Social Media Etiquette : Five Tips for Writers in the Era of Twitter and Facebook


by Laurel Zuckerman, Editor of Paris Writers News

Writers are increasingly succumbing to loutish behavior on the social networks.  Here are a few tips for a return to civility in the #sm era:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Consideration for others is the key to polite behavior on the internet as in real life. If you respect one and only one rule – treat others as you want to be treated yourself – you will be fine.

Here are some gentle questions to help you to adjust your behavior:

1) Do you enjoy following tweeters who write nothing but  « my book is great » and  « buy my book » ? Why not ?

2) You have NEVER bothered to « like » your writer friends’ book pages on Facebook, but your book is coming out tomorrow and your publisher wants you to ask your friends to like its Facebook page… This is ok, isn’t it ?

3) You are far too principled to write a five star review on Amazon/Goodreads/Librarything… just because the author is a friend (in fact you would be personally offended if a writer friend asked you to compromise your integrity), but the PR guy at your publisher is hysterical : can’t your friends write five star reviews quick, quick?

4) Facebook has this great feature that enables you to enroll your friends in groups of your own invention. And also to send messages to all your friends, including daily announcements about your terrific new book. Zuckerberg wouldn’t have invented if he didn’t want us to use it, would he ?

5) Advanced twitter users keep sticking your twitter handle in their tweets so that they appear in your email. Sometimes it’s great and make sense, but other times it’s so clearly self-promotion you can’t stand it. How to tell which is which ?

Bonus questions : What kind of Facebook posts and tweets do you personally appreciate? Are grateful for as an author ? Consider a favor you would be delighted to return?

If you’re in doubt about the do’s and don’ts of social media, don’t worry: we all are!

My pet peeves are reserved – not for authors trying to do their best – but for publishers who are too lazy to do serious PR themselves (and as a result are pushing it onto authors) and for social media giants like Facebook who keep changing the rules just as we begin to understand them.

If there is such confusion concerning the lines between the personal and the professional it is mostly because that’s how $100 billion companies like Facebook hope to earn their profits. So beware. Social media is new and still largely uncharted.  I hope these few simple questions will help you to navigate safely and successfully.