Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Give and Take of Social Media

Social media is an important tool in a writer’s utility belt. It’s not just about building a personal platform from which to launch ourselves and our careers. It’s also a great way of staying connected with the writing community. It will link us to a broad base of knowledge, invaluable tips and tricks, and the much needed encouragement all writers crave.

It’s not just about the number of followers we have. It’s also about the number of people we follow in turn.

It’s not just about the number of comments we get. It’s also about the number of comments we make.

It’s not just about what we can gain. It’s also about what we can give.

In other words, it’s about true interaction within a community. More often than not the amount we gain from social media is proportional to the amount we give. So how do we make sure the balance it there?

Be genuinely interested in others. If you have a choice to spend time with two people, which would you choose? The one who is thoughtful, kind and interested in you, or the one who only talks about themselves? Which one would you be more likely to help?

Offer interesting or helpful blog content. If your blog is only about the cuteness your children, or the greatness of your latest book, then people will stop coming back. Give them a reason to return by offering them something of interest.

Run competitions. People love blogfests and competitions. They are a great way to promote yourself without promoting yourself. Prizes don’t have to be huge, but people remember the generosity and the fun.

Promote other people’s work. I’ve had a few people show their support in small but generous ways. I remember these people and I want to offer them the same in return. I’ve had the most success in twitter when I retweet other people’s great blog posts or tweets. Plus it makes me feel good ;)

Ultimately social media is about the relationships we find and nurture. These relationships are precious and need to be treated as such. The rewards are countless.

Can you think of other ways to keep the balance of promotion and interaction in social media? What are your strong points? What are some things which might hold you back?

39 comments:

  1. Hi Lynda. In my relatively short time blogging, I've found blogfests to be a great way for writers of different styles to come together and share their work. All those different approaches to the same subject provides a great insight into the creative process, and a great way to support each other too. Do I give as much as I get? I hope so.

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  2. beautifully written as always, Lyds ;)

    But there's one thing I do find strange: even though I'm like you and would always go for being a kind, friendly and helpful person and a writer, I find it strange how most famous writers who wrote classics and legendary books were actually usually cold, reclusive, lonesome people often with deep psychological issues. Why is that?

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  3. Very helpful tips. Thank you. I'm one of those who like to talk about myself but I'm learning to keep my mouth shut.

    CD

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  4. Franklin, yes exactly! blogfests are great fun and, like you said, they provide a great insight into the creative process as well.

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  5. Truly interacting with other people is key. Not everyone is savvy enough to respond ...

    Be genuine. Be approachable. It can take some time. Give it time. Be genuinely sociable. Not everyone is. But you eventually bump into people who are.

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  6. Dez, I have a theory... I reckon the most famous writers come across as reclusives because social media is relatively new and they didn't have that when they first started. I also believe the sheer volumn of people who want to talk with them is so overwhelming that they retreat.

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  7. Clarissa, it's ok to talk about yourself. I do it all the time -- see, there I go again! And again! ;) It's just finding that balance.

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  8. Alex, thanks

    M Pax, you made an excellent point! I DOES take time. Not everyone will respond, but like you said, keep going and you'll find the people who do.

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  9. The best blogs are definitely those that offer some form of advice, not just personal things. I only have so much time and I'd prefer to spend it educating myself about something that will impact my writing. But a contest or a blogfest wouldn't hurt; I'm still brainstorming some ideas for my own...

    Good points, Lynda!

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  10. I just have a small group of followers, but I feel close to a lot of those people (you included.) I follow all of my followers, and a "few" others besides. But it's a very special relationship with people all over the world.

    I think blogging is a really great way to expand your circle of supportive friends.

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  11. you sure are a social networking guru... so here's my question stemming from dezz's question.
    do you think it's easier for writers to communicate online, because it's primarily through writing?
    i know i have trouble actually speaking with people nerves and stutter sometimes but my fingers don't stutter.
    back in the day, they didn't have that option. so- venue of communication... could that be a part of it?

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  12. Aspiring, absolutely!!! It's far easier to communicate online because we get to edit our words before they go out. I'm a terrible stutterer and I blush so often it just makes me want to hide...especially when people point it out to me as if I didn't know. But online we don't have that problem.

    There's a certain level of anonymity as well...even if we go by our real names and have photos up (which I'm planning to do as soon as I find a pic I like!). That 'distance' of social media keeps us feeling relatively safe. Famous writers, I imagine, would want to guard that level of privacy.

    Of course, not all writers are introverted.

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  13. Melissa, it's far easier to maintain those special relationships when the followers are a smaller number. When you start building the followers it becomes necessary to start being more picky. I will always follow every follower (If they include a link so I can find them -- which many people fail to do in the google friends connect widget -- am I missing something there? Is there another way of following followers who don't comment and don't include a link?) but anyway, the more followers you have the more time it takes to visit all their blogs every day. I try my best, but some slip through the cracks. :(

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  14. Amanda, that's right! Time is precious! Ooo..I'm curious to see what ideas you come up with! :)

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  15. It can't be said too often that we need to be part of a community and it's not just about me, me, me and here's my latest book la de da. Yet still some people just don't get it. The ones that annoy me the most are those who don't follow or comment on my blog no matter how many times I comment on theirs. What's up with that?

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  16. I think the most important thing is to give back comments, because you're reading other bloggers' works and giving back to them.

    I don't know if I'll ever do the twitter thing, because I'm already busy as it is with the blog itself and facebook, but maybe in the near future I'll give it a try.

    As for blogfests or contest, I might do one for my first blogaversary. It all depends on how much college is going to effect my life with the big move and studies and all.

    But anyway, great post and write on!

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  17. KarenG, yep, I get that problem too. But I don't have enough time to spare to keep trying to get a response outa them. They are usually the ones who lose followers :( I can understand it happening occasionally. Sometimes we get busy, sometimes one or two might accidently be missed.

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  18. Vatche, in regards to giving back to bloggers by commenting...what are your thoughts on those who get 50 comments or more? I haven't reached that stage yet, but I imagine it would be difficult to comment on 50 plus blogs every single day. How might they maintain a happy balance?

    Oh yes! You need to celebrate your first blogaversary! :) I hope things don't get too busy for you.

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  19. Great suggestions, Lynda.

    I have something to offer you at my blog... chocolate. Congratulations, winner!!

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  20. Hi Lynda..though I have been blogging just for few months, I have learnt lots and made wonderful writing friends all over the world.
    I love being a part of this writing community. I feel its all about how we interact with other bloggers, its also about sharing knowledge we have learnt.
    Great post!

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  21. This is the best post I've seen on this topic. Well done. I tend not to comment back to my comments because I figure people are like me and don't have time to check back to see if the poster replied.

    I have a mental list of blogs I try to comment on.

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  22. Great important points, Lynda. Sometimes I stumble over the "interesting or helpful blog content" and wax on selfishly, but I try to come back.

    Any advice for a poor girl coming up on 100 followers who wants to run a contest and has no idea how to go about it? :)

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  23. Hi Lynda - Great post! Love your idea of retweeting. I usually do that when someone is running a contest, but never thought to do it just because. Thank YOU!!! Hope you have a great day. ;)

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  24. Alison, waaaaaaaaaa chocolate!!
    Thank you so much!

    Rachna, sharing knowledge is a great way of expressing it :)

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  25. Erinn, I don't think it's 100% necessary to comment back, but I personally love it when someone does it, and I've been reading a few blogs on this particular topic and many do check back. More than I thought.

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  26. Rosie C, I've always enjoyed your posts so I believe you are safe in that regard ;) It's good to show at least little of who you are anyway. How else can we get to know you?

    Oh!! 100 followers competition!!! You could give away chocolate like Alison did! Did I mention I love chocolate? ;)

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  27. RaShelle, with the built in retweet widget I currently have on this blog, I haven't set it up to include my tweet name so I don't know if someone has retweeted. I need to go through the html and find how to adjust it...anyone happen to know the line of code I'm looking for?

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  28. Great post - I think you covered it! :)

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  29. I hold back on discussing too much of my personal life. I also don't always have a ton of time, I follow a huge number of blogs like alot of everyone else, and so I might only be able to comment every so often on someones blog. But I try to give back. I'm good at helping other peoples promotional stuff like blogfests and such.

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  30. Jemi, thanks :)

    Summer, time is a big issue for a lot of people - and it becames a greater issue with the more people you follow. But, like you said, there's other ways of balancing this problem.

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  31. Chocolate, huh? Actually we have quite an amazing supplier of international chocolates around the corner from my house :) Thanks!

    I'm glad you enjoy my blog, too. I always love your posts. You have great things to say about writing :)

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  32. Rosie, thanks :)
    International chocolates???? Oh Yum!!

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  33. Another great post, Lynda. Very insightful -- which is why I keep coming back!

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  34. Hi Jennifer :)
    Thanks so much for you kind comment :)

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  35. This is my first visit to your blog and I am now a follower. :) I appreciate the message of this post very much. What we appreciate appreciates. What we invest in, offers us a return. What we give-we get. I am learning my way in the writing community so I appreciate your insight and tips here! :) Janelle

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  36. I love the way you've summarized the whole idea of giving here, Lynda! And btw, thank you for promoting my book on your blog!! What a VERY giving thing to do!! :-)

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  37. All great suggestions. Being part of a community. any community, means helping one another and sharing in their success. Sometimes we don't always remember these things the way we should. A good reminder, Linda!

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  38. Janelle, welcome and thank you :)

    Jody, thanks and I'm more than happy to promote your book. You've worked hard to get where you are at :)

    Laura, yes, exactly..helping one another :)

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