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Social Media: Not Hard. Not Easy.

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I’m struck by the opportunity social media presents to writers.

One of the stories I tell in my Social Media Marketing class is about the demise of The Morning Show on Minnesota Public Radio. For years I listened to Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole spin out their eclectic music selections and oddball humor. So did a lot of people.

Jim Ed Poole retired (and then, sadly, passed away) and then The Morning Show went away as well. Dale Connelly began a new show in a similar vein—Radio Heartland—with a blog as co-host. The blog served as that necessary conversation partner—certainly never replacing Jim Ed Poole—but keeping Dale engaged with listeners. Then, as is the way of progress and regress and corporate decisions, Dale Connelly was out of the job. Radio Heartland continued with the same eclectic music but without the oddball humor. I continue to enjoy the music of Radio Heartland.

And, no surprise, the faithful audience for The Morning Show followed Dale Connelly to his Trail Baboon blog. No music, just oddball humor. Now Dale is the news director at KFAI Community Radio in Minneapolis even as he continues to write for his still-growing audience.

I tell this story because it illustrates an opportunity about starting as a writer today. Since there are no gatekeepers on the Internet, a writer can write what a writer wants to write. A writer can take pages and pages to sort through whatever it is she or he has to say.

True: no one may show up to read it. The writing may feel like shouting into the wind, but the point is to keep going in an effort to sort what it is you have to say as a writer. Audiences form. Eventually—at least that is the hope.

But for writers just starting, social media presents an opportunity to hone a message and then tinker with the best way to present it. This process of sorting and honing and tinkering develops a set of valuable skills that are absolutely transferable to the world of commerce (and far beyond, into our creative lives). I will argue that this sorting and honing and tinkering with our messages is the lifeblood of any writer.

My students already understand this. They’ve all begun this process without any prodding from me. But we’ll push a bit on the sorting and honing and tinkering in the next few weeks.

Especially the tinkering.


Image credit: respectezcesingeot via 2headedsnake

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