Writing is my life. Life is my hobby. ~Emma Lai

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Joanna Aislinn, author of No Matter Why, on the Value of Social Media

Joanna Aislinn loves reading but writing messed with the pleasure part of her passion—she can no longer get through a story without her internal editor interrupting the flow. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her at her website and blog—she loves company!

Emma, I greatly appreciate this opportunity to get to know your virtual circle of friends. Hope you all find something helpful here!

Cool how seemingly solitary episodes link to others to create a bigger picture. Recently, I posted a review of Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media at my blog. Later that day, I received an email from Author-me’s Bruce Cook, who took note of my link on Author-me’s Facebook page. He offered me a spot in his monthly newsletter. I was honored (Thanks, Bruce!) and already had a first proof-positive example that engaging in social media is an author necessity in today’s digitally-driven world. 

The next day I attended a concert at a small venue. The first band was young; after their set they came into the crowd and I got to watch as they actively employed social media. The Scott DeCarlo Six handed out business cards with a free music download of their new album. All they asked was a review of their music. The rest of the evening they spent hanging out with the audience, forging relationships.

As per Kristen Lamb, forging relationships is key to writers (and any creative sort, I’ll venture) branding their name in a virtually immense world where online connections are king. These connections are ‘word of mouth’ referrals, creating an unbelievably powerful means of promoting a person and hence, his/her work. Think about it: authors once reached out via mailings, launch parties and book tours. Not that any of these have gone out of style, but when you’re dealing in a numbers game, reaching the masses has taken on an entirely new dimension. Social media creates the potential for writers to reach potential readers (i.e., book buyers) on an exponential level.

When it comes to writers, Kristen also makes another excellent point: in today’s technologically-connected world, most people willing to hand over their cash (okay, plastic, if their purchasing a digital download J) are more likely do so for someone they feel they know personally and feel connected to as ‘friend’ (but not necessarily someone who spends all his/her time telling the rest of us to buy x, y or z book, product, etc).

Social media creates that opportunity by allowing people to get to know each other via an online community. And what a support group it is! Last week, my favorite cat died unexpectedly of some unknown malady. I mentioned it in my Facebook status, tweeted about it and wrote a blog in honor of my sweetie boy. The outpouring of kind words and condolences has been amazing. Not only have people gotten to know me that much better, but I learned I have a wonderful network who care enough to reach out and make me feel better, just because they’ve gotten to know me through social media.

I know! I’m getting long-winded so here are two simple examples of how this works:

Facebook: I update my status (i.e., type a sentence or two into small window at the top that asks, “What’s on your mind?”) and add a link. My “Facebook friends” see this link. If I mention a Facebook friend in the update, by preceding that name with the @ symbol, Facebook automatically sends my message to all the mentioned friend’s Facebook friends. Did I work extra? Nope. I worked smarter.

Then there’s Twitter: the virtual world’s current largest chat room where 140 characters or less are used to exchange ideas, spark deals and who knows what else. Reciprocity reigns: I ‘follow’ your ‘tweets’ and chances are, you’ll ‘follow’ mine. Now I’ve started creating a network. Add a hashtag (a.k.a. #) followed by a key word (i.e., #booklovers) and your tiny little tweet finds its way onto the Twitter screen of everyone employing that (or a similar) hashtag. Now, not only do my tweets land me in a position to be seen, but via Tweetdeck (or similar application), I can search through #booklovers looking for relationships to form by responding to tweets and retweeting (i.e., promoting) other people’s tweets.

See how big this can get? Add Google +, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon…you get the idea. The possibilities will keep you networking twenty-four-seven and consistency is paramount. Little efforts will add up over time. Keep in mind, though, spreading yourself too thin can result in major distractions and no time left to engage in what started us on this path: writing. So start with one or two of your favorite social media venues and begin unleashing the potential. And those who are already social media active, please share your favorites and how each is helpful and/or advantageous to you!

Joanna, thanks so much for sharing your take on social media, and congratulations on No Matter Why. And, for the readers, click here for an excerpt, or visit http://www.joannaaislinn.com/Readanexerpt.html


Emma Lai said...

Thanks for sharing your take on social media, Joanna!

Joanna Aislinn said...

Thanks so much for having me here, Emma.

Joanna Aislinn said...

I confused everyone w/dates, including myself, lol. Thanks again, Emma.