It’s mid-morning in suburban Perth on April 1, 2015. Two labourers mirror each other as they stand alongside a half-dug ditch at the end of a driveway with their heads bent over their smartphones, their thumbs working hard, their shovels inert against their knees. Photo opportunity missed and the good old Aussie smoking break supplanted by what? A smart break? Has smoko become smarto? It’s a fair bet that it wasn’t a host of popularity emails claiming the full attention of these two guys, but Facebook, Twitter and the increasing list.
It’s taken me longer than most to realise that it’s actually smarter to ‘do’ FB than to claim I don’t from a high ground that’s on its way to nothing. And it’s changing – have you noticed? Or is the change in me? My original perception was that Facebook was geared more to cute photos of children and pets and the old ‘what I had for breakfast’ saw, but now I find some good alerts, items of genuine interest – and laughs. Laughs are important. It also can provide a great platform of support: support in crisis, support in success. It has obviously gobbled up time that used to be spent in physical interaction and has serious and negative implications for both school and workplace as in my first paragraph – but it’s given something back, too, particularly to the geographically isolated and those insulated in their homes by illness or disability. Through both the very good and the very bad of social media, our lives are becoming as involved and tangled as a river delta.
But it’s from a work perspective that it really interests me and this is where I’ve found Linked In to be a particularly useful portal in terms of connecting with people for whom I have a professional regard as well as a source of mutually helpful networking contacts and others who have subsequently become friends.
Several years ago at a Writing WA seminar, founder of e-publisher Smashwords Mark Coker warned that for a self-published book to succeed in what he at that time called the ‘adolescence’ of e-publishing, a solid social media presence was essential. Now that social media has come of age, it’s even more critical – see my August 2014 blog on writing in a vibrant marketplace.
A few millennia back, the philosopher Heraclitus commented on ever-present change: ‘No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man’. The river we’ve elected to join is flowing fast and strong and we need to know how to get the most out of the time we spend on it.
To this end, one of the sanest and most helpful pieces of advice on how to get the best out of individual platforms in the shortest time, see Isobelle Carmody’s article on “The Saleable Author” in the ASA’s digital March issue. The Best of Australian Author Online Vol 5: http://eepurl.com/bh_GXb.
At an Australian Society of Authors’ seminar in Sydney, content marketer and brand journalist Steven Lewis described how he built his reputation and businesses with Twitter, and he’s taught thousands to do the same. It’s not only important for self-publishers, but increasingly traditional publishers have the same requirement. (Incidentally, Steven has a Twitter webinar coming up – for details see ASA website at https://www.asauthors.org).
From both the personal and work perspectives, until something else takes over, social media has us firmly in its grip. Do you agree? Disagree? Lol everyone!
I had been trying for some time to get a copy of Sydney author Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower when all of a sudden Text Publishing re-published it in their Classics range. I love stories of the mind even if I do have to re-ground myself rather literally by brushing the dogs or gardening before I come back to myself again. Excellent article on Harrower’s work at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/time-lies with thanks to Jim Shaw for passing it on.
Which brings me to Out of Place which, to my delighted surprise, is attracting comments from both male and female readers and has scored a five-star presence on Amazon. An old-fashioned yippee from me and many thanks to those of you who have purchased the book and for your invaluable feedback.