I first found out about this strange innovation called Blogs a few years back, when I was in college. I loved the idea, and tried to start one up while I was still doing my undergrad.
Yeah ... that didn't work out too well.
It took another few years until I figured out the platform I wanted to write on -- Steampunk, Writing, and Video Games -- and that only happened after I came around to the realization that pure Fantasy wasn't the genre I should write in. That brainchild was Free the Princess, which is the name of a now-defunct idea I had for an online Video Game Encyclopaedia. I still want to craft that resource, if no other reason than I'm a hardcore gamer geek, but that's beside the point.
Anyway, since that July 2009 day I launched my blog, I've had the good fortune to meet some fantabulous fellow writers working across the country and around this great world of ours. I've also joined the Twitter-verse, and maintain a personal Facebook page for no other reason than to keep in touch with friends from college. (And now post to three separate blogs, including one that's an ad-supported review blog.)
Since I've now bored you with my own experience in blogging, Twitter, and Facebook, it's time to move on to what I really wanted to talk about: how I've used my platform to connect with people.
Just writing to your own blog is great, but there's only so much word-of-mouth of your readers can do to build your platform. Granted, if you're already a celebrity or have a built-in audience waiting, you might not need to worry (Literary Agents like Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, and Mark McVeigh have huge numbers of followers partly because of their positions in the book world, for example). Since I'm not a wildly famous author like Neil Gaiman, a literary agent like the aforementioned Ms. Reid, or an editor like the fabled Moonrat, I had to work to build my meager following.
How'd I do this? Comments!
I started following other blogs and became a regular commenter on some of them. There's a culture of reciprocity in the blogosphere, and many of the proprietors of blogs I followed in turn became my followers because they clicked on my profile and saw what I was writing. I'm up to nearly 75 followers as of today partly because of this strategy. I'm kind of half confident that I'd have more if my blog was of a more general focus, but Free the Princess is focused on what I want to focus on already; so I have no intentions of changing. Anyway, the end result of this is that I've gained 4,000+ hits since I started tracking visits to FtP.
Twitter is another animal entirely. My success there is partly due to Gary Corby and his network of followers, but also because I'm a regular contributor in the discussions that occur there. That's the key to success in both places, truth be told. Contribute regularly via your own blog, comments on others blogs, and in Twitter and you'll end up building a network quicker than you can say "Hey look I built a network!"
Twitter's also allowed me to talk to people I otherwise wouldn't get a chance to. Like Gail Carriger, Cherie Priest, and other published authors who in an earlier time I'd have to communicate via letters and their agents. Now I just Tweet @ them and can, depending on my tweet, get a response decently fast.
Facebook is a more personal outlet for me, and I've yet to really connect professionally with anyone through there. Which I intend to remedy once I have something interesting to a wide audience to share through it. But as I don't quite yet, that's not done.
Anyway, if you take one thing and one thing only away from this ramble, it should be that participation is the key to growing your presence through social networking. Unless you're ridiculously famous ... then pretty much all bets are off and you can do whatever you want.