The process of writing and publishing has undergone a massive transformation with the rise of social media, meaning that the modern writer has inevitably been exposed to the numerous advantages and disadvantages this phenomenon has created. This essay sets out to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of social media in relation to the writers of today by examining the effects of the internet on marketing, plagiarism and inspiration for online creatives.
Undoubtedly one of the major benefits of social media to the modern writer comes from a marketing and business standpoint, with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook providing the perfect tools to build a personal brand and online persona. This can be highly effective in building a relationship between readers and authors, as it exposes the former to a personal and human side of the latter that would otherwise be largely hidden. It is in a way a form of social media advertising, one which allows potential readers to ‘ingest aspects of a brand’s persona, assess what the brand means to them…and distribute it to other consumers online.’ Providing audiences with a glimpse into the author’s personality can create a connection that could encourage sales and promotion through the sharing of social media content. This is highly significant for unpublished authors in particular, as an already established audience will attract potential publishers due to the promise of guaranteed customers. Promoting one’s work via social media is ‘a cost effective way to increase brand awareness’, as it is significantly cheaper and arguably more efficient than traditional advertising methods, with additional information about the product or event being available to consumers in a single click. Personal author branding and advertisement via social media platforms is therefore crucial to success in the modern digital age.
While social media can be highly effective in the process of gaining popularity and building an audience, it can also be utilised as a publishing platform itself, with countless networking sites geared specifically towards accommodating this technique. Social media is particularly beneficial to undiscovered writers, as it ‘continues to challenge the prejudices and limitations of the traditional publishing industry’ by allowing anyone to share and promote their work through the medium of their chosen social network. Moreover, implementing hashtags into these posts can not only attract the attention of readers, but also publishers and other writers, which could lead to potential collaborations. An obvious example of self-publication on the internet would be the use of Tumblr and other blogging networks, which can be used to present any form of writing and may be designed according to the author’s personal aesthetic. This contributes also to the building of one’s personal author brand. More recently there has also been a surge of writers using less conventional social media sites to share their work. This is evident in the rise of Instagram poetry and Twitter fiction, which demonstrate the stylistic changes that writing itself has undergone in the digital age. Social media has facilitated the needs of countless struggling writers by giving them the opportunities that publishers have denied them, and letting them share their creations in an affordable and simple way whilst also allowing space for originality.
On the other hand, bridging the gap between authors and readers can have its downfalls, one being the former’s inevitable exposure to an increase in hate comments and online harassment. With anybody’s ability to maintain anonymity online, it is certainly true that ‘bullying behaviours have also naturally found an outlet in social networks.’ Social media provides everyone with a platform to voice their opinions, however unpleasant or unfounded. Any negative reviews of one’s work can be highly discouraging and could potentially stunt the motivation and work ethic of the writer in question. Furthermore, by presenting oneself as a real human being as opposed to an invisible phenomenon responsible only for one’s work, authors open themselves up to the high possibility of personal attacks aimed not just at the quality of their writing, but at themselves as people. This can be emotionally draining and could also affect the quality of their work. In this way, social media can have a highly negative impact on writers.
In a similar vein, productivity can often be affected by the influence of social media, as it provides an immediate distraction that takes away from valuable writing time. The constant presence of social media has become an ‘inhibitor in the creative development process’ as it makes the isolation and total concentration required by many to make progress with their work nearly impossible. When writers allow space in their brains for both their creative work and social media simultaneously, their ‘concentration… is bouncing unsystematically between different sets of information.’ This overload of information is what can often lead to a loss of attentiveness and a lapse in one’s attention span. In addition to this, creativity itself can be stunted as writers are too immersed in the world of social media to take note of the world surrounding them, which is where most creative inspiration is typically drawn from.
That being said, there is a case to be made for the defence of social media in this regard, as it can be utilised as a research tool for writers. The speed and ease of attaining knowledge in the digital age makes social media a ‘timesaving and cost-effective’ method of gaining access to information. In extension to this, social media can also be a useful source of inspiration for writers. An example of this would be in terms of the creation of characters for fiction writers. As everyone projects their own individual online persona into the public, using their platforms to voice their opinions and share the way their brains work, social media is providing insight into the minds of ‘people who behave and think differently’, which can be useful in the process of developing characters and bringing a sense of authenticity to their creation. Furthermore, social networking sites such as Pinterest are specifically geared towards providing inspiration for any artists, be it through the sharing of images, artwork or quotes. Inspiration for writing often comes from the writer’s own reading experience, and with the internet’s extensive and diverse library of reading material, it is highly unlikely that creators will ever find themselves in short supply. From this evidence it can be concluded that if social media is used wisely and in moderation, it can be of huge advantage to the modern writer’s level of creativity.
However, with social media frequently being used as a source of inspiration for artists, the likelihood of plagiarism within the online writing community is growing constantly. As previously discussed, the publishing process was a lot more complicated and unattainable for undiscovered authors prior to social media’s influence. As the internet provides a highly accessible platform for artists to share their work, it seems increasingly that ‘the moral responsibility we traditionally attach to creative expression has been downgraded by the sheer ease of copying someone else’s work’. Social media acts as the perfect enabler for the plagiarist, as the sheer volume of content being posted everyday means that many of their crimes will go unnoticed. Needless to say, strangers being accredited with one’s work would inevitably be highly discouraging and unmotivating for the victim, which may as a result affect the quality of their future writing endeavours. In this way, modern writers’ presence on social media could potentially have a negative impact on their work.
Regardless of this, social media is unquestionably a complicated concept that has revolutionised the world of publishing and offers many advantages and opportunities to the modern writer that have hitherto been much harder to come by. This is evident when considering the ease of releasing content into the public via social media, and the efficiency of promotion and advertising online. There may be drawbacks when considering the increase of plagiarism in the digital age, and the inevitable distractions that come with a constant connection to the outside world. However, the aforementioned benefits outweigh these concerns tenfold, as they are ultimately what will propel the modern writer into the public eye, allowing them to develop their careers into something worthwhile whilst simultaneously improving the quality of their writing. Taking this into consideration, the conclusion can therefore be drawn that social media is significantly more advantageous than hindering to the modern writers of today.
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 İrem Eren Erdoğmuş and Mesut Çiçek, ‘The Impact of Social Media Marketing on Brand Loyalty’. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 58 (2012): 1355. Accessed 5 November 2018, https://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877042812045818/1-s2.0-S1877042812045818-main.pdf?_tid=ca42064d-685d-455c-9176-806f8499136d&acdnat=1542202457_ed16a14ca522e944177be00a2998782c
 Emily Benet, November 5, 2015, ‘Social media – the pros and cons for writers’, Publishing Talk, http://www.publishingtalk.eu/marketing/pros-and-cons-for-writers/
 Mark Graham and William H. Dutton, eds., Society and the Internet: How Networks Of Information And Communication Are Changing Our Lives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 30.
 Mark H. Maxwell, last modified August 1, 2018, ‘Killing Creativity: Is Social Media Killing Good Art?’, Business Know-How, https://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/social-media-killing-art.htm
 Joachim Wiewiura and Vincent Fella Hendricks, April 3, 2016, ‘Why Looking at Social Media At Work Disrupts Your Concentration’, ScienceNordic, http://sciencenordic.com/why-looking-social-media-work-disrupts-your-concentrationTop of Form
 Oliver Mauroner, ‘Social Media For The Purpose Of Knowledge Creation And Creativity Management – A Study of Knowledge Workers in Germany’. International Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital 13(2/3) (2016): 171, accessed 5 November 2018, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299575378_Social_media_for_the_purpose_of_knowledge_creation_and_creativity_management_-_a_study_of_knowledge_workers_in_Germany
 Paul Taylor, October 24 2016, ‘Five Ways Social Media Can Inspire Creativity’, Paul Taylor, https://paulitaylor.com/2016/10/24/five-ways-social-media-can-inspire-creativity/
 Rhodri Marsden, ‘The Big Steal: Rise Of The Plagiarist In The Digital Age’ The Guardian, 21 March 2014, accessed 7 November 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/21/rise-plagiarism-internet-shia-labeouf