Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope you have a great holiday. I’ll be entertaining family, so this is my last post for the week. I hope to see you again next week!
A group of us wandered in the woods in the rain, empty egg cartons and mesh bags in hand, looking for mushrooms. Our guide, Caroline, had covered a picnic table with many local varieties with a variety of taste and, of course, safety levels. This was my first adventure as a forager, and my first thought was: I am totally overwhelmed.
Social media has been like that for me, too, and from what I’ve heard from several of you, you feel the same. If we’re writing books and/or blogs, it’s hard to manage our time to get it all done. We’re supposed to create content, read and comment on other blogs, and otherwise engage, engage, engage with others. It can be exhausting. Believe me, I know.
We trekked carefully, eyes trained on the ground. People peered under leaves and near trees. I struggled to see anything, and once found myself standing next to a fallen tree, surrounded my mushrooms, that I couldn’t see until someone pointed out to me that they were all around me!
As we spread out, I looked down and saw a mushroom at my feet, which I picked and showed it to Caroline. “That’s Hideous Gomphidius!” she announced. I was crestfallen. That didn’t sound good to me!
Turns out, though, that she had brought along a cooked version of it and its cousin, the Rosy Gomphidius, for us to sample. She cautioned us that some people don’t like it, but I thought it was tasty.
I had found my mushroom! From then on, I saw them everywhere, and picked several to bring home.
If we look at all of social media, we will get overwhelmed and see nothing. I tried Triberr, and that drove me crazy. Pinterest scares me. Yet I know people who swear by both of them. Your best bet is to try something and see if it feels okay to you. I stick with Facebook and Twitter. I’m getting into Goodreads and Shelfari, mainly because I am looking for readers who might be interested in my books. Other than that, I leave the rest alone.
We can be efficient, too. Yes, we’re supposed to read and comment on others’ blogs, but we don’t have to do that with EVERYONE. I routinely comment on a few blogs that I genuinely enjoy, but I also seek out blogs where my comments might get read by my desired audience. I’m also experimenting with registering my blogs on other Triberr-like sites to expand readership, but we’ll see if that’s effective!
After a few hours, we had lots of samples in hand of mushrooms, some tasty and some not, some poisonous and some not. I realized that I couldn’t learn all the mushrooms in a day; many of us had different varieties, and some look very different when they’re young from when they mature. It will take many more visits to scratch the surface of mushrooms. According to Caroline, even experts are often stumped by what they see, and some varieties have yet to appear in a field guide. It takes time and patience.
It also takes time and patience to build a blog audience. If we get impatient, we may find ourselves spending way too much time on social media, trying to get something to work. Part of dancing with social media is knowing when to quit. We can get sucked in and spend the entire day there, yet see little for our efforts.
If you’re testing the waters with Twitter, start with ten minutes a day. Find a few tweets to retweet. Post a few tweets of your own. Find one or two people to reply to. THEN STOP. Later, as you get comfortable, you may want to find some tweet automation service (like Tweetdeck or Tweet Adder) to help you manage your time by posting tweets throughout the day. This doesn’t take the place of getting hands on with Twitter, but it can enhance your presence and leverage your time.
When I post my blog, I can post it to my Facebook page as well, which then sends out an automated tweet. The more you learn social media, the more you can connect the various formats to keep your time investment low.
Author C. J. Lyons says that the best way to market your books is to write more books. She suggests that if we’re having trouble finding time to write our books, we should blog a little less! It sounds counter-intuitive, but C. J. is a successful author, both in traditional and self-publishing arenas, so she’s worth listening to. Less is more. Take a breath. Relax.
Had I not gone out with a guide and a group of people, I wouldn’t have seen most of the mushrooms I saw that day. Having the kind, knowledgeable attention of a guide made all the difference. Now I can go out by myself and experiment, but even then I’ll need a good field guide, and Caroline has made herself available if we want to send her photos of a find. I also know now that when trying a new variety, I need to take it in small quantities; even a non-poisonous mushroom can upset a sensitive stomach, and mushroom eating can be a surprisingly individual experience.
Your best bet for using social media well is to follow the experts. I’ve written in the past about Kristin Lamb, Joel Friedlander, and Joanna Penn, but I’ve also recently run across Joan Stewart of The Publicity Hound, who provides a lot of helpful information. You can also follow someone who is successful at whatever you want to do and study how they share information on social media. Again, you can get overwhelmed by the many voices offering their advice and opinions. Find a couple whose ideas speak to you, and leave the rest alone.
Which leads me to a final thought: If you read this blog, I know you’re a busy person with a lot to do. Thanks for making the choice to visit. I try to create a lot of content not to overload you, but to give you options. Some people like my book and blog recommendations, while others like my feature posts. Still others beg for photos. Feel free to pick and choose what works for YOU.