I have been studying social media in preparation to do a presentation in Ottawa Canada next week. I have studied Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and ways to keep all that straight such as Hootsuite. There’s so much to learn.
Yet in the end, there’s only one thing: people.
All the tutorials are full of information about how to use a certain platform, how to schedule your posts, tweets, updates, etc. Seldom do they talk about the reason to do this, which is to connect with other people. It’s the unspoken assumption and yet, so much of it is antithetical to the very connections you want.
What sort of content do people want on their social network platforms? Something that shows you are human, with the whole usual mix of foibles, eccentricities and endearing qualities that the rest of us have.
It requires openness, honesty, vulnerability. That’s what is so hard about social media, is that it is being social, but doing it in the open, where you have no control over who sees it. Of course, you want others to see it, but you are also aware of the open-ended nature of it, so you are, well—careful. Careful doesn’t feel right, though. The voice is wrong.
As writers, we understand that term, voice. It’s what sells our work, what distinguishes us from others and it’s the exact thing that we need in social media. What do you want your posts, images, etc. to convey by their collective voice? Do you want to be humorous or sarcastic? Encouraging or critical?
For me, I want to encourage. Long ago, I started ending communications with this phrase: Send me your good news. What I mean is that I am expecting you to do will with your writing, that I am hoping that you’ll sell that novel, that I am your cheerleader. It’s the tone or the voice that I hope to convey.
I know much more than I ever thought possible about social media now—it’s true that while preparing to teach, the teacher learns more than the students ever will. I do okay with social media, and have identified ways I can do better. But most of all, the research has reminded me that the reason to do this isn’t just to get 1000 followers on Twitter or have 200 people LIKE a post on Facebook. No. The reason for all of this is YOU, the reader. Thanks for reading. I wrote this for YOU.