Lately I’ve been getting a lot of email from some, well let’s just say “traditional“, travel writers, asking me why everyone is making such a fuss over this “new online social stuff”. They don’t understand it.
They think that Twitter is just a way for kids to keep in touch, that Facebook is still just for students to stay connected, and that MySpace is mostly for teens, bands, and celebrities. How wrong they are!
At the heart of it, they don’t really understand why they need an online presence, or the value in blogging, so it’s difficult for them to grasp the power of networking through social media. Having grown up in an era of traditional print publications, some of them are still struggling over a new way of writing their travel articles as web content. They are finding it challenging to learn — let alone embrace — the use of new digital technologies such as podcasts, video blogging, and viral marketing.
What I tell them is this: online social networking is like traditional networking on steroids. If self-promotion through networking can be visualized as a volume knob, then traditional networking is a level 2 and online social networking is pegging the knob at it’s highest level. The ROI (return on investment, which is the effort-to-benefit ratio) is off the charts to the extent that doing it is a no-brainer, and not doing it is just plain DUMB.
I explain that Twitter and Facebook, and to a slightly lesser extent MySpace, have all helped me to connect with travel writers and bloggers from around the globe, most of whom I would not have met without those Social Media sites. From them I learn about important information and opportunities that I can pass along to readers of this site, as well as to the many others who follow me on those same social networking sites.
As an example, Facebook recently helped me to connect a handful of Food & Wine writers with a PR Firm I know that was looking to promote a particular brand of new summer wines. While this was not a paying writing assignment, being connected with a good PR Firm can pay off down the road, in the form of media trip invitations, or possible paying gigs in the future. The client will no doubt appreciate it as well, and perhaps help the writers in other ways or contact them for future articles.
Just as importantly, every time I share something of value with my followers and friends on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, they share it with their followers and friends, who then become aware of our site (thus increasing our audience), and my readers discover them as well, helping the to increase their audience. Through sharing we both benefit and grow. The same concept as traditional networking but with totally amped up results.
The bottom line is that if you want to make a living as a writer, you absolutely must have online readers. The more online readers you have, the more prominence you achieve. The more prominence you achieve, the greater the likelihood of landing juicy writing assignments or of getting your articles published. If you decided to publish a novel, your readers are not only a willing pool of potential buyers, but they can – and will – help you spread the word.
The investment is small – basically just some time and effort each day – and the benefits are HUGE. If you don’t already have a Twitter account or a Facebook or MySpace profile, don’t delay! If you find it intimidating, ask your kids or grandkids to help you, or post in our Forum and we will help. But unless you’re ready to retire from writing, then it’s time you up your game and add online social networking to your arsenal of marketing.
Share with us your experiences with Social Media Networking – how have Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace helped you?
Connecting with people and sharing what it is you are selling; self or product should be fun as well as profitable. Where to begin? What would you recommend as a toe-dipper, Facebook or Twitter? Is it really that easy?
Once again, your right on the mark. Where would we be with out our social networks. We can write all we want but what we need are readers.
Hello Helen – thanks for stopping by!
It’s hard to say which I would recommend starting with as that rather depends on your personality and communication style – Facebook takes more work to set up your profile, but gives you more features to work with and lets you post quite a bit more text than the 140-character limit of Tweets (on Twitter). The bottom line though is that, if you want to promote yourself in any meaningfully productive way, you really need to be on both, as well as a few more, such as MySpace and LinkedIn.
I’ll be writing some follow up posts in the coming weeks with specific “how-to’s” and tips for both Facebook and Twitter, so keep checking back, grab our RSS feed, or sign up for our e-newsletter so you don’t miss those posts!
Good article Trisha. I’m a firm believer in Facebook and Twitter to promote your writing. It can be a bit time consuming, but you do find new readers and followers. And, yes, like a good social media follower…I reTweeted your post.
Great article and picture! Twitter is very easy to use. Facebook can be daunting at first, but once you learn it, you’ll be fine. They do have a great tech support. I’ve had to contact them and someone actually answered my questions. I think some people may be overwhelmed with social media because there are SO MANY sites out there. I say start with the basics such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and expand from from there.
Great info. I appreciate the good tips. I definitely agree with you and am a believer in all these new social networking sites.
Keep the good info coming.
VP Marketing, Internet Marketing Professor
Very true, Social Networking is becoming away of the future, you only have to see here the list of social networking sites to see why it is becoming so popular:
Just noticed this now (which means I should amp up my Twitter-usage :), I suppose. Anyway, good and very relevant article.
Hi Sophie – thanks for stopping by and for your compliment – I appreciate it!
I checked out your website -very nice! Norway is on my list of place to visit next summer…..have been wanting to get to Denmark/Sweden/Norway for some time and decided that 2010 is my year for it.