Two weeks ago I wrote about balancing two kinds of writing — memoir and social media (Facebook and Twitter). Kathleen Pooler wrote a comment on that post, which prompted my invitation to her to share what she has learned about Twitter. I tend to use Facebook more than Twitter, but I see the advantages of Twitter when I watch someone like Kathleen in action.
“Writers need to think of Twitter as the largest cocktail party in the world where you can mingle away with fellow writers, editors, publishers and friends from all over the world.”
Editor, Alan Rinzler, “Strategic Tweeting for Authors” on his blog, The Book Deal.
Why Use Social Media?
If you are anything like me, when I became serious about writing in 2009, the whole idea of getting involved in social media initially seemed overwhelming and frivolous. I mean, even the word “twitter” sounded giddy and trivial.
“Why in the world would I care about what someone else was having for lunch or what TV program they were watching? All I really want to do is write a memoir….”
Fast forward to 2012 where the publishing industry is experiencing cataclysmic changes likened to the changes that occurred with invention of the printing press.
Suddenly, I, the writer now have to take full responsibility for marketing myself so when my book is published (traditionally or independently via self-publishing), I will already have a following of perspective readers. And, since I’m not a celebrity, I need to establish my own author platform to define my brand (who am I and what am I about) and spread my message to my target audience (my followers).
Long story short, I took a giant leap of faith in December 2009 and started a free WordPress.com blog, Write On. After attending a writing conference in February 2010 and listening to all the agents to whom I pitched my story idea ask, “What is your author platform?” I knew I needed help.
I signed up (wisely) for Dan Blank’s Build Your Author Platform Course in March, 2010, upgraded my blog to a website, Memoir Writer’s Journey and plunged into the social media scene — Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn and became instantly overwhelmed. Where was the time to write?
I needed to find my own way through the maze of social media.
Twitter was the last place I joined in November of 2010 but it became my favorite social media tool and still is. But, initially, I became a “twitter-junkie”, tethering myself constantly to tweeting and retweeting from early morning until late at night. My husband thought I moved to another country. He even coined a term in my honor, F.O.M.O. (“fear of missing out”). I was like a little kid let loose in a candy store, unsupervised.
I needed to learn how to use twitter strategically- to figure out a way to make it work for me not be a slave to its distractions.
So, I developed a plan of action:
- I limited Twitter and Facebook to 15 minutes three times per day
- I subscribed to my favorite blogs via Google Reader so they are all in one place
- I scheduled “sacred “ time to pray, think, journal, play the piano, and write
- I exercise at least 60 minutes five days a week
- I limit TV and magazine subscriptions to Time, Writer’s Digest and The Sun
In order to make Twitter work for me, I had to take care of everything else first.
Here’s how I use Twitter strategically:
- I honed my brand “memoir writer who shares hope through faith” and added that to my Twitter profile.
- I follow people who align with my brand- other memoir writers, writers of any genre, social media strategists, editors, publishers, Christian writers, journalists, cancer survivors, single parents, nurses. I do not follow anyone who does not have a description in their profile.
- I tweet messages and posts, including my own that resonate with my brand.
- I make sure that promotion of others outweighs my self-promotion ( as a rule for every 5 tweets, only 1 should be about me)
- I schedule my tweets using Tweetdeck (Hootesuite has this capability too) so that all my tweets don’t post at once.
- If I like a blog post, I make sure to spread the word via Twitter as well as other channels.
- I retweet tweets that align with my brand
- I use hash tags (#) i.e. #memoir, #amwriting #writing tips as much as possible. They serve to identify specific discussions (also called lists) that are occurring, further extending the reach.
Here’s how Twitter works for me:
- The use of hashtags has resulted in being picked up by several curating sites, i.e. #memoirDaily, ScoopIt for memoir writing, personal storytelling. My blog posts have been posted on these sites numerous times.
- Many meaningful connections have been forged via Twitter-by responding to tweets, retweeting or following lists. These have resulted in opportunities to guest post or find writers to guest post on my blog. Here are a few examples:
@TerreBritton~ curator at the Creative Flux blog (Sirius Press) invited me to do a guest post on memoir writing
@llbarkat (L.L. Barkat) author of Rumors on the Waters: Thoughts on Creativity inspired me in one of her tweets to write a post on “Evoking Emotions: The Power of Sensory Detail in Storytelling.” I linked her post in this post and she commented on my site.
Additionally, L.L.Barkat is the managing editor of HighCalling.org website where I submitted an Advent story which was linked on the site.
@dianaraab requested I do a review of her book, Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey which I posted on Amazon and Goodreads. My blog post this week, “Healing with Words: The Power of Memoir” will also link the book review.http://krpooler.com/2012/04/30/healing-with-words-the-power-of-memoir/
These are just a few of the meaningful connections I have been able to make through Twitter. I use several social media tools to expand my message, but Twitter, along with my weekly blog posts are my main ones. I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Goodreads to a lesser degree.
In the end it really boils down to personal preference.
My main advice is to narrow it down to a few that work the best. Do not try to do it all.
It really is all about making meaningful connections no matter what social media tool you decide to use. That’s a good place to start forging a relationship with your readers.
Two of my teachers about social media and writing have been Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson. Porter does an amazing weekly summary of the latest publishing industry news on Jane’s website called Writing on the Ether. In his posts, he embeds actual tweets using a Word Press plug-in called Blackbird Pie. It seems fitting to end this essay with an actual tweet from Shirley to Porter and me. In it, you too can learn about Blackbird Pie.
What meaningful connections are you making in your life and in your writing?
I’d love to hear from you~
Kathy can be reached at her blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey(http://krpooler.com) Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and and Goodreads at Kathleen Pooler and Twitter@kathypooler http://krpooler.com/2012/04/30/healing-with-words-the-power-of-memoir/