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B&N Week 187: Are You Social On Social Media?

| July 23, 2014

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It’s another Tuesday! Another week of Bolts & Nuts, and time to ask another question.

Are you social on social media?

There are lots of options out there for you, with all kinds of platforms. Some of the bigger ones are Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Of course, you also have “old school” type of forums as well, such as Digital Webbing, but those are slowly going the way of the dodo in favor of the larger platforms.

Social media is all about connecting. You can cultivate those connections into jobs if you are very, very careful. You also have to be grateful for each and every connection you gain.

Social media can be a minefield, especially as you gain a following. There’s a reason why some celebrities shun it, and others post very rarely. When you have a decent following, if you say something, you’re open to being taken wrong, out of context, or just completely being misunderstood.

Some recent things that have happened to celebrities: Gilbert Gottfried lost his job as the AAFLAC duck over some tweets some thought were in bad taste; Steve Martin apologized over a joke he made in a tweet that some thought was in poor taste; Jason Biggs recently made a tweet that he has since deleted and apologized for [after trying to defend the joke he made]; Shia LeBouf had a very public meltdown on social media [to include a skywriting episode] after doing something many people derided him for.

So you have to be careful on social media. You have to be careful about what it is that you’re putting out into the world, especially when you’re just starting out and trying to make a name for yourself.

Facebook is a perfect example of how you can do things very, very wrong. I cannot tell you how many people are on Facebook, and the only thing they do is gripe or grouse, just post religious stuff, pass along the updated version of chain letters, talk about politics [and often, their view is contrary to yours], or just don’t have anything original at all to say about anything. One of my Facebook contacts recently did a purge of their contacts because there were people who weren’t adding anything of real value to that person’s feed.

For myself, although I have a ton to say, I’m not extremely social. I see what kind of a time-suck Facebook can be, and I have other things that I need to do. However, if you look at my Facebook feed, it looks like I’m on there all the time, or at least twice a week. I have my Twitter feed hooked into my Facebook feed, and I have all of these posts on my Twitter, which then goes and posts to Facebook, so it looks like I’m posting something constantly.

I have Twitter up about half the time. When I’m working on something and I’m under a deadline, I turn it off so that I can concentrate. There’s nothing like being interrupted by something interesting someone said, and you then want to jump into the conversation. That breaks my train of thought, and I start following the conversation instead of working on what’s in front of me. Not good.

As always, I’m completely frank with you. I don’t get Tumblr. This is just me, and I know it. Tumblr, to me, is for sharing stuff, having questions asked, and so forth. Those with a bigger profile than myself have Tumblrs that are hooked into their Twitter feed, and so on and so forth, and they get a lot of reblogs and stuff. That’s fine, but I don’t get it. (Guess you should investigate it more, huh? Why not start one yourself?) [You’re right. I should. I will. Look for something soon.]

Instagram? I’m not a picture taker, so that is totally wasted on me. [Blame my father. He never allowed anyone to touch his camera. I’ve just never had a need to be behind one and then share. Taking pictures of food and whatever else? Trees, birds, spiders and their webs, socks, and whatever else you can think of? Not for me. However, some people are very much into it. I don’t knock them. I just know where my interests lay.

When it comes to forums, I know what to do there. I know how to navigate those. Also, columns that have comments open. I know how to navigate those, too. I know what they’re used for. I used to belong to a couple of forums, and once in a great while, I’ll find an article that intrigues me enough to warrant a comment from me. Now, though, I basically relegate myself to Digital Webbing. Part of it is a comfort thing, part of it is that it’s really the only place on the web where creators can go to get noticed for their craft, learn, hone their skills, and possibly get work. There’s also Penciljack, but it doesn’t have the cachet that Digital Webbing does. A lot of pros have come through Digital Webbing, mostly pencilers and some colorists, but definitely names you’d recognize. (A list?) [No, no lists. That’s not what this is about.]

All of these social media destinations give you the ability to “lurk” in one form or another. By lurking, I mean you’re there and can watch the interaction without participating. For Twitter, you just have to follow people. A celebrity can have a shit-ton of followers, but only follow a few dozen people. That means whenever they tweet, all of their followers see and they can possibly interact, but most are content to watch. Tumblr is generally public, like a lot of blogs, so you can just read and not have to ask questions. Forums will generally let you lurk without joining, as well. Facebook, though, is different. In order to lurk, you have to join.

Facebook is very much a destination on the internet. There are groups on Facebook that have very much taken the place of forums. Some of them are open, some are by invitation only. Lurking is possible if you’re a member of the group.

When it comes to social media, you can either be social or antisocial. As a creator, you cannot afford to be antisocial. You have books to sell, you are pursuing work. Social media can help you with that. It’s not guaranteed—nothing is guaranteed—but you’ll make it harder on yourself if you’re just flitting from place to place, looking without interacting.

I tweet. I interact with some people, and some people interact with me. I’m hardly on Facebook because I know it’s easy to lose a lot of time there, but on the occasions that I skim through, I’ll see something that I may comment on. I go and check the ComixTribe page there every so often. I don’t have an Instagram account or a Tumblr, but I’ll be getting the latter soon.

I’m not as social as I could be. I know that. I’m not necessarily a loner, but I generally find my thoughts to be good company. Socially awkward? Quite possibly a little bit. I subscribe to the theory that it’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it. I try not to speak unless I have something to say that contributes to the conversation, or I have a question to ask.

I was recently watching a conversation on Twitter between an editor and two writers. It was a fascinating discussion that touched on editing, storytelling, and trying to get interesting visuals across while storytelling. I had some of my own editorial theories backed up by that conversation, and I had a question to ask, so I asked it, getting responses that I thought I would get. I excused myself, popping into the conversation of three pros, asked my question, got the answer to my question, and then popped back out.

Are you social on social media? The answer to that question should be “yes.” When you have a brand to build, social media can be one of your best friends in helping to build that brand and make people aware of it. And I don’t mean spamming people, either. Spamming people is the quickest way of being ignored.

If you aren’t social on social media, then you have to ask yourself why not? Then, you have to ask yourself if being antisocial is getting you where you want to be.

Remember that, unless you’re a wunderkind that can do it all, comics are a collaborative medium. And even if you created the best comic book out there, with the most original story, sparkling dialogue, art created by the next Jim Lee, lettered by someone who has studied understood the pros and colored by the next Lynn Varley, it won’t make any difference if no one knows about it. While unfair, the work will not stand on its own. You have to help prop it up, and you do that by whatever means necessary.

You do that by being social.

If you’re not social on social media, look into the reasons why. What’s holding you back? The answers may surprise you.

That’s all I have for this week. See you in seven.

Click here to discuss in the ComixTribe forum at Digital Webbing!

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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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