In today’s noisy, media saturated world, writers and speakers have to accept that their job title has changed. It’s not that I want more to do, or need another two or three things on my daily to-do list. Today’s digital world has opened the doors for small business persons and individuals to bring their message to a listening audience directly, and no one can market my message better than I can. The most valuable, powerful and universally available tool is the evolving social media universe.
Social media has changed the definition of “marketing.” I used to think of marketing as attending professional meetings, conferences, or writers groups to talk about our recent projects and ourselves. I called radio stations begging for interviews, and sent out press releases to a (hopefully) listening world. For the typically introverted writer, I endured these tasks. For someone like me who is energized by putting words on paper as opposed to shaking hands over snacks or making cold phone calls, the idea of networking and marketing filled me with all the joy of a root canal. Nevertheless, because publishers told me that half of my job as a writer was marketing, I surrendered my evenings and tried to make the best of facing my fears. I had little success.
So if you are a writer or speaker, as you learn to navigate the social media world, I want to suggest that you not get caught up in the techo-mumble, avoid the cute kitty videos and stay focused on a useful goal. Use social media to build an involved network and a listening audience.
Toward that end, here are four quick tips. These tips apply to Twitter, Facebook, online social media sites, conferences and any other networking situation.
Focus on relationships.
Use social media to engage and get to know your audience, and let them know you. The strongest marketing campaign creates real relationships. Even though there is a level of anonymity when we sit behind our computer screens, a real network or campaign is place where you are known. So treat people like people. Talk and listen to them; invite conversation. Don’t just post promotional fluff as a means to an end.
Whether you’re face to face, or in front of your computer screen, people can tell when you’re trying too hard to make an impression or be a salesperson. We all turn-off sales pitches, or hit the DVR fast-forward button through the commercials. If you will be yourself, you will grow an involved audience who will be interested in your upcoming book or speaking event.
Give more than you take.
Freely share information, resources, and contacts that other people create, and be sure to credit them when you do. By sharing other people’s content, you raise your own level of expertise, and become more valuable to your tribe. If you have expertise, offer to help others whenever you can. Promoting other reputable people costs you nothing, and increases the likelihood that others will be willing to do the same for you.
Network with long-term goals in mind
If you’re thinking short-term (selling a book, getting followers, gaining exposure,) you’re more likely to come across as needy and grasping. If you think long-term and big-picture, you’ll be more likely to focus on building relationships and expanding your social media network of through friends and contacts on to third and fourth level contacts.
About Timothy Burns
Tim Burns writes and speaks to connect the dots between what Christ-followers say we believe and how we live. His work is socially conservative, culturally relevant and well researched from a biblical world view. He provides social media marketing services for authors, artists and publishers through Visible Platforms, and is the host for a Word Weavers branded Blog Talk Radio Show, The Writing Show where the weekly he talks with authors, editors and publishers about Platform, Passion, Community and the writing Craft.
Tim also teach freshmen English at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI, manages social media promotion for the multiple organizations, and is a contributing editor for the West Michigan Christian News.
WRITER’S TIPS is a weekly column for Christian communicators with tips and information about various aspects of writing. Our panel of experts are published authors and publishing industry professionals.