Just a note or two before I pass the baton to Marion . . .
As I have been haunting the internet in the last two years I have come across some very fascinating people who are talented authors. One in particular is also a media guru. Not the self-proclaimed type on twitter who thinks they are going to help you conquer the world if you emulate their superior online marketing skillz (you know, the ones who follow thousands of people but themselves only have fifty followers), but the REAL kind of media guru.The kind who people listen to.
In addition to being a very talented author, Marion Jensen is a media advocate. He is a techie. He is someone who understands things like Creative Commons, the rise of e-books, and the ways in which the internet is changing at the most basic levels. I invited him to share his thoughts about media today. Since he won’t give a plug for his own books, I will do so for him. Marion writes under the pen name Matthew Buckley, and has two published middle-grade humor novels out: “Chickens In The Headlights”, and “Bullies In The Headlights”. I have read both and laughed all the way through them. If you get a chance, go check them out. Here is a link at Amazon: http://bit.ly/5YIEmS
Thanks for joining me here today Marion!
So, you want to get social?
Hey, everybody is getting on Twitter! I should get on Twitter so I can market my book!
Hello, my name is Marion Jensen. And I’m a recovering author. Daron asked me to talk a little about social media and what writers should be doing with it.
First, a little about me; I’m a doctoral student at USU, and I’ve studied social media for about four years (motto: I’m not the quickest student you’ll ever meet, but I am thorough). I also happen to be an author. So, given those two facts, Daron asked me to chime in on this whole ‘wacky web thing’.
First, a bit of boring but necessary history. We’ve all heard of ‘Web 2.0’, but do we really know what it means? To understand it, it helps if you understand Web 1.0. In general, Web 1.0 was the creation of a ton of really cool stuff. Web 1.0 also generated some really boring stuff, but hey, it’s the internet, there is plenty of room.
People created all this stuff, and search engines tried to organize it all. The problem was that it became really hard to find what you were looking for. The internet wasn’t an organized venture, remember; it happened organically. Then Google arrived on a white horse and changed everything. What made them special? What made their teeth glisten in the sun? Well, they used people to help improve their search engine. If a lot of people were pointing to a single site, that site must be cool, right? So Google would push it to the top of their search results. While Web 1.0 focused on the content, Web 2.0 focuses on relationships between individuals. How do we make sense of all this new content on the internet?
By using our friends to help.
So the Internet moved away from just finding content, and moved toward social things: Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Wikipedia, Blogs, MySpace, and on and on. I found cool things through my friends. Web 2.0, at its heart, is a new way to communicate and share.
“Aha!” You say, “I see your point! Marketing is all about getting out your message, so we now leverage this new-fangled Web 2.0 to market to the world!”
Uh…no. I mean, you can do that, but you’re going to end up shooting yourself in the foot.
You see, the reason people like this new social web is because it’s social. You get to hang out with your friends, talk about cool stuff, and you can do it in your underwear in the basement. It’s a dream come true. In a way, it’s kind of like the water cooler at work used to be. Except that if you show up to the watercooler in your underwear, you’re likely either going to be fired, or promoted.
Imagine you are at work; you’re not thirsty, but you see a group at the water cooler, and they are talking and laughing. You go to join the conversation. At the same time, Herman, the guy from accounting, shows up.
“Hey,” says Herman. “I just wrote a book. It’s going to be on sale next Tuesday.”
“That’s great,” says Jim, the guy from sales, “…anyway, so the bartender says—”
“I’m doing a signing,” says Herman.
“Fine, Herman. But like I was saying—”
“Martha said she liked my book. She said that my characters were deep. She wrote a memo.”
This is the point when Jim punches Herman in the belly, and nobody really feels sorry for the guy.
I have seen this kind of ‘marketing’ happen over and over again on Facebook and on blogs, and now on Twitter. And do you know what? That is not the way to get followers. If you look at Twitter, Facebook, and blogs as a way to sell your book, you’re going to have a rough go at it. If I’m flipping through TV channels, I’m not going to stop at the channel that runs all commercials all the time. I want something interesting.
THAT is what you have to do. You have to be interesting. If you can be interesting, you will get friends/followers. If you get friends/followers, the rest takes care of itself.
If you’d like to see a master of Web 2.0, you should follow @robisonwells on Twitter. Rob is an author, and is adept at using new media. You see, Rob doesn’t pimp his books. He rarely even mentions them. What he does is write articles that make you laugh, and tweets that make you chuckle. He is a good writer, and he shows it every time he posts something. He talks about being an author, or being a dad, or being a shoplifter (ok, I made that last one up). And if you’re scrolling through your twitter feed, filled with random people you don’t even know, you ALWAYS stop and read his tweets.
But how does he sell books if he doesn’t run commercials? Well, unlike Herman, he just talks. His books may come up in the course of the conversation, but it’s not a sell. For example, this fall Rob wrote a book. He did it in a few weeks. I followed the whole thing on Twitter, but not once did I feel like I was being sold to. He has since found an agent, and I’m rooting for him. Guess what I’m going to do when his book is published? That’s right; I’ll buy a copy, and maybe one for my friend. I’ve seen what Rob can do with a blog post, or with a tweet, and I sure as heck want to see what kind of novel comes out of a head as warped as his.
THAT is how you use social media.
OK, I had a nice outline of social media dos and don’ts that I wanted to cover, but I’ve already gone on WAY too long. I’ll have to save those for another day. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about new media (can you sense an impending plug?), or you want to learn from Rob ‘The Man’ Wells himself (now you can see the plug is imminent), you really should come to next year’s LDStorymaker conference: http://www.ldstorymakers.com/conference_2010.php
Rob, I, and Howard Taylor ( http://www.schlockmercenary.com; I could write an even longer post on the way Mr. Taylor uses new media correctly) are doing a presentation on new media, and Rob has promised that he will take off his shirt and flex his pecs.
I, for one, am not going to miss that. You shouldn’t either.
See you there.
One more thing I might add…
If you would like to follow the antics of Marion, Rob, and more than 900 other authors, writers, bloggers, editors, publishers, book reviewers, and literary-agents, I have twitter lists for each of these. You can find them under my own twitter profile, @DaronFraley. I look forward to seeing you around!