The new Web 2.0 world of social networking and blogging has some people seeing red when it comes to writing. It isnâ€™t merely college English professors, or paid journalists, or newspaper reporters who are quick to point out the younger generationâ€™s â€œdisrespect of the English language.â€ It isnâ€™t merely the acronyms that come with text-messaging (TTFNâ€”ta-ta for now; TTYLâ€”talk to you later; ROTFLâ€”rolling on the floor laughing), and the sound bites sent through sites like Twitter (140 characters maxâ€”not words, charactersâ€”and youâ€™re done). Itâ€™s the idea that communication can be brought to such a trivial place in our lives, a place where we no longer speak to each other–we text each other.
Those of us from the old guard are turned off by this. But is it time to let go of our preconceived notions of how to communicate? Oh, sure, we still believe that a book, a business book, has to have a message. It has to present the authorâ€™s expertise and experience in such a way that the reader will enjoyably, pleasantly, easily learn something from it. Not for a casual beach afternoon read, business books are serious content, written and consumed for the value of its message. It is expected that the content of a business book will be put to good use by the reader. Therefore, it should be on paper, in chapter format, with a nice, easy index, right?
Maybe not. The world of Web 2.0 is fundamentally changing the way we communicate.
In between the spaces of those heavy business books, in between the paragraphs and the chapters, a world of intelligence exists that shuns the dry, chart-driven business book of yesteryear. The new communication tools, complete with their cryptic acronyms, and their â€˜real-timeâ€™ information sharing, are at the foundation of this new communication. And though we are not ready to throw out all our old communication tools â€“ the Strunk and White grammar books, the thesauruses, the dictionaries â€“ those of us from â€œyesteryearâ€ are slowly gravitating to a Wikipedia-like world of writing. Todayâ€™s writing engages the reader not only on the printed page, but on the web. Itâ€™s called social networking, and major media sites are participating, college students are participating, high school kids are participating, and the whole world is participating. If you think you can continue to write without participating, you are wrong.
Letâ€™s look at Twitter. Twitter is a social media, web-based, mobile-phone based, networking, chatting, connecting tool. The people who use Twitter learn to speak in sound bites. Links are shortened by the tool, so if you have a link to a credible source or an expert article (or your recent blog post), the tool will shorten the link for you, allowing you to share with your Twitter network. These networks can be as small as a group of 10 or less, or as large as up to one thousand. I have not heard of any over a thousand but I wouldnâ€™t be surprised to learn they exist.
My network on Twitter is a business-focused group of people. We exchange relevant marketing content. Some of my connections Twitter from conferences via their mobile phones or their laptops. How great is that? Iâ€™m not at the conference, but I know what the keynote speaker just said, and I know who else is there. Itâ€™s a valuable way to get information on a real-time basis.
With social media, like blogs, you can be part of the conversation on a more natural level. You can write whole paragraphs to get your point across. You can ask questions and request an email response. On a blog, through the connections you create by posting, by commenting, and by sharing links, you can create content for your book â€“ in a way that is not possible on a tool like Twitter. On a blog, your writing can inspire readers to share their thoughts on improving the chapter you just posted. Do not be afraid that sharing your book on your blog will deter readers from buying the book when it comes out. Look to Robert Scoble and Shel Israel and Naked Conversations. That book was written entirely on their blog. And it still became a bestseller.
If youâ€™re writing a business book you need to not only be aware of the new tech tools, the social media of blogs and Twitter and Facebook—–you need to be participating. Without your participation, the content in your book, advising entrepreneurs and small business owners, will be out of date before the first printing. With your participation, you can update your bookâ€™s content over and over and eventually put together your sequel â€“ all to your readersâ€™ Twittering delight.
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