According to Facebook, Goodreads and Evite, I am more popular than I have ever been! I get invited to book events, readings and birthday parties practically every day. Almost weekly, I am sent the opportunity to bring a meal or snack to one of my kids' football or soccer programs. I am updated about show openings and new ballet works. EVERYBODY seems to want ME to attend their stuff. Wowza!
The virtual invitation scene has become more glutted than the blogosphere. I don't have time to keep up. I am sorry. And, having tried the old FB invite and evite to promote some of my own projects over the years, I'm pretty sure I am not unique. It's true that the virtual invitation is quick and easy so why not give it a whirl? However, in conversation with friends and writing colleagues, there's a sense that there's too much of this stuff floating out there to make it effective.
Think about it: If Facebook can't figure out how to monetize, no publisher should be mad at you for not being able to generate book sales or event turnout with your 1,000 FB friend list -- even if you're, say, a Goodreads librarian.
Two words: GET PERSONAL
Like actual blood-and-guts friendships, strong virtual relationships are built on continued personal communication. Investment of time (help somebody with a book launch, critique a proposal for them, send the occasional encouraging personal email (yes, just a one-to-one email with no distribution list) yields the true result.
Lately, I've been backing away from the interwebs because I'm busy. My kids need me. And I'm trying to finish writing a book. However, there are a handful of people with whom I remain in ongoing virtual touch. Some are writer folks with whom I've formed an ongoing friendship and support group. Some are non-writer people with whom I just like to stay connected to talk about, say, paint colors for the kitchen or basketball camps for gradeschoolers or new televisions shows or the reading of adult fiction (vs YA).
I'm not offline entirely. I still enjoy blogging and keeping up on FB and Twitter. But when the time comes to promote my next literary project, I am seriously considering HANDWRITTEN, SNAIL-MAILED launch event invitations to people for whom I know attendance is feasible--who actually live near the event. People who are not just "FB" or "Twitter" friends but individuals with whom I have actually connected in some way deeper than clicking an "Accept" or "Like" box. They're the ones who actually turn up anyway.
PS: If you've been following my ongoing apologia for lackluster blogging, this is the post I originally intended to title "Optimizing your social media time investment."