Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Monday, 29 June 2015

Time wasted – or time well spent? By Mary Smith

I’ve come across a few articles/blog posts on how to keep the time spent on social media to a minimum while still retaining an effective presence. I’m not sure how ‘effective’ is defined by the writers and have decided it very much depends on the individual and what he/she wants to gain from using the various social media platforms.

Truth be told, I’ve been getting quite irritated by some of what I’ve read. Many of the blog posts focus on giving tips on how to save time on Twitter or Facebook. If we are being advised on how to spend less time on social media it kind of implies we are spending too much time on it. It made me feel quite guilty about the amount of time I was spending tweeting and Facebooking.

I am fairly active on Facebook and Twitter, less so on LinkedIn, though I keep telling myself I should get into the habit of using it more for things like sharing good reviews of my books from Amazon or blog posts like Novel Points of View. I’m also on Google+. So far, its workings remain pretty much a mystery to me (if anyone is willing to provide a tutorial let me know) and apart from sharing other people’s posts from time to time I don’t spend time on it. I haven’t yet signed up for Pinterest, which is next on my list when I can find some time to work out what to do on it.

Plus, I follow a number of blogs including ones with book reviews, author interviews, marketing advice, Alzheimer’s and dementia. I have wide-ranging interests. Yes, as everyone knows, it does all take time. Shouldn’t I be using that time for writing? Or even cleaning the house? How could I reduce the time I spend each day on tweeting, posting on Facebook?

Simple answer? I can’t! Well, I suppose I could if I put a strict limit on the time I go on Facebook or if I unsubscribed from some of the blogs I follow – or not bother to read them or join the conversations in the comments – but I don’t want to.

I enjoy my time on social media. On Facebook I can keep in touch with Afghan friends some of whom still live in Afghanistan and some of whom are scattered around the world from Australia to Denmark.

I have found some wonderful books through the various review sites I follow. They are bloggers I trust – if they say a book is worth reading, I’m fairly certain it will be, even if it’s not the kind of book I usually read. I’ve had my books reviewed and enjoyed the conversations which have followed on from the review. I’ve been interviewed about my writing on blogs, which have been shared far and wide and led to sales (if we’re talking effective = sales).

I’ve met some amazing people – including many writers – on Facebook and on blogs, some of whom I now consider friends even though it is unlikely we will ever meet face to face.  I’m part of a wonderful group of indie writers who ‘pay it forward’ by promoting each other’s books on social media and through the group have learned an enormous amount about promotion and marketing – as well as enjoying the fun and the jokes we share.

In the same way it takes time to meet a friend for coffee, it takes time to socialise (and work) online but in my book, it’s time well spent, not wasted.

19 comments:

  1. It's good to get such a positive view, Mary. I share many of your joys and delights, and have 'met' the most amazing people through my social media contacts. You never know where you will go next, it can be anywhere in the world, and you can meet anyone in the world! However, I would also like to work smarter – so much communication is deeply trivial (if that's not an oxymoron!) and I could do without it. OK, you can delete quickly, but there's still going to be a few seconds every time to process what you're seeing.

    And there is just so much of it! I flag articles people have highlighted because I think they're interesting, but never seem to find time to go back to them, because by the time I have an hour, there are another 12 in!

    So it's not that I want to cut down time spent, what I would like is a lesson on how to improve the way I work on it.

    Great pst, thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Jenny, I'm glad you enjoyed my post's positive spin. It was a bit of a reaction to the whinging about time spent on social media but once I started writing I realised how much I have gained on both a professional and personal level.
      One day we'll have 'smart' computers which will know from our past behaviour online which items to delete before we have to hit the button!

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  2. I agree! Not only is it a 'marketing tool' if that is what you want it to be, and are prepared to put in the work. It is also one of the best ways to meet other writerly types.

    I've met some wonderful people through Twitter, and have gone on to meet up with them and we have become firm friends. This would have been impossible before social networking, as it is doubtful we would have travelled in the same circles. So life is richer.

    We all have the same amount of hours in a day, so the trick is simply to limit your time if it's a problem. Good post, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for dropping in and taking time to comment, Maria. I'm glad you enjoyed and agree with what I've said in the post. I like your comment that 'life is richer'. That is so true. I do limit my time and usually spend some time in the morning on social media and then again in the evening. I guess everyone has to decide what works best for them.

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  3. The life of a writer can be very solitary without access to online groups, can't it? I remember how I used to feel very isolated before I joined a real writing group. Now, with the internet, so much more is available to us.

    Yes, it can be a distraction, and a time thief, but it's also a benefit, as I don't have to travel to libraries to do research quite so much.

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  4. Thanks for dropping in, Rosie. You are right in saying online groups can help writers (and others) feel less solitary. And as Maria said above you have to put a limit on social media use if it is eating up too much time!

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  5. A post that really made me think Mary, which is what blog posts should do. Thank you! And it has helped me reappraise my own attitude to Facebook, Twitter, etc, which has tended to be tinged with a little too much guilt. So thank you again :).

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    1. Glad to think you might be feeling less guilty, Gill!

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  6. Hello Mary, nice post. Very poignant. I stay on Facebook more to interact with family and friends and to market my books. I now stay less on Twitter because I have to write and edit my upcoming novels. I feel guilty only when I haven't reciprocated the interest others have shown. I love Pinterest because it is all about pinning photos. And I love photos. It is quite easy to use. We can chat about it. By all means, I love interacting with authors and readers on social media, I would otherwise never have met. Authors like you. For that, I'm grateful and I would not change it for anything.😀😁

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    1. Thanks, Stella. Yes, we met on social media and I follow your blog, too, now. I think each person has to decide how much time he or she can spend on social media and enjoy that time not feel guilty about it. I have met some lovely people who I wouldn't otherwise have had any contact with.

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  7. Hi Mary! I don't have linked in (or whatever it is called), but I do use google+ (once you figure out how to use it please give me the tutorial, lol), twitter, FB, and pinterest. Pinterest is the biggest time waster, because all you do is pin pretty pictures and before you know it, an hour has passed! Don't feel guilty for "spending too much time" on social media. I'm always happy to see you around, and I know others are too! :)

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    1. Hi April, thanks for saying you're happy to see me around on social media!
      By chance today another blogger I follow has put up a post on Google+ - it seems we are not alone in not understanding its mysterious workings! Here's the link: https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/wednesday-wing-google-posts-tips-on-social-networking-wwwblogs/comment-page-1/#comment-14068 Rosie admits she has only scratched the surface.
      As for Pinterest - I thought I could use it to put up pictures of places and people and so on in No More Mulberries and Drunk Chickens. I suppose then I'd have to spend time trying to guide people to my boards. What do you think? Could it be useful as a promotional tool?

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  8. I thought I'd already commented on this, Mary - sorry! I think if you organise your social media time then it becomes just another part of a writer's life. It's great for socialising (the original idea) and a way to keep in contact with friends, writers and readers. I like FB, twitter and Pinterest.

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. You are right, time spent on social media does become part of a writer's life - and I think it becomes part of our social life, too. At least, it does mine!
      I know you've mentioned Pinterest before - possibly on your own blog - when I have some free time I'll sign up. I think I ought to sort out my Afghanistan photos first.

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  9. I confess to being bogged down by it all. I use Twitter and Facebook because it is part of my writing contract that I do. Goodreads is just a mystery to me - how to navigate it. I wish there were some way we could tell if there are spikes in sales of our books (or not) every time we post anywhere....is that possible?

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    1. Oh, Linda, I have to say GoodReads is a total mystery to me. Until yesterday I hadn't a clue about Google+ but someone kindly took me by the hand via a private message on FB and explained things about Google+, which made it slightly clearer. That's what I love about social media - meeting people who are happy to help. I suspect few people really understand the workings of GoodReads.
      You can use sites like NovelRank (I believe there are others) to track your book sales. It's not 100% accurate but it does give you an idea of how sales are going. I use it for my trad published book, Drunk Chickens and the paperback of No More Mulberries. For the Kindle version of NMMs, which I self-published, I can see exactly what my sales and borrows (or, as it is now, pages read) are.
      Personally, I don't think sales increase through tweeting or posting on FB, though that does lead to greater visibility and friendships. My experience - and others may have different findings - are that sales spikes come if a book is featured on a popular review blog - one on which the followers are genuinely on the lookout for good reads. The other way to increase sales is to have a book promoted on the best of the promotion sites.
      Sorry, I seem to have gone on at great length!

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    2. I did try novelrank, which was easy enough to navigate, but as you say, not totally accurate. What would be good would be if there were a register of bloggers and reviewers that we could access ......:)

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    3. Linda, your wish is granted! Here's a link to a list of reviewers: http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/
      There's also April who I interviewed last month who has a review site - you'll find the link on the post I did.
      Another excellent review site is A Woman's Wisdom - google it and it will come up.
      I was looking at a bloggers' directory recently but can't remember where it was but if you Google bloggers directory you will find lots of them - some UK based others world wide. That should keep you busy for a while!

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  10. Here's the link to the Book Bloggers' directory: https://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/

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