Using Social Media to Work Smarter NOT Harder
by Kristen Lamb
We’ve talked a lot about branding, blogging, and how social media can be used to drive book sales. I’d like to address an aspect of social media many writers may not know about, one that can be a priceless asset—The Hive Mind.
A Couple Terms
Before we get to The Hive Mind, let’s talk about critical mass. Critical mass is the number of individuals in any network (social media included) that make interaction meaningful. This is one of the reasons it’s so pivotal to engage personally on social media and forge relationships. Once we hit critical mass (roughly 250 people minimum), we can harness the power of amplification. Instead of working linearly, now we can work exponentially.
You might be new to a social site or social media in general. Or maybe you’re just now taking that leap to grow your existing social networks because you understand a platform is vital for any writer who wants to be successful in the new age of publishing. That’s all right. Everyone starts somewhere.
Making friends is a great way to meet new people and also amplify your efforts. For instance, your blog can only get so much traffic with you posting the link to your own Facebook or Twitter. When you start seeing the high numbers is when others want to share what you have to say.
For instance, here’s from when I was a brand new blogger:
I had a whopping 5 comments, too. I think three were me. But, when we stick to it, make friends, create relationships, and are consistent, people begin to seek us out for great content they want to pass on to their networks.
This is from a post I wrote this past December. Pretty clear to see which one went viral because though my numbers are strong, I wish this happened every post. Eh, one day, right?
Apparently, over a thousand but less than two thousand people reposted my blog to their Facebook pages. Since I’m all humble, I’m going with 1,999 1,997 reposts. This post also had 319 comments. A wee bit over FIVE.
This was just an example to demonstrate the power of amplification. As a group we can accomplish far more than trying to do everything alone. It’s also why I stress investing in people. Humans are a helpful bunch. Let them.
The Power of a TEAM
This brings me to the core point of this post. Yes, social media can help create a brand, sell books, and that is all fabulous. But there is a unique characteristic of social media you guys might not be familiar with.
We don’t have to know everything—GASP—and that takes a lot of pressure off our shoulders. Facebook and Twitter are excellent resources for finding resources.
For instance, my husband recently left the military and was on the Air Force shooting team. I was his rusty…no, trusty sidekick. Instead of some poor writer having to pore over Wikipedia or gun articles that may or may not be accurate, many people have come to us when it comes to questions regarding firearms.
Quick Tip: A clip goes in your character’s hair; a magazine goes in your character’s gun.
I’ve had social media friends who wanted to set a book in Texas. Texas is huge and many people who haven’t been here don’t appreciate that the landscape can vary from dense pine forests to resembling the surface of Mars. In fact, I have a conspiracy theory that NASA just pocketed billions of dollars for energy drinks and Pixie Sticks and sent the Rover to Odessa, TX. Scientists have found life on “Mars” but the Dairy Queen sign was a bit much for the public to believe.
Thus, if someone wants to set a book where I live, they chat with me and I can send pictures, give tips for dialogue, common sayings and tidbits that add authenticity and local color.
When I wanted a story with a female P.I. protagonist, I went to Twitter. Private investigators saw the tweet and were eager to help. They wanted me to get the details of the profession correct. In a world where we are strapped for time, this is a lifesaver. We can get details, information, and images in a fraction of the time, information that is accurate.
Also, we can make some pretty cool friends who can become long-term advisors. I have a Texas Ranger who’s now helping me with a current project and making sure I don’t embarrass myself. He beta reads my books to ensure that a certain character could do X in real-life. If the character can’t? He tells me how to get around that real-life roadblock.
What’s In a Name?
The Hive Mind can also be priceless when it comes to naming things. For instance, the trilogy I’m writing involves a major drug cartel and is based off a real cartel. Using the cartel’s real name was a good way to end up with my head in a bucket, and since “not ending up with my head in a bucket” ranks at the top of my Life Goal List, I looked to my following to help me create a really cool and believable cartel name.
Also, I tend to be great at titling the works of others. My own titles? Eh, hit and miss. You might be the same. Toss out a couple sentences of what the book is about and ask for help. People love being a part of the creative process (even “regular” people). Readers can have some fantastic ideas that are better than our own, namely because others aren’t as close to the work.
This job is already a lot of work, but hopefully these tips will help save time researching to give you more time for the writing. The added benefit is you will meet some really interesting and wonderful people who likely will be avid fans because you invited them into the creative process.
Kristen is the author of the new best-selling book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World in addition to the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer. Kristen is the founder of the WANA movement, the CEO of WANA International and creator of WANATribe, the social network for creative professionals. She's a contributing humor blogger for SocialIn, a blog that reaches 2.5 million. She also blogs for The Huffignton Post. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX and on Facebook.