Friday, January 27, 2012

Social Network Faceoff

by Michelle Gagnon

I've gotta admit, every time I get a message from MySpace now (and they're gracing my inbox more and more rarely), I feel a twinge of pity for them. Remember when MySpace was the hot new thing that revolutionized social networking? When everyone you knew was hanging out there? Now it seems like all that remains are a few bands and companies that post ads, spamming my comment page.

I can't stop picturing Tom, the MySpace creator and everyone's first fr
iend on there, curled up in a room alone, wondering what went wrong.

Now I split my time fairly evenly between Facebook and Twitter, posting everything from music videos, links to things I stumbled across and found interesting, and general complaints/observations about my day and life in general. But occasionally I get shout outs from Gather and Google +, which make me feel pretty much the same way MySpace does; vaguely guilty for no longer participating. Seriously, though, who has the time? For awhile there I joined everything that came along, from Linked in to Friendster (remember that one?) But just keeping up with the two that I do use consumes a pretty serious chunk of my day.

A lot of my time on the social networks is for just that- socializing. I work from home, so aside from the occasional UPS delivery, I don't always get a lot of human contact. Facebook and Twitter have become good stand-ins for that. Scrolling through my home page I always come across at least one thing a day that gets me laughing out loud, or makes me think, or gives me a heads up that a friend is having a rough day. I love that aspect of it, that it enables me to stay in touch with people who I would probably lose contact with otherwise, since they live across the country or because we're all just so busy these days.

But to be honest, I'm also on there for the same reason as a lot of other writers- befriending strangers in the hopes that they'll consider buying my books.

Several years in and thousands of friends later, I've really got no idea whether or not the SNs work for that. I've personally bought a few books, thanks to reminders sent by writers whose work I'd already read and enjoyed; but I have to confess I haven't discovered a lot of new authors that way.

So today I have two questions: First, which social networks do you use, and why do you prefer it/them?

And second: have you ever bought a book just because you saw it recommended by a virtual friend?


Jordan Dane said...

No human contact except for FB & twitter. A writer's life. Oy! I'm depressed now because I hate FB.

I occasionally post to FB but I mainly keep up with friends & family there (who I wish would just email me directly).

I love Twitter and I blog. My two main interactions that I can tie together & have blog stats to track my success, but I'm curious to hear from readers.

Nice post, Michelle.

Anita Grace Howard said...

Great post, Michelle! And the squirrels are a nice touch. Heh...

I mainly use twitter and blogging to network. I'm HORRIBLE about updating my FB.

Matching Socks said...

I occasionally check in on FB, read twitter. I regularly read the blogs I subscribe to. I have never bought a book because of a virtual friend on FB or twitter. I have bought books by the bloggers I follow. Mostly my book purchases are made on the recommendations of real people I know and one book blog I trust.

Beth W said...

First off, I'm in Marketing and have done a metric ton of research into social networking for B2B and B2C companies. It works, but this is how: It gets you press. Press (positive or negative) is good because it reinforces your name, your title, your book info. It puts a human face on the literature. It makes people feel connected to you, and that makes them more likely to read/buy/recommend your book to others. So, good job- you're doing it right!

I appreciate when an author uses Facebook as a tool for sharing their writing process/editing struggles/publishing stories/etc. And also, of course, info about their book, and events around the release and whatnot. And giveaways! I think blogs and FB are the way to go with that, and since they can be integrated- there you go!

Michelle said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone-much appreciated. Sisters in Crime did a survey last year that concluded that social networks only impact 4% of book purchases, but I suspect that number is growing as a younger group of readers comes of age.

Carol Tanzman said...

I do have lots of human contact in a day (teaching drama tends to do that for me!). I try to glance at FB every day--but lately I've been using Twitter more because, hey, it's 140 characters -- so it's quick!
I agree with Beth--I think it helps more to get name recognition out--and some awareness of what's going on--so if you like a writer, you can buy their next book.
I'm not on anything else b/c I need the rest of my time to write!

Wendy Corsi Staub said...

Great post, Michelle, and interesting discussion points! I've definitely bought many books because I've read about them on Facebook. I use both Twitter and FB regularly. I hate Twitter (a necessary evil, according to my publicists) because it feels impersonal, love Facebook because it doesn't, and have had my own dedicated social networking site,, for four or five years now. It was considered "experimental" when we first launched it, and saw a lot of activity. Now that Facebook has become so popular it sort of feels redundant, but I keep it going out of loyalty to the members, and it hosts my blog and other info that isn't on my regular website.

Jennifer Archer said...

I use Facebook, Twitter and blogging. I'm more comfortable with FB than Twitter, simply because I've been there longer. And I still don't totally "get" Twitter. I keep thinking I must be missing something. I can't follow a conversation very easily and that discourages me. I'm trying to learn as I go.