FACEBOOK for Writers as a Business

 

This story appeared in Traveler, the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)

Facebook does more than make sense for writers. It has become a necessary and invaluable business tool- one that can also improve the equality of your work and your life.

 

Facebook allows you to be a broader world ambassador. On Facebook, you can reach all kinds of people who may never pick up a travel magazine.    

 

We have the potential to break down barriers and prejudices, open minds, broaden our understanding, these are all gifts of sharing and experiencing other people, places and cultures through our travel writing. This kind of shift in consciousness has the power to heal and bond peoples- it’s the power of being a travel writer. As you visit and write about places and people and post on Facebook, especially from far-flung corners of the world where many folks may never experience, you are supporting these people.

When I was in Zimbabwe and blogging and posting photos, the feedback I received from my Facebook friends about how rich their day became after seeing my content, was very uplifting. They looked forward to beginning their day with me in Africa and some said that although they never considered going there, their minds were now opened to it. Facebook friends do not need to subscribe to the magazines that you write for, yet they can still share your adventures through Facebook.

Blogging and Facebook go hand in hand-it is hard to separate the two and as a writer, both are important and connected. Blogs are like teasers, giving your readers a hint of the full story to come. When it finally appears in print, you can link right to the magazine and give it a plug, which all editors/publishers appreciate, because it is all about visibility and reaching numbers.

Use blogging to become a better writer. Which is one of the arguments against blogging (and Facebook)- that it is a time sucker. But it enables you to practice your craft more, for most social media experts agree that blogging frequency is important for building readership- a few times a week is good, or every other day.

I try harder to write a blog as opposed to just journaling about my experience. I work at injecting humor, drawing a conclusion, but keep it tight and short. Having a blog stimulates me to think about crafting stories, creating a piece, and I find myself thinking as a writer more often during the day because of Facebook.

It’s an easy and fast way to communicate with your editors and publishers.  They are almost always on and available and often reply immediately, as opposed to e-mail. When your computer crashes and you lose all e-mail addresses, you can still find them on Facebook.

My editor Doug Cooke, at JAXFAX Travel Marketing Magazine, made me administrator of his magazine’s Facebook page, so I can post pictures and blogs while I am in country for up-to-minute reporting and also once I return home. And I post JAXFAX’s page to my site.  Doug appreciates this. The potential of reaching thousands more is created. It is really free publicity. The only thing it costs is your time.

Facebook helps build your writing community. Many of my Facebook friends are colleagues and I learn so much about current issues, films, books, articles that my friends share and post. Since many of us are like-minded, it is like having thousands of other sets of eyes and ears out there, gathering information, spreading news and ideas. Facebook is a wealth of info for content for my work. Facebook would be not an important business tool if there were no content, making it an invaluable tool for sharing and communicating.

RONI WEISS, owner/founder RW Social

I solicited the input of Roni Weiss, a social media consultant and a travel/events blogger for some info. He partners with the non-profit Africa Travel Association (ATA) where he is a consultant and helps companies/countries/non-profits/individuals prosper using social media. I was fortunate to travel to Zimbabwe with him on the media team to attend the World Congress of the Africa Travel Association (ATA).

Decide how you want to set up your Facebook business.

If you JUST have a personal account, people can only reach out to you if you’re friends or if they send you a message.

To make it so a broader base of people can reach you, you have two options:

1) Opening up “Subscriptions” on your personal page. (You can do this by going to http://facebook.com/subscriptions. This allows people who are not your friends to ‘Subscribe’ to any public statuses that you put up. When they do this, your statuses will pop into their Facebook Newsfeed, even if they aren’t friends with you. (The one downside of this is that you will need to decide for individual posts if you want to be sharing them with friends, everyone or some other breakdown. You do this for each post via your selection next to the ‘Post’ button.)

2) You can open up a ‘Page’, separate from your personal profile. Pages have Likes, as opposed to friends. This is especially useful if you have a business outside of your personal projects/writing. Another benefit is that you don’t need to select on each post who you want to see it, but rather just can keep your personal profile personal and have a separate ‘Page’ life.

If you find the set up/ privacy settings overwhelming, get help. Every young person knows how to navigate Facebook.

Use your “Timeline” Facebook feature as an illustrated biography, to tell your story of who you are and your life. You are the curator of your wall and editors can go there to learn more about you/your work. Here is a place where your true personality can shine through. (I delete everyday conversation after a bit, to clean it up).

To shuffle through the Facebook post clutter of friends who post statuses about what they ate or yet another pic of their dog, or if you aren’t interested in a stranger’s/fan’s life, you can HIDE these people, as opposed to deleting them and still be able to communicate via Facebook and have them see your posts.

Link and share others posts to your wall that relate to what is important to you or illustrates what you are trying to communicate. It builds readership and creates a more tightly knit and far-reaching web of communication.

When on the computer working, have Facebook minimized in the background. If it is not on, you can’t communicate that way.

Facebook no longer has anything to do with age- grandmothers are on Facebook and are blogging.

As a writer, there is no good reason NOT to be connected via Facebook. The social network affords many opportunities to communicate. As a writer, as a business, you need it. Communicating is what we do and Facebook has become an invaluable tool.

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