Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guest Post

Welcome to the Social Media pool 
where the water is quite warm
By Jane Gassner of MidLifeBloggers
Here are my social media bonafides:  first used the Internet in 1994; started blogging in 2004; signed up with Twitter in 2006; went on Facebook in 2007.  Those dates tell you one thing, that I’m an Early Adopter.  And that I’ve had to listen to a lot of people--friends and relatives--question, nay sneer, at my use of social media.  She who laughs last, etc etc and many of the sneerers are now friending me on Facebook or following me on Twitter.  They’ve gotten the word from the 21st century that the ways we communicate on both a personal and a professional level has changed.  
Still, I must admit I went through a period of disenchantment with both Twitter and Facebook.  For the latter, it was an overwhelming and seemingly endless stream of messages from people I had once considered quite bright--educated, serious, smart--calling out their need for a pig or a cattle trough or some such thing on a Facebook app called Farmville.  With Twitter, it was the onslaught of Tweets selling something, someone, somewhere crowding out the Twitter conversations I was used to having with people I knew. I was mad at both sites for a while, sulked some, but then I pulled up my Big Girl Panties and figured out a way to wrangle social media to serve my ends, rather than those of the nameless hordes.
One of those ends is marketing.  Social media has become the go-to place when you want to hit as wide an audience as possible.  Yes, hard-core marketers have already figured this out, but they’re not the only ones. Writers, artists, actors, filmmakers--those of us formerly confined to our garretts--are tapping in the spotlight of social media.
Several weeks ago, the Sacramento Social Media Club held a panel discussion featuring the ways in which artists of different genres are using social media to communicate with the public and enhance their sales. You can read the article I wrote about it on Sacramento Press here.  Suffice to say, the general message from all the artists was that social media is the way they connect with and broaden their audience
Last week, I was at a SITS blogging conference at which actress Jessica Bern talked about how she uses video blogging (vlogging) to enhance her career.   Voted one of the top ten humor bloggers of 2009, her series bernthis is a popular feature on Youtube.  Here’s some of what Jessica suggests when you’re planning a video of your work to post on Youtube:
  • Pick a detail of your work and build a story around it
  • Three minutes max is ideal--figure out a way to go as short as you can and still get your message across
  • You need movement, so find a prop that is appropriate
  • You can do multiple takes and then edit them together in one of the video-editing programs
  • Create your own Youtube channel that is set it so only your friends can see your videos and ask them to critique.
  • Last but not least:  Set a goal for your vlog and work toward it
Bottom line:  don’t be afraid of social media.  It really is your friend.  In fact some of the research being done now shows that contrary to the idea  that the web kills human interaction, using social media can create positive social bonding.  Paul J. Zak, director of the Center for Neruoeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, is quoted in a recent NY Times article as saying:  “The Web is bringing businesses back down to the individual as the average company becomes smaller, more niche and specialized.  Paradoxically, the Web is moving us back to a human-centric business model.”
For those of us selling the fruits of our imaginations, that can only be a good thing.