As you all know, we’ve been pushing the whole build-your-platform-through-social-media idea pretty much relentlessly since grumpy cat memes and the Kardashians became a thing. We’ve also suggested that understanding how social media works and knowing how to use it properly (for good, not evil) is essential. We’ve seen how often it can backfire and how damaging the repercussions can be.
That was brought home to me this week by two separate “#Ask___” Twitter events. First, E.L. James had to deal with responses that ranged from mildly sarcastic to outright insulting when she agreed to participate in an online chat to promote her latest iteration of 50 Shades. Then, in a very different arena, presidential candidate Bobby Jindal’s #AskBobby hashtag elicited some pretty rude commentary about the Louisiana governor’s policies and even personal life and left a lot of people wondering if someone so clueless about how Twitter works could actually be a good president.
What’s amazing about both of these situations is that these are folks who should know better—or at least their handlers and p.r. people should. The social media universe is mostly a Hobbesian place—all cynicism, righteous anger, and meanspiritedness—where moderation in opinions or dialogue is in very, very short supply. And, those who are out there promoting themselves, their work, or a cause, need to figure out how not to fall victim to the pitchfork wielding mobs (metaphorically speaking, of course). So authors need to beware. In order to reap the benefits of an effective social media presence, you need to understand the potential pitfalls and be thoughtful about how to avoid them. Like any tool, this one can help build or destroy.
What useful things have you learned from your experiences on social media?