The 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?