Social Media – Friend or Foe?

I have been multi-tasking recently. Nothing new, you might say. Multi-tasking is the norm. But multi-tasking plus social media is a complicated new dimension.

Authors and artists, even with conventional publishing and galleries, are now required to do a large part of their own marketing. This has advantages and, in my opinion, many disadvantages. If your primary focus is creating, then any time spent marketing is time off-task. Nor is it as simple as division of time. There is so much to learn before marketing can begin. Often writers and artists lack the skills for, or interest in, marketing their product.

Self published authors know from the outset that they will need to do their own promotions. The growth of the internet, of online marketing and sales, and the dramatic growth of the self publishing industry has sent authors scrambling to the web to research marketing. There are many avenues to choose from, and it is difficult to select from the different types as recommendations vary widely, but choose we must.

According to Tim Grahl there are six different types of social media. It is not simply a matter of choosing between Facebook or blogging. There are social networks (like Facebook and LinkedIn), bookmarking sites, social news systems (like Digg and Redit), media sharing (would Youtube work for you?) Perhaps you enjoy the immediacy of microblogging? (Microblogging uses media systems like Twitter). Blogging with comments and forums is another popular form of marketing and communicating.

What kind of social media will work for you? How much time will you invest in it? Will you learn a new system to achieve your goals? Should you put all of this into the hands of someone who is genuinely interested in marketing and how social media works, and put your own time into doing what you do best?

Facebook is a platform I know reasonably well. Yes, I can use it, but the danger is that I will become distracted and soon be off task. Pinterest is another useful mine-field. How does one research without following all those delightful pathways? Social media becomes detrimental to productivity – Foe. But wait, surely that seductiveness is exactly the reason we are investing time in the social media – Friend?

Friend or Foe? Using social media should be a part of any business plan, and have an allocated slot in the working week. Social media is potentially the marketer’s Friend, but too many times has become the creative writer/illustrator/artist’s Foe.