As writers, we are very prone to the latest social networking craze that comes our way. How many times do we rush out to learn about a new tool someone has recommended to us? Do you know how many social networks you are on? If the answer is more than four, has it ever occured to you that perhaps you’re on too many?
Do you like to tweet? Do you like posting a status on Facebook? How the heck does Pinterest work anyway? If the answer is “no,” or if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then perhaps you shouldn’t be doing any of it.
How many of us joined MySpace when it first came out because someone told us it was great for author promotions and then migrated to Facebook for the same reason? How many of us joined Twitter, Pinterest, the list goes on, in the same way because someone said this was the latest thing without considering if it was really good for you and what you are trying to do.
Besides, do you really know all those “friends” on your social networks? How many of those “friends” do you really think are following you and what you do with interest? Do you get my point? How many of those “friends” do you really pay attention to?
Scary thought, isn’t it?
Did it ever occur to you that social networking can be like multilevel or “pyramid” marketing when it comes to people like us? The first few people to join usually benefit the most, whereas those who follow usually get left behind, lost amongst the millions.
Marketing yourself or your work isn’t just about social networking online; sometimes you have to do market yourself in person too. But it’s getting harder for published authors to stand out of the crowd every day, and this is especially true with social networking online.
I used to tell all of our authors that they needed to create a webpage and a blog. While I do believe that is mandatory for an author to have a presence online, I no longer believe that they must have a website and/or a blog. These days, a website and blog can be the same thing. However, the person must choose what they like to do and what fits within their personality, not to mention their technical skill.
So how do you stand out of the crowd? I’ve been given this a lot of thought lately, and I’ve drawn two conclusions:
1) Use the tools that you like to use.
Jack of all trades, master of none. This is how I think many of us approach social networking today. We follow people from one “sure fire” network to the next, and in the end, we have all these “tools” but don’t know how to use them or if they even work for us and what we want to accomplish. Specialize in only a few, or even just one.
Some of you may not have a blog or a webpage but just have a Facebook page. There is nothing wrong with that, especially if you like using Facebook and it’s easier for you to use that rather than maintain a blog. The point I’m trying to make is that you should use the tools that fit you and your needs regardless of what anyone else says.
If you prefer to use Twitter over Facebook and have both, then get rid of your Facebook account (or vice versa) despite how many friends you have. Shocking, I know, but it’s not against the law to delete an account. No one is going to come after you. You won’t have to turn in your author license. Chances are that if no one is really following you, then they’re not going to miss you. Life is too short to put up with things that you don’t like to do, especially if it’s voluntary.
2) Give people a reason to follow you by letting them that get use to you.
What I mean by that is the old fashioned “build your audience” advice. I’ve preached this in my other articles (Curb Your Enthusiasm, When Authors Don’t Try). You must cultivate your sphere of influence. There’s no quick way around this. You will have to spend time doing what it is you like, whether it’s online or not, and then over time, build an audience a.k.a “a following.”
But how do you do this? Well, you can’t do it if you’re lost in the crowd. You must stand out. Be a leader and not a follower. Although I hate the cliché, I’m going to say it anyway: think outside of the box.
And you know what? Your favorite tool may not even be online! Think about it. Some of you are well ahead of me on this.
Be creative. After all, you are a writer. Ask yourself the following questions and see if it helps you focus: