If you are on Twitter or Instagram or even Facebook, you may have noticed that I have not been present much the past two months. Partly, this has had to do with time and travel, but about three weeks ago, my access to the internet–and therefore to social media networks–changed rather dramatically, due to technological and geographical issues. The result is that my access to social media via my phone is very limited.
But I’ve been trying to figure out the social media question since I joined the Pauline Digital Department a year and half ago. I struggle to find the time to keep up with any social media–and the understanding readers of this blog have certainly noticed because, out of everything I do, this blog has suffered the most from neglect, with the changes in my life and responsibilities.
As a writer and communicator for Christ, I love the possibilities that social media offer. But I find using social media can very easily fragment my attention so that I’m no longer focused on other important things, like writing my next book.
Since January, I’ve been thinking about making a real social media plan, and the circumstances of the past few weeks have given me the motivation to make the time to do the needed research and move towards a plan that is manageable and takes into account my new circumstances.
My new favorite resource on social media is the engaging blog and podcast, Social Media Just for Writers, by Frances Caballo. Whether you feel you are a newbie or seasoned social media user, Social Media Just for Writers has up-to-date tips and helps. For this particular question–how do I want to use social media, and specifically which social media platforms are best for me to use at this time, I ran into a couple very helpful articles on Buffer’s blog: How To Choose the Right Social Network for Your Business, and Social Media Strategy: How Much Time Does a Good Strategy Really Take? Even though the first article is a year old, it has many helpful pointers for making this important choice–and I can easily find the latest statistics on the various platforms elsewhere.
Ultimately, choosing which social media to use to engage with people is a matter of finding where audience, content, possibilities, and resources, intersect. For me, how I decide to use social media becomes an even more complex choice because of factors that are both common and idiosyncratic:
- I use social media above all as a space to “link” others to Jesus
- Interaction on social media is key, but it’s more efficient to schedule posts ahead of time–and I’ve fallen into that efficiency trap
- I have several different areas of content I want to develop and share using social media–based on the books I’ve written and relevant spiritual themes
- As a published author, I also want to use social media to occasionally promote the books that I’ve written
- As a Pauline religious sister called to work in media, my call to prayer and contemplation needs to be balanced with the demands of media–in this case, social media
- I sometimes find social media fragmenting and distracting both in my life and as a writer of longer forms
- There are so many cool social media platforms to choose from (and I’m just looking at the bigger ones!), yet my time to use them is quite limited
I’m gradually coming up with a plan, which consists of maintaining a rather nominal presence on one or two networks, more fully engaging with another two, and focusing on developing the social media that I truly love and enjoy using, including blogging and my long-dreamed-of podcast.
I’m sure that I’ll be tweaking this plan as I experiment with it, but being more mindful to use social media in a way where I can really engage with people has become the key for my choices. Some of these involve tough choices:
- What huge social network(s) do I let go of?
- What other activities do I let go of–both in daytime and evening–so that I can access social media with some consistency?
- Is this plan realistic?
- How can I manage my time better so that I can be present “live” for personal interaction on all of the networks?
As I craft my plan over this weekend and early next week, I’d love to hear your input and recommendations–please feel free to comment or email me!