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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: relationship

This blog Welcome to the ninth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brandwill help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Twitter Tool

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools for building a platform. But just because we have a tool, in no way gives us license to BE a tool. Twitter is one of those platforms that actually does much more than people realize, but those powers are best used for good.

The search function on Twitter is a writer’s best friend. Yet, I have seen this used for evil spammy behavior. It doesn’t work. It is annoying and anyone I see do this I report as a bot.

The search function allows us to comb the millions of tweets floating in the Twitterverse for key words. So I can run a search (word filter) for any word used any time on Twitter. Maybe I love James Rollins, so I want to know not only what @JamesRollins is talking about, but I want the skinny on anyone discussing “Altar of Eden.”

The search function can help me see any time certain key words are mentioned. “James Rollins” or “Altar of Eden.”

What is UNCOOL is when writers (particularly self-published writers) use this function to steal attention.

So say I am chatting with a friend and I tweet:

KristenLambTX: OMG…I just finished Altar of Eden by Rollins and it was sooo good.

Within 20 seconds I get:

@thrillerguy If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

And if this isn’t bad enough, when I click on thrillerguy’s profile, I see:

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

@thrillerguy is using the search function to spam for him. UNCOOL IN THE EXTREME. Not only am I annoyed because someone hijacked my conversation, but then I find it isn’t even a genuine compliment. It is automated self-promotion. UGH!

Don’t be a Twitter Tool. There are a lot of gadgets offered, but that doesn’t mean they are a good use of our time or even that people enjoy being on the receiving end. People are flocking to social media to get away from this kind of junk. We don’t appreciated being spammed in our sacred space.

Twitter Tip–Use Twitter Search as a Tool (to Connect)

Writers tend to get on Twitter and congregate with other writers, which is okay, but readers aren’t all writers. Twitter’s search function can be used to connect with people who have the same backgrounds, interests and passions and then make friendships based on these commonalities.

I come from a military family and am a military wife. I have a Twitter column searching for terms like Air Force and USMC, and have made friends with other military wives and service men and women all over the globe. These are people who read my blogs even though they aren’t writers, and who are excited to know a writer and eager to help me become successful.

When we befriend people who aren’t writers, they are often way more impressed with the fact we finished a novel than our writer friends. Unlike us, these folk don’t have a hundred writer friends. To them, we are kind of a celebrity, even before we publish which is seriously COOL. These people can grow to become some of our strongest supporters as READERS.

Using the search function to make friends and forge relationships is always a great idea. How? Free-write a hundred words that describe you and your interests. Take time to run searches for people who love to talk about the same things–knitting, pets, kids, teenagers, music, jazz, bellydancing. Make some friends! One day, they will be your greatest cheerleaders.

And, if you want to know the ins and outs of how to use these additional Twitter functions? Buy a copy of We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I use small words and PICTURES to walk you through all kinds of cool Twitter features like the search function.

Tweet ya later!

 

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to help you guys rock it hard when it comes to social media. For the past two months, we have been discussing blogging. If you are new to the blog, I recommend going back and reading the previous lessons. It will save you a lot of time and heartbreak. I am going to assume all of you are clever enough to look to the sidebar to take you there ;).

For the past eight weeks, we have discussed blogging from almost every angle. Today we are going to discuss ways to make our blog connect with our readership. I read too many blogs that sound like the author is lecturing, ranting or having a party all to herself. Those blogs do not connect with me, and I doubt I’m alone in this. I have to admit, in the beginning, I was a lousy blogger. Make no mistake, I was an excellent writer, but blogging is more than preaching…it’s connecting. When I look at my early blogs even on this site, I see how my language, my topics and even my writing “voice” failed to connect with the reading audience.

Actually, the tactics I will show you today are so simple you are probably going to smack your forehead. So much of this is common sense, but as humans (particularly writer humans) we love to overcomplicate things. This is why I suck at True and False. Choose ONE? Can’t I write an essay? Why am I sweating? Is my shirt on backwards?

Dichotomy is my enemy. But back to blogs.

When we decide to vest ourselves in social media, it is smart for us to pull back from the gidgets and gadgets and whats-its to look at WHY people are on social media. What do they want? Information and entertainment. No, what do they really want? Connection. Noooo, what do they really, really want? Relationship. We are people, and we need connection to stay sane. We crave attention and praise, and we like to feel as if we matter. People who intrinsically understand this principle will enjoy far more success in all realms of social media, whether it is a blog, a tweet or even a status update.

Feed the real need. Relationship.

How are relationships created? With dialogue. Have you ever met someone who was witty and charming and interesting…but they never shut up (*whistles and looks away guiltily*)? They go on and on dazzling you with stories and jokes, but yet there is still something lacking. On the other hand, have you ever met someone who asked about you? Your thoughts, your opinions, and your ideas? They patiently listened and even seemed interested? We LOVE these people, but they are so rare.

Why?

I believe it has to do with fear. We feel we don’t have much to offer so we put on a good show, failing to understand that we don’t have to jump out of planes or go on safari to be interesting. All we have to do to be perceived as interesting, is to genuinely be interested.

If you go back and look at the early posts on this blog, it is easy to spot that I was very insecure. You can also see that I really wasn’t engaging with readers. How? Very few comments, but we will talk on that more in a bit.

Thus, though trial and error, I have found some ways that can make your blog feel more intimate and engaging.

Pay Attention to Your Pronouns

Throughout this blogging series I have emphasized over and over that we are serving the reader first. Our blog is a service. We must be careful how many times we use the pronouns “I” and “you.”

If our blogs are full of sentences with “I, I, I, I, I”…then we risk coming across as self-centered. We will be like that person at the party who only talks about herself. Can we use “I?” Yes, duh. We just need to do a quick sweep and make sure we don’t have a personal pronoun infestation. If we go on and on with “I, I, I, I” it makes it hard for readers to feel as if they are part of a conversation, and leaves them feeling like spectators. This isn’t entirely bad, but blogs that grow the fastest create dialogue.

“You” is another pronoun that can get us in trouble. How? Subconsciously, it places the author and the audience on opposing sides of a dividing line. One is right and one is wrong. Too many “you, you, yous” and the reader likely will feel more like she’s being lectured or chastised, and that doesn’t make for a positive experience this reader will want to repeat.

Notice in my blogs that I go out of my way to use “we,” “us,” and “ours.” Why do I do that? First of all, it is because I need to be mindful that I am not above my own advice. Also, because most of my blogs are instructional, inclusive pronouns are the best way to calm your nerves, ease your fears, and help you begin to feel as if you are part of my team…which you guys are. It is my subtle way of joining forces with you. Choosing inclusive pronouns subconsciously impresses on you (my readers) that I am on your side, and that social media is our collective endeavor…because it is!

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, I wasn’t born knowing social media. Most self-help or instructional experts would be wise to admit openly that they weren’t always perfect. It connects us as teachers to those who desire to learn from what we have to say. We can be professional and empathetic without losing the respect of others. In fact, when we come down to a human level, it helps our audience learn faster because it peels away that layer of fear. Our audience feels as if we understand them on a far more intimate level because we have battled the same dragons.

Ask Questions

As a social media “expert” it is really easy to slip into “Know-It-All Mode” super fast. I used to feel that asking questions at the end of a blog was dangerous for a NF author, but I believe that was from my own insecurity at the time. People who are truly secure do not mind a different perspective, and, in fact, should welcome it. I grow every day from the comments posted here. Many of you have life experiences and insight that offer a totally unique perspective I might not have thought about. When readers offer comments, insights and opinions, it challenges me and makes me grow. It offers fresh content that makes my teachings more dynamic. I don’t always have to agree, but if I am confident in what I know, then a different opinion (offered respectfully) should be welcomed.

Dialogue is very important. Try to have questions at the end of all of your posts. Actively spark conversation. In fact, often I reserve information, because I like challenging you, my readers, to rise to the occasion and give your thoughts. If I cover every detail, then not only does that make my blog too long, but then no one has anything to add. What fun is that?

Look for the Common Emotional Ground

We can blog on all kinds of topics, but the ones that will resonate are the ones with a central theme. Common emotional ground builds instant rapport. For instance, I could tell some great tales of living in a refugee camp in Syria (which I did). The story would probably be interesting, but would it engage? What if I took it to another level and added a universal theme? Instead of focusing on life among the bedouin and the refugees, I could talk about the profound loneliness of living so far away from home surrounded by people I couldn’t communicate with effectively (my Arabic was less than stellar). Almost everyone can relate to being homesick or lonely or misunderstood. Now this exotic story (blog) is far more intimate, and opens a way for readers to offer their stories and, ultimately, connect.

Most of us feel a need to be heard and understood. We long for relationship and like people who care about what we have to say. As bloggers, if we will give others something more to take away than simple entertainment or information, we have the foundation for a hit blog.

What are some things I missed? What element makes you guys feel really connected to a blog or blogger? What is it about style or voice that draws you back week after week?

Happy writing!

Until next time…..

This week, I do not have a Mash Up of Awesomeness. I am in the process of doing the final edit for my new book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. I simply have not had enough time to read blogs like normal and collect them for you, so I hope you will forgive me. I don’t believe in posting stuff I don’t read first. Thanks for understanding. I am super-excited about this new book, and the Mash Up of Awesomeness will likely resume next Wednesday.

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.

I recently had an experience that made me relate to the poor kid who was dumb enough to point out that the emperor was naked. More on that in a minute.

Now I admit that I do tend to get excited and then I forget to qualify statements and phrase in ways that make it clear that I am not picking on anyone. Because I really am not. I feel like the world’s biggest cheerleader when it comes to helping writers succeed. I love writers. Heck, I AM a writer! I swear I would have pom-poms at my desk if I didn’t think they would be a shiny distraction…..ooh—POM POMS!

Writers say they have a hard time connecting to readers. Okay. Well, let’s back up.

This past weekend I was amazingly blessed to be able to help writers succeed in doing what they love….being creative. Yet, now that everything is gearing toward the Internet and social media is popular, writers are staring down the barrel of having to self-promote.

Ack!

We hate sales. We ran away from Corporate America so we never had to use that dirty word…and now it is staring us right in the eye. And if we don’t get good at it we will never be able to quit our day job.

The problem as I see it is that writers seem to lose all creativity and common sense when it comes to marketing, sales and platform building.

This past weekend I taught three social media classes at a big conference. Writers get told they need to be on social media, so they join FB and twitter and then they do what? Hang out with writers. They get told they need to blog, so what do they blog about?

WRITING

One gal in my class, I asked, “What do you write?”

“Paranormal romance.”

“Do you blog?”

“Yes. About my experience as a writer.”

My question to her was, “If you write about the paranormal and you want to sell books to people who are fascinated with the paranormal, then why aren’t you blogging about the paranormal? About cold spots and ghosts and things that go bump in the night?”

Not that blogging about writing is bad. It is great. It is emotionally cathartic and can help us improve in our craft and expand our network in our industry…but it isn’t the place to find readers.

My suggestion? If you write paranormal it must interest you enough to write a book about it. Join groups of people who watch “Ghost Hunters” and like scary movies. Profile the reader. What demographic are you selling? Be creative.

So you run a search on Twitter for “reader.” You and every uncreative author trying to hawk a book.  Profile your reader with the intention of making a connection, not selling a book. I guarantee the people in those groups are likely to be people a lot like us, people we would like to hang out with.

Jodi Thomas is a best-selling romance author whom I had the honor of helping with Tweet Deck this past weekend. I can attest that Jodi loves her fellow women and cares about their marriages and children and grandchildren. She cares about quilting and holding onto a lineage and being inspired by frilly cards with inspirational quotes. Will it diminish her in any way to congregate with #quilting on Twitter? She likes quilting and uses it in her books. She likes those kinds of people and I would even bet that those women would like her, even the ones who don’t know her….yet.

If you sell romance, what is your demographic? 31-49 year old women in a relationship (per RWA’s site). What do 31-49 year old women do with their day when they aren’t reading your romance novel?

They love Oprah, and Ellen and soap operas and knitting and scrap booking and gardening and parenting and American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. They diet and deal with stress and take care of elderly parents. This “other life” is part of what makes them long to read. They desire to escape, to be reminded that heroes triumph and love conquers all. Congregate with them. Care. Interact.

How many other authors are doing that? Yet how many authors only (key word ONLY) blog about themselves, their books, their upcoming books, their ideas…you get the picture.

If you write fantasy and sci-fi, what do your fans do? Well, being a professional nerd for many years, I feel I can speak for my people.

We go to Trekkie conventions and argue about whether or not it is possible to go faster than the speed of light (actual argument I had on the way to a Trekkie convention—swear to God). We play X Box, World of Warcraft, PS3 and Dungeons and Dragons. We love comics, cult movies, and X-Men and Star Wars and quote Monty Python.

So if you desire to connect with your readers, go to their favorite watering holes.

“Fantasy reader” is not creative, and I guarantee the group will be mostly authors. If you are on social media, join “World of Warcraft Moon Elves Unite” or start a group like that. Be truly creative. Engage the demographic that likes to read fantasy. I promise you might even have fun.

If you’re selling books on UFOs and origin theory, your fans love “Mystery Quest” and “The Nostradamus Effect.” Run searches for Atlantis, Nasca lines, Easter Island, Big Foot, Nessie, Prophesy, Apocalypse, Devil’s Bible. Join those groups on Myspace, FB, Twitter. Get plugged into groups who like to argue about what season of X Files was best. Who is hotter, Scully or Xena? What is better, Star Trek or Star Wars? Who was better? Kirk or Picard? Who was right? The North or the South? What is the best romance movie of all time? Top Gun or Casa Blanca?

When we start thinking like a fan and not a writer…THEN we will find our readers. Get creative. The more creative the better. Think about what all other writers are out there doing…then do it differently.

Think about the reader. We tend to forget that we (fiction authors) are in the service industry. We provide a wonderful escape from day-to-day life. We remind people that life is still magical and worth living.

Blog about what readers find interesting (other than you and your book). I guarantee you my mother, who loves to read and buys more books than she can read, really does not care about finding an agent.

Care about others. It will set you apart from all the other authors who can only think of selling books. It will connect you to your readership. It will push you out of your comfort zone. It will bond you to people who might know more about your subject than you do. You can learn and be enriched. What can your fans offer you? I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.

All I am asking is that we be mindful to think of others. Have a servant’s heart.

All of us need to remember to pan the camera back and think of what we post from the reader’s perspective. Forget us. Forget our writer buddies. What would our readers like to spend their precious time reading about? The publishing industry? Plotting? Character development? Sure. Readers who also want to be writers…but what percentage is that?

Do readers want to learn about e-books and how the electronic medium is changing the industry?

Or would they rather read about the subjects that make them passionate enough to part with their hard-earned cash and their limited time? Would they rather read about love or triumph or who really built the pyramids? Wouldn’t they like an opportunity to contribute too? When was the last time a big author asked a fan to write their blog?

I guarantee you there are fans out there who know more about the author’s books than the author. Fans who have thought on a totally different level about our work. Fans who would DIE at a chance to post their insight and opinion about a book or character.

Yet when was the last time an author asked a fan to write their blog? That they gave them that honor? Heck, ask the ones who post positive stuff on your existing blog and who can string an interesting sentence together. This isn’t as hard as we make it. Honest.

Writers often panic when it comes to social media. And what they do is they congregate and they befriend zillions of people and they lose sight of the most important thing….the relationship with the reader.

If you write fantasy, I guarantee you that you will like the people in those groups I suggested you search.

If you love history enough to write a 100,000 words about it, I’d wager you will enjoy being stimulated and challenged by people in the #jackson  or the #gettysburgh  or #alamo column. You will have to be careful not to lose entire days in those groups on FB and MySpace and other social media sites. It is a self-discipline thing like anything else.

But say you lose hours chatting and having fun. Isn’t that better spent in a group of people who like your topic rather than in a group talking about writing? Aren’t you then taking time to relate to and network with and forge relationships with people who love the topic you write about?

I just want to impress the importance of relationship when it comes to social media. It is important to be in relationship with other writers. They make us angry, call us on our drama, cheer us when we triumph and are there when we cry.

But we need to permit readers into our lives as well. If all our actions tell readers to “Keep Out”–that this is a “Writers Only” group, then we can’t be shocked when we fail to connect.

Make the reader feel like you care. I know you all do. Writers are among the most amazing, generous, kind people I am blessed enough to know.

 I am not here to embarass or villify anyone. I am here to make you better and to point out that too many of us are running around naked and clueless why people have a hard time making eye contact.

If you can connect, if you can network and forge relationships beyond your comfort zone, then you will finally be able to appreciate what social media is all about…not how many friends you can collect or how many people you can blitz with the title of your book or your latest blog using the latest gimmick or app. Social media isn’t about technology.

It is about people.

By the way! If you loved this blog and just want MORE? My book, “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” is now available. Buy one today and take charge of your writing career! My book is designed specifically for writers. I want to change your habits, not your personality. Harness that same creative energy used for writing and use it to build your platform.