The time has come as with all things to move on. In this particular case I want to use the next few posts to examine the utility of Facebook for writers. To be honest I spend little time on Facebook. Instead, I am more occupied with Twitter and blogs. I feel certain that social media experts would tell me I am under utilizing a valuable tool. This is why I thought it appropriate to ask a knowledgeable social media person to start a discussion about Facebook. I naturally turned to someone I trust to write a guest post. I am extremely appreciative to Nancy Burke Barr, aka Mentor Mama. She agreed to share her some wisdom Nancy is both a professional and a sincere person. I know this because I relied on her mentoring during my first few, frustrating months of learning social media. After reviewing her submission for this post I realized that I need to have missed Mentor Mama’s friendship and should make the time to get her help to step things up to the next level. I think you’ll feel the same way after you read Nancy’s post, Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?
“You are all a lost generation.”
–Epigraph, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
In the years following World War I, the term, “the lost generation”, believed to have been coined in France, came to represent a generation of young writers and artists travelling abroad, connecting with other creative pioneers. Counted among these “lost” youth, were the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.
Like Jean Paul Sartre and the era of existentialists before them, these budding geniuses centered their activities around the excitement of Paris. Writers, in particular, flocked to Paris for the intellectual interaction, the inexpensive cost of living and the ease of publication. While Paris served as a muse for some, the decadent lifestyle of cafés and cabarets functioned as the undoing of others.
Throughout history, talented sorts have always loved to gather together to share ideas, to debate, to challenge each other, to collaborate, and to change the world. Think of the distances that scholars traveled to work together at the ancient Library in Alexandria. This is a vital part of the creative process.
With the amazing technology available today, it is no longer necessary to travel great distances to commune with other intellectuals. A modern day “Alexandria” or “Parisian café” is as close as your computer, where you can exchange ideas with like-minded people from around the world.
An important part of that paradigm is the social media platform, Facebook. Facebook is, according to its own site, “a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. . . . Facebook is a part of millions of people’s lives all around the world providing unparalleled distribution potential . . . and the opportunity to build a business that is highly relevant to people’s lives.” (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet) It is the hub of the online social scene, the “Paris”, if you will, for today’s creative elite, with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.
Not unlike the artists of the “lost generation”, your strategic use of this hub affords you the ability to interact with people who have a specific interest in the products or services that you offer. Whether you are creating an online presence, offering consulting, or self-publishing a book, use of Facebook is a critical piece of your online strategy.
Used correctly, this platform establishes an opportunity for you to open a window into your life. This glimpse behind the scenes affords a level of authenticity that was missing from commercial interactions in the decade preceding online social media. During that time, TV and radio commercials essentially told the consumer what to do if they wanted to be smart, beautiful, healthy, or enlightened.
Despite its seeming anonymity, today’s strategy strives to return to the model where a buyer knew the vendor well, and could base his buying decisions on trust. Using Facebook as a place to develop real relationships with people in your industry is a long, tedious process, much as it must have been in ancient Alexandria or early 20th century Paris. The difference is that your social circle consists of 400 million active Facebook users. The potential is staggering.
Obviously, you cannot personally interact with 400 million users. You can, however, develop serious friendships with hundreds of those people. Thousands of others can follow your Facebook group or community page and gage whether you are a person with whom they want to interact or do business. You have the opportunity to reach out to people around the globe, offering them the kind of information, interaction, and support that builds lasting bonds. Those bonds will encourage a person not only to buy your ”product”, but to follow your career, tell others about you, and to ultimately help you change the world.
Used indiscriminately, Facebook can be your undoing, as addictive as alcohol was for F. Scott Fitzgerald. It can become an obsession, causing you to disengage with the real world and live in a Facebook fantasy. If you are a writer or other artist, you must limit your Facebook time, ensuring that you spend adequate time pursuing your craft. Facebook is, after all, only one online tool, not the product itself.
Many people worry about this online generation. Will too much time online hinder their social abilities? Reduce their creativity? Will they become another “génération perdue”? If you use Facebook, will you become “perdu”?
This writer asserts that “the lost generation” was never really lost at all and neither is our generation of Facebook fanatics. The early era produced great genius, as will our present era. How and where these geniuses connect and share their brilliance simply changes with the times. Until the birth of the Internet, it was impossible for many to afford the luxury of travelling to the great cultural centers. Facebook now offers artists everywhere the opportunity to reach out and interface with the world. If you are disciplined and diligent, this can only result in a generation that is universally connected and perhaps the very first “génération trouvée”.
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Nancy Burke Barr
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