Publicly Personal

By Julie, Sick of Snow in Somerville

facebookI am in a social media craze this month. Yesterday we had a great Netiquette conversation here on the blog. I won’t even tell you how we got the idea for that post. Best practices indeed–what a great list the post generated. Last week I wrote a blog post about “My 80/20 Rule” on Live to Write/Write to Live. The short version–80% of your social media should be about other people. Here on the Wicked Cozys, we live by that rule. Pay it forward for each other. It is a lot more fun.

pinterest2Today I thought I’d touch base about your public personal life. Being on social media makes you a public figure to a certain extent. Depending on what platform you use, you are “out there”. Even if you lock down your Facebook page, or limit your Twitter profile, it doesn’t limit your potential exposure. Know that–anything you “say” on line can be made public at some point.


But, in my opinion, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a cyber profile. (Perhaps I will talk about different social media platforms in future posts, would that be interesting?) But I am going to suggest that you manage your public personal life from the beginning. That doesn’t mean don’t have a personality on line. Just manage it.

Here are some general rules of thumb I try to follow:

  • Never trust privacy settings. Just assume your posts, tweets, pins, and everything else will be visible to the world. Facebook, as an example. changes privacy settings all the time.
  • Be a whole person. Nobody is “just a” anything. We read, we eat, we listen to music, we visit places, we laugh. You may be developing one persona, that of a writer. But let people know more about you. Do you love asparagus? Are you a Springsteen fan? Who do you enjoy reading? What is your favorite dessert? Do you like baseball? But talking abut the other parts of your life, you are doing two things. First, you are showing your well roundedness as a human being. And second, you are engaging with people outside your immediate circle, which could bring in other people. My love of Project Runway, for example, got me into a Twitter conversation with a New York theater blogger. Worlds collide, and online friendships emerge.
  • Manage what you share. My twitter followers know that I: love theater, am an arts advocate, teach, read mysteries, write mysteries, adore the Red Sox. They don’t know if I am single, have children, what my religious views are, or my politics. My Facebook friends know that I am an aunt, but they don’t see pictures of my nieces and nephews. Or know their names, for that matter. I don’t post when I am going out of town. And yet people in my social media world have a sense of knowing me.
  • Have fun. If you hate Facebook, don’t use it. Same with Twitter, or Pinterest, or LinkedIn. But try them first. You may surprise yourself.

How about you, dear readers? Any thoughts on navigating this wild wild west of social media?

27 Thoughts

  1. Julie, that’s a great outline. I’m so glad you posted it, because I certainly can use help with negotiating Facebook in a smart way.

    I was enjoying Pinterest but was just beginning to understand how to use it when it changed radically. It now seems to me more like a big store or catalog, and I don’t know how to negotiate it or what I should do with it. I don’t know if I should just sell my prints there—or am I missing a connection?

    I want to love Twitter, but I find I am inundated with incomprehensible snatches of private conversations between people I don’t know and don’t know how to sort through it all.

    And LinkedIn? When I was back in Boston it was a way to connect as a professional and do job searches. I don’t understand it now.

    You’re from Somerville? I used to live over the P&K Deli on Beacon Street when I was a student. I still find myself craving their tuna sandwiches. 🙂

    1. Boston/Cambridge/Somerville are great food towns, aren’t they?

      I am still navigating Pinterest. Jessie, Barb, and Liz use it well.

      I will do a post about twitter at some point soon. Look into Hootsuite, make lists, and sort by hashtags. It focuses conversations. More info on that to come. I love Twitter, but it isn’t for everyone.

      And still am not on the LinkedIn bandwagon, but I am trying.

      Thanks for posting Reine. From what I see, you do a great job navigating it.

  2. Another astute post, Julie. I do let readers of my Facebook posts in on my faith and a little of my politics, but I’m comfortable with that, particularly since two of my protagonists are now Quakers like me. And I love learning things about my online friends that show me their well roundedness, too.

    1. Edith, I like that you mention aspects of your faith and a bit about related activities especially since it has informed your writing so directly. For me it helps to connect more deeply with the stories you tell. I always look for significant layers in stories, and I always find them in yours. Your background is fascinating and rich.

  3. This is an interesting conversation. I post on a wide range of topics on Facebook, and I use Twitter as a resource for submission and deadline info. My #1 rule about all things online is to avoid being negative about another writer or their work. If I don’t care for a new release, I keep that to myself. If I think an author phoned one in, I will tell that to a friend in conversation, only. This is not the same as writing an honest review. (I don’t write reviews.) I’m talking about authors discussing other author’s choices. My theory about this is, as soon as you say something negative about a fellow writer, you’ll find yourself sitting next to him/her on a panel.

    I believe if you hate social media, you should not participate. I have seen authors on private list serves bemoaning the time they “are forced to waste” on social media. Five minutes later, that same person is on FB, jollily asking everyone about their day. SMH.

    1. Could not agree more about being positive, or not negative. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” is an adage everyone should use.

      Also agree about use of social media. I also get tired of the “I don’t waste my time on {platform} as if not using an engagement resource with readers and other writers doesn’t have any value.

      The perils of the panel–that could be a whole week of posts here on Wicked Cozies.

      Thanks for posting!

    2. I completely agree Ramona that there’s a difference between negative reviews by professional reviews that are part of an intellectual conversation and writers talking trash about each other. I hate it when people conflate the two!

  4. I know fellow writers who post obsessively about each new release, each blog post, and so on. (To be fair, they also share their friends’ similar posts.) And I understand it, because for most writers, there are few avenues for getting the word out about your books, and FB and Twitter have a wide reach.

    But I’m a little uncomfortable doing it every day, all the time. I’ll announce a new release, or a prize, or some recognition for it, but only once or twice. I have a lot more fun commenting on things that interest me, that I think may interest other people as well. I figure that lets other people get to know me, rather than my books. But it’s all the same package, isn’t it? That public persona.

    1. Absolutely Sheila. In fact, I think it is more valuable. There are some strategies we can all use, but the fun of social media is that you get to have a conversation. Not a minor thing these days.

  5. Julie, great post! You are right about the privacy settings. You never really know who is reading. If it is not something you wouldn’t want posted on a billboard, don’t post it on line. Facebook has changed a great deal over the years, and I believe it is no longer private in any way. Only yesterday a man, whom I have never met, sent me a private message. He told me he liked my Facebook profile and wanted to get to know me better. I couldn’t even figure out how to delete it!

    1. There is a “follow” ability to Facebook that you need to toggle off. I have a few “followers” as well. Truly, nothing is private. People can also go old school and cut and paste.

  6. I’ve been on Facebook for years as myself, but now that I manage four or five other FB “pages” – both my author one and several non-profit pages, I just don’t have the time to spend on them that I’d like. Same with LinkedIn. I spend most of my time on the work-related groups I manage.

    My personal profile is “rich” with items that tell people who I am. My author profile focuses on my writing and other authors. But it’s not as if one doesn’t let someone know about the other. I’ve been online long enough to have begun with the premise that once you post it, it’s public everywhere! And I’m online in one form or another almost everywhere.

    There’s nothing there that I wouldn’t want my mother to see – that’s my litmus test.

  7. Great post. Working in the software world for so long, my view is the only way to stay “private” on the Internet is to not be there at all. And since I’ve got friends and family all over the East coast, that’s not so practical.

    I love Facebook for personal interactions (sharing pictures of the kids with out-of-town relatives, etc.), but I don’t get a ton of reader interaction. I love Twitter and have met some really great people there. But you definitely have to get used to the “flow.”

    And I also stay away from political/religious discussions (unless someone is asking a fact-based question, such as “Do Catholics really believe…”). It gets way too touchy too fast, and there’s too much opportunity for misinterpretation when you take out body language and tone – no matter how many emoticons you use. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment–I agree with every point.Especially about the lack of nuance in quick conversations. I recently posted a news article with a “that is interesting” comment. Next thing I knew, there was a three way fight on my newsfeed. I just let it happen, but wow.

  8. I sure don’t get Linked In. I’m trying to figure out Pinterest and not doing so well. But I enjoy Twitter and Facebook. And little more time would help with the other two, I’m sure.

    I loved the advice about being well rounded. I find those are the people who are most fun to follow and as a reader drum up the most interest in me when they talk about a new book. I’m afraid of not being rounded enough when I start plugging my reviews, so I need to try harder on that one myself.

    1. I struggle with LinkedIn as well. But I keep trying. I am reading JAB JAB JAB RIGHT HOOK, hoping it will clarify some of these platforms, and their usefulness, to me. Thanks for the comment!

  9. I used to keep my life more separate–book stuff on my author page, personal stuff on my personal page, but then Facebook started wanting me to pay to boost the posts on my author page to get more than 5 people to see anything, and I kind of got sick of it.

    I maintain some illusory privacy. My address where I get my mail is different than my home address, and I never use my kids last name, which is different than mine, but it’s nothing you couldn’t figure out with about 30 seconds of googling. I agree with Mary that thinking anything is private is naive.

  10. I gave up on Pinterest.

    Every time I thought I had something private, FB would make changes. So now I’m just careful of what I say on my personal page.

    1. Dru, I am being dragged back into Pinterest. Will let you know how it goes.

      And I agree, if I don’t want it in the universe, I don’t write it down. Anywhere.

  11. Nice blog! I am signed up for all the social media, but don’t use it very often. My first goal is to blog regularly this year and perhaps add in some Facebook. It can be overwhelming at times. I am glad to see you post about sharing other sides to who you are. I worried my blogs might be too personal, but I wanted people to know the real me. It is nice to know that others think this is a good thing.

    And I agree with the others, there really is no privacy on the Internet.

Comments are closed.