Since I’m such a social media guru, I thought I’d interview myself. Not. Cough. Cough. I’m going to interview a real social media consultant on my blog today–Nikki Katz. But first a confession. At heart, I’m a techno-phobe. It’s so embarrassing. It comes down to my fear of the unknown. How bad am I? Well, when I got my first contract for a series of chapter books Alien Clones From Outer Space, my editor said, “Hillary, um, do you think you could get e-mail?” Granted it was almost a dozen years ago. Still. I should have been cooler. But I’m not cool. I’m a geek. And not the computer kind. That would be really helpful.
Fast forward a couple of years and my editor’s like, “Um, Hillary, it would be good to start a website.” Ack. A website? Sounds exciting but so, you know, technical. And then a couple of years ago, my sister the librarian who has to keep with tech stuff, says. “Um, you reallly really should join Facebook.” At first, I balked but once I did, I loved it and haven’t ever looked back. But yeah, there are some days where I’m quiet because life happens. But I’m learning that increasingly life is happening here. And not posting or communicating is like, well, not waking up in the morning. Or at least not getting out of bed.
Anyway, there’s been a lot of people who’ve held my hand, technically speaking. My husband was the first one (technically and otherwise), and there was my first website guy, and video wise it’s been Lisa Gottfried of Digital Weavers but the latest latest is definitely Nikki Katz. Flat out she’s a social media godesss. She’s been on the forefront of all this and she’s a young adult novelist. So she was the perfect person to help with the next step–creating a weblog AND leading me on my first ever blog tour.
So, today, I’m going to welcome to my blog, Nikki Katz. Let’s get the interview rolling!
Can you define social media?
There a variety of definitions floating out there. But at its core I think social media is spreading information in a way that encourage interaction – whether it be on a blog, in a forum, on a micro-blogging site, etc.
Why do you think it’s powerful? Can you describe three benefits?
Social media is powerful because it allows people to disseminate information immediately and get feedback instantaneously. There’s an impact to have a mass of followers get behind a concept and push it viral.
Three benefits to social media:
* Making connections. The most successful social media moguls make important/useful connections and foster them on a regular basis.
* Obtaining an audience/Building a platform: I think these are really same thing. Social media allows you to use your voice to build yourself or your company.
* Interaction with your audience: Once you’ve established your audience you can interact with them however you want! Do polls, get input on products pre-launch, encourage sales, etc.
What makes something go viral?
There’s no magic formula for going viral. There are a ton of people and statistics on how things do go viral, but it’s hard to emulate. Having unique content is really the only thing YOU can do. The rest is luck and perhaps some key marketing strategies. The content (whether it’s a blog post, video, whatever) has to get picked up and spread FAST.
How can authors best use social media?
I see two key ways:
* Build and interact with their readers. Authors can pitch their novel, chat with their readers, thank their reviewers, promote their book tours and signings, and more. My key piece of advice is to be consistent with your audience so they continue to know what to expect.
* Get advice and interact with the industry. Authors can get a wealth of advice from the publishing industry (other authors, agents, and editors are all on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook). With the rapid changes in publishing, it’s imperative to stay on top of the news and advice.
Are there any dangers with social media?
Absolutely. Once you post something, it can be there forever. Even if you take it down, others may have already grabbed a screenshot or posted it elsewhere. You have to be careful what you say and how you say it. Because this social interaction is all online, people can interpret what you write in very different ways.
How can social media change someone’s life? The world?
Social media allows groups of people to collaborate on practically anything. They can initiate protests, create campaigns, bring together lost families, and more. There are so many ways that social media can be used for change – whether good or bad. On a smaller scale, I have made some amazing friendships and learned a wealth of information from the people I’ve met on social media. I can’t imagine my life ten years ago without it!
How has social media evolved?
Social media, for the most part, has evolved from being a very personal experience (being friends with your high school buddies on Facebook, and blogging starting off as personal journals) to expanding to networking and businesses jumping on board. For a company not to have a Facebook account now is unheard of!
And where do you see social media going into the future?
Social media is starting to be tied into everything – I saw tweets going across the screen on The Voice this week. I see it evolving more and more – but mostly on a professional level. I don’t know that people will publicize much more than they already are – but they will probably interact with brands and companies more. If I’m looking for a coupon, the first place I look is a company’s Facebook account or Twitter stream. I have no problems tweeting to them because I know there is a marketing/PR professional on the other end. It seems that we have much faster/easier access to companies than we ever have. On the publishing front it’s the same way. Two years ago how much access did an author have to an editor? Now we get a glimpse into their daily lives and thought process. It can only get bigger and better from here 🙂
Any last words of wisdom you’d like to add?
Social media can be very daunting, but as with anything, you just need to get started. Join Twitter and start following people with the same interests. Click through and see who they are following. Start a dialogue. Participate in online chats. And, most importantly, respond to any comments and replies. Social media isn’t social if you’re just speaking at people.
Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld blog, as well as a social media consultant. She also creates and edits websites and ezines. Some of her work has appeared on Rand McNally, About.com, iVillage.com, AllInfoAbout.com, BabyZone.com, Retired.com, and other websites. She is also the author of four books in the puzzle and games genre and writes young adult novels. To learn more about Nikki and how she can help you bolster your career go to http://www.NikkiKatz.com