Friday, November 11, 2011

The Tangible Power of Social Media

For some writers, there's still debate over how important social media is (and should be) to their writing careers. However, I know for a fact that media companies factor social media reach into their decision making process for how much marketing muscle to put behind book releases.

So for me, there's no question that social media is important for writers from that perspective. But we're still dealing in some virtual world when we're dealing with social media, right? Not for me. I have lots of examples of social media paying off for me in the real world.

Tix to see Iron & Wine only through Facebook.

Free Stuff
Just last night, my wife Tammy and I attended a special free Iron & Wine concert that came about via social media. Since Tammy follows Iron & Wine on Facebook, she was alerted to the opportunity for tickets to an Authors Den TV program concert. She responded to their request for Iron & Wine fans and was rewarded with two tickets.

We've also been rewarded with other tangible free stuff, especially books and literary journals via social media over the years as well. And that's with the two of us being rather casual about entering contests; we don't spend a lot of time and effort on looking for opportunities.

My Wife
Yes, I found my wife Tammy online--MySpace actually--but neither of us was looking for love. In fact, we started communicating as poets critiquing each other's poetry. Then, we started sharing advice on parenting (I have two boys from my first marriage; Tammy has one from hers). After more than a year of social media-only contact, we started long-distance dating.

Have to thank MySpace for this family hay ride!

Of course, I can hear a few skeptics in the back of the room scoffing, "Heh, so you're lucky. Winning contests and accidentally finding your soulmate online says nothing about the effectiveness of social media." While I would argue that point, I do have one last example of tangible benefits coming straight from my use of social media.

Speaking Appearances
Most of the speaking opportunities I've had over the past two years have been offered to me via social networks (Facebook and Twitter). And these same opportunities paid for me to come out and do my thing. So it's not like I was receiving offers to spend my own money to come out and speak.

Now, I should add that I've been offered gigs in the past because of my expertise as a Writer's Digest editor, but the quality and quantity of offers has skyrocketed with my use of social media. I think the quantity has increased because of increased visibility. As a result of the increased visibility and speaking experience, the quality of offers has increased too.

I was invited to be a National Feature Poet for the 2011 Austin International Poetry Festival via Facebook, though that's not the only invite I've received the past 2 years via social networking sites.

Bottom line: Social media may seem trivial and inconsequential at times, but if you're treating it as a part of your writing career, you'll eventually find yourself with tangible rewards. Who knows? Maybe you'll find love and free tickets to a special concert as well.


Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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Hope Clark said...


I couldn't agree more. I've had invitations to speak at conferences come across Facebook. I've learned of other conferences on Twitter. I've had subscribers find me from forwarded Tweets recommended by followers. People would be amazed at the eyes that follow social media, and the opportunities floating around in cyber space that occasionally land in our laps. Thanks for the post.

Hope Clark

Anonymous said...

I'm still a newbie in the social media stream, but I can already see the benefits to wading into it.
Thanks for all your posts and advice. I'm trying to follow your guidelines.

Joseph Hesch said...

Great post, Robert. Shows if we're diligent and open, social media provides potential doors that are at least unlocked or ajar.

And sometimes good things happen when we aren't so diligent. This coming from the most surprised writer-Tweep in all Twitterville. Thanks for your support.

Joe Hesch