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.

Happy writing!

Until next time…


Today’s Mash-Up

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.

Need a good laugh? Read…no SUBSCIBE to Tawna Fenske’s blog Don’t Pet Me I’m Writing or Author Piper Bayard’s blog Life, Bellydancing and Apocalyptic Annihilation

Best of luck to all of you!


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  1. I agree very much on focus and specializing. Too many writers spread themselves too thin. If you send a query letter to an agent saying: I’ve written a paranormal romance, a thriller, a mystery and a fantasy. Here they are. Which one do you want? The light goes off. It means you don’t know what you’re really doing so how can they figure it out for you?
    Given social media and the Internet, the future is more and more niche and specialization, rather than broad topics and areas.

  2. I work as a social media coordinator for an agency. You know, sometimes I start the day dreading it because it’s like a day where I’ll be incessantly talking: talk, talk, talk, talk, talk…I think you get the picture. I started to despise my own personal pages because it was too much like work. But like your post communicates: this is not only the present, it’s the future. We adapt or fade into a lonely corner. I’ve learned that it helps to really develop a personal voice. Once a person tires to communicate in an especially refined voice then social media loses the social and it’s just another media outlet. This medium was intended for casual communication on a massive level. So you’ve got to keep the communications personal and as close to your individual personality as possible. Tip #2 is great as well. It can be daunting to make sure you’ve posted a Tweet, a status update, uploaded on Scribd, gotten your review up on Yelp, checked-in every single step, and have your blog post going. Concentrate don’t stretch yourself out so thin that you lose your personal voice and enthusiasm!

  3. Ok, so here’s some validation for you – in an attempt to boost my own social media standing and thus push my e-book, I’ve subscribed to your blog and bought YOUR e-book! I liked your freshly pressed post, and took the time to subscribe because I’m painfully aware how many of those freshly pressed posts I’ve enjoyed and then never returned to. I shall be hanging on your every word. My own to-do list of social media management is a long one, but I already have a blog (www.dtrasler.wordpress.com) and a website (www.tlc-creative.co.uk) and a publisher (www.lazybeescripts.co.uk) so I believe I’m ahead of many of the folks out there. BUT I don’t want to get complacent, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working a second job to fund my writing life. Writing is something I have to do, and I’d much prefer to devote more time to it than to welcoming folks in to a Home Improvement Retail Store (No offence meant, boss….)

    So I shall read and inwardly digest. If you sell a virtual boot up the butt, can I schedule one of those for each month? And twice around February? Thanks, and all the best for your post Freshly Pressed period!

    1. LOL…rock on! Well, my goal is to help you spend your precious time wisely. If you have any questions or need any help, feel free to give me a shout :D. I am here to serve. And social media, if you gather in COMMUNITY, is outstanding for that digital kick in the butt. Trust me, I know I would face a lot of e-mail if I failed to post.

      Kristen? You Alive? If you are alive and just got lazy and didn’t post, then ur in deep doo-doo, Missy.
      Your Peeps

    2. Oh, and thank you very much for purchasing my book. I hope to help you grow to be an amazing success, :D.

  4. Interesting.

    As an unpublished writer myself, I’ve dabbled in blogs before until just recently when I’ve actually made more of an attempt to post a blog much more often then once a month or whenever a fleeting fancy might strike me. I don’t know if I’d be able to open more then one actual blog site at a time tho, simply because I feel that I might spread myself out too much at that point. But so far one is working for me with marginal sucess of about 20-35 hits a day. I only expect it to get better the more I post and the better I post them. 🙂

    1. You only need one blog. Spread yourself too thinly and you minimize how effective you can be. If you want to blog on more than one topic, that is fine too so long as you consistently provide great content. Just remember the more you change topics, the harder it is to gain a following (unless there is a common theme–like observational humor as an example). This blog changes. Monday is the craft of writing. Wednesday is social media. Friday is my choice.

      So take heart. You are doing the right thing. Last June, this blog only got 30 hits in a day ;).
      Best of luck.

  5. Here’s an ironic moment for you, which points out the value of the things you’re saying on this post.

    I, too, attended the RMFW conference in Denver this weekend. While there, I met Piper Bayard. During our very first conversation, the topic turned to blogs and she recommended yours – but before she had said more than a couple of sentences, I realized she was talking about a blog I already read. I found you via Twitter (there are some great aggregator Tweeps out there) about 3 weeks ago. The point is: as big and empty as the Internet may seem, once the connections start rolling they pick up steam of their own accord IF you’re providing valuable content and investing the time to really care about the people you interact with in the social media as well as just pointing at your own navel.

    Awesome advice, awesome blog.

    1. Coolness! Man, Piper is great isn’t she? If you notice, her blog is in the Mash-Up. That’s the point of social media…being social. Having a SOCIAL network. Supporting and edifying each other. Thanks, Susan, so much for the comment and I am so glad you follow my blog and that you find it helpful 😀

  6. I like leaving comments on people’s blogs. I was amazed when I started commenting that it really did start to drive traffic back to my site and, more importantly, started to establish relationships with people. It’s a lot of fun and there are amazing people out there to meet.

  7. Great info and written very well. I subscribed after reading your Pressed piece (Congrats) because I was very impressed.

    Just got a blog up and running over the last month and it has been a great tool as a newbie writer. Most importantly, it has motivated me to write on a consistent basis. The blog has given me an audience to write for, as well, which gives me a platform to sort of feel out my own voice and material to see what resonates with readers.

    Really sound advice, Kristen, and I look forward to reading more.

    Thanks and take care,


    “Some Species Eat Their Young”

    • Lynne on October 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen:

    I’m sort of late coming here, but I just discovered your blog and book. In fact, I just finished reading your book yesterday. I’m working on implementing the steps you layout in it. Thank you for writing such a great book for writers.

    But the reason I’m writing you is that I was wondering, what do you think about giveaways and contests to promote your writing? I noticed that many writers do this, but you don’t address this in your book. I was thinking of one day, when I get to that point, of having a giveaway/contest to draw people to my site and hopefully attract readers to my content that way. What are your thoughts? Maybe this would be better answered as a blog post, perhaps? 😉

    Thank you for your generosity.

    1. That’s a good question. A lot of it just depends on the writer, I suppose. I know that when “We Are Not Alone” came out, that a friend and talented blogger I knew from Twitter, Jamie DeBree, wrote a lovely review. I donated a book for her blog as a giveaway. People had to comment what they hated the most about social media, and then Jamie drew from the comments and the winner received a signed book from me.

      I have never had one, so can’t tell you about the experience. I think I will have one at the beginning of the year for writers who have New Year’s resolutions. Right now I have too many deadlines to do a contest like that justice. But this might be a great blog topic. Maybe we can get some feedback from authors who hold contest like these and who do them well. Heck, that might make a good guest post…..*thinking*. Thanks for the suggestion and I am happy you enjoyed the book and that you are liking the blog! 😀

        • Lynne on October 1, 2010 at 4:55 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you for your reply!

        I hope that one day you will be able to do a post about it or have a guest post. I just always wondered if those giveaways and contests actually convert to readers for the author.

        Thanks again for all that you do.


        1. Sure. I always love it when readers ask questions or suggest topics they would like to know more about. Takes the pressure off of me to always come up with the topics, and it really helps ensure that I am blogging on the topics that matter to YOU GUYS. This blog is nothing more than a self-indulgent on-line journal if I am not serving you guys as writers. Thanks for the suggestion. I already have a couple authors in mind to ask to blog about that. Thanks, Lynne!

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