Here’s my book review of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write, and Promote Your Blog by Debra Eckerling.
I used to write how-to books on business software applications, and in many ways those types of books have become all but obsolete. Graphical user interfaces have become increasingly intuitive, Help systems and search engines can get you solutions quicker, and if you’re really stumped you can open an online chat session or make a phone call to those friendly techs in India.
And what could be easier to use than social media? Mark Twain once said that the people in France must be very smart because even their little children know how to speak French. Well, these days, even our little children are not intimidated at all about posting and messaging with their smartphones. They may even think that using both thumbs is a perfectly natural way to type.
And perhaps it’s because usage of social media is so pervasive that applying it for any particular purpose can be so challenging. It’s not that posting is difficult but that developing a plan for posting to produce a result is not obvious. Yelling your name in the upper deck of the ballpark is easy, but it’s almost impossible to be heard when 50,000 other fans are also yelling – their names.
And herein lies a basic paradox of social media. One reason it’s so popular is that now anyone on the planet can yell, “Look at me!” in less than 140 characters or with the snap of a selfie. But with so many people doing it all day every day, the typical response may be, “Who cares?”
Author Debra Eckerling has been coaching communicators for more than 15 years. She’s the founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a website and community for writers, and she hosts the Guided Goals Podcast. What’s more, she’s an editor at Social Media Examiner and makes it her business to keep up on the quirks and complexities of social media platforms.
Write On Blogging is nothing short of a comprehensive, step-by-step plan for implementing more effective social media campaigns. Advertising and public-relations agencies pay consultants like Eckerling thousands to recommend and document such plans. This one is aimed directly at writers who must also become self-promoters to draw any attention to their work. But promoters of all stripes will find it useful.
It’s a social media strategy in a bottle, yours for the price of the paperback or the ebook download.
Eckerling’s advice covers basic to advanced. If you’re just starting out, see especially Tip #8 in Chapter 1, “Claim Your Social Media Names.” She encourages you to choose the same name, handle, avatar, or badge on each social media platform. Doing so will reinforce your branding and make it easier for your audience to find and follow you.
Once you’re posting regularly, see these tips in Chapter 7: #41 Build Your Network and Research Peers, #42 Share on Social Media, and #43 Interact and Develop Relationships. The advice is practical, hands-on, and always aimed at generating results.
Those results should include feedback and encourage that most precious goal of customer intimacy – engagement. The mark of a successful post is a long comment thread. You may well know that it’s not enough to say, “Look at me!” Perhaps you’re learning that content engages, and you’ve begun to try, “Look at this!” Eckerling will encourage you to go further by not only finding content that’s organic to your brand but also phrasing your call to action in a question, “What about this?” She advises that it shouldn’t be a difficult question for the average person in your audience to answer. And if the question is provocative enough, there will be no shortage of opinions.
To engage, your involvement can’t be one-sided. Seek out the posts of potential affiliates and even competitors – and respond to their questions. Stimulate engagement by being engaged yourself in the larger conversations that surround your topic or area of interest.
Granted, Write On Blogging is a snapshot in time. Eckerling’s tips describe the way specific sites behave today, adhering to the policies of their creators and sponsors. It’s a dynamic environment. Policies and regulations will evolve. Platforms will rise, fall, and mutate. And if Write On Blogging becomes the bible it deserves to be, we can expect it will continue to be updated in many more editions to come.
Listen to the interview with Debra Eckerling on this podcast: