Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Understanding Social Networking

"Why do we have to learn about history?"

At school, I get this question all the time. My answer is always the same. "We learn from the past. If we remember the mistakes that we've made, we might not make them again."

As I chatted with my friend Al Boudreau this past week about the annoyances of marketing, it struck me that many indie writers might need to take a look a history and try to learn a lesson or two.

Years ago, people held block parties where everyone in the neighborhood brought a dish. They'd set up card tables, and everyone's garage door was opened just in case it rained. It allowed the community an opportunity to foster and grow relationships.  Invitations weren't printed, but given by word-of-mouth as people came home from work. They'd get out of their cars to open the garage door. Next door neighbors would take a moment to say hello and to ask about the family. It was an opportunity to touch base with each other, to make a real and meaningful connections. 

I've heard it said that the invention of the garage door opener was the demise of neighborhood communities.

What some fail to understand is that the internet has replaced the front yard, and social sites are now our garage doors. Touching lives with a short comment or a "like" is the same as asking Fred about his family as he's getting out of the station wagon. Even though we now connect with others on an international level, it's still the same concept.

The common thread that strings humanity together is the need to communicate. This is the sole reason that Facebook and Twitter are billion dollar industries.

Often indie writers don't invest the time needed to make these connections, opting instead to create a "buy my book" offensive on the world. They then get frustrated when people are rude and refuse to friend them or buy their book.

Once again, if we looked back at history, this would be the same as the door-to-door salesman. Even the kindest people would see him coming and close the blinds, ignore the doorbell, and shush the kids. The saleman might be selling the best product in the world, but it didn't matter.


Because he had not established a connection.

I've come to realize that Social Networking is not about marketing. It's about making connections, valuing others opinions, and fostering friendships. If you have a great product, the rest will take care of itself.

What do you think?