Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Social Networking Is Not An Advertising Tool

Well, social networking is not an advertising tool, but it's a writer's best friend!

As you have noticed recently, I've been talking about two writers I met on twitter, Carol Buchanan who Guest posted here last week, and whose novel, Gold Under Ice, I discussed the previous week.

And Gene Doucette who sparked a lively discussion here with his novel Immortal.

Recently, with the release of the new Sime~Gen Series novels written by Jean Lorrah and me, the fans started a Group on facebook, SimeGen, where suddenly 50 people were chattering on and on about the Sime~Gen Universe, flooding my mailbox with fascinating observations.  I don't know where all these people came from, but I love them!

Here's some previous posts on social networking that I did to explain the place of social networking in a writer's life now that "marketing" has become part of our responsibility. 




An item passed by me quickly on facebook, about an article citing a very old study that I'd heard of years ago about the upper limit to the number of "friends" (acquaintances, associates) a person can maintain.  What's the upper limit to the size of a clan, villiage, or Yahoo or Facebook Group? 

I believe the number they're currently entertaining is between 400 and 500.  And you spend over 60% (I'm just vaguely remembering these figures) of your time "maintaining" such a social network.  It's a huge investment of output energy, and the only payoff or profit is that it makes you feel good to have friends. (that's huge by itself, especially for a writer who works alone in a boring chamber wishing the phone wouldn't ring for another two paragraphs or so!)

In such a large network though, the people you interact with won't be "friends who help you move" or "friends who babysit your kids" or "friends who loan you money."  Not friends who are there when you're sick and mop up after you -- not friends who get a bailbondsman when you get thrown in jail.  Not REAL friends - the kind we choose to make a Hero in our novels.

I saw a Twitter tutorial that pointed out that 1,000 people is the most a person can follow and have any hope of interacting with regularly. If someone who follows more than 1,000 people follows you, don't follow them back because they'll never see what you're saying. There's a way around that, though.  The messes technology makes in your life, technology can cure.  

I know writers who've spent a lot of time on twitter and facebook, and feel it has no value, and drop it.
Recently a professonal posted on twitter that he was dropping LinkedIn because it gains him nothing.  I pointed out some valuable connections I made on LinkedIn, and he decided to hold on for a while.

And I dropped into a twitter chat #bookmarket where someone said a writer should write not for those who buy and read her books, but for that buyer's friends, so that the chatter about the book would "go viral" -- that is, aim to be talked about!  Give readers something to say about the book that their friends or social-networkers will grab and repeat to their friends, who will etc.

Another writer answered that was impossible, it just boggles the mind, it's all a writer can do to write for a specific readership! 

The thing with social networking is that each person may know 450 people, but most of them know 200 people that the first person doesn't.  Social circles interlink like a chain.

On another twitter chat, writers were talking about how to break out of obscurity, and I said something that made someone say I couldn't claim to be obscure.

That stopped me in my keyboarding tracks.

Interlinked social circles, make chainmail, armor that protects the psyche and nurtures shared values, thus creating community. (great plot ideas in that concept.)

On Backlist E-books Yahoo Group List (a Group of famous writers who have retrieved rights to their mass market novels and posted them as e-books),


Jerry Weinberg ( Gerald M. Weinberg
http://geraldmweinberg.com )

asked me,
Would you be willing to give me a couple of tips? Such as:

- How do you find out about these chats before they're finished?

- How does one start a chat?

- How do you find out about what #abc markers are available?

Thanks in advance,


and I answered:

The chats I've enjoyed most seem to stick in my mind, and if I'm free I check out the stream.  I memorized #scifichat right away because it's my area.

I run 3 or 4 programs at once during a chat - http://tweetchat.com/ and twitter itself, hootsuite, and sometimes tweetdeck -- which you get at tweetdeck.com -- I use the free versions.  I open a lot of firefox tabs.

So I noticed a tweet in my main feed hashmarked #bookchat, looked at the clock and realized it was the time it was on last week, and went to the chat.  That's how I "stumble on" chats -- people I'm subscribed to mention them and I go look and goshwow, I love these folks!

Here's a tweet from a tweeter I follow (who also follows me) that came up on #scifichat when I opened tweetchat.com this morning -- I see her at many writerly chats:  (#FF means #FollowFriday and you can search on that hashmark to find people who attend chats and will talk to you).
@PennyAsh #FF these great chats #scifichat #scriptchat #steampunkchat and all the folks therein :)
People recommend chats and they go viral.  I love #scriptchat -- it has 2 sections, one for European time and one US, both on Sunday.  #litchat is also good, and runs weekday afternoons, one topic a week in short bursts.

You find out about them by following the moderator.  @scifichat or @bookmarketchat

And since I haven't started a chat, I don't know all the ins-and-outs, but I'd ask a moderator how they did it.

Ask @DavidRozansky who runs #scifichat

The moderator has another twitter account with the chat name in it, and stacks up a series of delayed posts timed to appear during the chat period, with questions to prompt comments on a pre-announced subject.  The moderator participates under their own name -- in this case @scifichat posts Questions, and @DavidRozansky tosses incendiary answers to spark discussion.

Chatting is just a busman's holiday for writers!  Have fun with your skills in 140 characters or less.

Another way I stumble into chats while they're going is that I have hootsuite (free download at hootsuite.com ) set up with a "tab" (a section across the top like a tab in a webpage), and I made columns with searches for each of the hashmarks for chats I'm interested in.  When I have a few minutes, I go look to see if anyone's posting, and see what they're talking about.

I also have a hootsuite tab set up with Lists I made on twitter or hootsuite - putting people I follow, and even people I don't follow into a List.  Then I make a column under that tab with the List as the search criterion, and see what those folks are tweeting about.

So when I have time, I go look to see what Backlist eBooks members are tweeting, and try to find something to RT.

The only chat I make time for is #scifichat because it's my field.

Since I'm cultivating a following composed of writers, editors, agents, publishers, producers, screenwriters, image folks, sound folks, everyone in "the biz" from end to end, but focused on professionals more than fans, (though they're fans too!), I select what I tweet as you would if editing a magazine, leaving out politics, what you ate for breakfast, news items (though I do an occasional emergency alert) and focus on say, TV programs tonight, developments with actors and directors, and other news of interest to those trying to sell words to make money.  And of course, there's all my tweets hammered out during chats that get Retweeted and turn up in front of many noses -- sometimes I gain followers that way, usually writers etc.

It's all very haphazzard. Once you have software set up, you can troll across your interests and drop in from time to time and meet the most incredibly interesting people, learn things of real value, find links to discuss on facebook and fodder for blogging.  Probably 99% of the stuff on twitter is real garbage.  These tools allow you to focus tightly on that remaining 1% -- which is huge!

If you make a chat, let me know time and hashmark.

If you'd like to follow me, I'm @jlichtenberg and http://facebook.com/jacqueline.lichtenberg
So you see, social networking isn't something you do for monetary profit because it's not cost-effective. 

The "profit" is intangible.  It's what we all get from those 450 people we know who know us, a sense of being, a mental orientation, a feeling of being in touch with the world and understanding that world.

You can't monetize that feeling.  And no amount of money can buy that feeling.  You can't get that feeling by associating with people who are interested in you only because they want to sell you something. 

But without that feeling, nothing you do to make money will ever mean anything.

Worse, because we work in "The Arts" -- if we go about doing our social networking "with gritted teeth because I have to in order to make money" -- the words that flow from our fingers will be toxic and unwelcome by those we inflict those words on.

Social networking is what we do for FUN, and "fun" is our stock in trade.  Fun is what we have to sell.  If we don't have fun writing, nobody will have fun reading what we've written.

Ballet dancers warm up by doing exercises; writers warm up by socializing.

Your job, as a writer is to entertain people.  If you don't know anyone, how can you entertain anyone? 

And really, is "buy my book" an entertaining message?  Surely you, as a writer, have more to offer than that?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. yeah it is not a platform for advertising but majority people are using social networking as an advertising tool