GENREALITY


January 6th, 2011 by Candace Havens
Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The lovely Kristen Lamb is back with more helpful hints! Please make her feel welcome.

It feels so great to be invited back to post on Genreality. Today we are going to talk about that hot hot hot topic….social media for writers.

I recently contributed in an open forum discussing book marketing using social media. There was a weird glitch that hindered me participating and it seemed that out of the woodwork all of these other experts swarmed in to take my place. I know they are excited and mean well, but it brought up an interesting point.

When it comes to social media, we need to always consider who is doing the selling.

Social media people love what? Social media! They know every gidget and gadget and whats-it and gizmo and they are awesome at what they do. But what do they do? They do social media. I think this can become a huge problem for a writer trying to learn social media in order to build a platform.

Think of it this way. Most social media experts are like people who do personal training for a living. They live to work out because it is what they do and how they make a living. They are tan, with six-pack abs and 6% body fat. Can we be that way too? Sure. A personal trainer would be happy to show you her lifestyle. All we have to do is get up at 4:00 every morning and hit the gym. Then after work go for a run and do some yoga. Oh and we need to pre-make all of our meals so we aren’t tempted to eat anything other than egg whites, tuna fish and broccoli. Oh and here is a list of supplements and powders and drinks and gels and….

AAAAGHHHHHHH!!!!!

Okay, maybe we would just like to be able to wear something other than stretchy pants.

Personal trainers are a happy energetic lot, and they will tell you all the benefits of eating algae and tofu and getting detoxed with the latest cleanse. They want us to be just as happy and healthy as they are. But there is often a huge problem. We might desire to be 6% body fat and a size -0, but we have jobs and families and need to sleep.

A person who makes her living as a personal trainer can live this way because it is already in sync with her goals and her life. For the mother of two who works as a teacher, becoming fitness model thin is a HUGE time commitment with a lot of sacrifice. Can she do it? Of course. But for most women, just being a healthy weight is already a struggle. If we shoot for fitness model fitness, we likely will give up before we ever see real benefit.

Social media experts do social media for a living. So to advise a writer that they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkdIn, Flikr, YouTube, del.ici.ous., Squidoo, Digg It, and on and on and on is natural for them. Why? Because that is their life and what they DO. They do social media because they love it and like the fitness trainer, they want us to love it that much, too.

So the host of the Q & A asked me what sites I recommended most for writers and before I could answer, an expert swooped in to do it for me. He eagerly suggested that a writer needed to blog and be on Facebook and Twitter and then eventually add LinkdIn…

WHAT?

I finally managed to eek in a “Why would a paranormal romance author benefit from a site dedicated to business professionals?”

It stopped him dead in his tracks.

When I suggested an author stick to two main platforms (FB and Twitter) and a blog, it was like I had committed social media sacrilege. I recommended the author profile the readers she wanted to reach and then gain a solid footing on those platforms.

Don’t get me wrong, he was very nice, but the thought hadn’t occurred to him. Why?

Is it because social media people sit up all night thinking of ways to make life difficult for writers? Of course not! These guys are great, but they are coming from the perspective of social media expert, not the perspective of a writer who needs to have time and energy left over to write more books. This really nice social media guy didn’t get why writers wouldn’t love to be on a zillion sites, because for him social media is the means and the ends.

I am a writer first. I love social media and I love teaching writers how to use it in a way that doesn’t totally disrupt their lives. I think that there are a lot of cool sites out there and if you love social media then ROCK ON! But like working out, we have to be careful. Social media works best when we forge relationships, when we create networks of people who know us, support us, and are emotionally vested in us. How can we achieve that across 9 different platforms?

So 3 Tips:

1.)    Be very careful not to mistake traditional marketing with social marketing.

Having a “presence” on 20 different sites so you and your book can get “exposure” is traditional marketing. I would be careful about relying too much on that. People are gravitating to social media, in part, to escape the constant bombardment. You will, in my opinion, be better off interacting on one or two platforms consistently so others can get to know you and be vested in your future.

2.)    Use logic to calculate ROI.

What’s ROI? Return on Investment. What is your time worth? Focus on what will eventually translate into sales. Don’t get on a site just to claim you are on it. If you write NF, then LinkdIn is useful, but if you write YA is it really worth time you could be spending on FB?

For example, I was asked about how I felt about Goodreads. Goodreads is a site where people share what they have read, get recommendations about what to read, etc. A cool site and, if, you have the time, sally forth. But let’s get perspective. Great. A bazillion people put you in their “To Read List.” Okay, cool. Doesn’t mean a thing until they purchase a book. Handing out a bunch of free books can work against you, and that is a blog for another day. Just take it for what it is…potential. Focus where you are likely to get results….relationships.

3.)    Make small consistent deposits.

Writers are an excitable bunch. When we find out about social media, we are notorious for running out and joining every site on the web. We blog every day and tweet until we wear out our tweeter…then we crash and DIE. Hey, I’ve been there. I am a writer too, remember? I once had a Flikr account, four Twitter accounts, two MySpace pages, 2 FB pages, three blogs, a LinkdIn account, a Goodreads account…and a prescription for Zanex.

Part of why I wrote We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media was to help other writers learn from my mistakes. Practice the principle of parsimony. Less is often more.

Small, consistent deposits. Like working out. We don’t have to work out four hours a day to be healthy. If we want to do a bit more than the average bear, we can hire a personal trainer. Ah, same with social media. We can’t write great books and be on every single social media site….but we can hire these super enthusiastic social media experts to build it bigger for us ;) .

What are some concerns you guys have? Any tips? Suggestions? Questions? Does social media feel liberating or more like one more chore to check off the list?

Please check out Kristen’s book “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.” And visit her at  http://kristenlamb.org/

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6 comments to “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”

  1. Colleen
    Comment
    1
     · January 6th, 2011 at 9:36 am · Link

    It feels like a huge chore, frankly. I spend a really hefty amount of time on the internet, but most of that is taking in, not giving out. Thei nternet is my source for cool information, random tidbits, and a reminder that there is a world out there not connected to my desk. (That last may seems contradictory, but works for me.)

    Mainly, there’s the issue of what to say. “Hi. Working day job. Hoping to write a good scene tonight” is not exactly … thrilling. And limiting tweets or FB posts to “So – I have a new book out!” seems disengenious, at best.

    Frankly, I am interesting only inside my head, and I have a hard time believing readers want to see the “woman behind the curtain,” as it were. Above and beyond the time obligation, there’s the sheer mental obligation of being witty and sparkling in 140 characters or less.



  2. Suzan H.
    Comment
    2
     · January 6th, 2011 at 10:14 am · Link

    Thanks, Kristen! This is the SANEST social media advice I’ve seen for a writer.



  3. Cheryl Schenk
    Comment
    3
     · January 6th, 2011 at 11:51 am · Link

    Great post, Kristen, and I have to agree.

    When I first began with social media I went overboard. I spent way too much time online and not near enough time actually writing. I did make some good connections, which I continue to enjoy, but I have returned the focus back to being a writer and the work and time that it requires.



  4. Laurence Maryanne King
    Comment
    4
     · January 6th, 2011 at 6:32 pm · Link

    Thanks, Kristen. This is great information. I have been procrastinating starting a blog, for I fear my posts may not be all that interesting and no one will want to read them. I know I need to get over this…It is one of my resolutions for this year though…



  5. Deborah Blake
    Comment
    5
     · January 7th, 2011 at 6:32 pm · Link

    A lot of good info and suggestions here. One of my goals for 2010 was to get a better balance out of the time I spend on the computer–less time socializing and more time writing. I gave up myspace (finally!), blogged a lot more often, and spent less time on Twitter and FB. It seems to be working :-)

    Thanks for sharing!



  6. Terri Tffany
    Comment
    6
     · January 9th, 2011 at 12:55 pm · Link

    Thank you for a great post about an area that causes many writers some nightmare stress! I blog, and Facebook and now and then Twitter but could do without it for sure.I want my time for writing and building relationships. It is such an individual choice.



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