Saturday, April 14, 2012

Supercharging social media with storytelling techniques: #7 Point of View

Point of view is about whose eyes are observing what happens in your posts, whether long or short.

And don't assume that all this is if no importance to social media. It is. Here are some point of view options to think about. At the very least they should give you ideas for new posts. For the purpose of this post let's assume the Tweeting party is a small town bakery:

1. Omniscient, "Everyone loves chocolate cake. This bakery has the best in a hundred miles." An omniscient narrator claims knowledge over every corner of our world. Considered out of date these days in fiction, you can still use it, with some tongue-in-cheek attitude.

2. First person. "I love chocolate cake. We make the best chocolate cake for a hundred miles." You will typically create a character for this point of view, through whom the posts will be made. The character could be you or a fictional character who will sometimes voice some often unspoken thoughts to liven things up.

3. Second person point of view. "You will love our chocolate cake." Rarely used in fiction, but often used in songwriting, second person has a place in social media. You can use this point of view to ask people to follow you - "you can follow our chocolate baking video feed here," or get people to ask questions using this point of view - "you are welcome to ask any question you like about how we make our cakes". You can also alternate with first person in which you alternate between "you" and "I" posts, highlighting possible comparisons in views.

4. Third person point of view, which uses he, she, it and they. "He will love our chocolate cake." The commonest point of view in fiction, third person can range from close-third, such as the post above, where you assume you know the thoughts of the person you are speaking about and distant third, "She sure might like our chocolate cake," where you don't claim to know the inner thoughts of whoever you're speaking about. The narrator here, the person who is making these claims about chocolate cake, can be visible or invisible. If they become visible they start to interject with their own views

Social media generally requires a reliable voice or narrator, but comedy posts "Ours is the best chocolate cake in the whole world!" can take a less reliable turn.

Video games are generally 1st person these days, but social media can accommodate multiple point of view in posts. I hope you enjoyed this one!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Supercharging social media with storytelling techniques: #6 Spilling your guts!

It takes guts to be a writer. Readers can smell, straight from the page or the screen, when someone is being honest as a writer. Putting in the corny details, the wrenching feelings. the human foibles, makes a novel or any piece of writing readable and engaging.

But can you use this technique in social media? I believe you can. Sure, you don't have much room in a Tweet, but it is amazing what you can get across in a few sentences. For instance:

"Everyone in marketing is excited this morning. The new intern made coffee twice! The new SXC is being launched at 5pm."

as against the bland:

"The new SXC is being launched at 5pm."

You can dig deep too, reveal something about the drama of business as you blog and Tweet and post. Keeping it bland is a recipe for loosing your readers. I understand there's a difficult line to tread between being open and being too open, but I encourage you to push that line as far as possible towards openness.

If you take a few gambles and the boss is happy with it you can develop an engaging style that will see people come back for more, just to find out what's happening in your corner of the world.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why is a thriller writer creating a blog about social media?

I live in Dublin, Ireland. My 1st thriller, The Istanbul Puzzle, came out Jan 19 in the UK. In 2 months it has sold into 8 large publishers across Europe. Within the next year it will be published in 20 countries. The Istanbul Puzzle is the 1st in a new series of contemporary mystery novels. My publisher is Harper Collins. It is available (click here) with free delivery to the US of A, UK and most other countries in the world.

I am writing about social media because:

1. Social media helped me out of the slush pile.

2. I've been interested in technology for as long as I can remember.

3. I've worked for software (SaaS), hardware and IT services companies over twenty years.

I won a 3 book contract on the strength of my writing, but also because I had built a successful blog, had 5,000 Twitter followers and had created short book trailers you can still see on YouTube.

I now have 30,000+ followers including a sizable presence on Google+, Goodreads, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

I am creating this social media blog for 2 reasons:

1. I believe social media is going to change the world in the way the PC did 20 years ago. It is forcing us to be more open as individuals and organisations. Openness is the oxygen social media needs to survive. It will also allow people and organisations opportunities that in the past have not been available.    

2. Because the craft of writing provides real techniques that can be used by people who want to succeed in social media. Building engagement, followers and creating interest in what you write are things that popular writers have always had to do if they want to succeed. I spent 12 years learning this craft.

Please follow this blog if you want to stay in touch with the progress of what will eventually become a comprehensive guide.

And all the best with your own social media. I want to see what you are doing and hear what you think of my efforts. On the day this blog was launched publicly it got 400+ viewers. It's a good start. All the best. Laurence

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Supercharging social media with storytelling techniques: #5 Show, don't tell

Show, don't tell, is one of the most important things a writer has to do, to build a story people will want to read.

Instead of saying the main character is a good man, we are urged to show him taking an old lady across the street, helping children, saving people's lives.

But how can you do that in social media?

The first way is through case studies, the classic business way to show the impact of what you do rather than simply say it. A case study will focus on a real life example of someone using your product or service.

The second way, if your social media is more personal, is for you to give examples of what is happening in your own life, describing how you tapped your fingers on the table as you waited to hear news of a big sale, rather than saying you were nervous.

The third way is to add depth to the showing by providing additional detail. If you won that big sale you might say you jumped higher than you ever had before the moment the news came in.

Showing, not telling, is a critical part of storytelling. If you are looking to build social media engagement it is one of the techniques you can use to supercharge your output.