Social Media can be confusing. So is building a platform if you are a writer. I've been doing it for almost two years now and if I were to look back at the amount of time I've spent on it, I probably could have written several other books during that time.
We all look for ways to connect to other people. Many people do it so much they don't leave the computer and simply try and do it virtually. For a writer, you not only want to connect - you want to cultivate readers for your books.
Spoiler alert: The next section may seem contrary to my 'pay-it-forward' attitude I have - so if you don't want to view my practical side, stop reading now.
Enter businesses aimed at 'indie authors' looking to help them build their list of followers or likes. (Yes, there are a few out there and if you are an indie author, I'm sure you've been approached and know them.)
I'll admit, I got pulled into these during my writing career and would spend the 3rd Friday of every month with the letter Y in the title going through their lists and following their rules to LIKE someone's page so they will LIKE me back. You must type X. You can't be logged in as your author page because it must COUNT. (Twitter has rules that your followers to follow ratio has to stay in proportion or they don't allow you to follow anymore. Facebook doesn't count PAGES that like your page, but many people don't want to use their personal account to LIKE another page - which is all that 'counts': case in point, I have another 175 PAGES that have 'liked' my author page on FB, but show in no counts).
My honest thoughts on this: it does nothing for you. Building numbers doesn't make you a better writer. LIKING a page of a book you'll never read doesn't help the author. If you took the time to read about that author, you may find you have nothing in common, don't agree with their philosophy and would probably not even be friends in the real world.
I have purchased so many indie books during the past two years to support many of those writers. I thought it was the 'right thing to do'. Some (I'll admit) did not grab my attention and I stopped reading, but many I have read, reviewed and shared. (That's my pay-it-forward mentality...see, it is still there.) But I'll be completely honest in this blog and say I have not always seen that reciprocated. I know the authors are most grateful when they see a tweet that says "I just bought X BOOK by Z" (and I always put their twitter account in place of Z) - I'm sure that makes them happy. But it doesn't always cause a writer to think in terms of checking out something I have written.
(Ouch...that last paragraph sounds like sour grapes and it is so not my intent. Just want to share with others indies the reality of it all.)
If it is about connecting to anyone and everyone - I say do it! Follow as many writers as possible. (Writers are readers after all.) Click 'Like' on every author page (even if you don't agree with 'pregnant wicca who only eat tofu'). And build up those total followers. You never know what networking may do for you. (I actually love the site www.stage32.com for connecting to others in the entertainment industry.)
But if it is about finding readers for your work, make real connections. Talk about things other than your book on your site and tweets. Engage people in conversation. Absolutely share what is happening with your writing career, but you want people following you that have a passion for your subjects and themes and just might tell someone else about your work. Like the old commercial "they told two friends and so on, and so on, and so on...".
Those are the people I want to engage with in social media. Not just someone that will add another 'count' to my likes.