Saturday, April 30, 2016

Making the Most of Social Media Part 1

Are you taking advantage of today’s social media networks? If you’ve only been tuning in to popular networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, then you’re missing a golden opportunity to promote yourself and your work.

Today, it pays to be a joiner. Normally you’d want to stand out from the crowd, but in today’s social media world, it’s just the opposite. “Who you know” has always been as important in the writing business as “what you know.” But unless you traveled a lot and met key people face to face, it was difficult to network contacts.

There have never been more people participating in social networks. While there’s a personal dimension to nearly all such networks. But just joining isn’t enough. You must also use them.

Social networking demands a consistent investment of time. If you approach these sites simply as places to sell your book or service and never give back to the communities, you’ll find yourself losing “friends” faster than you add them. As with all types of marketing, what you do on social networks depends on what your audience will respond to and what your goals are. One of the leading social networks is Facebook.

Facebook can be as simple or complex as you like. You can simply tell your friends what you’re up to using text and photos or you can develop a following that will greatly enhance your marketing efforts.

Above all, Facebook is a network that can help you find other people interested in the same subjects as you. You can join groups of users specializing in different types of writing or in different subjects that you write about.  You can also create your own group around your blog. Once you establish a group, you can send messages to its members. With such a targeted audience, you can post content with real value.

Facebook also allows you to announce events, such as book releases and readings, bookstore appearances and such, and invite people to it.

The key to keeping your Facebook page active is keeping your profile current. Even if you don’t reveal too much about your personal life, your friends on Facebook will feel they know you better.  Status updates are just that—posts that keep your Facebook followers informed as to what’s happening in your life or your work.

As part of your profile, you’ll also be able to post an image. As a professional writer, you need to use good photos of yourself. Try to make these more than a snapshot. Don’t use bizarre images in place of your personal one. Remember, your Facebook followers will judge you by that image as well as your profile.

Unlike other social networks, Facebook offers you three ways to promote yourself. The first is the personal page. Through this page, you’ll assemble a group of “friends.” Some may actually be friends of yours, but most will be strangers who come to your page because of the posts you make.

The second sort of page you can create on Facebook is the professional page. This page is focuses on your business, putting you in the same category as the Coca-Cola Corporation. Instead of assembling “friends,” you must get people to “like’ your page. This becomes a select group of Facebook followers, known as “fans,” to whom you can send targeted information about your work.

The third kind of page you can create on Facebook is the author page, which you assemble for a particular book or series of books you have written. This is also a “fan” page, but differs from the professional page in that its posts go only to fans of your books—in essence, your readers.

Facebook most likely offers the most flexibility of all the social networks, but there are others that can be of help in different ways.

NEXT WEEK: Part 2 of Making the Most of Social Media

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