More writers than not balk at the idea of becoming savvy social networkers. They see this activity as a time sink or a waste of time. Some don’t even want to try, while others are only willing to set up a Facebook account. They don’t realize the Internet provides one of the easiest ways to build an author’s platform, and social networking sites offer a prime place to do so. In fact, social networking has become a must for aspiring authors.
The three most important sites for authors are:
Facebook provides a great place to gain potential readers from old friends, professionals, like-minded people, and a variety of people from around the globe. This site started out as a place to post status updates but has become much more. People share everything from blog posts to photos to articles to videos. While a general account is a great thing, eventually you’ll want to switch over to a Facebook page or Fan page. A general account only allows you to have 5,000 followers or friends. Pages allow you many more and you can behave in a much more promotional manner with your messages, because they are meant for businesses.
LinkedIn provides a more professional feel and a way to connect to other people doing business-relate things through LinkedIn groups. This site was set up for on-line professional networking. As you get involved in groups, you also can let people know about your expertise, which lets them know about your forthcoming books or your website and services. Also, connecting to professionals, provides a great way to offer services, obtain speaking engagements, and connect with other experts. You can now post status updates here as well, and you can share links, etc. This site has become less about professional networking over the years, but this remains its primary focus.
Twitter, much like Facebook, started out as a way to post a status update but has quickly evolved into a way to have a conversation and to offer great information on a variety of topics via links. In this way, you can gain “tweeple” (followers or potential readers). This site has a bit of a learning curve, but can be useful not only for connecting with potential readers but also for getting answers to questions, letting people know about upcoming events, etc. It works much like Facebook, but your postings must be 140 characters or less.
If you aren’t already using one or more of these social networking sites, today simply go check them out. Maybe set up an account. Post something! Get your feet wet, so to speak.Discover that they aren’t as scary or hard to use as you thought. Actually, they are sort of fun.
Next, I’ll share a few tips for successful social networking and making this activity less time consuming.
6 tips for Successful and Efficient Social Networking
No matter which social networking sites you choose to use, and I suggest you use them all, you must find ways to increase the number of people interested in what you have to say and in what you do and write about. Otherwise, you efforts to network will leave you without the contacts you want to create. (If you are unclear about the different social networks, read my last blog post.)
I’m not so sure that “working cyberspace” is that much different than “working a room.” To make people want to give you their business card or to call you later, which in the case of social networking amounts to befriending you on Facebook, linking with you on LinkedIn or following you on Twitter, you must try to get in contact with as many people as possible and show them they can gain something by doing so. You must prove they need you. To accomplish this goal, you must prove you have expertise and that expertise will be useful to them.
To gain followers, friends, and tweeple, here are a few tips:
- The key to success with all of these social networking sites comes in sharing useful information. Share what you know. Share links. Share videos. Share tips. Give away as much as you can. Give away even your best information. Don’t worry that you won’t have more to give; you’d be surprised at how much information you possess, and in most cases people need to hear the same information multiple times before it truly sinks in.
- Have a conversation now and then. Get to know the tweeple, friends and contacts that follow you. Get to know the other people you follow. Spend a little time each day simply letting people know you have read what they have posted by commenting on it.
- “Retweet,” share or “like” those links or status updates that you feel are valuable. This means that you pass along the great information others provide to your followers. Share what other people know. Don’t be scared to let other’s know about your competition. Support your competition. They will, in turn, support you.
- Post regularly. If you don’t post once or twice a day, you will miss important networking opportunities. Also, it takes this amount of “showing up” to create an online presence on these sites.
If all of this seems overwhelming—especially on two or three sites, commit to automating them. Here are two more tips to accomplish this:
- You can, for example, sign up for www.ping.fm. This free service will allow you to send a status update and a shortened link to all three networks at one time.
- You can also schedule your updates, but www.ping.fm won’t do this for you. If you want to schedule status updates to all three social networking sites at once—and you want to do this for free, you’ll need to look into www.hootsuite.com. There you can link to all your social networking accounts (including www.ping.fm) and schedule updates. Scheduling updates means you can enter 10, 20, 30 or more updates and have them post without you having to do anything at all other than initially enter them and schedule their posting time.
The downfall to posting so many updates lies in the fact that you never get online and interact with anyone in your social networks. Remember, the whole idea lies in getting involved in social networking. I know…you are writers…you want to write. You must, however, put on a socializer’s hat or networker’s hat for at least a little bit of time each week and get out there in cyberspace and connect with other people—your prospective book or product buyers.
Tomorrow we look at another platform-building element any writer can handle: blogging.
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