writing platforms

Turning Social Media Into a Writing Platform

In lieu of Snapchat’s recent developments, which I discussed in a blog post earlier this month, I decided to look at how each of the big social media platforms could be used as platforms for writing. I actually started exploring this in Portfolio class during my second semester at Champlain. The professor had us sign up for Twitter and Tumblr and make a blog on WordPress—but what about Facebook? Instagram? Could they help make our writing known, too?


Let’s find out.


Four of these platforms have one thing in common: sharing (also known as reblogging or retweeting). Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and WordPress all give you the option to share something you like or post with your followers, or “friends.” Say you write a particularly exceptional blog post on WordPress about revising the poem you tucked away into the back of your notebook. What are your options?


At the bottom of the post, there are buttons to share to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (though I’m not sure people actually use that anymore). You can write a quick, savvy sentence telling people what it’s about in a tweet or type out a longer blurb in a Facebook post. Letting other writers know about the super cool tricks you found out will attract attention, both to your newly revised piece of work and to your ability, as a writer, to give advice.


Of course, each platform has individual benefits as well. WordPress is a community of bloggers writing for other bloggers. Every blog owner is vying for followers—especially writers. And, as a writer, you have to be careful. There are all sorts of rules around what counts as “previously published work” and, if you’re intending to submit something to a publication, you may want to steer clear of putting it in a blog post.


There are other things you can do, though. As far as I can tell (and from what I learned in Portfolio), it never hurts to put up a small excerpt of your work or write a good poem purely for use on your blog. It’ll give your readers a feel for your style and if they like what you write, they’ll want more. You can even use those excerpts/poetry lines to explain your writing process. People eat that stuff up. And by organizing your posts based on what they are and using the tags to your advantage (excerpts, short stories, poetry, etc), readers will have an easier time finding what they’re interested in.


Twitter’s easy enough most of the time. The 140-character limit can pose a bit of a problem, but it’s a good place to send tiny, tiny snippets of your writing out into the world. You can also quote your favorite authors, briefly talk about an idea for a character, or try polishing up your skills at six- or ten-word stories. You can actually get pretty creative with it.


There are tons of authors and publishing houses on Twitter who you can follow, too. Make sure they’re ones you like, though, so that you can retweet their stuff. And once you gain a following, people who like what you write/say may start to retweet your stuff. How cool is that?


On the other end of the spectrum is Facebook. With a roughly 63,000-character limit, you’re basically free to write a short-story as a status update and share it with your friends. You can write long poems, short poems, and even give tips and tricks on writing. The number of friends you have limits who will see your work, though, so you may want to consider creating a page for yourself (once you’re a tad more established as a writer) and cross-advertise it on other social media platforms. That way anyone who comes across it can like the page and be privy to your writing.


Somewhere in the middle is where we find Tumblr and Instagram.


Tumblr is like a mix of all three. You can create your own blog, reblogging and tagging content as you see fit. You can post your own stuff, short or long, much like a status update on Facebook or a tweet. And you’re free to follow other blogs and explore. Every person has their own preference of what to use this site for, but for writers, it’s a good platform to share poetry and discover new work.


As for Instagram, it’s likely that you’d only be sharing short poems or excerpts. It’s about how many words you can type or write to fit into a picture—and it would take some playing around. I haven’t personally used Instagram to show off my work, but modern poet R.M. Drake has had quite some luck and has become pretty popular.


There are ways to cross-advertise on each platform, like sharing your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter handle in your bio on Instagram or Tumblr (some even have specific places to link your accounts). But I suggest you do a little digging. Feel around and find what you’re comfortable using and how you want to use it.


Me? I’ve found that WordPress is my go-to platform, occasionally sharing posts to Facebook. I didn’t see the appeal in using Tumblr or Twitter to advertise my work, but I know people who have and they’ve been quite successful. It’s all about personal preference and what you do to advertise your work.