Monday, September 13, 2010

Adventures With Facebook

The big news at Chez Gauthier is that after a couple of years of thinking about it I am now on Facebook. I've been there for a couple of weeks, requiring assistance the first weekend from two Facebook citizens, one of them being Sheila Ruth. Today we (by which I mean Computer Guy, of course) finally placed Facebook badges to your left and on my Home Page.

Though I've been hearing about the need for authors to have a social networking presence for a long time now, I resisted for a couple of reasons. First off, when I first heard of Facebook years ago, it was from an on-line acquaintance who joined because she was a YA writer and Facebook was where the YAs were. She, and a couple of other writers I heard about, were rapidly approaching middle age and racing off to Facebook to connect with teenagers. At the risk of sounding like Alexia Tarabotti, it did not seem all the thing to me. It seemed a bit like exploiting the young. Now, I was appearing at schools and bookstores at the same time, which some could argue sounds like exploitation, too. But I was invited to those places by adults. I was monitored. Hobnobbing with adolescents at Facebook seemed an awful lot like hanging out in front of the high school at closing time.

Now, however, it appears that Facebook users might not find many YAs to hobnob with. So exploiting kids, anyway, doesn't worry me so much these days. Exploiting a social situation, yes, but at least I'll be exploiting adults in that social situation.

Secondly, marketing is a time suck, and there's been lots written over the last couple of years about marketing not working, anyway. On top of that, with Internet marketing it doesn't matter how much you do, there will always be something new coming up that you could be doing. First there was a website, then a blog, then listservs, then another blog at Amazon, then Facebook, then Twitter. You can't convince me that Twitter will be the end. Just how far should a writer go with all this? Well, this one will go as far as Facebook, anyway.

Plus, in the past I didn't care for the way Facebook looked, but I've grown accustomed to it these past few weeks.

I can't say I'm overwhelmed by the place so far. I find that a lot of writers on Facebook don't use so-called professional pages, but personal profiles, which are private and open only to friends. That's fine. That's social. But if you're there because conventional wisdom says that authors must market themselves in social networks, I don't quite see the point of limiting yourself to 30 or 300 or, in rarer cases, 3,000 people who are supposedly your friends already. A big part of Internet marketing is to have a presence out there that people can stumble upon or hunt for. The classic website rewards seekers with serious amounts of information. Or, at least, it should. A social Facebook page may be so closed to the public that someone finding it may get only a name, a picture, and a message to friend me.

Of course, maybe you're the kind of writer whose 30, 300, or 3,000 Facebook friends are all movers and shakers in the publishing world, and you're not there for the sake of finding new readers. But then your Facebook presence isn't really for marketing, it's for something else. Shmoozing, maybe? Schmoozing is good, though it's one of those skills I've never acquired. I can't even schmooze at a bridal shower.

Though my Facebook presence involves a professional page rather than a schmoozy one, I'm hoping to make it a little more casual than my Original Content presence, in large part because I don't believe in duplication of effort. If I'm going to be in different places on the Internet, I can't be doing exactly the same thing. I will sometimes link to Original Content posts, however. I'm not sure what my criteria for doing that will be. Perhaps just how I'm feeling that day.

If you're a Facebook fan, you are welcome to join me there.

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