Thursday, February 18, 2010


Social Networking for Authors: Tips from Margo L. Dill

This was the first year WOW! branched out into social networking by creating Twitter and Facebook profiles, and it's already done so much for our site. We get to interact with our readers, really get to know them, and obtain feedback instantly. Our traffic has increased from links coming from the networks as well, and it's also a lot of fun!

At the head of our social media campaign is WOW! contributing editor, columnist, and instructor Margo L. Dill, who launched our campaign from scratch. She knows a great deal about using these sites to your advantage, so I caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her upcoming e-course Social Networking for Authors: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more!. If you want to learn how to effectively use social networking platforms for self-promotion, there's still time to sign up for her course, which starts next Monday (February 22nd).

Welcome, Margo! Who should take your social networking class? Is it only for authors?

Margo: My social networking class can help anyone who has something to promote--a blog, a website, a book, a magazine, or a newsletter. The class will give tips on how to find other writers on social networks; find clients, customers, or readers; and how to interact on these sites so people get to know the "real" you. This means, you are a real person with a personality sending out tweets or promoting your Facebook profile or fan page--not a marketer or a spambot!

That's great to know. It sounds like it would be useful for freelance writers and small businesses as well. You teach your students how to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Why is it important to use all three platforms? What are the major differences?

Margo: In my opinion, each social networking site offers writers, or anyone really, a different audience, format, and way to connect with others. On Twitter, you can follow almost anyone who has similar interests as you, provides useful information, or makes you smile and laugh. In turn, anyone can follow you. People expect you to share information on Twitter about yourself and your work as well as share other useful tidbits you come across on the Internet and on Twitter itself.

On Facebook, you can connect with people who you once knew, that you met at a conference, or through an online group as well as your family and friends. You can belong to writing groups on Facebook that provide information and where you can network with other writers such as on the WOW! Women On Writing Facebook Fan Page. On your Facebook wall, you can promote your latest blog post or book just like you can on Twitter, but you do it with posts on your wall or status updates or fan pages. I get a lot of response from my family and friends on my blog from my Facebook page. These people wouldn't know what I was up to if I didn't have Facebook to tell them. I am reaching a different audience here and on an even more personal level than on Twitter.

LinkedIn is a completely different network all together. It is for professional connections more than personal ones. You can connect with others and find freelancing work or discuss the publishing business in a LinkedIn group. You can find editing clients or promote your magazine or business to find customers or even employees. It's like having a resume online with recommendations right there for people to view. LinkedIn is great for networking.

That's a really great explanation. And it's so true...people wouldn't know what you were up to if you didn't have Facebook to tell them. I guess you could send direct e-mails to everyone, but people get annoyed with too much e-mail, and I think Facebook is far less intrusive. Plus, it's pretty effective! I've personally seen a great response from WOW's social networking campaign. Thanks, Margo! It especially works well for us since our e-zine is a static website and these additional platforms allow for interaction. Do you recommend students have a website, blog, or portfolio page set up somewhere to link back to before they start networking?

Margo: Not necessarily. It helps to have a blog or website, but some people will link to their book on Amazon if they want to tweet about their book or include a Barnes & Noble link in their status update on Facebook.

You can also take part in Twitter chats in all sorts of subject areas such as general writing, YA literature, children's writing, romance writing, and so on. You just have to know the hashtag (which you'll learn all about in my class) keywords such as #YAlitchat, know the time it takes place (which is easy to find on the Internet), and then log on to Twitter and get started. You just take part in the conversation, usually about a hot topic, and give your opinion with the hashtag included. You don't need a blog, website, or profile page to do this, and you can learn from other writers about marketing, writing, querying, or any number of subjects and connect with other writers in your field.

You can easily network on Facebook by starting a fan page for your book or business, and you don't need your own website to do this. Your fan page becomes like a type of website or profile page.

That's genius! I mean, why not, right? It's really all you need come to think about it. But when someone just starts out with a social networking site, it can often feel like a ghost town because they don't have any followers yet. What's the quickest way to build a following?

Margo: I suggest allowing the site to go through your e-mail address book and finding your contacts who are already on the site. This is the easiest way to get started with people that you know will help you through the beginning stages of the site. With Twitter, there are directories you can use such as Twellow to find people who have similar interests to you. On Facebook, you can join fan groups and meet people that way as well as searching by your college or high school. On LinkedIn, you can ask your connections to introduce you to others. I have several more tips and ways that I built my personal followers as well as WOW!'s, which will be part of the tips and lessons I share in my class.

Those are some fantastic tips! I definitely want to check out those fun Twitter hashtag chats. It sounds like a mini-conference! Thank you so much, Margo, for sharing your tips with us today. :)

Readers, if you're interested in promoting yourself through social networking or simply want to learn how to use the different sites effectively, remember, Margo's class Social Networking for Authors: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and More! starts next Monday, February 22, 2010. It runs for 4 weeks. Visit the classroom page to view what you'll be learning week by week. Enroll today to reserve your spot. Happy writing!

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