Millions of people use Facebook and most of them are in at least one group or more. We’re humans, it is part of our herd mentality. Even for those who consider themselves ‘loners’, a Facebook group online is an easy way to socially interact with other people when you choose, even if you just lurk.
It is also easy to behave badly in a group. Maybe it’s the crowd mentality or the anonymity, but in loosely moderated groups you often see a feeding frenzy where everyone is trying to outdo the other with witty quips or funny memes.
What people don’t realize is the consequences of this behavior. Or maybe they don’t care. In today’s world more and more organizations are checking online behavior to vet a person for college admittance or corporate or private employment. I’m not making a judgement about whether or not this behavior is ethical or legal; it really doesn’t matter because this is the way it is.
So you say it doesn’t matter, I’m a writer. I’m not applying to college or I’ve already been. I don’t need a job because I’m going to support myself with my writing.
But it does matter and here is why:
1. If you are published or plan to publish, your readers and/or potential readers could be in those groups. Even if they are not in your group, there is the potential that they can still see your behavior. Readers today want to get to know authors. They follow them on Twitter and Facebook and read about them in blogs. And they search for more information about that author to build a connection. Finding out an author’s extremely personal traits and habits could easily affect more readers than ever with the way they can get to know an author through Tweets, blog posts, or Facebook walls.
2. Childish, rude, or just bad behavior is a terrible marketing strategy. You can be the best writer in the world, but people will not buy your book if they see you behaving badly online. Sure, some will if you are a good writer, but how many authors get the one-star troll war going when they respond to a bad review? It’s the same thing if someone is offended by you using profanity or vulgarities online. There are no stars on Facebook, but it’s still a bad review for you.
3. Depending on your group the information is available for everyone to see. See the handy chart from Facebook to determine who can see what you post, what you like, and what you comment. The only group that is safe is a secret group. Everything else is pretty much available to anyone without even having to look very hard.
It is easy to just respond to a post without thinking much about it. You want to see if you can make your friends laugh or out-meme everyone. But would you do that if you are losing book sales because of that comment? Think about that the next time you join on a thread that has gone off the rails. Banter is fun, but it is all too easy to carry it too far. And that behavior can ruin your professional image as an author and lose sales.