Before August of last year, social media seemed like a chore I didn’t have time for. Between novel and article writing, I figured, how could I possibly squeeze it in? Thirteen months later, I consider it not only vital, but fun. What a difference a year makes.
After signing with my agent, I wanted to know what I could do to enhance my career—aside from revising book one and writing book two. The web is chock-full of resources on writing, agent-seeking and book promoting. Information on the in-between time, however, is scarce. My agent sent me a marketing packet which described active blogging, Facebook and Twitter as essential tools for authors. Fine, I thought. Whatever it takes… But I didn’t expect it to be fun.
I zipped over to Amazon and came across Kristen Lamb’s books, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer and We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I took one to the gym, gulping down every word at rapid stairclimber speed. About a zillion lightbulbs went on and for the first time, social media excited me. I starting blogging the next day. It’s ironic that this all went down during exercise; the parallels between physical and social media fitness are near perfect.
Physical Fitness and Social Media Fitness: (Practically) The Same Darn Thing
Many of us start exercising to lose weight and look better, and because we believe we “should.” Getting started can be tough and intimidating. We might fear looking like fools at the gym in a sea of svelte bodies, dread waking up early or hitting the trails after work; it’s not how we want to spend our time. At first, it HURTS. Every step feels difficult and exhausting as we struggle to adapt physically and to balance our new habits with other aspects of our busy lives.
Over time, though, we start looking and feeling better. Pretty soon, aesthetic reasons aren’t what drives us. We’re happier. We make better friends and partners. We sleep better at night, wake up refreshed, experience less stress and perform better at work. We even start enjoying exercise. If we don’t, we make it enjoyable—that is if we want to continue reaping benefits. Physical fitness becomes the byproduct of a healthy lifestyle.
Many authors join social media to gain readers and sales and because we feel we “should.” But if we approach it properly, those benefits become a byproduct of a healthy, happy writer’s lifestyle—minus the hamstring aches of lunges. ;)
Social media helps break up my day, makes me feel part of a supportive community, introduces me to fantastic friends, takes up far less time than I feared and even strengthens my writing. And I’ve been thrilled to learn that yapping our heads off about ourselves and our work doesn’t help. The keys are supporting and interacting with others and sharing content we feel passionate about—whether we strive to educate, entertain or inspire. Chances are that content will strike a chord with others.
Like physical fitness, gimmicks and shortcuts (endless auto-tweets, buying followers, having others blog for you…) don’t work. Neither does fixating on “the numbers.” Authenticity rules, and if we don’t have fun, we won’t be successful. As a girl who wrote papers to get out of phys. ed. and struggled with food, weight and dieting issues for years, trust me—I know.
I’m grateful every day for the supportive readers and friends I’ve gained. Success is no longer my driving force, but I believe it will come—as it has for many authors.
Key findings from a Neilsen report published in 2011:
- Social networks and blogs dominate Americans’ time online, accounting for nearly a quarter of total internet time.
- Nearly 4 in 5 active internet users visit social networks and blogs routinely.
- Americans spend more time on Facebook any other U.S. website.
- Nearly 40 percent of social media users access social media from their cell phone.
- Internet users over age 55 are driving social networking growth through the mobile Internet
- Many women view online video on social networks and blogs, but men are the heaviest online video users overall. They stream more videos and watch them longer.
- 70 percent of adult social networkers shop online—12 percent more than the average adult internet user.
- 53 percent of active adult social networkers follow a brand (such as authors) and 32 percent follow a celebrity.
- Based on 10 major global markets, social networks and blogs reach over three-quarters of active internet users.
- Blogs and social networks rule American internet time—more so than email—accounting for 23 percent of time spent online.
Fabulous related links:
Lisa Hall-Wilson: 6 Social Media Platforms – Which is bight for you?
Kristen Lamb: Everything We Need to Know About Social Media Success, We Learned in Kindergarten
How does social media influence your writing life, craft or career? Any tips to share with newbies?
Thank you for your ongoing support. You’ve helped me grow and brightened my days more than you know.