What The Heck Is Social Networking?
YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. What do all these things have in common? Well, I think we can all agree they are among the most popular social networking sites available. From sharing videos of some of the most ridiculous things you can imagine, to posting photos and stories about yourself, to casual chatting, to making business connections, the whole social networking thing used to be such a blur to me, with the exception of YouTube.
I have to admit that I’m still a bit of a newb when it comes to social networking. The first time I overheard someone talk about MySpace, I had no idea what they were talking about. When I did find out, I had no interest in it. I really wasn’t into the whole “share my life with world” thing, but ever since my coworkers kept showing me what was on their “wall” and what they recently posted, I started to understand how it could be a fun way to communicate.
Shortly after I finally understood what MySpace was was all about, it was replaced with a new trendy word… Facebook! So what happened to everyone’s MySpace? Well, apparently, this new social networking giant swallowed up MySpace in 2008 and is literally EVERYWHERE now. It’s not just a personal social gathering thing anymore. It seems like every business out there is jumping onto the Facebook bandwagon. You see the little icon somewhere and you immediately know it’s Facebook. The branding has been embedded into people’s brains. You see the branding in retail advertising all across the nation and the world.
So, with that said, why don’t I have a Facebook account? It’s simple… I still don’t quite understand the need for it. I mean, I know it’s a great place where you can post photos and chat and all, but other than that, at this time I find no use for it. Again, this is only because I don’t fully understand it. Businesses seem to think it’s an extremely important tool, though, so as a growing writer and aspiring entrepreneur, I’m sure I’ll jump on the bandwagon, too, someday. Just not right now. Twitter takes up enough of my time. 😉
OMG! Ashton Kutcher Had What For Breakfast?
Hello, my name is Rob, and I’m a #TwitterAddict. This wasn’t always true and I’m getting some great support from my #TwitterAddictsAnonymous group which meets every Tuesday night for about four hours… on Twitter. Seriously, though, I never thought I would ever sign up for a Twitter account. I’ve never had any interest in Facebook, so why in the world would I want to use Twitter? I mean, do I really care what Ashton Kutcher is eating for breakfast?
The answer is: “No, I don’t.” This was my initial impression of Twitter. This too was turning into a trending word around the office. I tweeted this… and I tweeted that. What the heck is a “tweet”? Then, I saw a commercial about Twitter. Oh, good! Some official information… um… didn’t help. A family is standing around outside with their smart phones and Dad is tweeting about sitting on a chair outside with his family. It was something to that degree, at least. Yeah, that sounds so exciting! Where can I sign up? Twitter was obviously poking fun at itself with that commercial, but I seriously thought that’s all there was too it. Type a short message about what you are doing, and there are people out there that do just that… and only that.
Learning The Twitter Code: DMs, RTs, #Hashtags and Spam Bots!
One day recently, I decided to go ahead and create a Twitter account, just so I could communicate with my friends on my cell phone without having to use text messaging (I don’t have unlimited texts). Yes, being cheap was the initial reason I signed up for Twitter! Well, NONE of my “real” friends wanted to use Twitter, because (big surprise) they had the same impression of Twitter that I did. Well, crap. Now what? I had this new Twitter account and had absolutely no idea what to do with it. I guess I could start following some celebrities to see what they had to say on Twitter.
I followed a few of my favorite celebrities, read what they were tweeting, and what others were tweeting to them. Hmmm… some of these celebrities were actually having actual conversations with some of the “little people” in the world. I also so all these #s RTs and DMs popping up in lots of tweets. Great, these people are speaking in code, so I have to learn a new language. Ugh! Google helped me decipher some of this Twitter code. Oh, RT means Retweet. Okay. So what the heck is a Retweet and what’s the purpose of it? And DM is Direct Message… oh, a private message. That makes sense. It took a few days to figure out the Twitter lingo before I decided to put some of it to use. I saw a lot of people asking celebrities to RT them, follow them, etc., and yes, I shamefully did the same at first. I thought that’s just what you do on Twitter. Try to get the celebrities to talk to you. Buzz! Wrong! Try again! Then I started seeing “people” follow me. I now realize they were what we in the Twitter community call “Spam Bots”. Netflix was actually the first bot to follow me, which I didn’t mind, since technically it’s not really a bot if it’s a legitimate business, right? I followed back.
Twitter: The Marketing Tool For Writers?
My fifth follower was a real live person, though. I clicked on the profile and noticed it was a Christian writer named B.K. Dell from Texas. I read a few of his tweets and realized that he was promoting his new book “Don’t Ask” on Twitter, and he was giving it away for free on Smashwords, which was an app that I had on my phone. That immediately sparked a little fire in my soul because I had self-published a book in 2004 and started getting a touch of the writing bug again. I thought promoting a book through Twitter was such a great idea. I followed him, downloaded his book, and sent Mr. Dell a message to let him know that I downloaded his book. He responded to me, thanked me for downloading the book, and asked me to let him know what I thought. I enjoyed reading the book and ended up purchasing the paperback version on Amazon.
Suddenly, with this “first contact”, Twitter wasn’t such a useless thing after all. I started following other writers on Twitter and quickly realized that there are a TON of them out there doing just what B.K. Dell was doing. It was then that I thought about maybe revisiting my book “Pursuit of a Dream.” I knew it needed a lot of work, and I thought it would be cool to have it available to read on the Kindle. I just didn’t know how to go about doing that. I was still fairly shy about chatting with all of these writers I was finding on Twitter, but then I noticed some of these writers kept adding a #pubwrite hashtag to their tweets (yes, at this point I knew what a hashtag was). I read some of these tweets for days and finally got the nerve to jump into the #pubwrite “chat room”.
Little did I know that making the decision to step out of my comfort zone and participate in the conversations that went on in #pubwrite would actually start a whole new chapter in my life. More on that later…