Do you use technology or does technology use you?

“I’ll never join Facebook; it’s a colossal waste of energy.”

“Twitter is nothing but a big time-suck.”

“Social media sounds like a great excuse not to work.”

Heard these before? Maybe you’ve even said them? It’s hard to persuade someone otherwise because all three of these contain a kernel of truth. I disagree with the above statements, but with a BIG caveat: you have to approach social media as a tool, not a toy.

Future of social media

3,917 unread email

Can you go for more than an hour without checking your email? (I have a hard time with this one.) We live in an age of such instantaneous communication that sometimes email is too slow. And texting isn’t much better. Maybe we should invest in telepathy. We expect instant responses and feedback, and that expectation feeds the pressure to provide instant responses and feedback.

Our very lives, it seems, rely on how quickly we can close the deal, make the sale, finish the project, submit the files. But you can make email work for you instead of the other way around. Some people advocate not checking email until noon, thus giving you the morning to work on other tasks before the flurry of email exchanges begins.

You’ve been invited to join Mafia Wars

Yes, Facebook has games, apps, quizzes, and all manner of ways to distract you from whatever else you’re supposed to be doing. Be strong. You can block the apps, ignore all game requests, and set your privacy settings to not show you a zillion cute kitten videos on YouTube “liked” by your friends.

Facebook can be an incredibly powerful tool for networking and marketing and creating buzz about your book, long before it’s published. You can create a Facebook page (different from a profile—your profile is you and all about you and can be private; your page can be you as an author or you as your book and is public) to keep fans updated about the production of your book (if your publisher keeps you in the loop—and if they don’t, ask them!), where you’re giving readings or signings, answering reader questions, sharing reviews, and displaying your latest blog post. (We’ll talk about blogging, and why every author needs some form of blog, another time.)

LOL RT @TwuttyCat I just changed the #litterbox too!

Did you know that with a few minutes investment, you could broadcast a link to your latest blog post to thousands of people who might not otherwise find you? Yes, there is also a lot of . . . we’ll call it “noise.” This is where those skimming skills come in handy. And being able to parse what you really want to say down to 140 characters or less. Your editor might even find that last one a step in the right direction.

You don’t need to tweet about your latest Target run, unless you found your book for sale on the store shelves or you’re organizing a flash mob to convince Target management to carry your book. You can build professional relationships, get feedback on book ideas, catch up on the news, exchange meaningful opinions, and do market research. You can build your online presence, your authority and expertise, and your reputation.

Don’t think no one is watching; if that was true, Gilbert Gottfried would still be the voice of the Aflac duck.

The old adage “take what you like and leave the rest” is entirely appropriate to technology. I find that, as an introvert and a writer, social media is a great way to get “out there” without the risk of humiliating myself in public. Oh, I can still do that, even online, but I’m less likely to trip over the microphone cord or forget my speech.

Try it. You can always delete or abandon the account, or save it for posting cute kitten videos and litterbox changes.

1 Comment… add one
yotzeret June 29, 2011, 9:51 pm

Here’s a great article on the pros and cons of social media:
6 Reasons Social Media Sucks But You Need to Use It Anyway

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