It's a great idea for writers to be proactive about branding themselves, especially online. These days, consumers want to know the story behind the product, or in this case, the story behind the story. Even if you've written an autobiography which delves into your deepest, darkest secrets, it's likely that your potential readers want to know more about you before they commit to your book. The easiest thing to do is sign up to Twitter or Facebook Pages and to start pressing 'send'; but sometimes the easiest thing isn't the smartest. Writers have to be aware of what their long-term branding goals are before they start branding themselves. For instance, a writer who wants to make a career out of commenting on pop culture (yes, that career exists. I know... I was shocked too!) should spend some time, well, commenting on pop culture. Too often, I see writers who dilute their brand by sending too many confusing thoughts into the online world. Potential readers are left to sift through too much information and make their own judgments.
It's never a conscious decision, but we tend to step away from confusing brands. Think about it. Let's say you love Microsoft products and you really want to know what they're saying online. If you go to Microsoft's blog and find nothing but posts about Starbucks Coffee, you would no longer understand how to categorize Microsoft in your brain. What results for Microsoft is the likely loss of your avid support; but Microsoft could have avoided this simply by having content which lent itself to its established brand.
That may sound very complicated or involved, which is why we help writers simplify branding for themselves.
Does all of this mean that a mystery writer can never tweet about her seventeen cats? No, she can. She probably shouldn't simply because seventeen is a questionable amount to own of anything. You're fully allowed and expected to tweet and Facebook post about more than just your "highly anticipated followup novel" or your latest script pitch meeting. As a matter of a fact, you SHOULD diversify your online representation, but you should always connect with your core audience at the end of the day.
Think about it this way:
If you walk into a bakery, you may find coffee choices and even deli sandwiches, but there had BETTER be some pastries there too or you're never coming back. Right? So give people something sweet when they find you online. They came to your page for a reason. Figure out what that reason is and pander to it.
Your rule of thumb should be: keep it simple and keep it sweet.
Until the next scene,