Monday, August 17, 2015

Are You Sharing or Spamming?

By Andrea Merrell

With all the constant changes on Facebook and the multitude of social media outlets, there has been a lot of talk lately among writing and editing professionals about posting on social media. The big question is: How much is too much, and when does it become spam?

There have been a few articles and blog posts written in the past few months about this, and there are numerous books on the subject. If you do a Google search, you will be amazed at the material available. If you’re just beginning to learn about this process of networking, there are a couple of books I would personally recommend. The first is Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers by Edie Melson. Edie is a social media expert and she gives you basic tips on how to get started, along with a better understanding of the terms and techniques we all need to master. If you are not familiar with Edie, I would encourage you to check out her website ( and sign up to receive her daily blog posts. She gives invaluable information that will help you with everything writing related.

Another insightful book on the subject is Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb. In this book, the author shows us the importance of building relationships through social media, rather than amassing hundreds and thousands of people for us to try and “sell, sell, sell” our books. One important thing she points out is how writers tend to only stick with other writers as their tribe/followers. This ends up being a channel for authors to try and sell each other their books. This can get old really fast.

So … What’s the Big Deal?
The big deal really comes down to two things: motive and technique. Why are you trying to build your platform and increase your tribe/followers? Is it just for the sheer numbers, only for marketing purposes, or are you trying to connect with people and build relationships? Let me give you an example. There are people I have “met” through social media and we have developed a relationship that goes beyond Please buy my book. We have talked about children, recipes, and prayer needs. We have shared photos and funny or meaningful videos. Our connection goes far beyond My book is now on sale.

As a result, these social media friends have become important to me. I respect them and what they have to say. Because of this fact, whenever I see a familiar name connected with a blog post or comment, I  always stop to read it and usually share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.

There are other people (some I know personally and others I do not) who post only about the current book they are trying to promote. They never post about anything personal, funny, or inspirational. They post so much and so often (especially about the same thing), their efforts have become a form of spam and I almost always ignore them.

That might sound harsh, but I’ve heard many others say the same thing. If you think about it, there are probably a number of people in your circles who will catch your attention, no matter what they have to say. There are most likely others you skim over and never read.

So … What’s the Answer?
Spam is irritating. No one enjoys it, so the answer is to make sure you never come across as a spammer.

Tip to help you be effective with social media:
  • Don’t just share about the books you are trying to sell, and don’t just share with other writers. Expand your territory and be very strategic with your methods.
  • Use the five-to-one rule. For every five posts you share, only one of them should be about you, your blog, or your book. Share inspirational or funny quotes, Scriptures, and photos.
  • Subscribe to blogs that  contain helpful information, and post those on your social media sites. Be quick to promote others above yourself.
  • Don’t post about the same thing every day. If you are promoting a book or service, once or twice a week is generally enough. Give other people a chance to share your posts with their own tribe/followers. This is one way to expand your territory.
  • If you’re using Hootsuite or any other program to schedule your tweets and posts, be careful not to overdo it. Don’t schedule the same tweet or post to appear three or four times within the same day. This gets annoying when people see the same thing over and over and they tend to ignore it. This makes you appear more like a machine than a real person. As Kristen Lamb says in her book, “Be present.”
  • Interact with people whenever possible. Sometimes life gets busy, but it’s always good to “Like” favorite posts on Facebook and leave a comment when applicable. How does it make you feel when you follow someone on Twitter and they send you a reply thanking you for the follow? It makes them seem real and present, not just a face and name on a page.
Do you have any other suggestions for navigating the choppy waters of social media? We would love to hear your comments

(Photos courtesy of and


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