Social Media for Authors: Week 2 of 4

Caveat: This is the week my imagination ran a little wild, dragging me along in a gadarene frenzy behind it. How I got here has more to do with my cart-first nature than with the Social Media Bootcamp course; and how I got back on the horse has everything to do with the quality of the week’s lessons.

The first lesson was to choose your tools for carrying out the social media strategy we talked about in Week 1. YouTube? Facebook? Flikr? Twitter?

To put it a better way, figure out which online conversations you care about, and establish a presence wherever those conversations happen. I got ahead of the course last week, because not only did I obsessively compel those conversations into a diagram (see right), I picked out Goodreads for its connection to passionate readers; Twitter for its wide reach and popularity among savvy writers and publishing industry pros; and blogs (both reading others’ and writing more here), using Google Reader to follow them.

In Week 2, we watched a helpful, barely-five-minutes-long video. Its lesson was to pick your goals, and create a strategy for talking to your audience that invites them to talk, too. Building on last week’s lesson that social media does not equal automatic promotion, it said to fit a social media component into a larger campaign. The implied lesson was, “Do something exciting! Something people will talk about!”

About then, the horse got loose.

I’ve been quasi-planning a solo trip to Beirut for a few months now, and not long ago narrowed down my list of how and when and why. But suddenly I had, possibly, a reason and a way to convert my interesting vacation into a SOCIAL MEDIA EVENT and look for a new angle and blog and what about a project and need a camcorder for YouTube and if I got the kids to write about what they think about immigration and newsworthy… Whoa.

Reel it in, Sarah.

I’m not good at this yet. Three nights passed without sleep–every time I was about to drift off, crash! new idea!–and then I went back to my notebook and started a fresh page. I came up with three simple, clear goals that were directly related to the work I am already doing as a writer and editor, and did not require either a travel itinerary or shipwreck diving experience. (Not exaggerating.)

From there, I reviewed my notes and realized that like writing, social media strategy is about learning to notice the obvious strengths and weaknesses in your own ideas. From there, as writers, we can be creative about how to reach people with what we want to say. And we do need something to say. Otherwise, social media is just a very public way of looking like this.

P.S. I continue to fall in love with Goodreads. Its recommendation feature gets along with e-books better than I realized, and honestly, I just like the people. We talk about books we love. And committing to my presence there doesn’t detract from doing things I love: rather, it holds me accountable to sitting down with a for-pleasure, non-work-related, good book every day.

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