I’ve found Twitter—and many aspects of social media—somewhat tricky to teach.
Why? Here are 3 reasons to start:
Using social media is mostly about being YOU, finding your voice, and finding the right audience (those inclined to listen).
Your strategy, motivation, or purpose will be different—and it will change—depending on where you’re at in your career. That means I can’t teach you by explaining what I do; my strategy cannot be your strategy.
Whenever you set out to use social media as a means to an end (e.g., selling books), that tends to ensure you won’t attain your end. It’s a very Zen process that doesn’t necessarily reward those who “try” the hardest.
That’s why I love this interview with author Christina Katz about using Twitter. Here are a few wonderful snippets:
I’m not sure that people like to hear that the tools can become intuitive if you use them enough or that you are actually allowed to take a break because folks often approach the tools as marketing channels or bullhorns. But social media tools are really much more fun and intuitive if you use them for social artistry rather than if you spend all your energy trying to get followers or trying to get folks to buy your stuff.
My experience of using online tools is that you are basically plugging in and expanding your sensibilities the same as when you walk into any room. Writers should think of all of the online tools as an extension of their own nervous system. If you walk into a room, you would get an immediate intuitive sense of the environment. The same is true of Twitter or any online environment. When you connect into to theses contexts, you are not acquiring billboard space. You are entering a context, an environment. Don’t over-think how you are going to act. Just do what you would do if you were entering any new room. After a while, you will become “a regular” and people will look forward to seeing you when you show up.
P.S. I’m thinking of Christina in particular today because I’m headed off to speak at the Willamette Writers Conference, where Christina and I first met! If you’re at Willamette, I hope you’ll say hello.
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.