Periodically, in this blog, I’ve decided to interview social media gurus. Why? Because I don’t completely understand it and I want to pick the brain of those who do and do it well. You might notice that I’ve taken somewhat of a social media break. Why? The truth is that I had to take a social media hiatus. I have a tendency to, um, overdue things. I’m a social media newbie and when that world opened up to me, I sorta went crazy for a bit doing everything, and then crash. Let’s just say my body wasn’t too happy. I can share those woes another time.
Anyway, I had a social media consultation with Greg Pincus before my crash and he asked me how much time do I want to spend doing social media every day. I was like one hour. And he showed me how to best use my time so I could still write and drive my kids to soccer and fold the clothes and make dinner and….Well, I blew it. Yup. I was doing three hours and trying to do everything else and it just wasn’t working so I’m back folks and I’m going to go for moderation and see how it works. Ahem.
So today, I present an interview with Greg Pincus, social media God. Greg is someone though who seems to have figured it all out. The whole balance thing. He’s a poet, dad, soon-to-be children’s book author and a social media consultant who runs the popular social media blog Happy Accidents, as well as the well-followed children’s literature blog Gotta Book. In Greg’s own words –“I’ve used social media to go viral and into the New York Times and Washington Post, run and helped run successful events… and had fun doing it. In other words… I’m geeky so you don’t have to be!” Wow, I want to be as geeky as Greg someday.
Can you define social media?
Social media are exactly what they say: media that are used for social interaction. In other words, rather than a one way push of information (like television to you), there’s a social component (commenting, conversations, updating/liking, etc.).
Why do you think it’s powerful? Can you describe three benefits?
The power comes from social media’s ability to let the individual make connections and build relationships, plus the possibility that your message can spread anywhere. The benefits depend on what is beneficial to you. For me, I love the idea that I can be in touch with readers and gatekeepers everywhere. For others, it might be that they find other fans of an incredibly obscure movie they love.
There’s no way to know what will go viral. When it happens, it’s often because one particularly well connected person/blog/website shared it and others followed suit. Still, just because something is shared like that doesn’t mean it will connect. Funny or unexpected plays well. Dull doesn’t.
Again, this depends on the person. For me, I like to connect with people who will be my book’s boosters, since it’s hard for me to connect directly with my book’s readers (since my book will be middle grade). For others, it’s the ability to connect directly with readers… to build a bond and connection so that those readers will become true fans, not just one time book buyers. Other writers use social media to keep folks updated, get writing advice, find support, find critique partners, etc. There’s no one “best” for all, just best for you.
Are there any dangers with social media?
Everyone will ignore you until you do something embarrassing 🙂 Well, really the danger is that the internet, for all practical purposes, is forever. If you say something online, it doesn’t go away, so you will have to live with it. If you badmouth people… they’ll find out. If you say your new book isn’t good… everyone will know you said it. Social media can also be a time suck (it’s fun! it’s work! what’s not to like?!) BUT so can anything if you let it.
How can social media change someone’s life? The world?
Connections change lives. The ability of a populace to connect can help them change the world, too, it seems. In general, it’s the relationships that will make the biggest impact, not the specifics of social media. It’s true that things can happen incredibly quickly online, but I think for most of us, it is the longer term investment that will change things the most: a job offer, a book sale, a connection to the person you need, or… well… you just never know.
Any last words of wisdom you’d like to add?
Social media isn’t going away. The names of the networks will change, but the fact that we can talk peer to peer rather than have to rely on things being broadcast to us is here to stay.