Event review: Social media for writers 4

by Frances Peck

Review of Social Media for Writers, a professional development day hosted by the Professional Writers of Association Vancouver Chapter (PWAC) on March 22, 2014.

Does the term social media make you giddy with anticipation or sick with anxiety? I’ll own up to being in the second camp. The idea of devoting an entire day to that zany online world was, for me, like contemplating a colonic irrigation: people say it’s good for you, but you’ve got to wonder if all the mess and exposure are really worth it.

There were a few other queasy souls, plus a good number in the giddy camp, at PWAC-Vancouver’s social media day for writers (and editors—several of us hailed from EAC). Though I can’t say my uneasiness completely vaporized, it did thin out considerably. Taking the plunge seemed a lot more doable after some sane advice from freelance blogger Robyn Roste: pick one platform and master it before going further.

Without duplicating Amy Haagsma’s excellent advice on online marketing for editors, I’ll share my top five tips from the day’s presentations.

1. Pick a niche. Whether you’re blogging, tweeting, Facebooking or using other networks, find a topic or angle that no one else covers in quite the same way. A clear focus helps you build a stronger persona and brand. And if you’re blogging, you’ll be repeating the same key words, making your site more search-engine friendly.

2. Know your voice. Are you funny? Professional? A wise mentor? A jaded hipster? Whatever your voice, be authentic. If you’re true to yourself through the language you use, the content you share and the people and groups you engage with, you’ll stand out more than if you try to sound like everyone else.

3. Be consistent. Find a posting routine you can live with and stick with it. If you’re blogging, aim for once a week. Facebooking? Every day or two. Tweeting? Several times a day is best; you can schedule tweets in advance if it makes life easier. Even if you post less often, do it consistently and you’ll come across as reliable.

4. Use analytics and systems. Once you’re into social media (the word obsessed came up more than once), programs like Google Analytics and Gmail’s Rapportive can help you track and build your traffic. Systems like Hootsuite allow you to manage all your social media from one place.

5. Forget about SEO. This radical notion came courtesy of social media maven Bonnie Sainsbury. Search engine optimization, with its ever-changing algorithms, frustrates the best of us. Instead, says Sainsbury, use social media to drive people to your website or blog.

By the day’s end, I’d learned a gigabyte of new stuff and heard repeatedly how much fun social media can be once you’ve jumped in. A big thank-you to the crew at PWAC Vancouver for organizing such a relevant, inspirational day.


Frances Peck, a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates, opened a Twitter account while writing this article. Follow her at @FrancesLPeck.

Image source: StartBloggingOnline.com.




  1. Thanks for such a fun-to-read short summary of such a huge topic, Frances. Social media IS overwhelming. You really have to understand your purpose in using it and have a target audience in mind before you can determine such things as your optimal platform and the length/frequency/topics of your content. Maybe your article should have had included a warning about how addictive social media can be! It can be very fun, as you say, and can strengthen relationships and even lead to unexpected new ones, but it offers endless distractions.

  2. This is a well-written and engaging summary, I’m so happy you came away inspired and not overwhelmed! (Well, not completely overwhelmed at least) 🙂

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