Kimberly N. Alleyne
I recall a conversation with a former colleague who adamantly proclaimed that Twitter was a rapidly evaporating fad soon to be six-feet under. That convo was in 2010. I was like, “Really? You think Twitter is dying? Wait, what now?”
Clearly Twitter is still standing, and it’s in good company with a host of other social media. Though not a few platforms have emerged since the digital era dawned only to die a slow, or quick, death, many more are thriving, with great vital signs. Here are my top 10 reasons writers should make use of some of them:
1. Trigger Creativity–Being an active socializer in the digital space can spark creativity in fresh ways. I really enjoy Pinterest and Instagram. I’ve often been inspired to step out of my comfort zone, if not in my writing then in some personal way, which is never a bad thing. See #7.
2. Build your network– I landed one of my best freelance assignments to date via someone I asked to join my LinkedIn network. A caution to be intentional about the connections you pursue. Don’t connect at abandon— make sure there is potential for value-add to both parties, and not a one-sided connection. There are other options to LinkedIn. I am on a journalism list serve for example.
3. Find story ideas–Whatever your personal or professional interests are, they likely have real estate on the Internet. Even a cursory review of your preferred platform can bubble up story ideas, new angles for something you’re already writing about, or new angles on a current topic. For one example, how might you write about #Ferguson or #James Foley in ways that have not already been presented?
4. Build your brand–Social affords a great platform on which to showcase your expertise. Don’t be shy; despite the crowded online environment, each voice has a unique perspective. You never know who might benefit from your experience, so get out there! Check out Sccop It and Rebel Mouse; these are both great thought-leadership tools.
5. K.I.S.S.–Keep It Short Scribe. When you’re writing for an audience with a short attention span, it forces you to embrace brevity. Unless you’re a long-form zealot (like me), writing short–read concise and succinct–is always good form.
6. Diversity of opinion–Social allows individuals to trumpet their beliefs and ideologies, but whether you agree or disagree is less important than exposing yourself to new ideas and perspectives, which ultimately raises the level of your writing. Go on, expand your vocabulary of ideas.
7. Confidence booster–Exposing yourself to an audience strangers is good for building your writing confidence. More likely than not, there will be feedback. Pick out the bones and keep the meat. Own your writing DNA. The more you do, the more your confidence will grow.
8. Stay in touch– The marriage of new and traditional media and communications has been consummated. And this ain’t a Hollywood marriage, folks. There’s no need to be on every available platform, but you do need to get in the game. Pick what you want to use and how you want to use it. Whatever your choice, be consistent. I use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for professional branding and networking. I use Tumblr for personal interests such as running and baking.
9. Need for Speed–Using social forces me to write more quickly. One can post a comment, pic or tweet in a matter of seconds, or not more than a minute. When you’re engaged in the social space, you gotta write fast to keep up, and stay relevant and in the conversation.
10. Diversify, diversify–When I post a press release on Twitter, I am confined to 140 characters. When I post the same press release on LinkedIn, the word/character count is less restrictive, but standards for language style are far different. There are two reasons for this: platform audience and platform personality. What’s acceptable on one platform is not necessarily embraced on another. Social media make you mindful to cater your writing to different audiences and platform personalities.
What social media do you use? What tips would you add to this list?