Social Media: What and When to Share (and What Not to Share)

The chronic oversharer.

She’s so much of a cliche that she’s become a meme. You know one. His or her posts pop up in your timeline and you just want to roll your eyes.

“Well, Lisa hates her husband again this week.”

Oversharing is a risk of being on a social media platform. Some days, you’ve just had it up to here, and you need to vent. Before there was Facebook, we would call our best friend on the phone and yell about what a douchebag the husband is being, or because your kid’s teacher really pissed you off, or because your next door neighbor won’t come pick up her cat poo from your sandbox. In today’s real time social media extravaganza, Facebook has taken the place of your best friend.

cat sandbox

The results can actually be catastrophic. People have lost their jobs because of things they’ve posted on social media. A kid at my son’s school was expelled because he posted some mean (but not threatening) statements about a teacher he was mad at. When I was growing up, I would have been all over my pink princess phone, telling my BFF what a bitch that teacher was, and no one else would ever have known. But with Facebook, everybody knows.

And the internet is forever. While today, my social media feed is pretty tame, if you go back a ways, you’ll find some pretty political content. It’s not that I’m less political today, it’s that because I’m associated with other authors, and, in fact, work closely and on their behalf due to a new job, I don’t want to put those folks in the position of being labeled by my political side. While I’m not going to take the time to go through and sanitize my feed (cached versions exist anyway), I am going to be more careful from this point on. It’s essential to my clients and the other authors that I associate with.

I do post some personal stuff on my timeline. I feel that it’s essential that your timeline not be a running, twenty four hour a day sales pitch. In fact, that will only hurt your sales. There has to be a mixture of real content, engagement, and mentions of your book. I retweet other authors and people who say funny things; I share content that is relevant to the genres I write in, with the thought that my followers might enjoy knowing that tidbit of information. I post about how much I hate grocery shopping, and I share pictures when I found the best boots ever. Sure, I mention my books, and upcoming promotional “things” I have going on, but they are a fairly small percentage of my overall timeline.

I even talk about sex. I do it using broad terms and “proper” words, and I’m not sharing naked pictures or even excerpts from erotica scenes. But I write romance and erotica, so, in theory, my readers are interested in sex; tweeting out the link to a study about how certain types of sexual stimulation are more effective than others fits my target market. If I was writing dystopian fiction or science fiction, there wouldn’t be references to sex on my timeline.

But there is a line. Like Lisa, and every other woman I know, sometimes I get mad at my husband. My kids frustrate me and some days I have clients that make me want to buy the giant bottle of wine. Those things, I don’t share. Those things I vent to a trusted friend (or a few, with the giant bottle of wine split between us). I am not trying to paint a picture that my life is sunshine and roses, but I am trying to avoid drama and oversharing. It’s important that I maintain that “not a crazy lady” aura about my social media presence.

You need to decide what that line is, for you. Clearly, if you write Christian fiction or are a political pundit, you may need to delve into those areas that are generally avoided in public discussion, just like I do with sex, because it fits the genre you’re writing. But, for most of us, those topics that you’ve always been told you should stay away from in polite conversation, carry over into social media, too.

If you’re typing up a status when you’re mad, don’t share it. If you’re typing up a status and you’re not sure if you should share it, don’t. You can always come back and type it up later, when you’ve had time to think about it. And if you absolutely, positively, can’t keep your mouth shut about politics, religion, or sex, start an alternate account and do it from there. Your closest friends and family can know who you are, but your fans won’t. It gives you the opportunity to do and say what you want, but it’s not going to damage your reputation with your readers.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/hircjudi/2647374280/”>JPGR1965</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

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