Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 30, 2019

The Real Power of Social Media — and a Challenge

In my own (lucky) experience, your online pals become your real-life friends. My online friends rock. They are my tribe and I can't imagine my life without them. That, my friends, is the real power of social media.

We spend time with these people, whether it’s chatting on social media, sharing a writing sprint or cat video, asking about a plot problem, trying to figure out what kind of cooties your kid has, or sharing morning coffee. 

People are seeking authentic connections online and, by joining in, an author is opening themselves up for connecting. For introverts that can be a scary prospect. My advice is to take your time and conserve your energy.

The best part of all this? Seemingly disparate people throughout the world are connecting through social media (and sometimes in real life!) and enjoying the hell out of each other.

Some of those people are readers who might just be inclined to buy your book. Even if they don't,  you'll have made scores of new friends.  That's a beautiful thing.

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to see my internet pals in person — at conferences, on vacations or when they pop through town. When I see them, there are hugs and smiles and words and fun. You see, we know each other already. We've spent time together. I get as many holiday cards from my online friends as I do from my family.

I know, I know. Many of you are introverts. But you are also authors who have realized that no one is going to ring your doorbell and ask you if they can buy your book.

You've got to put yourself out there a little, which brings up a most important question...

What the heck do I post?

If you really don't know what to talk about online, try the 'ten phrases game.' (aka the "How many words does it take to get to the center of YOU" exercise.)

I will throw myself under the bus here so you have an example of what I mean. Here's Jenny in 10 Bullets or Less:

  • Rejuvenated by creativity
  • Nurtured by family and friends
  • Loves to give back
  • Teaching lights my fire
  • Growing things hits my Zen button
  • Gluten-free eating changed my life
  • Thankful to be alive
  • My guilt muscle is strong, but my humor muscle is stronger
  • I dream of being an organized person (and a good singer)
  • Morning mantra: Give the scary lady some coffee

And I still left plenty out, and you will too when you try this for yourself. (This exercise is hard!!)

What do those ten points equal topic-wise?

  • Creativity
  • Gardening
  • Health
  • Family
  • Coffee
  • Gratitude
  • Help me organize!
  • Humor

Those are eight areas where I can bond with other people on social media!

If you're coming up blank on how to convert these topic ideas into action, here are some tips to make the process easier:

  • Effective social media is a thousand drops of water sprinkled across months, not throwing a big bucket of updates out at once. High volume sharing tends to tire out most followers.
  • Pick only one (or two) social platforms and really embrace them. You can do more if you have the time but DON'T do 5-6 different apps with no interaction. Pick the few you're most comfortable with and visit at least once a day for the first few months.
  • Look up the people you already know and see what they're posting about. Jump into those conversations. If it's online, it is open to the public...just be polite about it.
  • Find the hashtags for topics you know a lot about or have interest in.
  • If you're just starting on a platform like Twitter or Instagram, go look at someone you admire and follow all the people on their list who look interesting. 
  • Be sure to use the 12:1 rule by responding or retweeting twelve items/links/conversations from other people for every one of yours.

As marketing genius Seth Godin says, "The reason social media is so difficult for most organizations: It’s a process, not an event." More awesome Seth quotes can be found here.

Your Challenge

Sum up the essence of YOU in up to 10 points and post it for us in the comments, along with your fave Social Media hangouts. I also challenge you to connect with as many of the people in the comments section as possible - comment on their self-summary, follow their social media links.

Before you know it you will have a tribe. If you have a tribe already, you'll have an even bigger one. 🙂

47 comments on “The Real Power of Social Media — and a Challenge”

  1. Here's Mary in a nutshell
    Can't wait for my 6 a.m. sprint with my online critique group
    Love afternoon sails with my 89-year-old father for the laughter and the confidence building
    Playing the hammered dulcimer and working crossword puzzles keep me sane
    Nothing's better than dinner with my sweetie
    Except maybe dinner with our three grown kids
    I love gardening. I grow a great salad bar for the deer.
    The world is an awesome place. Except for the deer in my backyard
    Tuesday mornings with Reading Partners teaches me so much
    People seem so much better if you don't judge them.
    I believe in love. And respect. And tolerance

    This is a hard exercise but I was amazed how quickly I thought of the things I really care about.

    I'm always on Facebook but I always comment on Twitter. I'm going to embrace your 12:1 rule.


    1. This is a fantastic list, Mary! And I think it's so cool that you play the hammered dulcimer. I've never even heard of a hammered dulcimer and now I know someone who plays it. Isn't social media GRAND??

  2. Oh my gosh, Jenny, I love your tips! Every one is gold.

    Wow, writing a list is intimidating, but I've had 4 cups of coffee by 6 am, so....

    Golden Retriever friendly, interested, and klutzy
    black-belt Pollyanna
    fly fishing my way to zen
    motorcycling reminds me to live in technicolor, filling my senses with memories
    covered in scars - outside and in, and proud to have survived every one
    unremitting encourager
    recovering people-pleaser
    Books saved my life then gave me a roadmap
    A what-is-this-empty-you-speak-of, optimist
    Head-down, plowing-the-field workhorse

    I aspire to embody my tagline: 'Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change'

    follow me on FB! https://www.facebook.com/laura.drake.927

    1. FOUR cups by 6 am? You must've been higher than a kite when you wrote this list. And still you were accurate. Well done, my friend. She is 100% serious, y'all...the best hardworking people-pleasing klutzy encourager I know. FOLLOW LAURA. That is all. 🙂

  3. Wow, Jenny - you hit every every "Agree" button for me: introvert; value of making friends on social media (I'll say things about myself on Twitter that I won't share elsewhere, and the writing community there is a HUGE source of support); limiting your platforms (mine are Twitter and Facebook); thousand drops of water (absolutely!)

    And I LOVE the ten bullets idea - here's mine:

    1. Thinks too deeply about EVERYTHING, making simple things complicated and time-consuming to the point that they have to be pondered over for several days.
    2.-10. (See above.)

    I'm going to share your post, and will follow everyone who comments here. I'm on Twitter @karendebonis and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KDeBoniswriter/

    Thanks for an energizing start to my morning!

    1. Thanks for sharing! And yes, I followed you on Twitter. Until this moment, I didn't know you were a memoirist. I'm working on one right now and it is hard...I'm sure your pondering-for-days muscle helps you with memoir.

    1. Hahahaha! My garden provides a litter box for my neighbor's cat, but only on one side. And it doesn't seem to matter what I plant. The only thing that damn cat leaves alone is my kale. But I'm going to mulch with hay and see if that does anything. I will FIND the anti-cat solution. And, of course, that means I wash everything on that side of the garden twice.

  4. Wow! I can't believe how this bit of posting from each of you makes me love you! I guess that proves Jenny's point. I'll give this a shot.
    Never going to be a morning person, and not much of a night person either.
    Can't resist babies of any species.
    Interested in everything, except sports.
    Talk to my plants, and listen to them too.
    Easily sidetracked by an interesting book or article.
    Love solving puzzles and cryptic crosswords.
    Need to know how things work. It isn't enough to know that they do.
    Ignore social conventions that don't make sense.
    A day where I haven't learned anything is a day wasted.
    Often feel the urge to just pack a few necessities into a backpack and go walkabout.

    1. Exactly, Virginia! People want to know others and be known by them in return. I love all babies too...I can't get enough of them. And I talk to my plants and get sidetracked by words. But I have that ability to just accept that there are a bunch of things that work and I have NO IDEA why. 🙂

  5. Holy cow, Jenny, you've done it again: given me another way to think about social media that is LESS SCARY!! So far I've found that Facebook and Instagram are my favorite platforms. I'm too long-winded for Twitter, which means I should probably do that as a damn exercise in self-restraint. Anyway, I will follow everyone here, of course! And here's me:

    1. I'm a gerbil farmer's daughter. (Yup. My dad had 9,000 of those critters and called himself the Gerbil Czar.)
    2. I've got a yours-mine-ours blended family of five. Got married to #2 when the kids were ages 5-9. And guess what? It worked! Still together after 24 years.
    3. I would rather be writing than doing anything else (especially social media)
    4. My best days include a hike AND a run, because nothing fixes my spirit like getting outside.
    5. I've never met an animal I don't like, or a kid, either. And yes. I taught junior high, so I can say this with authority.
    6. I have a house on Prince Edward Island and call that my second home. Give me a red dirt road that leads to a secret beach, and see #4
    7. I am working on novel #7 and I have ghostwritten 14 nonfiction books.
    8. I did standup comedy for several years to get over my stage fright.
    9. My husband and I took a pottery class so we could make our own dishes. We still use them.
    10. I've learned more from Writers in the Storm than from any other writing site. Thank you!!

    1. Awwww, Holly...this makes my day! I've always known you are one of the coolest ladies I know. Who can say they grew up on a gerbil farm AND taught junior high school and survived? Not many. Plus, I've always wanted to go visit Prince Edward Island. 🙂

      It's interesting what you say about stage fright. I used to be terrified of public speaking. Light-headed-cold-sweat kind of terrified. But I really wanted to teach computer classes. So...I took on a project in the company where I worked and had travel to our other offices to teach computer classes. I tossed my cookies every morning for the first 2-3 weeks but I gutted it out. And now I can get up in front of most crowds. A lot of people tell me social media feels like that for them. And I tell them to start small and gut it out - before too long, the tribe will outweigh the anxiety.

    2. I love the gerbil farm story! Who knew there was such a thing! And PEI is somewhere I've always wanted to visit since I fell in love with L.M. Montgomery's books as a young girl.

    1. LOLOL. If you build a tribe you like, social media IS fun. If you post about your passions and the things you love, your people will find you. Let's seem some lists and social links, Tiffany!

  6. The post in today's inbox was PERFECTLY timed for me! I love the idea of really focusing in the things that are meaningful. So refreshing and authentic and appealing, rather than those endless photos of book covers and cat videos!

    1. While book covers and cat videos have their place, they're not going to build your tribe. But once you have some people you connect with on an authentic level, they will be super excited about your book covers and your cat videos. Because they're YOURS. 🙂

  7. Oh my gosh! I love this so much. And I love what others have shared--will comment after this 🙂

    I am a Happiness Warrior
    I believe in one good cup of coffee in the morning with no interruptions of social media or anything else
    I am obsessed with helping women with transitions -- positive thinking, getting through the hard stuff, by going through all of this and sharing
    I love my children and granddaughter
    I am committed to being a partner with my husband
    I adore essential oils and natural products
    Love to garden
    Am eating a plant based diet (finally) and I think it's changing my life
    Love organizing…which is why I have to do it so often!
    I love style--clothes, life, house etc.
    Bonus* duh! Writing!

    I sort of use these for posting, but not really with intention. I'm on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/amy.fosseen and Instagram @amykennedyfosseen

    1. Amy!!! I love seeing you here. And I cannot believe you have a grandbaby that I missed...I have to go seeeeeeeee. I'm glad you brought it up about your drive to help women in transition. When you changed around your messaging and began blogging about that, I saw a whole new vibe happen at your blog. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

      On a personal note, WHY is the plant-based diet changing your life? And will you come to my house and organize something?

  8. Love this post, Jen! But the essence of me in 10 points? I don't know if I'll hit "essence," but I'll grab 10 true things about me at least:
    1. I speak fluent sarcasm.
    2. I'm an introvert. No, really.
    3. I have a real sense of wonder about the world. (And why haven't I shared that much in my social media? Like I'll stare at a spider web for 5 minutes trying to figure out how they did that. ...and now I have to apologize to Laura for bringing up spiders.)
    4. Grammar and I are buddies.
    5. I love to make people smile or laugh.
    6. I write all kinds of stories, including YA, cozies, and now mythology/contemporary fantasy.
    7. In the past decade, I've kind of acquired a boot obsession. Like I adore boots, cowgirl boots in particular, and think—or rather, know—they can be worn with anything.
    8. I am not a morning person and do not understand why anyone would want to get up before the sun does.
    9. I feel blessed every single day by the family and friends I have. How did I get so lucky?
    10. I love visiting new places in my imagination, in my travels, and in books.
    How did I do? Did I pass?

    1. Of course you passed! You are a rockstar. I love that "no really," Julie because you hide your introvert well, especially on a writer's cruise. *lolol*

      The best part about this list of ten is what you did with it. She sat down and did an entire social media plan, y'all.

      Like I said...ROCKSTAR.

  9. In the spirit of FB friendships, I will send out a friend request to those of you I find there! Here's my 10 - winging it!
    Writing saved my life
    Now, with many a career behind me, I have time to read -- so many books and I hope I have time!
    I married a man I am delighted to say is my best friend & lover - one of the wisest people I know.
    I love learning! I am especially curious
    The practice is the art is my motto
    Buddhism, Taoism and the ancient teaching are the laws I live by
    I am a gym rat - and when weather permits I run for miles outside in NYC
    Love hiking and canoeing and our camp in the Adirondacks
    Spending time with my nieces and nephews is my joy
    We enjoy gallery hopping, museums and our favorite places to eat in NYC and Santa Fe

    1. YAY! I'm glad you are building your tribe in our comments section. I love all the wisdom of the ancient teachings - what a great thing to post about. Plus, you've got love, friendship, great outdoor experiences and museums going for you. Your feeds are going to be fascinating if they aren't already. I have to go look...I'll bet they are. 🙂

  10. Excellent tips, Jenny. And the list idea--fascinating. So here's my list (it's eleven, so maybe one of my bullets should be always bucking the rules. lol)

    • Creative zen time completes me (without it I’m a bear)
    • Coffee is the elixir that fires me up
    • I’m ga-ga over my little dogs
    • Memory is elusive
    • Empowering myself and others is my life’s work
    • Teaching is part & parcel of empowering
    • The glass is half-full and it’s up to you to fill it the rest of the way
    • People are fascinating (past & present)
    • I dream of being more efficient
    • Learning is crack
    • Beauty is everywhere

    Thanks for this. You've empowered me and I love it!

    1. I love that you buck the rules, Lynette! I see a lot of me in your list and your little dogs are adorable. And why is it so hard to be efficient? It drives me crazy in myself too. I don't get why some people get the organizational gene and some don't. (I didn't get it.)

  11. This post is golden! I am right there with you, especially the guilt/ humor muscle as well as finding good friends via social media even though they may be a continent away.

    1. Thanks Ellen! And aren't you so glad you have your tribe, now that you've moved that continent away? I'm sure glad we still get to have some Ellen. 🙂

  12. Hey, y'all - we have a broken plug-in we're trying to track down...so sorry the comment section is a pain! But we're all in this together - if someone made a cool comment, just use their name at the beginning of your response. We'll all find it.

    And soon, I will figure out which plugin is the issue...and stomp on it.

  13. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, plus a tiny bit on Tumblr.

    I love social media and a properly used hashtag
    I believe in love
    I believe in pink (ode to Audrey Hepburn)
    I'm an ambivert
    I love grammar rules
    I love tea
    I am a fount of useless trivia
    I have an eidetic memory
    I can parallel park a minivan
    I believe in the power of friendship

    1. I've never been sure if an eidetic memory is a blessing or a curse, but it SEEMS like it would be the coolest thing ever. Your list is absolutely awesome. Lots and lots of gold in there! I hope I get to see a lot of vintage-y cool pink facts in your social media feeds.

  14. In no particular order:
    An author who gave Marilyn Monroe a second chance
    Earned a paycheck dressing up as Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland
    Stands in awe of lightning, thunder and my wife’s from-scratch chocolate cake
    Born on the 6th of July, but I’m a firecracker just the same
    Loves a book that reads like a movie
    Kissed the love of my life atop the Eiffel Tower
    Climbed the Great Wall of China…yes, climbed, one does not just walk on it
    Snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef
    Lives in a haunted Victorian house, and talks to spirits
    Firmly believes it isn’t hoarding if your stuff’s cool
    Discovered that life’s second chapter is the sweetest

    Learn more by being my Facebook friend at Facebook at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lentz.author/

    1. Your list reads quite a bit like my bucket list (although I'll bet that Winnie the Pooh outfit was hot as blazes in the summer). You have so many things to spice up your social.

      p.s. Having seen his wife's chocolate cake, I can attest that it is amazeballs.

  15. Thanks for inspiration from a writer for many years. Holding my finished book in my hands is dream! Lived many lives. Organisation skills bad news. Love and respect paramount for me. Thirst for knowledge as late bloomer. Facebook holds trepidation for me-but do use! Never twitter. Sorry didn't blog all I have to say 10 years ago! Mindfulness is my tool for helping me to accept the things I cannot change. Love 1000 drops of gratitude. Believe Writers In The Storm will be my helper.

    1. Awwwwww. This is a great list, Sandy! And who says you can't blog all you have to say now? Go follow Laura on Facebook - she can wipe that trepidation out with a few days of fun posts. 🙂

  16. Top ten things? Ooh...interesting!

    Morning coffee x 2.
    My brilliant soulmate hubby.
    My brilliant soulmate son.
    My gorgeous daughter.
    " " twin granddaughters.
    My multipod creativity.
    My renaissance soul.
    Pleasant eccentricity - eg: wild west and steampunk.
    My epic western novel (life story of a devastating cowgirl who's the fastest gun in the west and bisexual).

    Jo, Hampshire UK
    Creating My Odyssey - Liberating the Real Me After Thirty Years Of Depression and Anxiety http://www.jo-b-creative.blogspot.co.uk

    1. Okay, so just from your list and your bio, I see these topics: Family, travel, writing, creativity, coffee, overcoming depression/anxiety, living your best life, cowboys/girls and the West. That's a lot of topics!!! You've got TONS to work with, and I love that you are putting it all out there and embracing your "you-ness."

  17. I love Writers in the Storm to bits! This post could not have been more needed or more timely, since I'm in the midst of re-doing my writing blog and working up to a more regular/authentic social media presence. Wanted to comment yesterday but had an emergency roto-rooting to deal with (ugh). My Twitter and Instagram accounts are just sitting there, but I have a FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/megwolfeauthor/

    Your 12:1 rule is a very good idea, and I will be happy to follow everybody who has posted 🙂
    Okay, here goes, Meg in 10 Bullets or Less:

    Five a.m. is the magic hour. Likes to work uninterrupted until ten a.m., but that doesn't happen very often.
    Gets rid of clutter, knows where everything is at, and sees to keeping everything in good repair.
    Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, wine at night.
    The family shepherd.
    Sign language is now a necessity, but the writer's brain wants to stick with English word order.
    Has inexplicable identification with rabbits.
    Finally satisfied inner punk rocker by getting black and white hearing aids instead of boring beige ones.
    Recently bought first pair of Doc Martens. Best. Boots. Ever. Wear Birks the rest of the time.
    Went vegetarian a year and a half ago, wish it had been forty years ago.
    When not focused on a writing project, not comfortable in own skin.

  18. How can be so hard to come up with ten things and at the same time, be hard to limit it to only ten? Here we go:
    Teenager trapped in an old body.
    Recovering introvert.
    People watcher, but not in a creepy way.
    Need to know why, not just how.
    Storage vessel for useless information and trivia.
    Total dog person.
    Black belt thrift store shopper.
    Bicycle addicted.
    Still the same daydreamer I was as a kid

  19. I'm getting to this late, but here goes:
    Mostly Facebook, sometimes Twitter. I have Instagram and Pinterest accounts but seldom use them.

    My list of 10:
    -I've lived in 3 countries (UK, Canada, USA) and sometimes wish I had put down roots and not moved so much.
    -Turned 70 last fall and believe that keeping up with technology is part of growing old gracefully.
    -Caregiver for my husband who has Parkinsons' disease.
    -Crazy about my daughters and grandkids.
    -Think I should have gone into music and been a choral conductor. Still sing in a choir.
    -Golf is my therapy.
    -Seriously think we should add two hours to every day.
    -I love the desert, mountains, and ocean.
    -I love speaking to groups.
    -I believe in a loving God and life after death. I try to live my life accordingly.

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