Following on from the previous article, which websites should you go to, what purpose do they serve and how do you best use them?
Twitter – A brilliant micro-blogging site that restricts you to bursts of 140 characters. You can follow writing buddies, join in with debates and, perhaps most relevantly, track discussions using hashtags – searching for #scriptchat #amwriting #novels #agents or anything that springs to mind, really, will bring you face to face with all the hot-off-the-press discussions of the day. The best advice I can offer for Twitter is USE IT. Making yourself an active presence, who travels in writing circles will attract followers. The more followers you have, the more seen and acknowledged you are. The whole world can see your Tweets, not just your social circle – so join in, ignore your mother, and talk to strangers.
Facebook – Okay, you’re on the internet so I’m just going to assume you have a Facebook and not patronise you. A lot more people use it than Twitter, but it’s also full of dross, so you have to take the rough with the smooth. The best way to interact with writing communities here is to join groups, like *ahem* Bang2Writers, where you can join in discussions with other writers and maybe even make friends. So join the write groups, engage with discussions and don’t contribute to the dross. Many pages will happily take any and all links on board and share good and interesting content. This is a great place to promote things you’ve done or seen, which might be of interest to other writers.
Quora – Quora is essentially a Q & A site where you can ask open questions, and get the community to help you. It has its own currency, which you accumulate by providing good answers (that are voted for) and you can spend asking people questions who are more knowledgeable than yourself. When you go on Quora, you might think that that’s everyone. Some people know a lot. MAYBE TOO MUCH. Start off by following the subject areas that are of interest to you – you then limit it to certain questions/users, etc. Vote up the good answers. Whether they’re helpful or funny (I do both, usually). Oh, and if you know the answers PROVIDE THEM.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn provides you with a page that neatly summarises your entire career in a digestible (and professional) way. It allows you to ‘connect’ with relevant parties, send and receive recommendations, and be contactable by potential employers. It’s like if the networking of Twitter met the profile aspect of Facebook, stopped talking about babies and making jokes and talked about career progression. Having one (with a picture and RELEVANT information) will make you look good to Google-happy employers, and allow you to meet like-minded individuals. Search out the relevant people/jobs and link yourself to them. Oh, and don’t make jokes. This one’s serious. Think of it as an online CV/résumé.
Foursquare - Foursquare is a phone app used for ‘checking in’ to places like you would on Facebook. ‘Sam Caine checked into a restaurant he can’t really afford’ – that kind of thing. It allows you to see where your friends are, and where things you might want to visit are, but from my perspective, it doesn’t seem like it would be that useful for writers specifically, but could be useful in your day to day life … and the places you go might inspire your stories!
Blogger – Google’s mega blog site. It’s a bit more of a traditionalist blog, in that it’s quite cumbersome, occasionally annoying to use and incredibly difficult to ‘get noticed’ on. This is actually the blog site I use, but its traffic is in a state of decline, and drawing people to your work is more difficult than on the soon mentioned Tumblr, for example. It is a good ‘home base’ for many writers though. Finding the right blogs is a worthwhile pursuit. Again, engagement is key. Follow the blogs that interest you, comment on their articles (even if it’s just saying you enjoyed it! People appreciate that! *hint*) and spark up discussion. Don’t troll. If you don’t like something, and you want to disagree then disagree, but don’t troll.
Tumblr – The biggest blog site around, Tumblr functions more like Twitter in that you can search for key words, and see all posts related to them in chronological order. Attracting a following is easier because of this, and also because EVERYONE USES IT. My big problem with it is that there is A LOT of dross on it. If you don’t mind sifting through a series of decreasingly amusing memes or pornographic gifs in order to reach the gold, then it’s probably the best blog site around. The best way to use it effectively, as with Twitter, is to tag posts with relevant words ‘writing’, ‘scriptwriting’, that sort of thing. When people search for those words, your tagged posts will turn up in their feeds.
Klout – Once you have all of the above, you can link them to Klout. Klout tells you all about your… well, your clout. How much impact you have. What you’re influential about. Your social networking style. The size of your social network. Who you influence. If you’re obsessed with statistics about yourself (like I am) and like to be able to quantify your worth (like I do) then Klout is pretty useful. It could also help you use these aforementioned sites more effectively.
So it’s never been easier to connect online … and get yourself and your work “out there”. So go do it!
BIO: Sam Caine is a scriptwriting student at Bournemouth University about to embark on his final year. He enjoys reading, writing and moaning. He doesn’t enjoy mushrooms, spiders or talking about himself in the third person. You can follow him on his slightly bizarre Twitter, on his blog of writing-related miscellanea, or subscribe to him on Facebook, if you’re into that kind of stuff. He tries to refrain from judgement.