Everything Deb Elise Wanted to Know About Social Media, She Learned From Deb Tawna

Twitter PowerLess than a year ago, I was at a Billy Joel concert with my friend Julie, SCOFFING — not just laughing, actively scoffing — at her because she was Tweeting.

“Who are you sending that to?” I asked.

“Anyone following me,” she replied.

“Who’s following you?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know.  Just a few random people.  Some friends.  You know.”

I didn’t know.  I thought it sounded absurd.  Why wouldn’t she just email her friends?  Or post about the concert on Facebook, like normal people?

Then she laughed out loud.  It wasn’t at my brilliance.  I hadn’t said anything.

She kept laughing.

“What?” I finally asked.

“Rainn Wilson,” she said.  “He just Tweeted the funniest thing!”

“You’re following Rainn Wilson?”

“Oh, yeah!” she said.  “He’s really funny.  I follow Ashton Kutcher, too.  His Tweets are great.”

I just shook my head.  This was clearly the most absurd invention in history.  It sounded like a more immediate version of Us Magazine, with the added benefit of shouting out your own random thoughts to complete strangers who couldn’t possibly actually be interested in what you were saying.

I was never going to join the Twittosphere.  Never.

I also once said I was never going to run a marathon (I’ve done 15), eat sushi (my favorite food), or fast forward past scary parts of Disney movies to spare my child the trauma (she still thinks Finding Nemo starts with “First day of school!  First day of school!”… and that Mufasa leaves his position because he “retired.”).

Needless to say, I am now not just a fan of Twitter, I’m a devotee.  Maybe an addict.  I also love blogging and my Facebook author page, but in this post I’m going to concentrate on Twitter, because it’s the one that was the most completely foreign to me as of seven months ago.

Then I met my social media guru, Deb Tawna.

Deb Tawna, as you all know, is a genius at social media.  She has an incredible series of blog posts about it, and about Twitter in particular (I’d link to it, but I’m guessing she’ll be doing that on Friday).  She also recommended the book I’m reading in the picture.  The gist of what she says in her posts is that social media is all about making relationships.  Marketing happens, sure, but it’s really a by-product of the genuine friendships you make by interacting with people who have common interests with you.

Once I got it, I loved it.  I love that on Twitter there’s a whole incredibly supportive group of authors and readers, always accessible at the click of a mouse.  I love that I can find out about other writers’ news and events, both business (Deb Eleanor’s coming to L.A. for a book signing! {I know that one’s cheating because I know her from more than just Twitter, but I’m seriously excited about it}), and personal (I’m obsessed with the details of Sara Zarr‘s paleolithic diet — I’ve told her this and we’ve Tweeted about it).  I love that on Friday, Erin Blakemore Tweeted that she was going for a high word count this weekend, and when I Tweeted back that I was too, we started a dialogue of encouraging tweets back and forth as we worked.  I love that when I had questions about making a book trailer, I could find the incredible Vania Stoyanova on Twitter and get her immediate feedback.

Thanks to Twitter, I’ve also found great blogs by authors I didn’t know at all, like Jody Hedlund and Kristen Lamb, both of whom give terrific advice on… well… social media!

Honestly, I don’t know the bottom line on how social media affects book sales, but since social media is today’s word of mouth, using it wisely can only help.  The beauty is how it helps.  Writing books can be a lonely enterprise.  The relationships we build with other writers, bloggers, and fans through social media can keep us informed, keep us motivated during the rough patches, and keep us entertained when we need a break.  If in the end that translates into greater book sales, that’s terrific, but in a way it’s icing on the cake.

Oh hey — just popped over to Twitter and saw Jennifer Weiner Tweeting that she loves hearing the good news of authors she follows because it makes her feel like she’s part of a community.  How on-topic is that?  Gonna go chime in, then get back to work.  #amwriting!


Deb Elise

15 Replies to “Everything Deb Elise Wanted to Know About Social Media, She Learned From Deb Tawna”

  1. I like to say my blog is my wife, FB is my mistress and Twitter is a quickie with a stranger. I was Tweeting last night – lots of great interactions with interesting people. And it’s always fun when a celeb RTs you. I signed up for Bob Mayer’s writing class via Twitter too. I use Tweet Deck to manage @kimstagliano, @ageofautism and @debutanteball.

    1. LOVE the analogy! I have Osfoora on my iPad to handle Twitter. On my desktop and laptop I actually use the Twitter site, and on my phone I use Twee (though I don’t love that one.)

  2. It is so wonderful to be able to connect with people – sometimes fleetingly, sometimes for an extended period, using social media.

    The brevity of Twitter concerns me, as it doesn’t allow for any kind of deep discussion, but as Kim says above, maybe that’s just because it’s only one option. Certainly I see lots of people on it (yourself included) able to switch that off and go write beautiful, elegant posts.

    I’m just always curious about the long-term effects of things, so I wonder.

    1. I understand your concern, but I think they’re just different disciplines. People had declared the advent of texting, with its ROFLMAO acronyms and 🙂 emoticons to be the death of the written word, but of course it wasn’t. People who grew up texting are starting to become and will continue to become brilliant novelists… they’ll just use different muscles to do it.

      When done REALLY well, communicating in short-form via Twitter can be its own skill, like writing haiku. The haiku analogy isn’t something I’ve necessarily managed — my Tweets are pretty normal. But the Colbert Report writers squeeze hysterical comedy into 140 characters all the time. It’s pretty brilliant.

      1. I liken it to doing sprints if you’re a distance runner (not that I enjoy running in any form…I hate to be jostled). It builds your writing muscles in different ways and challenges you go come up with new ways of phrasing things to meet that 140 character limit.


  3. I was dragged into Twitter, kicking and screaming, by a friend who only convinced me to try it after assuring me I could quit anytime I wanted. Ha. Little did I know.

    Seriously, I’ve made the best writing contacts through social media just by (strangely enough) being social. There’s an amazingly supportive group of fellow writers in cyberspace, just waiting to welcome eager new members. I love that. 🙂

    1. I actually rave about that all the time. Coming from TV, where there’s support but also a level of fear that makes people very UNsupportive, it’s a joy to be in the community of authors and bloggers. I have found people to be remarkably open and supportive of one another. It’s how it should be everywhere, but it exists for real in the book world.

  4. I finally joined twitter and have had some great interactions with people. I’m curious how to translate those follows and interactions to traffic to my blog. I haven’t seen that really happen yet.

    1. Yeah… that’s a tough one. I still don’t know the magic bullet that brings people from one venue to another, but I’m so happy with the relationships I’ve made through Twitter/Facebook/Blog, I have no complaints. It’s all synergistic.

  5. Awww, thanks for the mention. And actually, this post sort of illustrates my biggest soapbox issue with social media. It’s most effective when you use it to make genuine friendships and genuine connections with people, and to lift up OTHERS instead of yelling “look at me, look at me!” the way you might in traditional marketing channels. Obviously, I never asked you to mention me in this post (er, here’s that $20 I promised) but because we’ve connected and shared, you did it out of he kindness of your heart. Likewise, you can be damn sure I’ll be screaming from the rooftops about POPULAZZI when the time comes, not because I have to or I owe you, but because it’s a damn good book — one I wouldn’t likely have read if we hadn’t connected via social media.



    1. I have, use, and love my FB author page, but I find I do more personal stuff on FB, and more connecting with author-reader-blogger-friends on Twitter.

      Replying to these posts makes me want to hop onto Twitter. Must go now… 🙂

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