter vs. FB. I feel like FB Fan Pages are fine — I have one, and I appreciate everyone who checks it out, but I form more immediate one-on-one relationships through Twitter, which I love. I feel very bad on days where I only have time to Tweet about ME things. I feel like that’s the day-job part of Twitter, while the passion-project part of Twitter is finding other people’s cool posts, making friends, fostering those friendships, and chatting in real time with people who ARE in my circle of friends, even if we’ve never met in person.

    • Elise, I love how you put it: “the day-job part of Twitter”–that’s the balance I’m always trying to strike. A little bit me, and then yes! I want to read everyone else’s news! That’s what I love about Twitter vs. FB–there really is that sense of a dialog (somehow the comment boxes in FB never feel as realtime to me) and that give-and-take. I DO feel as if I’m chatting with someone–and I will admit I never imagined it would feel that way before I got on Twitter.

  5. I think this is absolutely the toughest part of Twitter. Like, right now, with only two weeks to go, my book is pretty much all I think about. But I don’t want to drive people away by only talking about my own book and selling my own wares. So I try to also share random thoughts, interesting articles, other people’s good news. but striking the perfect balance–building relationships, enjoying others, and still utilizing the power of Twitter to promote– is so tough! When you figure it all out, please share!

  6. Hi Erika,

    This is a great topic, a topic I think about alot. Right now, I’m not promoting anything, so I’m out there just as myself. (I don’t have Twitter going though; I’ll do that when I have to). I like observing how writers use Facebook. There’s one YA novelist who is so sweet. Nearly all her posts are about her writing in one way or another, but she’s so neurotically cute and funny and interesting that I don’t perceive it as me-me-me. Then, there’s this guy whose posts are also all about his writing, but they scream self-promotion.

    Alot of it has to do with personality. The YA novelist is refreshingly open about her insecurities and she asks for advice sometimes. She comments on others’ status, responds to folks who comment on her status. The guy, not so much–he’s a hot-air balloon.

    Sometimes I find myself posting something random on Facebook just to reassure myself that I’m NOT all about my writing and self-promotion (like I said, not that I have a product to promote at the moment) and me-me-me. However, that doesn’t necessarily feel genuine either, you know what I mean? It’s definitely a balancing act. I am responsive to others’ posts though; I agree that that’s key.

    • Lisa, you raise a great point about identity–and how to present ourselves on Twitter. There’s no question we want to be authentic, but how to convey that? The example of the YA author you use is a great one–her personality clearly comes through and that’s endearing and a wonderful way for the reader to feel more in touch with that author, more personal. The question of what to share/how much is one that maybe someone else will cover as the week goes on. That too can be a hard balance to achieve/maintain.

  7. I was skeptical about Twitter (for a really long time) just like you were — and I, like you, found that it really really is possible to make friends in 140 character bursts…. ok, and maybe followed up with emails too 😉 Because I feel so fortunate to have made friends with other writers (like you!) this way, and I feel so fortunate because until Twitter, I’d never even met another writer of fiction!

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