The Learning Curve of a Reluctant Social Media User

By Pamela Nowak

I am past my second year of using (or, uh, having) social media and stepping back to take a look at my progress (er…learning curve).

I’ve had a website since I signed my first book contract, roughly eight years. It was updated as I added more books but I never really did much else with it. I finally took an online class on blogging and converted my website to WordPress. It took me awhile to do so but the online tips helped and I created a website I could maintain myself instead of paying someone else, one with a blog page!

The trouble was, even though I had a blog page, I wasn’t using it. I had a list of topics I developed during the online class but I wasn’t using the list. Life was busy enough! My page sat there, static.

I created a Facebook page and a Twitter account shortly thereafter. Being a private person, I didn’t post often, usually just news about my upcoming book release. I learned, from a RMFW conference workshop that year, that social media does not work well that way. No one wants a constant sales pitch. No wonder I lost a few friends. Sigh.

So I started changing what I was doing. It was slow going, at first…finding things to say that were personal but didn’t make me feel bare or ridiculous. I started with updates on my knee replacement progress and notes about my pets. It got easier.

During the past year, I’ve found that middle ground, posting occasional tidbits about myself while avoiding oversharing personal information. I share posts about things I care about or that reflect me or that I find entertaining. I now devote time each day to Facebook, choosing to do so during evening hours, after my work time. A new phone with a Facebook app allows me to do this anywhere. You can get a lot done during commercials!

Because I dislike conflict, I don’t share controversial posts and stay away from politics and religion. According to the class I took, I am supposed to let my views shine through but I choose not to set up argumentative situations because I realize I have lots of friends who don’t agree on things. I like and comment on others’ posts. And, I share good news about fellow writers. Every now and then, I share something about my books but I try to keep those posts to a minimum now.

I have reached out to establish relationships with other authors in my genre and network via Facebook. I’ve extended my network of friends. What I don’t like is dealing with “friend requests” that appear to come from someone who knows a mutual friend only to discover later that it is someone creepy (sometimes really creepy).

Recently, I discovered how to use Facebook and my blog page together to avoid that daunting “my blog is due” feeling. I post small factoids on Facebook (the only Facebook activity I do at my work desk) and then combine a week’s worth of posts on the same topic into a blog post. Easy-peasy. I still don’t have a blog following but, then, I haven’t yet started pushing my blog on group pages or following others’ blogs.

Twitter…well, that’s another story and I guess I’ll get there eventually. Maybe. The length limit on tweets makes it more superficial to me and less a priority on my time.

Do I have a long way to go before I am effectively driving any sales with my social media? Absolutely. But for now, I’m learning and I’m applying things I’ve learned. Yep, I’m making progress.

Pamela Nowak
Pamela Nowak writes historical romance set in the American West. In addition to widespread critical acclaim, her books have won multiple national awards. In love with history and rich characters for most of her life, Pam has a B.A. in history, has taught prison inmates, managed the Fort Yuma National Historic Site and run a homeless shelter. She was named the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Writer of the Year in 2010, chaired three conferences, and now serves as volunteer coordinator. Pam and her life partner Ken live in Denver. Their combined families include six daughters and several grand-children. Together, they parent a dog and a cat. More about Pam on her website.

8 thoughts on “The Learning Curve of a Reluctant Social Media User

  1. Good post! Social media can eat you up. I love Facebook. It was meant for me. But I draw the line at really personal stuff. Recently someone close to me died and I wouldn’t have thought of posting it. I don’t judge those who make other choices–but that’s what it boils down to, choice. I have silly sense of humor and I love to post about nonsensical things that happen to me. And I love real political discussions. But that’s me. I can tell when someone is trying to force their engagement on FB and I think it’s better when, like you, they figure out a way to make it work for them. As for Twitter, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it means for me–although I try to use it most days.

  2. HI Pam,

    I’m right there with you…don’t have a great desire to share all my personal details (especially those that let the world know when I’m away from home or have left the laundry to rot again) and am somewhat intimidated by the array of social things I’m “not making the most of.” Every day I hear of a new great social media to try. Right now, I’m hoping to get stronger in LinkedIn.

    As a marketing person, one important thought I’ve been working on is that building your on-line presence is only as effective as the effort you put into your “real life”–meeting people and being involved in real communities.

    Good luck with your social adventure!

  3. My own learning curve taught me to pick a few basic sites and then spend only a limited amount of time on each. A little posting, a little sharing/retweeting, a few responses to others’ updates, then back to work. I also avoid too much personal info and stay away from politics and other kinds of rants (although I did show off my pretty pink foot cast). 😀

    • And a pretty pink cast it was! There are times I struggle with not expressing political opinions but I learned early how easy it was to offend friends that I’ve known for years, especially when others begin piling on comments. For me, it’s not worth it.

  4. I wasn’t on any social media before I got published. Facebook has been a great boost to my author career, but I’m still a bit indifferent toward Twitter.The essential contradiction here is that writing attracts the introverted who prefer to work alone, then you’re expected to turn extrovert on social media. J.K. Rowling doesn’t have a blog, and J.D. Salinger wouldn’t have blogged if you’d held a gun to his head. Sad to say, we’ve lost the days where someone like Salinger could succeed, because the New York houses did the promoting for authors. Now that they don’t, and all authors have to self-promote, this has been one of the biggest factors leveling the playing field between NY Publishing and self-publishing.

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