Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Notes on Social Media or I’m not from the government but I’ll help anyway

As you would have known from my previous post, I am true neutral.

But, in honor of my favorite Avenger, Agent Phillip Coulson, I am going to offer you some help in an attempt to put some rampant Internet rumors to rest.

There is no need to fear social media.

What are my qualifications?

Well, I’ll start with my baffling Klout score. I have kept my Klout score above 40 fairly consistently since I joined about a year ago. Is this because I want free stuff? No. Well, a little. But, really, a big part of maintaining my Klout score is by not actively attempting to maintain it. If you don’t know what Klout is, it’s an analytical tool (that is not perfect) that can be used to understand how influential you are and what you are influential about on several different social media sites.

I am the producer for Everything Internet Radio, a show dedicated to bringing small business owners and entrepreneurs everything they need to know about keeping their business uploaded and updated. We have a podcast, too, if that’s of interest. Anyway, I have to keep my finger on the pulse of not only the Internet, but the social media realm. We have two guests per show and at least one social media/marketing firm represented per show. I’ve been listening.

I was the Social Media Manager for the DFW Writers’ Conference, running their Twitter and Facebook accounts. A volunteer position that I could regrettably only give a few hours a week to.

Lastly, I’m under 30.

Still not convinced I’m qualified to give you advice on social media?

Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week when I post about something else. For those of you who care to stick around, here it goes.

A few things on social media.

1. Stop calling it your “platform”, “fan base”, etc…

What are you selling? Is it yourself? Because that reminds me of a different profession that has little to do with social media. When I stepped into my role with @DFWCon, they were working off bad advice. They had downloaded a program that automatically followed people with a particular hashtag, with the hope that these people would follow back out of some sort of honor based system of “Followback”. They had the same tweet going out once a day, just so there would be activity on the feed. I felt as though I were some captain coming out of hypersleep to find my spaceship drifting lazily through the void with a dull-witted automatic pilot, slipping my hands into the steering yoke to set everything back on course.

Why was this the wrong approach? Sheer numbers is not what social media is about. Social media is about building relationships. It’s about communication. What needed to change? We shouldn’t have targeted people in general, we should have tried to reach people interested in attending our conference. How? By interacting with our guest agents. James Rollins, our keynote speaker, was interacting with us on Twitter, talking about how he was excited to attend the conference.

Guess who follows James Rollins? People who like James Rollins.

Guess who should be attending our conference? People who want to hear James Rollins give a class/keynote address.

Is there going to be overlap?

Yes. A lot of it.

2. Patience.

Do you know how, in real life, when you meet someone, it takes time to build a rapport with that person? The same is true of social media. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to start reaching everyone immediately, even if you want to. You know what also takes time? Learning the rules and shortcuts of the social network you’re using. Where does that @reply belong if you want everyone to see it? Not at the beginning of your tweet. When should I #hashtag? Depends. I like to do it when I’m being #ironic. What happens when I type the @ symbol in my Facebook status update? Well, try it and see. #evilgrin

My point is: Don’t get flustered. Look at it as a bright and shiny new tool, a new iPad, say. Here is this thing with potential. How you make it work for you is up to you. Relax. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask your followers. If that doesn’t work, or you have too few followers to get an answer, type your question into Google.

I could go on with tons of hints, but I’m going to stop after this next one. If you want to hear (read) more, let me know in the comments. Or not. I might do another one of these if I get frustrated at the fear-mongering again.

3. If you don’t want to do it, don’t.

Not sure if you want to blog? Try it out. Don’t expect a lot of comments. If you don’t like it, go ahead and delete the blog. No one’s going to get mad at you. No one’s going to call you a failure. It’s not that big of a deal. Remember that age-old joke, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Stop doing it.

Anyone who tells you that you “have to” do something is lying to you. If you don’t get any enjoyment out of tweeting or reading other people’s tweets, you can get off Twitter. Those people who say, “You’re not on Facebook? What’s wrong with you?”…there actually might be something wrong with them. I’m not against trying new things. Many things deserve to be tried. But, if you feel very reluctant about doing something online, don’t. We’re all friends here. We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.

Don’t confuse the addicts with people who think you’re funny, sincere, genuine. Sometimes, people want to hear what you have to say and when they ask, “Are you on Twitter?” be honest. They’ll understand. Maybe not right away, but point them toward this post.

Social media is not something to be feared.

It’s something that promotes communication and relationships. It helps people stay in touch. It celebrates the human condition.

Enjoy it.

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4 responses

  1. I might not be a better person for having read this, but I am absolutely a more educated one.

    So let me roll up to a question. I’m still newish to Twitter, and I’ve followed / been followed by a number of up-and-coming authors. I notice that some of them seem use Twitter almost exclusively to pimp their book/website. I would *like* to say that a good thesis statement for tweeting ought to be “assume that the person you just followed doesn’t read your genre and will not buy your book no matter what you do. Then ask yourself what value they would find in following you.” (Links to cool articles, pithy observations about daily life, whatever.) But I’m not the expert here.

    So what do you think? Is that a fair metric to use, or should authors not concern themselves with followers who are never going to become readers?

    June 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    • Kate Cornell

      Hey, Tex! Thanks for stopping by.
      Your comment goes back to #1. Your followers aren’t fans, they’re people.

      I don’t think that you should be using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, etc. to sell anything. As an author, you can assume that people who follow you are interested in your writing, but you definitely shouldn’t assume that it’s the only reason. I think anyone’s approach, especially an author’s, should be “I’m here to have fun, like everyone else”.

      If all someone is saying is, “Buy my book, go to my website”, they undermine the mission statement of social networking, which has an emphasis on communications and relationships. That’s not to say you shouldn’t occasionally remind people, “Hey, I have a website, too.” I broadcast every blog post once or twice across platforms, myself. But, it shouldn’t be your majority focus.

      There’s a thing called the 20/80 rule. I’ll post something about social media once a week. This would be a good next topic.

      June 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      • Hey, I’m just delighted to finally have a question that doesn’t make it sound like I smell your hair while you sleep.

        But what you’re saying sounds solid, and lines up more or less perfectly with what little I’ve read on the subject so far. (There’s a quick little e-book Twitter guide called “Giving the Bird” by Ben Wallace that compared tweeting to chatting with people at a party, and it makes sense that you shouldn’t sound like a banner ad while you’re popping cocktail weenies.)

        Anyway, I know you’re in the midst of pulling up stakes, but I’d definitely like to read more posts on social networking whenever you can swing it. There’s no dearth of “WIN THE INTERNET HIGH SCORE” how-tos out there, but your emphasis on “have fun” and “only if you feel like it” is a refreshing change from the rest.

        June 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      • Kate Cornell

        I’ve actually been told by strangers that I smell nice. I chalk it up to Herbal Essence. Try the body wash. ;)

        June 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

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