Or, if you're like me, you have half-finished Social Media profiles all over the place.
So, Who Cares?
Possibly, nobody. If you are on Social Media just to piddle around, if you are not looking to establish yourself as a brand (author, blogger, book reviewer, essayist, musician), then it really doesn't matter.
If you are looking to establish yourself as a brand, if you want people to remember your name, even if it'll be a year or three before there's even a glimmer of a book appearing, then you want:
- Consistent Message
- Consistent Image
- Links and easy ways for people to find your website, blog, book reviews, tweets.
My last name is difficult for people to remember and spell, and though I do use it (for now), I may eventually choose a different last name for writing. Or, not. So my handle for a lot of things is easy to remember: writerbeverly. That's me at Twitter, on my FaceBook fanpage, at Pinterest, and in many other places.
Always use your name, in some permutation if possible. quirkygirl sounds cute, for example, but who will connect that with Xaviera Holliday? (I'm making those names up; apologies if either belongs to you). Obviously, sometimes it won't be possible to "get" your name: if your name is James Brown or Ellen DeGeneres, it just might already be taken. But avoid being cutesy or locking yourself in to one book or blogtype.
Anyway, one of my bits of Social Media housekeeping was to straighten up my profiles. Making sure I used the same photo (hence I needed to get a new headshot - thanks to all of you for weighing on on that!) and language and links in each of them.
The Impossible Dream
If you are tearing your hair out over trying to cram your entire life into 140 characters or less - give it up. Just like your photo, your bio can only be a tiny thumbnail, and there will be things left out.
I decided to go with a very brief sketch of my writing & reading, plus some (not all) organizations I belong to.
Here's my Intense Debate profile.
Here's my Gravatar profile, that integrates with and lets me interact with WordPress sites, even though I don't have a WordPress blog.
Why Have A Profile Everywhere?
Obviously, you don't have to have a profile (and links) everywhere. But one thing I have found out so far about Social Media, is people don't tend to use ALL of it, all the time. They tend to use one or two of their favorites: FaceBook, Twitter, WordPress blogs, Blogger blogs.
You don't have to (and can't unless you give up eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom) be equally active on all Social Media platforms. But what you can do is have a updated profile on each one, so that when you pop into it, and leave a comment, or whatever, if someone wants to Follow you back and find you, they don't have to do too much work. Otherwise, you are forfeiting almost all potential fans/followers from that platform. Let's face it, only Nancy Drew really enjoys playing detective.
Other sites you might have - or want - a profile:
- Huffington Post
- Feedly - If there is a place to put or update a profile, I couldn't find it.
The Tweet's the thing
Twitter, for good or ill, I have decided to more frequently update my profile than I do my other platforms. Part of what I consider when I Follow someone on Twitter is her/his profile and Tweetstream. If the profile is: "Author of The Best Book in the World, coming out in December 2011!" and the bulk of the Tweetstream is: "Buy the Best Book in the World, available now! I generally don't Follow that person."
Twitter turn-offs: Automatic messages. When I Follow somebody and get an automatic message that says, "I'm so glad we've connected, now visit my website/FaceBook page," I almost always UNFollow. When the auto message is, "BUY MY BOOK" I *do* UnFollow.
At the very least, make sure your Twitter profile is not promoting as "upcoming" a book that was released two years ago.
What about LinkedIn?
Ye-ah, LinkedIn... kind of depends on what your day job is. Mine is with an accounting firm, and my profile there goes along with that line of work. While I do mention my writing life in passing, it's not my day job, nor do I (mostly) want to promote my blog on LinkedIn. (Considering that I blog about Sluts and vibrators and all that. Not that financial industry professionals can't have a keen interest in such subjects.) I have yet to hear about anybody really "working" a blog or book following using LinkedIn as their primary source, but perhaps I'm not listening hard enough. If you have or know of a different experiences, please share in the comments.
If writing/blogging is your day job, by all means have your LinkedIn profile reflect that.
I never thought I would learn anything about HTML (Hyper Tex Markup Language); frankly, I didn't want to learn. But there's one little bit all bloggers need to know, and that's the HTML to Open This Link in a New Window.
What this means: Links within the body of your text to other sites are great, but not if, when the reader clicks on them, they shoot straight to that link and away from our pages. People have different reading styles. The methodical types will attentively read the entire post or an article all the way through, and then read it again, only then clicking on links they deem interesting.
The less focused types will read once and want to click on any interesting links as they are skimming the text. For readers who do this (I'm one of them), unless the link opens in a new window, they may not find their way back to our pages and finish reading our posts, never mind leaving a comment.
In Blogger (and probably in WordPress) you can set the default when adding links to Open This Link in a New Window, or you can easily check and correct from the Compose window.
But you can also look at it in the HTML window, and what a link should look like is this (without all the colors):
<a href="http://writinginflow.blogspot.com" target="_blank">Writing in Flow</a>
On screen to a reader, it appears like this: Writing in Flow.
This part: "http://writinginflow.blogspot.com" is the link.
This part: Writing in Flow is the text that will appear on the page when someone is reading.
This part : <a href=something > something </a> is the code that says here's a link, and here's what should appear on the page.
This part: target="_blank" that appears after the link info, before the > and the text info, is the code that signals Open Link in a New Window.
Eyes crossed yet?
And here now, something related to both identity, and HTML (because HTML always makes me swear) for your audio pleasure, The Who.
What SM platforms did I miss mentioning?
Got more tips for writing a brief profile?
Please share in the comments (and always put your blog addy in for CommentLuv!).