Social media dilemma

This issue has been brewing in my mind for a while, but a few random things (including Allison Winn Scotch’s post yesterday) brought the question to the forefront this week:

Am I managing my online presence properly?

I have always been a fairly open book, in real life and on the internet. But as I think about how I’d like my writing career to progress, I wonder if I should be taking measures to guard the privacy of my friends and family. Fortunately authors don’t face as much crazy as actors or musicians, but then again, it doesn’t take much crazy to cause trouble. Furthermore, some people just don’t want to be in — or even near — the spotlight. As a writer/blogger, I’ve signed up for that possibility, but my friends and family didn’t. I want to be mindful of that.

So here’s how I break things down when I think about my online presence:

1. Blog

Between the ages of 9 and 21, I had several different blogs (all of them ridiculous in retrospect). Upon graduating, I promptly deleted them and started this one. I wanted to document and reflect upon my journey to publication (and beyond), but I wanted to be professional about it too. For the most part, I think I achieve that here.

2. Twitter

This is my playground. And just like in elementary school, playground time is short and sweet. I don’t say much of substance there; it’s more conversational, more one-liners.

3. Flickr

I love photography, and I take a lot of photos. I like to share those photos, but I’m going to start cutting back on what’s public and making older photos private. No one wants to see 100 snapshots of my dog anyway.

4. Facebook

Ah, here’s the real problem. Facebook is, or can be, both personal and professional. It’s a great way to connect with people, but then that flow of information goes both ways and is hard to control. So how and where do you draw the line?

No, really, how and where? That’s what I want to know. What do you guys do? Do you have any suggestions for me? And more broadly, what do you like/dislike about the way authors and other celebrities present themselves online?

Honestly, this stuff stresses me out, and sometimes I’m tempted to delete everything and go hide in a hole somewhere. (Is that a viable social media strategy?)

Like this:



National Crazy People Month




  1. To date, I’ve been keeping Facebook personal. I use it mainly for keeping up with family and friends, and to put up photos from vacations and holidays and whatnot.

    I think it’s not unreasonable to set up two Facebook accounts – a private one for family and friends, and a professional one to use for marketing yourself and your work. I’ve been considering this for a while, and will probably go that way soon.

  2. I deleted my FB account a couple months ago, so I guess that shows how I feel about that. In my earlier years, I did talk and share more about my family online. Now? Not so much. Here and there when I want to.

    I do get that impulse to just delete it all some days. I’ve felt that many times.

  3. This is a good topic. I created a new twitter profile a few weeks ago specifically for writing/blogging purposes. It was for privacy reasons of a different sort. I’m not a published author (yet), so I haven’t announced to the world (or my 300 or so facebook friends or 200-ish personal twitter page followers) that I’m writing fiction. But I wanted to interact on twitter with other writers without feeling self-conscious about my posts. I also didn’t want to annoy my real-world friends with constant posts and comments about writing.

    I started a new blog devoted to writing for the same reasons. And I’m loving it. It gives me a good sounding board and network and support system for my writing without “exposing” my writing ambitions to my entire social circle before I feel ready to field questions about when my book’s going to be published. ;-)

  4. Les

    It’s a tough call. I’m generally more open on FB because I can VERY easily via privacy settings control who sees what…

  5. Hidey-holes certainly seem viable options at times! I feel you there. My blogging “voice” tends to involve anecdotes and personal opinions and tidbits — that’s who I am. But I 100% agree when you say that while you’ve signed up for the social media presence, your friends and family haven’t. There’s a line there, for me, and I do my best to stay on this side of it.

    In addition to all of that, the thought I keep coming back to is that your social media presence doesn’t need to be more than you want it to be. While it can help, it clearly doesn’t guarantee success as much as a well-written book does. (See: The Hunger Games; Twilight.) Stephanie Meyer could probably have as many Twitter followers as Oprah, but she has no interest: (And I really respect that!)

  6. It’s definitely a delicate balance. I tend to consider my blog mainly a writing one, although I do sometimes touch on other topics in my entries. It mainly chronicles this publication journey, though, and it’s something I’m fine with having out there for whoever wants to read. That accessibility is something I keep in mind, though, and I rarely post pictures of family/friends there.

    When it comes to authors and other celebrities, I think it’s really great when they’re open to having conversations and interaction with others. Like everyone else, though, they certainly deserve to have their prvacy, and I respect everyone’s decision on that.

    So yes – a balance for sure, and one that’s different for everybody.

  7. Trisha

    Some people maintain two personas; one personal and one professional.

  8. I have of late become the world’s worst blogger, so I don’t know that I have much to contribute in that arena.

    For me, Twitter is like a playground, yes, but it’s mostly something on do as a writer. Most of the people I follow/who follow me are writing-related. And then all the funny ones, because, well…I love me some funny.

    Facebook is for personal use only. I do have a “fan page” there, although I have been as lax with it as my blog lately. I think, in time, I’ll probably delete it and restart one as a professional (writing gods willing). That way I can separate all the newsy fingers-crossed type posts from the real deal stuff. (You like that power of positive thinking? Yeah, you do.)

    Okay, I’ve blathered on enough. Thanks for provoking some thoughts.


  9. Joy

    I’m glad you brought this up because I struggle with the same thing — I’m afraid that my outrageous and often colorful behavior will eventually offend someone. -_O Sometimes I just feel the need to write soemthing completely random and inapproriate (i.e. I feel bloated and gross today f*ck my period) but seeing that I’m friends with all my old bosses, grandparents and old teachers…well, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to hear about that…

    I like the suggestion of keeping two accounts, one for family and friends and another professional.

  10. Jon

    I think having an online presence is important for an author–but can’t substitute for the actual writing part, obviously. Usually I don’t friend anybody I haven’t met in person on Facebook. That’s my rule. Twitter, I don’t really care about it; as a social utility I don’t find it very useful and ignore it unless I’m completely bored. The other stuff tends to sort itself out on its own. I’m always flattered to get emails from strangers, etc, but rarely do.

  11. I haven’t been using social media all that long (about a year) and while in real life I am often the type to jump right in with opinions/conversation, online I tend to sit back and watch for a bit before doing this.
    I love blogging and then linking that to facebook for my family and friends to see if they’d like to…because facebook is all about them and my personal life. If I were going to consider using something more “professional” that’s like facebook, I would use LinkedIn.
    Twitter is strictly for writing contacts. I like when I’m alerted to good writing articles/blogs and I like seeing what agents have to say, etc.
    My only advice, and while I love seeing pics of you and those closest to you, is that I would not use them on your blog. It will give them (and you) a little more privacy. I try not to do this and I don’t use my husband’s or children’s names. Now I’m going to go delete that photo of my 4-year old on her birthday!

  12. Simon-
    Yeah, that’s been the overwhelming suggestion, and it seems viable. I hate the idea of having to log in/out and manage multiple accounts, but I guess it’s a small price to pay in the scheme of things.

    Hah! I wondered if I was going crazy. I was looking for you the other day, and you were gone, and I couldn’t remember if we actually HAD been FB friends or if I’d just imagined it. Now I know. :P

    Yeah, sometimes I wonder if my friends/family really want to see my blog feed on my FB page. But then I know some of them do, and are more likely to comment there than here… So it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other, I guess.

    I guess I’m still new to the privacy settings. I used to be open to Everyone, and now I’m playing around with levels and stuff.

    Good point, re: Collins and Meyer. It’s not NECESSARY to be online, and that’s reassuring. But I like it, haha, and like you, I tend to include personal tidbits, so I guess it’s up to me to figure out how to balance that with the safety stuff.

    (Btw, thanks for the Stephenie Meyer clip! I enjoyed that one, and another one I watched from that same interview.)

    Thanks for the input, re: authors and celebrities. I think you’re right, it’s about finding our balance.

    Yeah, that seems to be the way to go. I was hoping to avoid the hassle, but it may turn out to be inevitable. I think I have a while to go before I really need to make a decision, but I just wanted some ideas on my radar.

    Aha, a Fan page user! I was wondering about those. How do you like yours? Are people receptive to it, even though you’re unpublished? (I don’t mean anything by that; obviously I’m unpublished too. But that’s where I was wondering, is it too early/weird to have a Fan page at this stage?)

    Would you do a Fan page? Or do you already have one? And lol, grandparents, wow. Mine have all passed, so I don’t have that problem, but I suppose my aunts/uncles might be just as weirded out by a posting about my period.

    Yeah, for some reason Twitter doesn’t faze me. It’s FB that’s causing the most issues. Flickr and my blog, I at least have a strategy for. Ugh, FB, ugh.

    Aww, but I like posting photos… I do think I need to make sure the people whose pictures go up don’t mind, and that our exact locations can’t be determined.

  13. I’ve always separated personal and professional. Even with my sportswriting, I get random people trying to friend me and I’ll only accept if I’ve come to know them somehow. Otherwise, it feels too close to home and I’d like to keep that wall of separation.

  14. I went to a social network tech workshop with a friend a few months ago. She is a wedding planner who was wanting to learn how to use these networks to increase her business. Most of the people there were event planners (my friend was thinking of starting a blog and if she did she wanted me to ghost write it).

    Anyways the woman who gave the workshop is a very successful wedding photographer over here. She uses all the media you mentioned. She did say she has two FB’s. Her friends and family one is private though for the very reasons you are worried about. Her presence on her photography FB is linked to her blog and her Twitter. She is OK with being public but wanted to keep her private life private.

    I think your blog has great balance of personal and writerly posts and your readers of your future published books will enjoy feeling they know you through this blog.enjoy seeing

  15. Mike-
    I guess since I got on-board during FB’s infancy, I never realized how prevalent it would become. Never knew there would be a NEED for separation. Sigh. Guess it’s time to clone myself… ;P

    Another double-FB-er… Seems like that’s the popular way to go.

    Aw, thanks for the kind words. I do try to achieve that balance. I’m completely genuine here; I just don’t give out my address lol.

  16. Kristan, I also have two Twitter accounts (well, three) and two FB pages. One twitter account links to one FB account and the other to the other. Although I do post a few personal things on my professional account so people know I’m a real human and don’t get bored with my posting links all the time, I don’t post anything about my kids and never mention my family or husband’s name on my professional accounts. Some people suggested I do a fan page instead of a second FB account because then you can have more than 5000 friends (as if) and it’s less confusing for people who are friends with “both of me,” but I didn’t feel comfortable having a fan page when I’m not published. I’d rather wait and do a fan page for the book. I’ve heard there are also “business” FB pages, but I haven’t looked into that. So far I’m happy with having two accounts.

    In response to having to log in and out of two accounts, it’s a pain if you do it through FB, but if you do it through a Twitter client, it’s easy. I use HootSuite, which shows all my Twitter accounts at once and I can write an update and then click which account to post it from. Because that update links to FB, I don’t have to log into either FB account to update them. I do have to log in to read my status updates, though.

  17. Yeah, I have the same concerns about a Fan page — I like the idea, but I would feel awkward doing it now before a book deal. I’ve never heard of the “business” FB accounts, though. I wonder what that entails…

  18. Sorry I’m late and you already solved the dilemma…
    I have a personal profile to keep in touch with my friends all over the world and an author’s profile you can “like” (used to be a “fan page”). If you want I’ll look you up and request your friendship, so you can see how I manage the two different personas… please note that I use a pseudonym, so I hope I have a way of telling you it’s me under my real name when I request your friendship! ;-)
    Happy blogging and facebooking!

  19. It’s never too late, Barb. :) Thanks for your input! The Fan page (or whatever it’s called now) is the other option I was thinking about.

  20. Ha! You know my answer to this one: I deleted my FB account a couple months ago :) And I haven’t regretted (or missed) it yet!

  21. No regrets, eh? So far I don’t know anyone who has regretted that decision. Interesting…

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