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Friday, July 11, 2014

They Say I'm Suppose to Have a Social Media Presence, but I Dont Know How...

Recently, I attended a writer's conference this May, and it seemed that the most frequent buzz phrase for almost every session was “have a social media presence.” There was a time when traditional marketing through TV ads, newspapers and such was the only way to reach an audience by way of special promotions, coupons, and offers, but with the advent of TIVO and other sources that record television shows, however, people fast forward through loud ads they might find annoying. Businesses are now struggling with new challenges to find ways to advertise their product because there is now another avenue in which people seek to get entertained. The Internet has changed all that, and because of that, we have also seen a trend with how businesses advertise.

With the Internet, word of mouth is crucial to the survival of any business or author wanting to promote his/her work. An audience no longer sits passively in front of the TV screen waiting for the commercial to be over before they can proceed to their show. Now people have the power to hide, delete or give bad reviews to business owners if they don't like what they see, especially if they're bombarded with the traditional ways of promoting and selling on their social networking sites. We've all done it. We all have that one person who spends a large part of his or her time trying to get you to buy their latest product, and what do we usually find ourselves doing on our news feed? HIDE. FLAG. Or DELETE.

This is why handling the delicate art of persuasion requires balance nowadays. People no longer want to be convinced to buy a product; they want ENGAGEMENT. I can't stress that enough. I know that some of you might by thinking... ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I'm a writer! I want to surround myself by my imaginary fortresses and worlds, and just, write. I don't have TIME to socialize? Now you're telling me that I have to try and establish relationships with people online?!

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. There's a saying that people won't care unless you do, and if you're spending a large portion of your time asking people to buy or read your stuff without that portion of engagement, remember the power they hold: HIDE.FLAG.DELETE!

This is why every writer and/or business owner should master this art if they are going to build an audience of followers. It's called "social" media for a reason. People want to socialize through these networks and are seeking ways to connect with others by means of getting inspired, informed or entertained. Does this mean that you should never do a little shameless self promotion on your network? Of course not. Balance is the key and if you form enough friendships with others on these sites, not only will some be interested in buying what you have to sell, but they will tell others about it.

But how do you know what social media is right for you? Knowing your target audience is crucial. If you’re a young adult writer, for example, ahem... like I am... notice how I did that so subtle? *with sarcasm* you’re not going to spend a large portion of your time building a presence on LinkedIn, where a large percentage of people there are adult professionals.

According to EBIZ MBA, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are still the leading social media sites with the most number of people participating. It is easy to get completely overwhelmed with the slew of social media sites out there, but I have found that if I stick to the ones with the most people participating that falls under my audience demographics, then I have a wider net of potential people to engage. So the questions remains, how do I engage an audience? I like to use the following acronym when it comes to engagement: P.I.I.E, which stands for Persuade, Inform, Inspire, Entertain!

Persuade- I use this sporadically when I have a story to sell or article to share. I try to really limit that to once a week or every two weeks. If you do this all the time, remember: HIDE.FLAG. DELETE.

Inform- Give your audience something they can use such as tips. You can blog about it or simply share an article with tips on it. Also, some people are uncomfortable about this, but don't be afraid to get personal. People want to know that you're human too, and if you have a positive story to relate about a personal triumph, please share. It's best to keep gripes to a minimum, and save that for your personal page of best friends and family.

Inspire- Post quotes or motivational sayings. I have a Writingjax Facebook motivational page for writers, and once a month I offer fun writing contests. The prize is not huge, just a $10 Starbucks card, but I get to connect and network with other people who love the written word and do something fun. Plus, every day I have something to offer by way of inspiration, tips, or writing exercises. See the ABOUT page on that page if you would like to see what each day has.

Entertain- Post something funny. People love to laugh, so why not share the joy and invite others to laugh with you.

Well, I hope I was able to shed some light on how to have a social media presence. Before I forget, remember to also BE. CONSISTENT. I failed miserably with doing that on my blog due to personal circumstances beyond my control, but I'm making a concerted effort to get back on that wagon once again. When you start, you'll find that you'll have many lurkers, so don't get discouraged with the lack of participation. Facebook now has a great insights page where you can see how many people clicked or shared your post, so stay encouraged and keep posting!

Peace and blessings,

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