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Two Ways to Use Social Media Better (if you're looking to monetize)

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Apr. 9th, 2013 | 02:09 pm

Twitter, Tumblr, LiveJournal, Facebook, blogs, etc, etc. As writers/artists/people with a product, does social media do us any good?

Yes and no.

To some extent, social media is self-fulfilling. When you already have fans, they want to hear from you, and social media is the bridge that they use to connect you to other potential fans. It takes a long time and a lot of giving away free content to build fans, though.

Two ways artists can use social media more effectively:


1) Know the difference between a friend and a fan. A friend supports you and wants you to do well. A fan buys your stuff because they like your work. Liking YOU is different than liking your WORK. Amanda Palmer has created a lot of controversy. Not everyone likes her. But the people who like her work buy it, often on the PWYC model. She's made it work well enough to make a living at it, but there were a lot of long hard hours on the road, sleeping on couches, before she made it. She made contact with people in person, and cultivated them as her fans, not her friends. Her fans still let her couch-crash and host concerts in their living rooms. Her friends get her phone calls.

Some social media is better suited to building friends--Facebook, Livejournal--because they presuppose an intimacy with the personal lives of the people interacting. Other social media is better for fans--Twitter, blogs and Tumblr--because the knowledge base needed to appreciate someone's post is much lower. There's more instant gratification, did-you-see-this-link-it-was-cool factor.

To connect with fans, you must generate content. If the content is good, consistent, and entertaining, your fans will share it for you, and it will build more fans. Friends say "Oh, that's awesome!" and click "like". Fans share it with their networks.


2) Use social media as a reinforcement rather than the first troops. That is, if you are connected, however loosely, with 500 people in the real world (members of your church, audiences at your events, whatever), your social media reinforces that connection. It won't make a stranger buy your book--but it will remind your acquaintance that they were planning to. Or, your friend will recommend your book to their acquaintance rather than buying it themselves.


So most of us are going at it backward - we're trying to create online connections from scratch and hope they transform into real world connections. Instead, we should be meeting as many people as possible in the real world, and offering them something of value (whether that's friendship, fellowship, or good business advice) so that they look forward to hearing from us online. Nobody wants to buy @jane.x.smith435's book they've never heard of. But when they liked Jane that time they met her at a professional gathering, and she's sent them a couple of articles they're interested in (not by her), and they clicked over twice to her blog and laughed about something she wrote, they might mention to their other friend, "Hey, this woman I know vaguely just wrote a book that I think you'd like".


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What's your best social media success?

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Comments {22}

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(no subject)

from: yachiru
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
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Yeah I am so so bad at the building a fan base thing. I've got an author blog and no idea what to put on it. Hey, I got rejected again by the same magazine? >_>

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:18 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, I'm writing a whole post about this for tomorrow :)

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Andrea Blythe

(no subject)

from: blythe025
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
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Social media is an interesting beast (or herd of beasts). Each outlet has its own language and its own culture, which has to be adapted to.

You make a great point about in person connections before social media connections, though I have made some great social media connections that have translated into real world connections. I don't know that I would count those from a marketing stand point, as it was more personal than that.

I think you're doing a great job of generating content and that's something I could work on more with my blog especially.

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writerdoc

(no subject)

from: writerdoc
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
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These are my thoughts exactly. Well said! :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!

Yeah, I agree, there's a two-way street involved. What I see a lot of is people starting up a Twitter or a Tumblr and expecting INSTANT SALES! which is like setting up a lemonade stand in the driveway and expecting to become Starbucks :)

I really need to learn more about Twitter/Tumblr and how to use them...but they don't come naturally to me, so it's probably not my best option.

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Andrea Blythe

(no subject)

from: blythe025
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
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Hah! Yes, exactly.

You know not every social media beast is for everyone, and I know plenty of people who don't use either Twitter or Tumbler and get along fine.

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SuperCAILEfragilistic

(no subject)

from: caile
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
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My biggest social media success came during my brief time as a quirky style blogger. I did a post about parasols where I mentioned author Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate novels, and she linked to it on her blog! It freaked me out a bit.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Wow! That's so cool!!! And it goes to show how just showing up and writing what you care about can really be key.

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Kizzy

(no subject)

from: xo_kizzy_xo
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
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I have a non-LJ friend who is succeeding in building her brand through everything you've described here. She's by no means famous in the blogosphere , but she's doing quite well for herself in her little piece of it. It's taken her years and a lot of work generating content on her part. I tend to think people don't quite understand that, especially the time factor.

Edited at 2013-04-09 09:17 pm (UTC)

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ecosopher

(no subject)

from: ecosopher
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
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Precisely. It takes a long time -- I think we hear of things going viral and imagine 'awesome! that'll be me!' and that all the riches will come from that. When a lot of the time, flashes in the pan like that are either a culmination of years of hard work, or a lucky fluke, and having something go viral often just results in your 15 minutes of fame, and nothing more.

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Kizzy

(no subject)

from: xo_kizzy_xo
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
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I've read in multiple places that the reason why The Pioneer Woman became what she is today is because she struck the blogosphere at precisely the right time. Whether she'd planned it that way or it was a lucky fluke is anyone's guess, but the fact that there are so many wannabes following in her footsteps and never quite attaining what she's attained precisely illustrates what you're saying.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Agreed!

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
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It's hard to remember, sometimes, the difference between "friends" and "fans," and that if someone falls in the first group we shouldn't expect them to be in the second. Even if it does hurt that they don't want to "coo" over your (creative product) "baby."

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
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God yes :)

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ecosopher

(no subject)

from: ecosopher
date: Apr. 9th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
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I got Freshly Pressed at Wordpress! And then got loads of people coming to look at my blog! Yay :D

I'm not sure I'm after money just yet, although that would be nice. I would like to have a job and earn money that way. Right now I would just settle for infinite internet fame ;P

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
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That's so cool!!

Yeah, internet fame has its moments :)

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Gardening at Night

(no subject)

from: cacophonesque
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 03:51 am (UTC)
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I'm not currently working on anything to be monetized at this point in time--but I liked reading this post. I have a couple of ideas right now about how to create a stronger "professional" presence online. Currently I'm a stay-at-home mom, but when I return to the job market, I'd like it if when my name was searched by potential employers there was something respectable out there. (Not that I'm at all ashamed of my NYT appearance in full Harry Potter costuming).

More importantly, though, I have a couple of friends whom I think would benefit from reading this. Hopefully I can remember to link them in the morning. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
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That's a great motivator to create an online presence! And I totally want to see the NYT pic!

Thanks, glad you liked it, and I hope your friends do, too!

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Gardening at Night

(no subject)

from: cacophonesque
date: Apr. 11th, 2013 02:03 am (UTC)
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Voila!

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Facebook

from: anonymous
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
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I'm a Facebook guy. I can't keep up on the websites of every artist I'd like to see if they came to my area but I can keep up on Facebook. I use Google reader to keep up with your blog but I can't do that for everyone.

It seems to work for me best for the independent artists I really like. I've attended a couple of Stageit shows and I'm going to a short notice Vienna Teng show in Ann Arbor because I was able to hear about them in a timely fashion.

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whipchick

Re: Facebook

from: whipchick
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
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Nice! I read somewhere yesterday that all the 'kids these days' think Twitter is for old people...

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drwex

It's a good distinction

from: drwex
date: Apr. 10th, 2013 07:51 pm (UTC)
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and one worth remembering. I think the pivot point is the notion of conversation. You talk TO your fans; you talk WITH your friends. Most social media suck at hosting conversations, but I think to the degree that you can warp it to do that, you can make it work for you.

One thing missing from this list (and sadly from the social media space) is the notion of mailing lists. Many of my best online friends are people I met and shared mailing lists with. The closest widespread analogue I can think of right now are LinkedIn groups, but that's a piss-poor substitute.

My biggest social media hit was probably when I posted something about AFP's Kickstarter and Neil Gaiman stopped by to comment about how (he thought) I'd got it wrong. Then he tweeted about it, which caused Ben Folds also to stop by and leave a comment.

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