What Warren Buffett Can Teach Us about Social Media
Welcome to WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to making your social media experience more enjoyable. I have to admit, I loved writing my new release We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Even though I didn’t feel much like an expert, I held a firm belief that one could almost never go wrong using simplicity and common sense.
Whether it is writing, marketing or life, I believe mentors can make all the difference. Want to see what success looks like? Study it. This past week I happened to watch a biographical documentary about Warren Buffett. Okay, I taped it on my DVR and watched it, then watched again and again and again. Buffett’s approach to the world of finance reaffirmed my own beliefs when it came to We Are Not Alone. Buffett’s methods are simple and based on common sense. Most importantly, Buffett’s system is for the long haul. As I watched this documentary, it struck me that many of his financial rules were highly useful for those of us building a social media platform.
Buffett Rule #1
Invest. Don’t Speculate.
Great advice for social media.
WANA translation? Invest for your career. Don’t be a social media day trader.
Social media isn’t a fad. It is a fundamental shift in the way humans communicate. If you added together the membership of the top social media platforms, you would have the third largest country in the world, bested only by China and India.
Invest in social media for the long-term, especially as writers trying to build a platform. One of my students recently attended a conference and spoke to Kristen Nelson of the Nelson Agency. Nelson said her agency would not represent any author who did not have a social media platform. The other (unspoken) half of that sentence is, “…a platform that can translate into book sales.”
What this means is that writers now have even more responsibility. We carry a lion’s share of the burden for our own marketing, especially in the beginning of our careers when nobody knows or even cares who we are. This can be terrifying, but take heart. If you want a career as an author, then it stands to reason that you would logically build a platform that can grow as you grow, one that has deep roots and can withstand the test of time.
Buffett believes in investing for the long-term. Ignore the day to day whims and fancy of the market and look at the long-term prospects of an investment. I concur.
Blogging is a great example. There has been all kinds of debate as to whether writers, especially unpublished writers need to blog. Here’s a hint. You need to blog. I address this in a previous post, Blogging—Just Part of the New Job Description. Blogging is a great example of a long-term investment. Do we wait until the retirement party to decide to invest in stocks and bonds? Uh, no. But there are many writers who plan to wait until they query, land an agent, or publish their first book to blog.
Blogging is a long-term investment. The prudent writer invests regularly, invests often, and invests her best. My blog is proof that this approach can reap tremendous dividends.
I began blogging regularly over a year ago. I remember the days I got excited because over 30 people had read my blog. The day my hits shot over 300 I nearly passed out. Success was great, but it was super easy to get too worried about day to day slumps. Yet, I refused to let numbers get to me. I just kept going and told myself this was a long-term commitment.
After a year, the numbers leveled off as the readership became steadier. So I began investing more. Three blogs a week. The numbers steadily grew and grew. Nothing to jump around about, but impressive, steady growth. Then, this past Monday, I woke up to normal hits. I went for a walk, and returned to over a 1000% growth in less than two hours. At first I thought someone had hacked my computer. It looked like my blog had flat-lined and then had a heart-attack as you can see from the image.
Then I realized the truth. My blog had finally been recognized by WordPress on their Daily Pressed. I was deemed the best blogger out of 370,745 bloggers. Talk about humbling! Of course, now that I am no longer Golden Child of the Day the numbers aren’t the same as that moment in the sun, but they are way better. Better yet, I know that if I did it once, I can do it again…then maybe again. This is the ROI of consistent investing. You new guys can do the same thing if you are willing to look to the long-term.
When we think of blogging as a chore, it is easy to begin a blog and go hot and heavy for a month, burn out and then write once every couple of months when we feel “inspired.” Hey, I’ve been there. Yet, when we look at blogging as a long-term investment in our future, then our attitude changes making it is easier to feel encouraged.
Want to know the best way to gain readership? Consistently post quality material that people value.
Buffett Rule #2
You don’t have to diversify.
WANA translation? Ditto.
Warren Buffett feels that diversification is not necessarily the best approach. Can a person intimately know 50 stocks?
In my book, I teach how to have a presence on all 3 major platforms plus a blog. There are all kinds of other valuable social media sites, but like Buffett, I feel, “How well can a person know how to use 10 social media sites?” There are gadget people, and I certainly envy them. They not only know every in and out of Facebook and Twitter, but they can tell you every detail about Squidoo, Technorati, Digg It, Goodreads, and on and on. Go to their web site and there are so many badges in the sidebar it looks like the sash of an Eagle Scout. Yet, my concern for us mere mortals is…how well can one person know all of these sites?
Most of us struggle to balance family, a day job and our second job…writing. Now we understand that we must market and build a platform. So, let’s say that is a third part-time job. How many of you have time to become a social media specialist too? I say if you love social media and are good at it, go for it! But for most of us, less is more.
There is no need to feel bad if you aren’t a member of every social media site out there. Pick good investments and go deep. Buffett’s firm dominated Coca Cola because it was a solid company that likely would be around for a while. Facebook is a good investment. Some of the smaller newer sites? They might take over, but then we run the risk of becoming social media day-traders—shifting our investment from site to site hoping for a big pay-off.
Buffett teaches us that frills aren’t a requirement for success. He is the richest man in the world and yet he has never used a computer and has no calculator or stock ticker in his office. There are people on Wall Street who watch and wait and buy and sell and make millions in a minute. Likewise, I am sure there are all kinds of methods guaranteed to gain one a bazillion followers right away.
WANA is not that method. It is absolutely frill-less.
Buffett Rule #3
Money isn’t the only thing that motivates people. Never underestimate the power of praise.
WANA Translation? Free e-books are not as valuable as your praise and your service.
Buffett’s approach to people is a huge part of why he is the richest man in the world. Buffett uses first names, is genuinely interested in others, and appreciates that people need to feel valued. He understands that other people are a huge part of his success, so he always treats them with kindness and goes out of his way to make them feel special. Buffett has been known to buy businesses for far less than others offered simply because the sellers liked him.
Social media is, above all else, social. WANA is founded on the same Carnegie principles that made Buffett a billionaire. Serve others. Never have a hidden agenda. Want to get what you want? Help enough other people get what they want. Be genuinely interested in people, and do all you can to serve them.
Building a social media platform doesn’t need to be terrifying or tough. Success has three simple ingredients. Learn to be investors. Understand that sometimes less is more. Serve others.
Until next time…
Ah, but first a little shameless self-promo. Writers! It is never too soon to begin building your platform. Some agencies now will not sign any writer who does not have a solid social media platform. That trend is sweeping publishing. Time to get prepared the right way.
Plan for success. If you don’t have a slick team of NY marketing people at your disposal, my book is perfect!
We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to be fun and effective. I am here to change your habits, not your personality. My method will help you grow your network in a way that will translate into sales. And the coolest part? My approach leaves time to write more books. Build a platform guaranteed to impress an agent. How do I know this? My book is recommended by agents.
You don’t have all day to market. You have best-selling books to write! So pick up a copy today.
Okay…now to those great people who take time to make our writing better.
Need a great workshop?
Best-Selling Author Candace Havens’s on-line workshop teaches everything from plotting to editing. She also brings some of the industry’s best and brightest to make you guys the best writers you can be. I will be teaching about social media the first week of October beginning 10/4.
NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer also has a great blog and a must-read for all writers serious about their future in publishing called Write It Forward.
Other great blogs?
Want to Break into the Business? It’s Up to You by Phil Cooke
One of my all time favorites for ALL writers– A Letter from David Mamet to the Writers of The Unit. GREAT advice!
Need a source of great writing and social media advice? Subscribe to Author Jody Hedlund’s blog and you can’t go wrong.
Best of luck to all of you!