I have become quite the social media butterfly.  One three-hour breakout session on social media marketing at the Conference for Global Transformation at the end of May, and I’ve become a tweeting fool!

I love Twitter.   I didn’t used to.   I thought it was silly.   Why would I want to read the blow-by-blow of someone’s day?   “I’m going to the bathroom now,” “I’m in the bathroom,” “I just came out of the bathroom.”   You’re laughing at this, I know, but there are people like that on Twitter.

I thought that was everyone who used Twitter.   That, or the people who are always selling something – that’s what I was last year.   I only “tweeted” when I wrote a new blog post to let my huge following of 23 people know that I actually had a new blog post that they should go to and read.

Facebook seemed much friendlier – because I only let my actual friends “friend” me.   I was playing to a kinder, gentler audience, or so I thought.   These people are my friends.   They comment if they like my post, they ignore me if they don’t or if they don’t care – and that’s fine with me.   They’ll buy my book when it’s published because they know me and they love me.   I think.

Twitter, I learned, is not supposed to be just your friends – not if you’re looking to brand yourself in the social media arena.

The first thing I learned is that anyone who is just selling their stuff is going to max out at the level of followers who know them and  like their stuff.    You may say, “That’s logical.  Why would I want anyone else anyway?”

Because there are thousands, nay, millions of people out there who don’t even know they like your stuff yet  (and, by association, YOU) – and, unless you can figure out a way to get to them, you are going to be limited to the however many people know you and follow you – or seem like they’re following you – no matter what you do or what you say.  In other words, your friends.  And, they’ll  buy your book anyway — you think.

So, first things first:   Think of Twitter as a cocktail party, not a sales call.  You wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party and say,  “Hi, I’m Linda.   Go read my blog (my novel, listen to my radio show, etc)”, would you?  And, if you did, you’d be thought of as boorish, right?

A cocktail party is:  introduce yourself, listen to other people, tell people about an interesting book or poignant article you read, talk about a fascinating person who said something wonderful the other day – and then, perhaps, you drop into the conversation that you are a blog writer and you just wrote this piece that moved you to tears.  Now this group that is related to you by virtue of just having spent the last 10 or 15 minutes in conversation with you may say, “Oh, where do I go to read that?” and then you say, “Really?  How sweet of you!   Just go to SpiritualChocolate.com, one word.   After you’ve read it, I’d love to know what you think.   Would you let me know?”

This is a Twitter cocktail party.  Figure out what you stand for, what you want to align yourself with (branding), do some searches and find other people who are interested in what you’re interested in and follow them.  Now, here’s the important part – retweet to your followers what they (the people you’re following) tweet — 80% of the time.  That’s right.  Only tweet about yourself 20% of the time. Retweet interesting articles, who’s written a book that you like, a quote that you love and — and never, never, ever tweet anything nasty or mean, unless you want to brand yourself as someone who is nasty and mean.  I also suggest not tweeting or re-tweeting something highly controversial, unless that is your brand.

Me?  I’m a blog writer, aspiring memoir writer, real estate broker, Shakespeare aficionado, lover of all things spiritual and all things Italian, fascinated by transformation of any kind – personal or business, a futurist and a visionary, moved by the transcendent, often inspired and even, sometimes, inspiring.

I follow people like @writerbythesea @writingnodrama @thebardbot @TEDtalks @SimonSinek @culturesync @publictheaterny @fouryearsgo, @AboutTuscany, @NYC_SohoTriBeCa, and @peaceloveunity. My current searches are #writing, #write, #theater, #leadership, #spirituality,  and #Italy.  For a while, one of my searches was #oilspill – until BP capped it.  I never follow anyone who is only selling their stuff and are tweeting the same thing over and over:  “If you want to earn money online, go here….”

As people follow me, I follow them.  You cannot acquire a lot of followers without following a lot of people – unless you’re Oprah or Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

That’s the branding piece.

Now, here’s the hidden jewel:  I have made friends on Twitter.  I don’t know why I’m surprised – if you’re following people who believe what you believe (Simon Sinek TED talk), it’s inevitable.  I’ve had direct messages with people I don’t know but with whom I share an affinity; I’ve even had a conversation “in Shakespeare” with @thebardbot, a wonderful Tweeter who only talks in Shakespeare quotes – that really tested my knowledge of my favorite playwright.  It was SO much fun!

Last week, one of the people I follow, @writingnodrama, who gives advice to writers – and from whom I have gleaned a few lovely tidbits for my own writing, tweeted that she had a book on Smashwords.com, where one could read the first 30% of the book for free.  I went, I read, and I became so enthralled with her book that I bought the rest of it.

The book is called “Plain Jane” and I could not put it down – or whatever our new phrase is going to be for reading a book online.  I sat at my computer into the wee hours, aching tush notwithstanding  — or notwithsitting? (Sorry…),  unable to leave this tale of a serial killer who only kills plain women, brunettes, who have had an abortion.  I was intrigued by many things, not the least of which was, how did this killer know which women had had an abortion? Which brunette women had had an abortion?  There was a gory component to this serial killer, which made him all the more ghastly and, for me, all the more interesting.  I have a thing for serial killers. “Criminal Minds” is one of my favorite shows.  I should have been a profiler.  This book is about a serial killer and a crazy profiler.  Perfect.

The ending was a bit more than I bargained for, even for me, but I loved it, gory details and all. I sent a direct message to my online author friend.    Dwritingnodrama: “Boy, that was SOME ending!” and off we went into a dialogue about her book.

Say what you will about Twitter – I haven’t had such fun meeting people in years – and I meet fabulous people all the time!  Whether direct tweeting about the oil spill, or talking about a book, or rummaging through my Shakespeare plays next to my computer to answer @thebardbot, the time I spend tweeting has been a new found pleasure AND a way to put myself out there in the world in preparation for the day that my spiritual memoir is published.    “Eat, Pray, Love”, I’m on your tail!

And, I now have 334 followers, up from 23, in 2-1/2 months.  I guess a lot of people are interested in what I’m interested in, like what I like, believe what I believe…

I’m @Linda_Ruocco.    Follow me and I’ll follow you….?

Deliciously yours in the Fun and Play of it All!   Linda

The title of this blog piece is from the song, “When My Sugar Walks Down the Street” by Gene Austin, Irving Mills, and Jimmy Mc Hugh.

I want to recommend my friend, Cristyn West’s book, “Plain Jane.”  You can go to Smashwords.com and read the first 30% before you choose to buy.  If you, like me, are into serial killer mysteries – with a touch of the ghoulish – you will want to buy the rest to read.  Here’s the link:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/16176.  Then, follow her on Twitter @writingnodrama and tell her what you think.

And, here’s my favorite TED Talk of the moment, Simon Sinek on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” is really the basis of my philosophy about the culture of Social Media — about the “Why” and his Golden Circle — go here for the best 18 minutes you may spend today:  

If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @Linda_Ruocco.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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