AWP 2011 Panel Post: How To Get Beyond “Using Social Media” & Become A Social Artist Instead

by @thewritermama on February 3, 2011 · 16 comments

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool peopleWhen it comes to social media and writers, everyone wants the magic bullet. We want the secret formula to acquiring one million fans, who will be whipped up into such a fan frenzy that they will storm the booksellers demanding our book. And then demand that we write another book. And another. And another. Thereby carrying out our fantasy of becoming an adored, rich, best-selling author.

At least I’ve yet to meet any writers, who hop on social media and says, “Oh, boy, I hope everyone ignores me.”

And this distance between being completely ignored and garnering listeners is exactly the nut that beginning social networkers are attempting to crack.

And here’s the thing: you can’t approach social networking this way. You can’t approach it as a nut to crack and you can’t approach it as a wannabe best-selling author. (And I’m sure you’ve heard, or can imagine at the very least, that becoming a best-selling author comes part and parcel with its own challenges. But that’s another topic.)

The flip side of the wannabe bestselling author is the writer who is “above” social media. The writer who is above social media is making an error in judgment as well, they are seeing social media as a club they are too cool to join, which it isn’t, rather than a tool for connecting with real live human beings, which is exactly what it is.

Because here’s the deal, folks: when you put technology (and the people who know how to use it) on a pedestal and try to vicariously absorb all of their “social media secrets,” you are not treating social media like the tool in your toolkit that it actually is. The truly creative person, regardless of their art form, sees social media as exactly what it is: a tool for social artistry.

Social artistry is something I learned about from human potential leader and author, Dr. Jean Houston. What it means is that you are not just a writer creating a product and then slinging it out to the world, you are a creative soul inspiring a movement (or you have at least one lofty goal to share).

If you don’t have a mission or a purpose or a reason d’etre, then guess what? No one is going to listen to you. And why should they? There is an awful lot of noise out there and people have personal lives and they can’t spend the entire day staring into their computers waiting for you to say something or inspire them to action or entertain them or whatever it is that your writing sets out to accomplish.

And yet, this is exactly how so many writers approach social media. We get on social media hoping to discover something to say instead of having something to say and then getting on social media to say it.

Worse, writers drag their friends and loved ones along with them while they try to figure out something to say on social media, and wear out everyone’s good will and patience.

So, don’t get on social media to figure out what you want to say, writers.

Have something to say and then get on social media to say it.

And then we’ll be eager to not only listen, we will want to join your cause or step up for your call to action.

This is step number one in the way to approach social media.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about step number two.

~ Photo by Ed Yourdon

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