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Social Media Benefits for Your Writing Career
2016, Q1 (November 19, 2015)
By Ciranna Bird, MS

Ciranna Bird
Ciranna Bird

Last month, I read a post by Lisa Formichelli that invited her readers to determine if their use of social media platforms was helping advance their writing businesses. Her post was named Why I killed my social media accounts (+ why you may want to too…and what to do instead).

The response within my writers group, as well as feedback on Ms. Formichelli’s website indicated that many people feel uncomfortable using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and don’t see the benefits of using them for their career.

Although I can relate to their discomfort, I find the free versions of LinkedIn and Twitter useful for marketing my freelance business. In a book I just read by Ali Berlow, she says,

“Whether you’re into it or not, social media is part of the media landscape. Best to learn about it and use it for good, not evil… social media can help you manage your message, get the word out about what you are doing, educate your audience, and increase awareness.”

It’s also helpful to remember that using social media platforms doesn’t come natural to anyone. Did you know LinkedIn has only existed for 13 years? It’s only been 11 years since Facebook began and Twitter has only been in use for 9 years. That means we are all new at this form of communication, especially if we are using the platforms for business rather than for friendships.

I began using the LinkedIn platform in 2009, and use it to post my work experience and education. I participate in multiple LinkedIn groups to increase my visibility and learn from my colleagues. I appreciate being notified when people in my network get a new position, or have a work anniversary. Because I’m a visual person, seeing their picture helps me remember them better. I also use LinkedIn to research speakers at conferences I plan to attend, and follow up with individuals I’ve met at events.

My first tweet on Twitter was almost two years ago. I use twitter to connect with people around the world that have similar career interests or who I consider role models such as David Morrell, Rebecca Skloot, and Dr. Atul Gawande. Unlike the people I’m connected to via LinkedIn, I follow people on Twitter that I may have never worked with. I use Twitter and Tweetdeck to read at my own leisure topic-specific news including TED Talks from people and organizations that I’m interested in.

In summary, my goal on social media is to make connections with real people rather than amass a large following. I work hard to build trust and credibility online and am still learning the best ways that work for me. I also reduce the amount of interruptions in my workday by only logging onto Twitter and LinkedIn for 25 minutes a day.

Ali Berlow. The Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse: building a humane chicken processing unit to strengthen your local food system. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing; 2013.

CIRANNA BIRD is a freelance medical writer based in Raleigh, NC. She can be reached at ciranna dot bird at cirannabird dot com or on her website. Read more articles by CIRANNA BIRD. End of article.

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