I love social media. In the space of five minutes I can see what a high-school pal is up to, find out the latest real-time information about what is going on in my neighborhood, be inspired by an artist I have never heard of, talk to an author I admire, check out who is reading at my favorite indie bookstore and find out what the muffin of the day is at my local café. It is a magical world that we live in, people.
I’m on four types of social media, and I approach them all differently, which keeps them distinctive and fun. Here is how I use each:
Facebook—this I keep for my IRL friends—people I grew up with, the chefs and waitstaff I work with, writing folks who I have met at conferences, friends from the dog park. It’s where I go to post things that make me laugh, ask questions and get opinions, and share the news, both good and not so good. I also keep a Facebook author page, which I use for book updates.
Twitter—It took me a long time to get into Twitter—it felt like I had crashed a stranger’s cocktail party. But I stuck around, I lurked, and found my way into the conversation. 90% of the folks I follow on Twitter are book people—editors, authors, agents, book bloggers, magazine editors, publishing professionals, houses and imprints. It is absolutely the best place to learn about the industry, to hear the buzz on upcoming books, and to connect with both writers and readers. I’ve made friends and mentors on Twitter, and have received great advice from publishing people of every stripe.
Tumblr—I am in love with Tumblr. It’s the home of my author website, as well as my blog, Louise the Baker, which is about baking and writing. I also use the blog as a place to collect images that remind me of Guthrie, the fictional Vermont town where my book takes place. Some of the photographs look like they could have been taken by my protagonist. I follow book people on Tumblr, but my great love is all the illustrators and artists who post there. Tumblr is a visual feast, and I go there to find inspiration and to reset my brain.
Instagram—I didn’t join Instagram until last spring, at the urging of my editor, and I have to admit it has become a sort of addiction. Instagram is the place for me where everything comes together—my personal life, my chef life, my book life, my life in the city and traveling. It’s a visual journal. I am also really excited about the way books and photography are coming together in creative ways on Instagram (just follow the hashtag #bookstagram to see how people are creating art around books!)
As you can see, I am a fan of social media. But it can be overwhelming at times, and addictive, so I have set up a few rules for myself. Here they are:
Be genuine—In other words—just like your mom told you—be yourself. Fangirl over your favorite comics on Twitter, share those baby hedgehog pictures on Facebook, spend the afternoon making Jonathan Groff gifs and posting them on your Tumblr. Don’t worry about what’s “cool.” Everything is cool. Share what you love and find your people.
Be kind—I’m not a big fan of ranting online. No judgment if that’s your thing, but I personally spend a good portion of my day avoiding talking about things like Donald Trump, and I go online to relax. So when my beloved but conservative coworker starts ranting, I use the magical unfollow or mute buttons and move on. Personally, I keep my posts to things I think are funny, helpful, interesting or delightful, and as a reader I am much more interested in what people love. Which leads me to:
Be generous—If you love a book, or a movie, or a song, or an essay, go ahead and share it with the world! Everyone needs to hear that what they have made has moved or inspired someone. And it’s so easy! Just hit share or retweet!
Be considerate—For me, the best of what happens on social media is interactive. It’s about making real connections, so think about how you like to talk with others in person before you post online. Do you like it when a person crashes your cocktail party, knocks all the bowls of cheese doodles and potato chips onto the floor, climbs on the table and shouts LOOK AT ME. MY BOOK IS ON SALE FOR 2.99!!! No, you don’t. No one else does either. Don’t do it.
Be real—And by real I mean be a real person with real friendships. Don’t let social media be a substitute for social engagement—let it be a tool to connect you to more people in real time. Don’t just like that author reading announcement—show up to the reading, bring a friend and buy two copies of the book. And when you find yourself hearting pictures of a friend’s new puppy for the third time in a week, email her an invitation to see if she wants to go for a walk. And when you are on that walk, keep your phone in your bag. The texts, emails, Twitter and Facebook notifications can wait. But do bring your phone out to take some puppy pictures. Those will look great on Instagram later!
To connect with me on social media, just click on one of the icons down below, right there underneath my floating head. Be sure to say hello!