by Joanna D'Angelo

I'm not an internet maven or an online guru or a social networking genius or whatever they're calling it these days. But I am certainly no luddite either! Over the past few years I have heartily embraced the power and wonder of online social networking! Currently, I'm a member of several social networking sites, some better than others - but- hey you gotta try them all on for size right? I have a personal facebook account and I manage a group on facebook called LOVE ROMANCE NOVELS. We just hit the 2,000 member mark and I believe it's the biggest romance fiction group on facebook.

Now, you may think 2,000 members isn't that much considering some facebook groups number hundreds of thousands. But it's a very active group. There is constant chat on the wall and in the discussion groups. People are always sharing what they're reading and which authors they love - both newly discovered and long time faves. Our group is comprised of wonderful authors (some of whom are contributors to this blog :) dedicated aspiring writers and of course voracious readers. Well, we're all readers whether we write or not - but it's an amazing group! I also promote new releases on the site and through a group mail-out twice a week. The members - both readers and authors alike seem to enjoy and appreciate this service. Why do I do this? Because I want to. Because I like doing it. And because it helps me connect with other like-minded individuals.

I just launched a twitter version of LOVE ROMANCE NOVELS through a new application called twibes.com. Twitter itself is pretty basic but there are new applications that are cropping up every day to cater to hungry twitter users. So far I have 91 members - but I only launched it a couple of weeks ago and I expect it will steadily grow. It'll become more dynamic as well once the application allows us to post directly to the group. The twitter group will be useful for having theme-specific chats. Group chats on facebook are tough because there is a delay and you have to keep refreshing your page. Twitter works faster - and a twitter group would make it easier to connect with like-minded people. In this case - romance writers, readers and romance industry types. Keep in mind you have to keep your posts to 140 characters or less! Remember when we used to study and practice the "précis" in elementary school? Well, it's coming in handy now, ain't it?

There is something about social networking that has taken the world (online and real) by storm. Twitter seems to be leading the pack at present. Wired just proclaimed that Twitter has now become a cultural phenomenon. In March, Twitter reportedly more than doubled its world wide membership from 9.8 million users to 19.1 million - making it the fastest-growing site according to Comscore - 9.3 million users were from the U.S. alone according to Techcrunch.

I'm sure we'll see even bigger numbers for the month of April - due to two big Twitter happenings: the Twitter battle between Ashton Kutcher and CNN to see who could make it to one million followers first. As everyone in the twitterverse and beyond now knows - Kutcher won - declaring it a turning point in modern communications that one person could beat out a world media mogul in such a big way. As of this article's posting - CNN (or rather CNN Breaking News) stands at 1,237,164 followers while Kutcher is maintaining a huge lead at 1,456,397 .

The second big Twitter event happened when Oprah signed up live on April 17th. Oprah now stands at 639,437 followers. That's a lot of peeps! Go Oprah!

Many other celebrities have found a home on Twitter - including Demi Moore, who calls herself Mrs. Kutcher on her home page, John Mayer who in his bio refers to himself as a recording/sandwhich artist and Hugh Jackman who's been on for a while. Jackman often posts updates about his charities, the movies he's working on or promoting, his travel plans and even his social schedule. He recently confirmed a dinner date with Oprah for this Thursday night. Jackman is scheduled to appear on Oprah Live this Friday.

So why do I care that Oprah is having dinner with Hugh in the "same booth" at the same restaurant they went to last time? Well, - it's kinda cool that we can find this out directly from them as opposed to TMZ, or Perez Hilton. It eliminates the "middle man" and as we know celebrity gossip sites can sometimes be - ahem - less than kind to celebrities. Sometimes we just want the updates without the snark. Meanwhile, mainstream entertainment news outlets like Access Hollywood also reported Oprah and Jackman's twitter dinner confirmation on their web sites and will most likely mention it on their shows. But we in the twitterverse knew about it first.

Why is online social networking so popular? Well, other than the direct connection to celebrities which is cool but may not be high up on the priority list for everyone - it helps us feel current. In this new information age where anything and everything that's happening - is blogged, or tweeted or facebooked FIRST - then it's a veritable feast for information junkies. Whether our online junk food of choice is politics, world news, celebrity gossip or even quilting tips. If we want it - it's out there for us to access. Both Barack Obama and John McCain used twitter effectively during the 2008 presidential campaign. Oh, in case you're interested Obama currently has 998,258 and McCain has 516,179
followers. Obama's successful mantra Yes We Can resonated online just as much as on the campaign trail.

It also helps us feel connected. Whether we're thrilled that John Mayer or P Diddy may reply to our tweets or not - many of us use social networking sites such as facebook and twitter to stay in touch with our friends and family - post pictures and send messages quickly and effectively. It certainly helps us avoid potentially long-winded phone conversations and well - letter writing is just soooo 20th century.

Finally, if you're a writer, musician, actor, filmmaker or if you sell anything online from cupcakes to hand-made soap - then social networking has become an important tool for building an online community of peers and contacts, for self-promotion and most of all for growing your audience.

Oh, and if you're honest and willing to admit that you have an ego - it's very cool to have lots of online friends or "followers". To quote from that now infamous Sally Field acceptance speech at the 1985 Oscars - "You like me! Right now! You like me!"

And guess what? You can still get your work done. Most people pop on and off throughout the day. Online social networking has become the new coffee break or water cooler chat. I tend to stay on longer in the mornings and at night but there's always a conversation going on no matter what time of day or night. You can stop by have a chat and then get back to work. For those of you who separate "real life" from twitter or facebook - perhaps you might re-consider that way of thinking - because for many of us - online social networking has become a part of our regular every day routines.

Oh, and you can reach me on twitter at this address http://twitter.com/JoannaDangelo

Later peeps!


  1. I loved the race between Ashton and CNN. Even his rambling online victory speech tickled me. There's a shift going on within the communication-sphere the likes of which we've never known before. The long-lasting boundaries of time and space are dissolving thanks to technology. Who knows what the outcome will be?

    Celebrities chatting with fans, politicians cutting out the middle man and setting up their own web-cast, it's truly amazing.

    Great post, Joanna!


  2. Thanks Chiron! I just made a few tweaks to the article - but I agree with you - it's fun and exciting isn't it?

  3. Cool post, Joanna! I haven't made the leap yet to Twitter, though I suppose it's inevitable. I actually just read a great article in Popular Science (don't laugh, someone left it at work and it's really interesting!) that explained how to use Twitter to send yourself timed reminders, chart your car's fuel efficiency or even use it to remotely turn your house lights on. Amazing stuff!

  4. Thanks Cate! wow! had no idea you could use twitter for all of that! Ain't technology grand?

  5. I held out! I held out because I just can't keep up! But then I caved! *grin* @Leannarenee

  6. Hey Joanna

    Great post, very in keeping with the times. And may I add, very in keeping with my coming exam on Social dimension of new media technology. Like Chiron said, we really underestimate the amount and ways technology has changed the fashion in which we communicate.

    I'm not on twitter, yet, but will surely jump on the bandwagon when my exams are over.

    Thanks for alleviating my fears that you need not be all the time on Twitter to participate. Dunno how I would've done that!

    Oh, and by the way, your group is the first I'll join there!




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