This is not a 'how to use' guide for the sites - I would never presume to write such a thing about a subject upon which I am not an expert; these are just my impressions of the purposes/functions of sites I use/have used, which may or may not be helpful/of interest to some. I may have missed out several important points, but cut me some slack; I am writing this at a quarter to four in the morning because I couldn't sleep.
I used to not 'get' Twitter - which has led me to believe that you only really get to know a site by using it a lot. It's only recently that I've started to use hashtags, even, and I still forget (and feel slightly self-conscious when I use them). For the first two months I kept thinking #whatthe #f**k #isallthiscr*p, and wondered if it was some secret code.
Before I had my books on Amazon I thought the idea of Twitter was to say frightfully witty things, so everyone would think you were frightfully witty and follow you - which I thought seemed a bit pointless, and, anyway I couldn't think of several frightfully witty things a day to say. When I actually did start to tweet I thought it was just a lot of people posting sales links. Then it clicked. I shan't go into how it ought to be used; this has been said before by so many, and it is not my place to do so, anyway. I would just like to say that I have met so many nice, interesting, amusing, helpful people since I've been using Twitter - who would have thought that would be possible, in 140 characters? Some of these have become people I email with, or correspond with on Facebook, too - who knows, one day I might meet one or some of them! I've also, of course, discovered so much good stuff to read on this site. So glad someone's suggestion that I needed a Twitter profile if I was going to flog my books has led not only to that, but a whole bunch of other stuff, too.
To sum up - the best promotional tool in the history of the world, and so much more!
Facebook is a social networking site. The main pages are not promotional tools. They are for re-discovering those with whom you had lost touch, easy interaction with current friends and family, and the making of new friends - the last part tends to be a delightful by-product of the first two. Via Facebook I have got together again with people I haven't seen for years. Without Facebook they would largely be a part of my history; I've moved around a bit and who the hell bothers to write letters, these days? Sad, but true. I've also met new people - I don't know how, it's just happened. Maybe we played a game of Scrabble, or made each other laugh on someone else's status update. Or had a similar interest, so met via a group. Anyway, some of these people who live in the computer have now become 'real' friends. Like, we've met. Lovely.
People do not go on Facebook because they want to be sold to. It is not Twitter, and it is certainly not ebay. If you have a business/book/band, you can 'create a page' for it, or you can join a group for people who might be interested in your product, but the pages/groups with the most followers are not the ones that just post constant links to whatever it is the user wants to bring to your notice. Trying to flog stuff on a constant or 'in your face' basis is more likely to get you unsubscribed from, unliked or 'defriended' than get your stuff flogged. This does not include, of course, groups/pages that are there for the purpose of bringing you offers/news of free stuff.
To sum up - it's for keeping up with the old and current, and, if you want to, making friends with the new. Facebook is about social interaction - FORGET the rest!
What a marvellous site! It's for people who love books. It's also for authors and readers to interact, and for authors to help other authors. Because of those things, authors also get to sell books via it. Very nice indeed. Things I love about Goodreads:
- From an author's point of view, I love that I can see who has written me a good review/given me lots of stars, and thank them. How frustrating is it when you get a lovely review on Amazon but don't know who the hell it's from, so you can't thank them?
- It's very hard to 'hard sell'. People do try - you know, the ones who manage, during whatever discussion in which they are participating, to turn the subject round so they can post all their book links, but I doubt it does them much good, anyway!
- You get to be reminded of all the wonderful books you have ever read, and recommend them to others, and be really boring about how great they are.
- Again, from an author's point of view, you get your books known, but in a way that is not so full on - people see that someone else is reading/about to read it, and have a look at it, read the reviews - and hey, they might even buy it! Even if they don't, they have now heard of you. It's how it should be. It's a lovely online library.
- As with the other sites, you get to know new people on there - readers and authors alike. It's an obvious follow on from lumping people with the same interest all together!
The best of the lot, and sadly no more. Well, it's still there, but few use it - it's changed out of all recognition from the site I first joined in 2006, when someone told me that my richly vocal and beer swilling toy rabbit (no, I'm not being rude) ought to have a MySpace page. The site has since changed ownership, is difficult to use and doesn't even look the same. Very sad indeed. The people who I met on there (some of whom have become my closest friends) and I still mention the glory days with nostalgia at times. There's the 21st century for you - we talk about the passing of a social networking site, not a pub we all used to use!
It was fab. You could design your own page, call yourself what you wanted, and when people clicked onto your page they could hear your choice of music playing. There was room for all the creativity you wanted; for instance, I used to have a page on there called 'Serial Killer of the Week'. If you find that sort of things distasteful, stop reading now. Please. If you're still reading, I researched them well and each week I would change the background and the bio and introduce, say, John Wayne Gacey. He would put out a bulletin (on the Bulletin Board, that everyone could see all the time) and say "Hi, I'm John, and I'm pleased to have been chosen for SKOTW', etc. At the end of the week I would have the judges from The X Factor/American Idol assessing each one; Simon Cowell would say "I don't know, for me you're just a one-trick pony", or Randy Jackson would say "Hiding 'em in the crawlspace? No, that just ain't workin' for me, dude", and stuff like that. It was VERY popular.
You could blog on there. Your favourite books, films, videos were all on your page. Then, for some strange reason, people stopped using it and started to use the far more bland Facebook; I dunno, maybe it's just that the more bland will always be the more popular. On the other hand, maybe it's good, because I've put all that creativity into writing novels instead - I certainly wouldn't have the time to do a Serial Killer of the Week, now, anyway! During a short period when I was living alone and too broke to go out, MySpace became a large part of my social life. One night, on the Serial Killer page, I got talking to someone I presumed was a young punk rocker. He presumed I was a bloke - because middle aged women don't make up 'funny' pages about Jeffrey Dahmer, Les McKeown of the Bay City Rollers, and Coronation Street Lothario Ken Barlow, do they?
I got to know him quite well....