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Social Notworking — A Beginner’s Guide

Headline spelling as intended. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. I actually heard a DJ say it on the radio the other day and thought it was brilliant. How many of us turn social networking into social notworking? I know I do. All. The. Time.Social Media Logotype Background

Facebook. Twitter. Tumblr. Pinterest. Instagram. Reddit. Vine. YouTube. Google+. Wattpad. LinkedIn. These are just the tip of the social notworking iceberg that looms off the bow of your unsinkable marketing ship.

We feel like we have to be part of all of it. Be everywhere! The simple fact of the matter is: we can’t do it all and stay sane. Like it or not, small businesses must promote, advertise, and network. Independent authors are small businesspeople. (If you’re not treating your writing career this way, you need to rethink what you’re doing.) Businesspeople need to network, but it must be done with a goal and plan in mind. It must also be regulated.

Nearly all the networking/notworking sites are shiny and interesting, just like the rest of the Internet. Here’s where the planning part begins.

1)  Take a few minutes each day to investigate the different sites, one or two at a time. Get a feel for how they work, what kinds of content are popular, and what the demographics of its users are. (Hint: If you want to reach teenagers, LinkedIn should probably not be your first choice)

2)  Make yourself a list of the ones you feel most comfortable using and that you find engaging. You won’t be an effective networker on a site you don’t find interesting or get easily frustrated working with.

3)  Next list who your main audience is for your books. If you write down, “Everyone!” go take a cold shower and come back when you’re ready to deal with reality. Nothing, not even ice cream, is universally liked. Get as specific as you can with your target audience. You will have a much easier time marketing to fifteen-year-old boys who wear pocket protectors and adore Tank Girl and Call of Duty than males, aged 10-55.

4)  Cross reference your two lists. Which sites that you enjoyed working with best fit the demographics of your primary readership? If none of them do, you might have to work a little outside your comfort zone to reach your target readers.

5)  Pick one or two places from the combined list to focus your efforts. Jacks of all trades are generally masters of none. Trust me when I say I’m speaking from experience here. Spreading yourself too thin is a quick way to derail your efforts.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6)  Limit your time. Get yourself a kitchen timer and use it to keep yourself on task. You might find yourself to be a brilliant marketer, but if you don’t have product to sell — books — what good does your stunning social media platform do? Allot yourself fifteen to twenty minutes per site, per day. When that timer goes off, close the browser window and start writing. No excuses.

Transforming my personal social notworking into networking is admittedly a work in progress. I wish I had had some guidance like this a few years ago. I might be farther along the path to fame and fortune than I am now. But it is never too late to start!

What tricks do you use to keep yourself from falling into the social notworking abyss? I’d love to hear about them!