Corporations, periodicals, businesses, television networks, and non-profit organizations have discovered social networking sites on the World Wide Web as another form of guerilla marketing. I admit to being a novice on Facebook, MySpace, Linked-In, and Meet-up and have used them primarily for personal networking rather than business connections. I’ve commented briefly before on some of the writer’s blogs and how they remind me of the old chat rooms. What I lack in depth of knowledge about this phenomenon I have in breadth going all the way back to the forums on CompuServe and the Special Interest Groups on AOL. I remember meeting for dinner in a Persian restaurant in Bethesda, MD with a group of CIS travel regulars who happened to come from all over the world at a specific time and place. I was living in Texas at the time.
So is any kind of exposure good for a writer, and how does it affect your branding? What is your brand as a writer? Is it the category of the type of writing that you do, your style of writing, your geographic location, or what? The grandfather of guerrilla marketing (low-cost, non-traditional approaches) is Jay Conrad Levinson, who wrote several books for the entrepreneur, including one just for writers (http://www.gmarketing.com/)
My limited experience with the four sites cited previously has been that I’ve made different connections on each site depending upon the networking I’ve done offline. Over the years I’ve been involved in so many organizations that focused not only on writing but also on volunteer causes that I’ve spread myself too thin, both in the amount of time I can devote to each and to the interests I have in each one.
When I moved to Washington, DC fifteen years ago before the WWW became popular, I joined every relevant organization in town and became very active in several. My CompuServe connections got some entries into the job market, but most of my networking was offline. The Washington Independent Writers http://www.washwriter.org/ is still an excellent organization with conferences, workshops, job boards, and special interest groups as well as a web site. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) both had very active local chapters, and PRSA has a good job board. The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) had a comparable group at the local level called the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives (GWSAE) that catered to the 3,000+ non-profits in the area. I was searching for a job as a publications manager for a non-profit at just the time they were downsizing in 1993 and hiring younger people at half the salary of their predecessors.
When I left DC twelve years ago, I couldn’t find any comparable groups in the Triangle. I was involved with the North Carolina Writers Network for a few years while I wrote my book “Goodbye God, We’re Going to Texas”, but I dropped my membership after I finished the book. http://www.ncwriters.org/
I invested a lot of money and time in putting up a professionally designed and operated web site in 1998, but I was ahead of the curve in this area and while it generated some interest it didn’t generate any profit. Selling a service is very different from selling a product, and even now most web sites are product oriented. There are various web sites with specific listings of different categories of services and ratings, but they are mostly directories. My current web site http://www.johnsuddath.com is strictly an amateur production.
So how can you use social networking sites to help establish your brand identity as a specific type of writer? I don’t know. I’m something of a chameleon with a different face on each site. That happened more by accident than by design as I got pulled into each group from a different direction.
What has been your experience with using social networking sites?