Now, Discover Your Strengths is one of the very few personal improvement books worth the money. It’s been superseded by the awkwardly-titled StrengthsFinder 2.0 but the message is the same in the new book:
You should concentrate on what you’re best at. Don’t try to improve your weaknesses, instead sharpen the skills that you do better than anyone else. It’s a countervailing message in this age of self-improvement. It says to drop what you suck at (I’m never going to be a great basketball player) and work on what you do best (writing and photography).
The two books contain surveys to identify your unique strengths. You’ll probably experience an “ah-hah” moment at the results, confirming what you already knew.
The same principle of concentrating on your strengths can be applied to social media efforts. In this new and ever-changing field, how do you determine what to spend time on? Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, FourSquare, Digg, SlideShare, Scribd, Flickr… and on and on and on. You could spend twenty-four hours a day in front of an overheated laptop updating social media sites.
I worked with Janice Hall Booth, a very interesting woman who wrote an inspiring book, Only Pack What You Can Carry. She’s an “adventurista” and an excellent role model for young women who want more out of life than Sex and the City.
Janice had a problem. She wanted to use social media to promote her book but had a full-time job. I’ve seen some of the social media plans for authors – they’re comprehensive, exhausting affairs filled with exhortations such as “get 20 new Twitter followers a day for 30 days.” How do you compel people to follow you? These plans treat all social media channels equally and require herculean efforts to complete.
Also, social media experts are extroverts; writers are not.
I took a different approach. I advised Janice to concentrate on the social media channels that she was most comfortable with. She was more likely to stick with something she was really passionate about and enjoyed. For Janice, this was blogging. Not surprising, since she’s a writer.
For my own social media efforts (for me and Murder in Ocean Hall), I’ve concentrated on blogging and Twitter. I like the constant newsfeed of Twitter, as well as the back-and-forth wittiness with friends. And for writing longer than 144 characters, I have this blog.
There’s a thousand other ways of promoting a book online. GoodReads is a really interesting online community. Facebook marketing ties yourself to the whims of a single online service. A book trailer (like a movie preview) on YouTube is a good idea for graphic novels. An email newsletter is something I’d like to do at some point. I post a lot of photos on Flickr, though they’re about my life in general, not just my book. FourSquare – why do I want people to know where I’m at?
My other piece of social media advice: evaluate after 30 days. What’s working? What’s not? Most social media, like media in general, does not reach a mass audience. You will not have thousands of followers overnight.
Instead, I’d look at your social media efforts based upon your individual strengths. Do you have blog posts that you’re really proud of? Have you made new connections that you treasure? Have you learned something new?
Passion and authenticity are rewarded in social media. Don’t try to do everything. Concentrate on what you enjoy.