Thursday, January 10, 2013
Media Mania: One Author's Journey Into The Social Swim
Since the dawn of time, when there was more than one person on the earth, we've been looking for ways to communicate with one another. I'm sure it all started with one caveman grunting to another caveman that they ought to get together to hunt that tasty-looking prehistoric yak. (Maybe that's how the term "yakking" came about.)
Then this enterprising cave dude found out he could blow a yak horn, really loud, and reach a bigger group, farther away. More cavemen, bigger yak hunts, lots of food, everybody's happy.
Flash forward a few tens of thousands of years later. Now, we have E-mail, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Goodreads, LinkedIn, YouTube, and a partridge in a pear tree. If you can't get a hold of another living soul these days, you ain't tryin.'
Sorting the Media from the Mess
As an author, you may find it's hard enough carving out a few minutes to write, let alone churn through the many options for your presence in the cyberverse. You know you need a website and E-mail. No problem, AwesomelyMe.com is up and running, and you've got the E-mails to prove it. But what about all those other places your writing books and magazines tell you about? Could you be missing the best opportunity a writer has for cheap publicity?
Well, you could be...but it isn't (necessarily) cheap. Time is money, and your time, especially, ought to be spent cranking out product. (That's books, Dear Writer.) So how do you market yourself online, spending as little time (read: money) as possible?
Spend the "Dough" to Make It Cheap
The initial outlay in time for learning any new skill is big, but in this case, it's worth it. Familiarize yourself with Twitter and Facebook and other social media sites out there, 'cause they aren't gonna go away, and they are a writer's best friend. This is you, at a big 24-hour cyber-convention of people, and it's your opportunity to strut your stuff. Do you write funny? Be funny online! Do you like historicals? Share tidbits about your history knowledge! The cyberverse is there, working for you, even when you're snoozing in bed. (Don't forget to slip in your web address now and then, or direct people to a place where they can learn more about you and your writing. Make it easy for them to find you!)
You don't need to overdo it. Pick a couple that work the best for you. Eventually, you'll get comfortable using these media options. When you've mastered the tweet, blog, and post, it's time to move on to a program that will bundle them up in a neat little package, where you can keep an eye on it all from one tidy command center.
Personally, I found HootSuite to be the easiest program to manage what I put on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, all at once. I drew from a pre-written list of tweets and posts, saved in a Word file, outlining my year's scheduled activities, and loaded them into HootSuite's scheduler.
Yeah, I Said It
The scheduler. There's the gem. The beauty of HootSuite is that it allows you to schedule these posts, in advance, to appear on your social media feeds at a predetermined time. I can schedule an entire year's posts to pop up when I want them to, where I want them to, and still make a spontaneous post whenever I like. I can also see who is following me, who is sharing or forwarding my posts (and thus, what's catchy enough to make them do so), and who has news or posts for me. Content is still king. If you have something important or relevant to say, it's definitely going to generate more interest than what you had for dinner. Give it some thought now, so you won't have to later.
Knowledge is Power
If you're not a world traveler, the Internet can be a wonderful tool. It's a plane, boat, train, you name it, zipping you off to parts of the world you've never seen, so you can share your writing with people far and wide. But you gotta learn to use it. Spend a little time getting to know social media, and spend a little more with a media manager like HootSuite. It's like having a personal assistant, and while your learning curve might be time-consuming, it'll save you time in the long run.
Then you can write.