So today is the last day of Robert Lee Brewer's April Platform Challenge. If you haven't heard of it, every day Robert posted a challenge action item to help us writerly folks improve our platforms. While there have been days I fantasized about killing Brewer in his sleep, the challenge has been extremely helpful. For those of you playing along at home, here are my top five take-aways from the month.
1. Social Media will eat you alive...
If you let it. Between blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest, etc. you could spend all day updating posts, pinning articles and tweeting. You've got to set limits. Everyone will be different. For me, I check all my social media in the morning and then again at lunch. If I've been good (i.e. I wrote something that wasn't garbage) I check it again in the evening. Without these rules I would spend all day reading blogs, updating Twitter and stalking the gossip pages to see if Jessica Simpson has had that baby yet.
2. Social Media is hard.
If you want a quality product (blog post, twitter following, Pinterest board) you have to be willing to put in the time. No one wants to read a blog about all the places you find cat hair every morning. Well, someone might, but it won't be me. If you want people to read your stuff, it needs to be interesting, informative, and/or entertaining. If it's all three you get a gold star for the day.
3. Social Media is not that hard.
Sure, you have to do the leg work, but there are a million people willing to help you. Do you need guest bloggers to help cover a two-week visit from your in-laws? There are tons of people willing to write guest posts and who might also send you copious amounts of liquor. Are you looking for interesting people to interview? Just ask those interesting people. You'll be surprise by how many will say yes and be honored that you asked. Do you need a flying unicorn? OK, you could be out of luck on that one.
4. There is no magic wand.
Having a successful social media platform is a combination of hard work, a bit of luck, and that special sauce that makes you uniquely you. While there are plenty of things you can do to improve your platform, you will not find an easy button that instantly turns all your Tweets to solid gold and causes followers to fall from the sky like manna.
5. There is a magic wand.
Well, no, not really. But if there was, it wouldn't shoot sparkly fairy dust out the end. Instead it would spout words of wisdom from the rest of the writing community. This place is filled to the brim with crazy geniuses. So if you don't know something, just ask. Because no matter how awesome you are at blogging, or twitter, or whatever, there is someone else who has been awesome for longer, and that person has something to teach you.
So there you have it. Five wonderful lessons and a month worth of insight. If you aren't familiar with Robert Lee Brewer, I would encourage you to go check out his website right now. My Name Is Not Bob is chock full of sage advice and savvy wisdom.