How Kim Kardashian West’s Social Media Tips Apply to Writers

1407504844000-KIM-KARDASHIANWe’ve finally figured out the specific skill Kim Kardashian West is so good at that we can invite her to business conferences as a speaker: rocking the social media. There’s no getting around the fact that she’s brilliant at marketing herself and has leveraged Twitter and Instagram to her advantage. Hell, she makes the selfie an artform (and a publishing deal). She offered some tips at this week’s Code/Mobile conference in California. Here are some of my translations for writers:

  • Social media can make your career. It’s dangerous, especially for us freelancers, to spend too much time on social media, but it’s easy to justify the time — I believe it’s a critical part of my career. First of all, it allows me to stay in touch with readers and former students in a pretty intimate, day-to-day way without having to write them all individual emails (which would be weird). They’re happy to then pitch in and spread the word when I have big, mercenary announcements, like a new book or class. If I also share thoughts with them and respond to their posts regularly, it doesn’t feel so grossly self-promotional to share my new articles and blog posts. And this is all not to mention the fact that I’ve made many genuine connections with fellow writers and editors who can actually pay me for my work, just by exchanging thoughts on Scandal or dinner or whatever with them via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use Twitter and Facebook as sources. Kim crowd-sources restaurant choices; we can crowd-source opinions on the day’s issues or find great people to interview for our latest article. I don’t want to think about how hard this was before the Internet, calling around trying to find women who have gone through IVF or people who discovered they were gay after 40 or whatever unique little subset of people one might want to locate for a feature story. Now just type it into Facebook or Twitter, and you may end up with more people than you have time to talk to.
  • Facebook is the best social network. Kim prefers Instagram, for selfie-evident reasons. It does almost nothing for me, being a word person. I do love Twitter for real-time discussions of TV shows and such. But Facebook gives me this intimate feeling, allowing for fun, daily sharing with people I love but don’t necessarily need to hang out with or call regularly. It also allows for some soothing bitching with other freelancers I’d otherwise never talk to.
  • I have no idea why she’s talking about BlackBerrys.
  • Try to develop good instincts for what constitutes oversharing or excessive self-promotion within your arena. For Kim, that’s simple: Post no more than three photos from one location. For us, it’s more complicated. I must admit: Sometimes I see the way friends post about the celebrity they just met or the article they just wrote, and it rubs me the wrong way. I include much of the same content in my own feed — I do write articles, and many do involve celebrities — so I always worry that I seem equally annoying to others. I’ve tried to keep my shares reasonably humble (in that “I can’t believe they let me do this” or “this is a huge honor for me, so I wanted to share this with you” way). I hope I succeed most of the time. I’m sorry, everyone, if I don’t.
  • I really hope Kim changes her mind about wearable tech, because I would enjoy a selfie of her wearing Google Glass.
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