I am still thinking about social media and its value for writers.
If you are already known by a broad audience, you can easily gain lots of followers (Twitter) or friends (Facebook). These are both fans and real life friends. They see what you post and are more likely to be proactive about it – they will read it first of all, and they will probably retweet it or repost it and talk about it in their own circles. This is a good example of free and good quality publicity. Patty Digh, author of 37 Days blog and Life is a Verb, with 1,700 friends is a great example. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I am willing to bet that they are significant. People read what she is doing on her facebook site and then they buy tickets for her presentations and lectures, they buy books, they write reviews, and they tell their friends. Such publicity has a life of its own – there is very little you need to do to make it work for you other than post and tweet.
But what if you aren’t already known by a broad audience? This situation requires a bit more work on your part, but it is just as possible to hone in on your key audience and build the right following. A great example of this is the barefooters. Nearly half my facebook friends are barefooters from around the world. I didn’t even actively seek them, but because barefooters long to know that they are not alone in this world, they have some incredible community-building skills. It all started with just a couple of barefoot friends. Their barefoot friends saw my comments on their facebook walls and friend-requested me. I accepted and left comments on my new friends’ walls and so the friends started collecting. Before long, I found myself with a significant following of barefooters.
Last week when I posted on this blog about barefooting, I simply posted a link to the Nitty Gritty on my facebook status. On that day alone I had more hits on the Nitty Gritty than I get on any average week!
So here is the point: translate that barefoot story to your own writing. Focus on the theme(s) of your writing and tap into the audience who wants to read that stuff. Although I wasn’t proactive in collecting the barefoot friends, I can certainly learn the lessons demonstrated by them. Seek friends and followers who fit into your niche and follow them. People will always look at their new followers and if they like what they see, they will share it. It’s like the old adage – jump on the bandwagon. If you mix with your intended audience and they like your stuff, it will snowball before your very eyes. Your message (i.e., your name and your writing) will show up in unexpected places beyond what you can imagine or manage all on your own.