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MIND YOUR Ps & Qs by Mandy Haynes

Mind Your Ps and Qs Social Media Etiquette 101 Mandy Haynes

As authors we know the best way to make connections is by having a social media presence. But there are so many unspoken rules of social media etiquette it can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of dos and don'ts to help get you started or get you back on track if you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut.

DO engage with other authors. Say hi, like their posts (but only if you really do – no one is keeping score if you don’t), leave a comment. If you’ve read their book let them know. If you love their cover, tell them. Be supportive.

DON’T expect anything in return – and don’t use their post to turn it into a self-promotion. If you consistently support others, they will support you when it’s your turn.

DO mix business and pleasure. Readers like to know about your pets, your hobbies, your hometown – you don’t want your posts to just be about your writing or asking people to buy your book.

DON’T get mixing business and pleasure confused with mixing business and complaining. Don’t complain about your bills, your broken dreams, or your exes…. Complaining and whining are definite buzz kills.

DO encourage “conversation”.

DON’T be a jerk. For example, if someone tags you in a post you don’t want to be in remove yourself or send a private message. Don’t make a public comment with the intent to embarrass or shame the person who tagged you. Especially if it’s someone who’s been supportive of your posts/page/etc. in the past.

DO vary your content. Mix your written posts with graphics, videos, funny memes, and photos. Give your followers a reason to smile.

DON’T comment on a post or share without reading it completely. What might seem like a positive post at the beginning, could end with passive aggressive snark. You don’t want to put your stamp of approval on something you don’t agree with accidentally.

DO interact with your followers. Thank them for being there – ask them for recommendations, advice, and absolutely ask to see their pets. Be honest and build connections online just like you would in person.

DON’T be needy – don’t constantly ask your followers to share or like your page every day.

DO handle criticism gracefully.

DON’T be a spammer – if a group says you can self promote on Friday’s only, you self-promote on Fridays only. Read the rules and the About Sections on the pages. If you’re not sure, PM an administrator.

DO watch your grammar and spelling. Of course we all have the occasional typo but pay attention. Especially if you’re promoting a fellow author. Double, no - triple check - author’s names and titles of books.

DON’T obsess about the numbers. It’s not a competition – it’s supposed to be fun. Smaller numbers of followers who actually engage with you are better than a large number of followers who don’t.

Should you find yourself the center of someone’s drama, do not respond to posts or comments. An overreaction could go viral and any and all embarrassing comments will be forever on record.

Personally, you never want to alienate readers or make other authors (your support system) feel uncomfortable.

Legally, internet harassment and defamation may be subjected to criminal sanctions under harassment law as well as civil law penalties under harassment and defamation laws. It’s important to keep detailed records (the statue of limitations to file charges varies from one year to three years) to protect yourself if the cyberbullying causes harm to you or your business. For authors this could be a drop in book sales or rise in book returns - so pay attention and keep detailed reports.

But most importantly ignore the drama and keep your social media “space” a safe, supportive place to have fun!