Build Diversity Into Your Online Presence

Back in 2008, a smart guy named Brian Solis created the Conversation Prism (above), and wrote a blog post titled State of Social Media 2008.

2008 is eons ago in new media terms—but the post is worth revisiting, especially for writers just now learning how to integrate online media into their everyday life. While not all of his points apply to individuals (his advice is extremely corporation focused), here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Social media is a means, not an end—which is why I so dislike discussions and blog posts about how social media “doesn’t work” to sell books!
  • Social media can gather people around common passions.
  • It takes more than an understanding of the tools to build meaningful relationships. It takes a human touch—an ability to send a genuine, authentic message. Therefore, social media can best be defined through sociology, rather than technology.
  • Listeners make the best conversationalists. (See prism above for listening channels.)

A few points I’d like to make:

  1. If you interact with people in ONLY one place (or one section of the “prism”), then you put yourself at risk of losing your network when people go elsewhere. I can guarantee you: Tools and networks come and go. Friendster and MySpace gave way to Facebook. Blockbuster gave way to Netflix. Maybe iTunes will give way to Spotify. Etc. I’m not advocating social media schizophrenia. HOWEVER, part of being a successful author is knowing where your audience is headed, and adapting (not complaining).
  2. If you focus all your energies on one channel or outlet, what happens if you must leave it—or if it disappears? Or if the rules change? To use myself as an example, if I had limited myself to content and conversations through my Writer’s Digest blog, I would’ve lost most of that community by walking away. But I have networks in a variety of places, so I can transition when needed. Without Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post right now.
  3. Build and enable a community of your own that no one can take away. If you’re an author, and you rely completely on your publisher (and/or bookstores) to reach readers, what happens if/when those things go away? What happens if they don’t want to work with you any more? What if you don’t like their terms any more? How do you reach the same readers or audience as before? I hope you’re already thinking through your strategies to address these challenges.

Part of my motivation for stepping away from No Rules was to build content and a network that wasn’t under the control of a company. I began this process awhile ago, when I started my own e-mail newsletter list, and I’ve been filling in the colors of my prism through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites.

If I lose or transition away from my network or community, I want it to be because of something I did, rather than a situation inflicted upon me, or due merely to the winds of technological change.


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