Tuesday, 16 August 2011

To Tweet or Not to Tweet - Making Positive Use of Social Networking.

Various people I know have said: “Facebook? Oh no, I don’t use that” or, “it is a waste of time”. “Twitter? I have better things to do”. Well it is each to his/her own but I for one have found that, in the wake of retiring from formal employment to concentrate on my writing and family commitments, social networking has opened up a whole new world and further widened my horizons.
 I have to admit that my prime reason was marketing, research into the new world I had entered, and simply connecting with like-minded people. Being a lone worker can be lonely. No longer did I have: colleagues to bounce ideas off, colleagues and new contacts to exchange information with, meetings to attend which updated me with current practice in my field. The list goes on.
I wrote some years ago that:
“ . . . life itself is a learning process – a huge department store – to feed different needs at different times of life. In this department store, we can step on the escalator on the ground floor and move onwards and upwards, stopping off at will to explore.”1
Some years ago, I started in the writing room of this department store, stepped onto the escalator and wandered into the book room so that I could see what other authors were writing. I took a good look a book covers or jackets. Back on the escalator, I soon reached the publishing floor. Here, using the internet for research, I examined different options. Next stop was the marketing floor.
I had some experience of marketing from an internal organisational aspect. Now, I was on my own. I had to build a platform in order to market my writing. The marketing floor was huge. There was a web site section. I knew that having a web site was an essential tool but how to overcome the obstacles. I love using the tools of a computer system for design. I decided to go it alone with an American company who provided a very user-friendly interface and cheap, secure domain names. Built for the novice really.It was and still is challenging, often frustrating leading me to send a 'support ticket' for help.But it was and is, fun and rewarding. 

The next question was how to get the message out. I wandered into the social marketing sections of the marketing department. It was all a little bewildering.
What with Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Google Buzz to name only a few, I was dazzled.

Grasping the nettle I set up a Facebook page and focussed on making contact with writers and publishers who could give me an insight into this whole new world of publishing. I connected with friends, made new ones, and through the contacts I made I expanded my circle. After returning from Ireland in 2009, I clicked onto the Ballycroy Group and discovered many distant cousins. I joined in the conversations and with the wide mix of contacts gradually built a network - some of it work, some promotion, and some pure friendly chats. A chance encounter led me to publishing some research which I undertook some years ago. I brought it up-to-date as the problems are apparently still there. This proved the springboard for another series, one totally different from my travel series, which, in itself, was a learning experience of a different kind.

Twitter was the next step and I soon found that tweeting and twittering provided a different aspect of marketing. Far from being a waste of time, I found that I could keep up with current affairs by following news channels. I could connect with writers, the book world, and people in my local area, marketers, in fact a whole raft of interesting people and platforms, which would not only keep me informed but also provide a platform to get out the word about my books.

I was introduced to Linked-In which re-connected me with ex-colleagues. I also made new connections and linked up with people I met through the networking events which flowed out from this on-line social networking.

By now, I was getting thirsty. It was time to step back on the escalator to enjoy coffee at a ‘Tweet-Up’ or business networking event and have some interesting face-to-face conversation. I made many new friends. Life is interesting, vibrant, flexible, rewarding. The doors of my mind are ever open to absorb new information and knowledge as I expand and push back more horizons, still realising that "I can do it!"

Of course, these social networking sites have to be used responsibly and effectively. Back on the escalator of this department store, I stopped off at the global Webinar floor. These were usually, for me, at some unheard of hour in the middle of the night due to global time changes. They provided more information, hints, and tips to, not only using social networking for marketing purposes, timing etc but also to some guidelines for formatting a manuscript into e-book formats.
I have made some good friends and interesting contacts through these three sites. I use the re-tweet button to cascade interesting topics and have been fortunate to have people re-tweet back. This further expands and builds my platform.  Other marketing platforms include Book Buzzr and Goodreads where readers can sample a preview of the books and take part in discussions.. I have made use of the marketing opportunities which Amazon provide via an Authors Page UK and Amazon US.  Kind readers have given some, mostly, good reviews. The list goes on.  So who says that social networking is a waste of time? Each to his own I say.
For now, I am still riding up and down the escalator in this department store of life as I dip in and out of different floors - with a little tweet here and a little tweet there!
1 Lifelong Learning: A View From the Coal Face.
Release Your Potential:Making Sense of Personal and Professional Development.
Rosalie Marsh.Publish Date September 1st 2011
The first two of the new Lifelong Learning:Personal Effectiveness Guides from Christal Publishing