In recent conversations with several writers, I reviewed my experiences with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I am active on Facebook with friends, less so on LinkedIn, and have an inactive account on Twitter. I complained about the hundreds of dollars I spent last year advertising my web site using Google Adwords with no leads. The ads built up my page rank, number of clicks, and click-throughs, but produced no business. I blamed it on my amateur site, but others offered the opinions that Google doesn’t work for writers.
So I’ve warmed up Tweetdeck and Trendsmap (applications for tracking Twitter) and started following a couple of writers since the response had been that Twitter was the most effective of the three services for writers. I’m in eight groups on LinkedIn, but I’m found most of the “updates” meaningless and the discussions largely self-promotional rather than informative. The creative director of one of the largest ad agencies in the area commented last year that he does all of his hiring through LinkedIn; so you take your choice.
Since I don’t live in New York, Washington, or San Francisco, I can’t take advantage of the numerous networking opportunities for personal contacts available there and am more dependent on online connections. I belong to the state organization for writers in North Carolina and a local freelance writer’s group, and we exchange information and war stories and occasional leads. I have the current Writer’s Market both in print and online, but I still haven’t found them very useful in targeting my particular niche markets. Most successful writers I’ve known have established themselves with a limited number of periodicals and have worked with them over a long period of time. Of course, staff members change and the magazines have had layoffs like everyone else.
At the last meeting of the Triangle Area Freelancers the consensus seemed to be that too many editors are no longer willing to pay living wages for articles and are using more stories from inexperienced writers who will work for less, or even for free just to get clips.
It is hard to establish long-term relationships using online Social Media, which seems to be focused on the immediate buzz of the day. I’m certainly not willing to post to Twitter everyday or to read the posts of other writers. I don’t see many editors on any of these services, and they are my real interest. Sure, they put their magazines up on Facebook, and you can track their interests through those posts, but you really don’t know who is posting them.
The idea seems to be that we have to use online social media because “everybody is doing it,” but the “success” stories I’ve read are largely from those who are promoting their book, ezine, or web site about the topic. I get dozens of email newsletters about social media every week, and most are of marginal value. They’re in the game because they have a “product” rather than a service to sell. Well, my book is six years old, and I have no plans to write another.
The old dictum that a writer must have a platform to be able to interest a publisher seems to apply more to books than to magazines, and I’m not sure that online social media is a reliable method of establishing a brand. I think that just being more visible on the search engines doesn’t necessarily generate leads.