Celebrating East African Writing!
Most ‘grown-ups’ I know, scoff when they hear younger people talk about Facebook. I know someone who says ‘Twitter is for twits’. Well, no matter how deep your disdain for social media platforms, you need to know some basic facts about social media platforms.
That said, how can you use social media properly to sell your work, and still maintain a measure of privacy and dignity?
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow an individual or business to set up a profile. Think of each profile as a mini-website. These services provide tools that allow you to limit who sees your information (called privacy controls), who may contact you, how they contact you, and how much information you share. The biggest challenge for newcomers is that you must define your purpose for the site to be effective.
Facebook: Facebook is a hybrid of personal and business users with over 300 million users. According to Alexa.com, it’s the third most trafficked site in the world. It’s also the number one social network (Nielson.com). If you want exposure, you can get it here. Set up a basic account and a great profile, at the very least.
The demographic is primarily 35 years old and people now spend three times more on Facebook than on Google (Jayde 2009). That’s a lot of market potential, and it’s an international market! I bet those folks with $100,000 annual incomes can afford to hire a writer to help with their memoirs, newsletters, and resumes.
This website appeals more to professional and mature audiences, partially because the format is cleaner and easier to navigate. It’s designed to allow people to communicate through messages, posting to the wall — which is like a bulletin board — sharing photos, news, blogs, and more. There are also fun features, like sending flowers or hugs, to customers, friends, and family.
Business users also add personal touches to their sites. They use logos showing charities the business supports, company picnic photos, and good PR news. It’s very important to check the privacy settings carefully though. You’ll quickly annoy friends and family if you send every update to the entire list. It’s also not a good idea to send your boss a note that says you sent flowers to your girlfriend or applied for another job. These risks are good reasons not to mix business and personal use.
LinkedIn:This is the most respected and widely used site for business networking. LinkedIn is where you share ideas and get answers to questions from professionals that you’d never meet any other way. Industry specific professional groups help each other through advice, resources, referrals, and more. Plus, employers post jobs and recruit here.
LinkedIn isn’t a fast-track to becoming an executive editor at Random House, but it is good exposure that can be focused on your specialty. People get to know you through discussions. They learn about you and your expertise when you answer questions for others by responding to a discussion. Again, it’s about others and earning the respect of others in your network who can make referrals.
In addition, customers and employers can post public recommendations on your page, and you can see when people in your network change jobs or location, which helps you maintain a current network with viable contacts. Your network can be as wide or narrow as you want to work to make it.
Twitter: Twitter is a micro-blogging site, and it grew by 1,928% from June 2008 to June 2009 (Nielson.com). It is now the fastest growing social network in the world.
The purpose is to create awareness of your presence. Messages should provide helpful tips, entertain, or inform your target market. Yes, there are spammers and hookers here too. It’s easy to block the undesirable element though. The big no-no is blatant self-promotion. Like all customer-oriented content, it’s about them, not you.
You build a following by offering information that people want, solving problems, and engaging in useful conversation. There is an amazing amount of good research information available by doing simple searches too.
It’s up to you to decide how much or how little you will use social media platforms. As you decide, let’s go and read this week’s Contemporary Nairobi Stories. Two of them are continuations from last week, but must still be voted on as individual stories. See Second Chance Dad 2 and To the T 2.
Then we have Mwangi Ichungwa with The Classifieds: Dear Isaiah, As you may have noticed, you have been recorded enjoying our most delectable services. We would like to take this moment to assure you that only you have a copy of this footage.
Lastly we have Chrispus Kimaru with Jesus Says…: “Kijana, I don’t care where you work or what jet fuel you drink, my house my terms or else you will find that mattress of yours on the stairs!” his words were stinging as he intended.
You have a chance to be the next week’s author of the Contemporary Nairobi Story of the Week. The Contest will continue until the end of July.
Every author who wins the Story of the Week, will have the opportunity to have their work in expedited review at the Storymoja Editorial Review Table. To win that spot, please send in a story that fits into the categories below.
– Contemporary Nairobi setting
– Has two or more young professionals as main characters
– Can be either Crime/Detective Fiction, Romance or Life Crisis Fiction
– Must be complete enough to stand as a story by itself
– Has a running mystery; story must be short but the mystery should make it possible to develop the story into a novella (10000 words)
– Should not be more than 2000 words
In addition to the expedited review, the winning author will have a Writer Profile on our site, as well as stand a chance to win KES 500 and one of the Storymoja titles.
May the best writer win!