Fifteen years ago, probably at a NESCBWI conference, I learned that Agents and Editors preferred writers to maintain a social media presence. Ten years ago, it was no longer a preference but an expectation. Today, social media drives a significant amount of the kidlit community conversation, promotion, and feedback. There are social media run contests and queries, book promotions and reviews, and yes, discussions and socialization.
I am NOT a Social Media guru. Two recent experiences have me thinking about my use of the technology. First came the Twitter Turmoil. Is it really going to implode? Where will the #kidlit community go? We need to stay together. We need each other. I’m hearing these cries throughout the site.
The second event was recently basking in the glory of a fellow writer (albeit not children’s literature) who had phenomenal marketing success with a primer on TikTok. Whaaat? We can post our books on TikTok?
Since I don’t have a published book to promote anywhere, let’s go back to the first situation. The Twitter conversations had me wondering what options do we have? What forums do members of our community, and our readers use?
I use Twitter almost exclusively to connect with the writing community. I am also on Facebook to share photos with family and friends. Instagram is primarily to follow my niece and famous fashion influencer, achiquepeek (yes, that is a shameless plug – but it’s worth a look). I use FB messenger and What’s App to talk to specific individuals. And I’ve been on Reddit for a while to stay up on what’s trending. So what other forum should be considered?
Unable to answer the question, I reached for one of my favorite tools – research. I floated a survey on November 8th. My study results are skewed as the survey was distributed by email, FB, Instagram, Twitter, and SCBWI BlueBoard and via my contacts, though I did request the survey be shared. I tried to post it on Reddit but was pleasantly surprised to see I was not allowed to post because I had not provided enough positive feedback on others’ posts. i.e. they did not know me. I liked that restriction.
In summary, it was not distributed widely enough and never reached a child, as I also hoped to answer the question – what Social Media sites do our readers use. However, I promised to share the results with those who responded so here they are.
Ten respondents, all adult members of the writing community. (Thank you, friends.)
The results: FB 7, Twitter 5, Instagram 3, SCBWI BB 2, Discord 1, LinkedIn 1, Pintrest 1.
FACEBOOK, WeChat, Insta, Tik Tok, Sina Weibo, Twitter, QZone, Reddit, Quora, QQ, Tumblr, StormCloud, LinkedIn, MySpace, Nexopia, Bebo, Xing, Discord… the list is quite long. I’ll attempt to create some clarity.
TYPES OF SOCIAL MEDIA SITES:
There are between six and twelve different types of Social Media sites depending on your source.
Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, which encourage human-to-human interaction and knowledge sharing.
Social Messaging: FB Messenger, What’s App focus on targeted communications between specific individuals.
Media Sharing: Instagram, Snapchat, Utube, TikTok focus on shared photos or videos.
Discussion Forums: Reddit, Quora, Digg are designed for members to find, share and discuss information in a reasonably anonymous setting.
Bookmarking sites: Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Flipbook allow users to save and organize links to a mass of online resources.
Community Blogging sites: SCBWI BlueBoard, provides a place to publish and share web content for discussion without having to maintain a personal blog.
And what I lump together as Economic sites which are pretty self-explanatory:
- Social Shopping, including Polyvone, Etsy, Fancy, Airbnb
- Interest Based sites such as Goodreads and Houzz connect those with similar interests and hobbies.
- Consumer Review networks like Yelp, Zomato, Trip Advisor
Online Hangouts: Habbo, Gaia Online are gaming communities where users interact in real-time. (This is big with the 13-18 year olds).
Where does the Children’s Writing Community need to be? On most of them. Although I’m not sure adults would be welcomed on the Hangouts (????)
I mentioned my friend’s marketing success with a TikTok video. The same is true of other Media Sharing and many Economic sites. The more you get your elevator pitch out there, the greater your success. So, post videos, photos, or whatever medium you can create. It’s free publicity.
We need Social Networks, Community Blogging, Discussion Forums, and Social Messaging to maintain relationships and develop our craft. Blogs are a veritable wealth of information, but sometimes we just need or want only 240 characters to express our thoughts and concerns.
So, what does the Twitter-based #kidlit community do if times get tough? I plan to build my karma on Reddit in hopes of establishing a Children’s literature sub-group of the already established Reddit WRITING community. I’m concerned about the anonymity factor and the lack of character restrictions, but I’ll give it a go. Also, Sina Weibo appears to be the most Twitter-like forum for community chats. I’m not sure who I will have to communicate with, and I’m aware that it’s not under United States protections and control, but I may try it. And then there is Hive, which sounds very doable but is it scalable? So many questions.
As stated earlier, I am not an expert, far from it. I hope to learn from all of you reading this post. Do you have experience with a forum you propose we explore or avoid?
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HI Marti, an interesting post. It is very difficult to reach children via social media. It is possible to reach parents though and that is what I aim at. I use YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. I also have an account on Pinterest for my artwork. I have tried a few others but the above work best for me and I don’t have time for more.
Marti, thanks so much for this timely post! I also hope to find out where the #kidlit people go, and that we don’t get fragmented.
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I’m still on Twitter and Facebook. But I also have an Instagram account that I’m making more active. And I just claimed my handle on Mastodon and Hive, and am on the waitlist for Post. I’m not sure I’ll really use any of these besides IG and FB, but I’ve claimed my handle on these others just in case I decide I really do want to be there because that’s where my writing/teaching/library community ends up. I don’t want to be yelling into the void. I’ve seen unsettling reports of the data that TikTok collects on its users, and that they “own” all of the content that’s posted, so I’m not likely to go there. Reddit wasn’t even a consideration, because I don’t know anyone but my son who spends much time there. He really spends most of his time on Discord with his sci-fi and aerospace-tech communities.
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Thanks for offering your thoughts. Great idea to claim your domain name. I didn’t research Discord or Mastodon oh, there are so many!
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Jilanne, I read that FB also “owns” anything you post, but perhaps that has changed. Another concern I’ve read about with TikTok is spying (yes, spying) because it’s based in China. Like Marti, I’m no expert. Unlike Marti, I haven’t done my research, so don’t quote me on this, I’m just sharing what I remember.
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I think it’s all pretty sketchy, so minimizing where you leave identifying info is really ideal.
My favorite is Twitter, but I use Instagram, FB, and even tried my hand at TikTok! But we must keep writing and use social media sparingly!
A good point, Carol. Social Media can suck up our time. But I do think it’s growing more important for networking and knowledge sharing. Thanks,
I use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and feel that I benefit professionally from all of them. I’m curious to try TikTok, but haven’t yet…
Thanks for this helpful and very timely piece, Marti!
Let me know if you try Tik Tok. It’s not my first choice but many love it.
I am a children’s book illustrator and have a healthy and active following on my Facebook studio page. (3,200) I also participate in several kidlit groups there. Less successful for me is Instagram (only 1,200 followers) but I am slowly growing it. I post about once a month on Linked In, and get little traction but have gained followers. I don’t use Twitter at all so, no concern whatsoever there. I personally have found you need to experiment with different platforms to find your people, but more importantly, you need to develop good content that people respond to. And that can be a job within itself! 😄
Sound like you’ve developed a forum that works for you. Finding your people is important, I think that’s the scary thing about Twitter going away. How will you find all those contacts again? I’ll have to visit the Facebook kidlit groups you mentioned. I haven’t been involved in any. Thanks
Yes, what will happen if Twitter disappears? I have read that, for published authors and illustrators, it’s essential to compile a mailing list for exactly that reason. One way this happens is to offer something valuable for free but require readers to enter an email address to get it. That’s why so many writing sites have free downloads that require emails.