Today’s Editor’s Letter is from Associate Editor and Social Media Editor Kolleen Carney.
29 November 2016
Dear Intrepid Readers,
A few months back, I watched as a literary publication melted down on social media. We will call them Journal X.
The comment that started the implosion was a simple enough inquiry regarding their publishing process. It was not rude or angry; it merely asked if, due to the way they publish their authors (particularly, the demand of presale numbers before any sort of printing happens), they could be considered a vanity press. In my opinion, this is a valid question, but apparently it struck a nerve with whomever runs their social media pages, because the reaction that followed was a tirade of knee-jerk aggression and threats to sue commenters for slander and libel. Several authors who had been published by Journal X came out of the woodwork to express their dissatisfaction with a number of things, including poor shipping and communication. These comments were met with a bevy of responses, none of them professional. This went on for hours. It was mesmerizing, and sad, and as a social media coordinator I wanted to jump into the internet and gently take the computer away from Journal X and maybe make them some chamomile tea. None of the comments were warranted; people asked questions, and because of the angry responses they received, they felt it was finally time to air grievances. All it takes is one instance of anger to open the floodgates.
When I applied to be the social media gal for Zoetic Press, I was afraid that my constant snark would be a problem. Would I be able to maintain a professional and neutral voice while staying true to my personal brand? Would Lise mind a Simpsons meme here and there? What if we received an inappropriate message? Would it be wrong to tell the message- writer to pound sand?
Luckily, it turns out I’m pretty good at the whole social media gig, and in the year I have been with Zoetic Press, I have learned a lot about fun things, like when we have a new call for submissions to announce, and boring stuff like analytics and condensing posts into 140 characters. I have helped with other journals; I was so proud to be approached by them because they like what I do here. It figures that my best job has been the one where I don’t work with anyone else in a physical setting.
Social media is an important tool for literary journals and individual writers alike. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram— they are the platforms on which we communicate now. They are how we promote our own accomplishments, or our calls for submissions, or our newest releases. It is important that we don’t let our temperaments mar our interaction with an audience, with the people who support us, or want to work with us. And while the Journal X thing is probably, like most things, long forgotten by everyone except me, the internet truly is forever. Deletion means nothing in a world where screencaps exist.
So here are some etiquette tips for you, should you be running a social media page for yourself or a literary journal, or should you be a fan of such a page (which I assume you are, if you’re reading this):
- Stay neutral and calm, always. You know that honey/vinegar saying that I reject with every fiber of my everyday being? It works in a professional setting. If someone questions you or has a complaint, do not go on the defensive. Take a breath. Listen. Respond politely.
- If you are met with hostility and/ or violent behavior, report and block. Don’t be afraid to do this. I have little faith in the “report” function of most social media outlets (Instagram seems to have the best response system), but do it anyway. Do not tolerate BS, and don’t be afraid to call it out.
- Pay attention to analytics, but don’t get bummed out about them. I notice holiday weeks lend to a drop in post reach. No one is reading Facebook at Thanksgiving dinner. They’re just popping on to complain about their racist relatives.
- On Facebook, images are seen more than text posts, just an FYI. Throw an image on your post if you want it to be seen by more people.
- If you have something personal that you want to promote, do not do it on a journal/ publication’s page! It is a strange and embarrassing thing to see someone post a 3000-word comment on a business page; that’s what your own social media profiles are for. Trust me, these things only get deleted after multiple eye rolls.
- Hashtag stuff. But not everything. #Dont #Hashtag #Everything.
- Sharing is good. SHARE THINGS. Retweet things you like from people and publications you like. Friend them. Follow them. Support them. This is a literary community, and lately it seems that we need each other more than ever.
See you on the internet. I am never not there. And if you need sarcastic back-up in a sticky situation, come find me.
With barely-disguised sarcasm,
Wanna see Kolleen in action? She’s in all these places, and she would love it if you looked her up and approved of what she’s doing. (We do, but she’s kind of an approval junkie.)
And while you’re clicking stuff, it’s not too late to see the last of our Alice in Wonderland Alphanumerics, John C. Mannone’s At a Waffle House, Alice Simply Wanted Grits.