Last year, my conference speeches references social media, but didn't harp on it. Now I consider it mandatory in a writer's attempt to be heard, to sell a commodity. So many writers think me wrong, claiming it's not mandatory, it's too time consuming. Others are afraid of saying something wrong, fearful someone will challenge them. I've been frustrated that they aren't excited at such opportunity. Then someone forwarded to me an article from Forbes entitled Real-Time Personal Branding For Business Success, by Dan Shawbel, and I knew what I was doing wrong in trying to deliver my message.
David Meerman Scott, author of Real-Time Marketing and PR (Wiley, 2010) surveyed Fortune 100 companies and found that only 30% had responded to him in real-time, and then concluded that companies that engage in real-time have higher stock prices. In other words, people respond to real-time connection.
When you contact a bank, store or utility company about a bill, you hate waiting, being passed around, or being told to call back at another time. You want assistance now. With technology has come a population impatient with waiting, and hungry for instant gratification.
When technology combined with communication, we developed social media, and the public went wild. Only five years ago, we started expecting companies to have websites. Now we go to those websites and expect to find links to Facebook, Twitter and blogs. We don't want to wait for periodicals, semi-annual reports or monthly newsletters for the latest changes and updates. We want it now.
You understand that people expect immediate information and service. So why do so many writers balk at the public's expectation of blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter IDs for authors, columnists and scribes of all shapes and sizes? You Google everything now. Why not expect to be Googled as well?
Real-time is fast becoming an expectation. Before people buy your work, they want to find out what makes you tick, where you're from, what you look like, if you like dogs or cats, or how you take your coffee. Maybe not that many details, but they will Google you to make a determination whether you're worthy of their purchasing power. I do it. You do, too.
That's standard consumerism - doing your homework before dropping your credit card on the counter. Since you are earning a living writing, that makes you an entrepreneur - a business. Real-time, people. Websites are okay, but social media is where these potential buyers can send you a blog comment, friend message or Tweet - and expect a response. Learn to be prompt with a reply, and you'll make a friend . . . and a sale. Ignore these real-time pleas and you lose business. They'll move on to somebody who respects them enough to answer.
It's not hard. It's a little bit time consuming. But it's one of the cheapest and easiest ways to build a following. Technology has handed us a blessing - readers at our fingertips. And some people still can't see the need to hit ENTER, reply, and add a fan.