I learned most of my social skills from a nice, Southern lady, my mother. In true Southern fashion she could converse with anyone about anything and always knew the right thing to say.
While conversation is a skill, to some people, it comes naturally. I used to joke with my husband that if mom ever met billionaire Sir Richard Branson, she would probably ask him what kind of biscuits his mother made and something about that “Thatcher” lady. As far as she was concerned, everyone was equal, and Southern and should be treated as such.
As she got older, I would take her grocery shopping. Still independent, she insisted on getting her own cart and filling it. She would chat with the stock girl about beans, cornbread and chicken-fried-anything. She loved babies and the in the next aisle she’d chat with a three year old and his mother about this or that. She didn’t know these people but it didn’t matter. Within a minute, she’d found the common ground she needed to continue the conversation. She simply loved to talk and people loved to talk to her. I don’t think she once, made it through the whole store.
We noticed after a while, some signs of memory loss and mom’s doctor confirmed that it was likely Alzheimer’s related. She lost some of her independence as time went on. After a while, I started to realize she was unsure of who I was. One day, she confirmed it by telling me about her daughter, Connie, of whom she was very proud. She writes books! After that, our conversations changed. I became the person she met in the grocery and on the street. We still talked, not as mother and daughter, but as new friends each time about the red tulips in her yard, the ones her daughter liked, southern cooking, crazy politicians and how much times had changed since she was a young woman in West Virginia.
It’s been two years since mom passed but I’m still learning lessons from her. While the impetus for my course Twitter for Authors originated from the questions I received from authors, I realized I was also teaching authors how to connect with people and chat with them about anything. Southern-Fried-Anything.
One thing some authors lack is an ability to truly connect with people on social media. Authors are used to connecting with readers through their books but how do you get a new reader to try your writing? Once a book is finished, many authors switch to the, I’ve got a book to sell and it’s great, rhetoric and they spend their time on social media trying to convince every follower of that fact.
Finding common ground, reaching out to people to say something nice about their work, their children or their life is a skill that you already have, like my mother did or it is a skill that you have to learn in order to be a successful marketer of your books. Being interesting and conversational beyond what you write in your books is what really invites a new reader to try your writing. It’s not the book you’re trying to sell, it’s you. You have to learn how to market yourself. You have to be interesting and engaging beyond the book. My mom would never put it this way but I’ll be blunt. If you can’t connect with me in a meaningful way on social media why would I buy anything you write?
You’ll hear people say that social media marketing is about conversations and building relationships and while that’s true it’s also about meeting as many new people as you can across the networks and starting a conversation and starting a relationship. Twitter is the perfect social network for this as you are expected to follow people you don’t know and start conversations with them.
There’ a quote I like that says. “LinkedIn is for the people you know. Facebook is for the people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.” ~unknown
My mom would have liked Twitter. I wonder if the 500 million users on Twitter realize they’re Southern?