Just like most criminals have an excellent knowledge of the law, I feel like my credentials to write this post are impeccable--having broken all 7 of the unbreakable rules of #socialmedia. And just like criminals do time for their transgressions (unless they can afford a good lawyer) I have been penalized for mine. Today (as part of my sentencing with the #socialmedia parole board) I will tell you all 7 unbreakable rules and explain what happens if you break them.
7) Don't be inconsistent. You can't #Tweet, post to #Facebook, #Stumble or #Pin on a regular basis, and then just stop, or take a long break as you watch all nine seasons of #Seinfeld consecutively. People forget about you, and they fill the void with someone else. Mind you, I am not telling you what your schedule has to be, just that you have to have one. Find a schedule that works for you, and stick to it.
6) Don't spread yourself too thin. There are soooo many social media sites out there, and more come every day. You can't be adept at all of them. If you spread yourself too thin, you end up being mediocre, and, as I mentioned in #7, inconsistent. Pick two or three--definitely not more than four-- that you LIKE, and that work for what you are trying to accomplish.
5) Gimmicks, tricks and subterfuge are right out! Interactions on #Facebook, #Twitter, #Blogger or any other social media are the same as interactions in a car, living room, or anywhere else people still interact. (People still interact, right?) Just quicker. Whereas in non-virtual life it might take a person several weeks or months to realize you are disingenuous, in the virtual world it will take hours to days, maybe even minutes. So don't be disingenuous. If the title of your post boasts a cure for podagra, you damn well better be publishing a cure for podagra. Keep in mind that virtual people are less patient than real people, because they don't know you other than that cute avatar you uploaded. One mistake--one episode of claiming you have the secret to making the perfect vegan quiche when you, in fact, don't--and you will be shut out. Sound cruel? It isn't--no tricks.
4) Don't be a jerk. This should go without saying, but it doesn't. It goes back to the same thing about virtual interactions being similar to real world interactions. Would you tell someone to her face that the book she spent 3 years writing shouldn't even be used as toilet paper? No, you wouldn't, so don't say it on the internet either. If you don't like something, keep it to yourself. (I learned this in Kindergarten, but I get the feeling a lot of my classmates were napping through this lesson.) If you absolutely have to say something that isn't positive--in a book review, for instance--phrase it tactfully. For example: 1) The premise is so lame and weak that I didn't even want to waste my time reading; versus, 2) Although the premise was not the strength of the book, the crisp prose drew me in. I love humor, especially in blog posts, but it should never be at anyone's expense, except maybe your own. Go ahead and self-deprecate all you want, but don't be THAT GUY, the one who is always trying to get laughs by putting people down.
This is especially true when you are making comments on posts you read (and you should be doing this, often.) It is one thing to make fun of Rush Limbaugh, and another to put down the woman who was brave enough to put herself out there. The most common place I see this is in chats and threads on various forums, but it doesn't matter what the venue: Don't be a jerk.
3) Don't lie, misrepresent or exaggerate. You will see this a lot, but not from well-respected #socialmediaphiles. You may catch someone's attention with a lie or a distorted truth, but you won't keep it for long. Once peeps realize you aren't accurate, they will ignore you. In this digital age, people rely on the internet for information--that's all the web is, an easy way to access information. If you are misinforming, you are digging your own #socialmedia grave. Embellishment is sometimes okay, depending upon the venue. If you are telling a funny story, embellish away; people understand that you are doing it for effect. But if you are reporting something, like the number of reads you scored on the blog you wrote about a dangerous turtle fungus, don't embellish. Social media is about information, and information needs to be accurate.
2) Don't post or tweet sucky stuff. This is a tricky one, because I already stated Rule No. 10, Don't be inconsistent, meaning that you need to be putting your stuff out there regularly. But posting sucky stuff is far worse than posting nothing, however, as it makes you look like you belong in a dog and pony show--you know, amateurish. One bad Facebook post, tweet, biog, stumble, digg or social media offering of any kind can put you back to square one in a hurry. I solve this problem one of two ways; if I am due to post a blog, for example, and I don't have the TIME to create something worthwhile, I either borrow (with permission) something from a friend, re-post old material (make sure you tell people it's a re-post, however, or just write something short. Some of my best blogs have been 300 words or less. Much better to post a short but good blog, than a long and sucky one, Much, much better.
1) Don't ever--and that means ever--SPAM. What happens when you Spam? Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. (Bonus points for the lucky reader who can tell me what movie that quote is from.) It can't be overstated, everybody hates a spammer. There are no exceptions. Virtual spam is just as bad as the inedible, semi-synthetic pork product that comes in oval tins. Don't do it. If your self-published book isn't selling on Amazon or Kobo or UncleJoePublishesYourBook.com, don't flood every known #socialmedia site with links to "the next Fifty Shades of Grey." Do, however, post a book review of someone else's book or write a post about your favorite bookstore. If they like your post, people will find your work--but please, for the love of the almighty, don't Spam. (But do watch the YouTube video above.)
Thanks again for your support and the tremendous stamina you showed getting through this post. Please check out The Intern , the serialized novella I am writing on #Wattpad, and don't forget to check out My Website.
Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and a Beta-reader at StoryShelter. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at email@example.com.