I spend a lot of time on Social Media — too much, probably, but I know I’m not alone in this. At this point, I’d like to offer some well-meaning advice — that I also try to follow — to my fellow authors on good Social Media content guidelines and etiquette. AS far as that goes, most of this advice could apply to anyone, not just writers.
DO NOT: fill your content stream with pleas to purchase your latest book(s), or glowing quotes/endorsements. I know I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but as much as I like knowing about ways to support you, I’d also like to know a little bit more about you as a person. Promoting yourself is fine; doing so at the expense of all else is boring, and people will stop coming to your blog/website/Facebook page in droves. Remember: A little goes a long way. I try not to constantly bug people about this, but I do want to promote myself and my tiny, little writing career, so I won’t NOT ever promote myself and my work – I’ll just try to not do it too often.
DO: Talk about some aspects of your life.
Do you go to cons? Do you collect something as a hobby? Are you a fan of Line Dancing or maybe Punk music? Do you like to hang out with other writers and talk shop – or just to shoot the breeze? Talk about those things, too!
On the other hand, the world is a scary place, and many of us have chilling tales of stalkers who would not leave us alone – some tales more recent than others. As writers, knowing who engages in stalker-ish behavior is useful info; it prevents us from allowing someone who will abuse the privilege to get too close to us.
Also, many writers are reluctant to share much about their personal opinions online. This can be a wise policy, but also very limiting. If people who MIGHT read your work won’t do so because of a cause you support, maybe you don’t really want them to follow your career anyway. Let your own conscience be your guide here, as there really aren’t right or wrong answers to the question: “how much personal sharing is too much?” What’s clear is that making your home address and phone number — or the identity of family members — known publicly is unwise.
ALWAYS: be courteous. Even if some jackass comes to your website to slag you off, be courteous and polite. Ban/block their butts ASAP of course, but don’t make yourself look bad in front of people who might be your fans.
The world is a scary place and keeping a professional distance from fans is sometimes necessary precaution. Be courteous, be careful, and most of all, be sensible in your approach to maintaining an online presence. I’m far from an expert, and if readers have other suggestions or corrections, I’d love to hear about them.