In my new book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, I write about career changers and people who have "professionally reinvented" themselves -- like Hank Phillippi Ryan, who built on a successful career in television news to become a mystery writer.
As an author, you need to let the world -- both longtime friends and new potential fans -- know about your work. As I discuss in Reinventing You, there are a variety of "real world" strategies you can use to get known quickly and widely, like taking a leadership role in an industry group like Mystery Writers of America, or whatever your literary organization of choice may be. But social media plays an increasingly critical role in spreading the word. Here are four simple strategies you can use to create great online content and build a following.
1. Pick your medium. Blogging is obvious, because you're clearly passionate about writing. (And in a recent Harvard Business Review post, I argue that it's the single most effective method for building a reputation in your field.) But if you'd prefer to spend your writing time on your book, don't overlook other ways to engage your audience. Podcasts -- which can be recorded easily over services like Skype or Google Voice -- are an easy way to create content and simultaneously connect with other authors you admire, and video blogs are increasingly popular.
2. Focus your efforts. Don't worry about being on every social media platform; unless you're Coca-Cola, you don't need to be. Focus where your readers are. Facebook, of course, is ubiquitous. But Pinterest, popular with women in their 30-50s, may be a good bet depending on your audience; if you're a business author, LinkedIn may be an even smarter investment of your time.
3. Schedule in advance. There's nothing more stressful than facing a social media deadline and realizing you have nothing in the queue. Use a scheduling service like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to program in tweets or Facebook posts in advance. That way, you can spend 30 minutes once a week scheduling the bulk of your content, and only a few minutes every other day responding to messages or sending a "spur of the moment" update.
4. Make your social media "social." The biggest advantage of social media is the fact that you can interact with fans and other industry colleagues -- and do so in a public fashion that praises them and shines light on good work. Retweeting colleagues' tweets, sharing their Facebook posts, or commenting on their blog posts (maybe even guest posting for them) is a great way to build community and be helpful in spreading the word about other folks you admire.
What are your strategies for creating great online content, without having it take over your life? What's been successful (or not so successful) for you?
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, and you can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.