This week I attended a presentation on Social Media Marketing. As a coincidence, I also was reading “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko and David Brake (http://www.thesocialmediabible.com) and had just gotten to the chapters on search engine optimization and social media marketing. So, what does that have to do with writing?
Most commentators I’ve read say that a writer must have a web site. We need a web site not only to promote our writing, but we also need to promote our web site. I won’t go into a long discussion about social media, but generally folks are talking about sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, MySpace, Twitter, etc. This book also goes into Podcasts, instant messaging, mobile networking (cellphones), etc. Everyone seems to have a different take on how to use them, and I’ve commented on my experience in a prior post. Generally the theory is that you need to establish an online presence, meaning that your name/brand/company will become recognized not only by search engines but also by your target audience.
I guess that’s part of the problem for me —figuring out not only for whom I’m writing but who is most likely to buy my articles. All of the editors I work with are online, i.e. we exchange information and files via email, and I make my pitches via email. I don’t think that necessarily translates that they’re going online on these sites to search for potential writers. I think it’s different if you’re searching for a staff writing position and they want to see that you’re hip and into the scene and are familiar with social media.
I’ve gotten a few jobs directly from contacts that came from my web site, but not as many as I would like or that would justify the time that I spend on it rather than on writing. I’m setting up an appointment to discuss web site analytics, i.e. who comes to the site, what they click on, etc. that may give me some insight of how I’m missing the boat.
The buzz on SEM is basically just an extension of the old concept of networking. Personal contacts both through affiliate groups and social contacts are important, and I still go to a lot of monthly meetings to “get my name out there.” But none of them has ever generated a single lead much less a contract so I’m cutting back on a lot of my volunteer work and/or social in-person networking. There’s a difference between “friends” and “leads,” and it is difficult for me and for most writers to understand that we’re in the business of selling ourselves as much as selling our writing.