I’ve known Khaled Allen for a long time. Our moms are besties for life and since moving to NZ, Khaled and I have stayed in touch, keeping it real in the blogging world. When he told me about his book launch and social hesitations, I told him to write about them here. When I read this, I couldn’t have been prouder.
Twitter scares me.
There I said it. Facebook seems intrusive. I don’t understand what Google+ is for. The idea of a comment thread or a user-review seemed pointless. So how on earth would I even be heard on the online mob shouting match that is Twitter?
Social media, to put it succinctly, was not my cup of tea.
Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, except I am a writer and the hardest part of writing is getting read. I was content to write in obscurity for a while, but I just finished my first big writing project and after several months of hard work, I didn’t want to put it into the world with no reception. I owed it to the book, so for the sake of my baby, I braved the tumultuous, roaring seas of social media.
A Fish Out of Water
I’ve had a Twitter account since 2009, which I treated like an unwatered plant. I kept to myself. Reading my early tweets, I gag at how insincere and desperate I sounded. I phrased my words in ways I thought would get the most attention because I was afraid to speak with my own voice. In the sea of opinions, I worried I’d never be heard unless I went with the flow.
So I wrote it off as pointless. I never felt I could add anything valuable to conversations. While others seemed able to use it for promotion, I certainly had no clue. With no reason to expect my latest attempt to be any better than before, I turned to Marian, a family friend. Our mom’s were buddies, and I had heard a lot about her social media savvy. [Marian's note: I swear to sweet baby Jesus I didn't make him say this.]
Laying Things Out
I didn’t know what promotion meant in terms of social media, and Marian cleared that up for me right away: I needed to write guest posts. To do that, I needed establish that I was a contributing member of the community by following people interested in health and fitness – reading blogs, commenting, sharing, and overall trying to be helpful and friendly. I would have to face my fears of speaking up in public comments and tweets.
This seems like a lot to juggle, but Marian had a system which she explained in an article of hers. She explained how to keep things straight and how to make sure I was noticed.
I followed her advice to the letter, and immediately started to see results. Bloggers would thank me for my retweets and shares, leading some of their followers to start following me. Because I was sharing other content that was already tailored to be useful to my target audience, people started retweeting me, which led to more followers.
But I still felt phony. In order to fit in and avoid offending people, I found myself espousing ideas I didn’t entirely believe in. I was afraid my particular take on fitness was too niche to be of any interest. (Stupid in retrospect. The whole point of the internet is that is allows niche communities to connect).
I finally confessed to a friend that I didn’t feel I was being authentic and that these online communities just seemed to be parroting the same mainstream fitness nonsense I was so opposed to. He had also used social media to successfully promote his decidedly niche ice cream parlor, and his advice was to say what I felt, to be sincere, and not to modify my message to suit anyone. Revel in my weirdness.
That was when things started to take off.
I started sharing my ideas and blog posts without trying to spin them. Instead of finding myself isolated, I found like-minded people who actually started conversations with me. Through them, I found blogs that were better suited to my particular views. It was also easier (dare I say, fun) to comment on and share blogs I agreed with wholeheartedly. I applied Marian’s advice to my authentic niche and voice, creating Twitter and subscription lists to monitor my chosen community. Every morning, I’d find a new follower notification in my inbox. I was ecstatic to find that a lot of people actually enjoyed reading about my unique take on life, and my writing improved with the increased feedback. Things were going very well indeed.
When it Rains…
I e-mailed Marian a few weeks back to let her know about my success. I mentioned how things were going really well, but also how exhausting it all was. I still hadn’t landed any guest posts, which was frustrating since the book was soon to be released.
The very next day, I got an invitation to guest post on a huge fitness blog. I literally jumped up and down. and I’ve since landed four other guest posts, all set to go around the same time my book is published. As the book is released, I’m confident it’s going into the world with at least a few people watching.
Even better, I’m now part of an online community that will help me grow and develop my ideas, beyond the time-frame of my book.
Khaled writes about integrity and personal growth, as well as value-driven health and fitness at Warrior Spirit and has just launched his first book, Principles of Holistic Health Handbook. You can also follow his newly revitalized tweets @khaledcallen.