Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 3/19/2009 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Blog Tweet Update Sigh

Martha's Big Adventure -- Blog, Tweet, Update, *Sigh*

By Martha Randolph Carr

There's a lot of nervous chatter these days among entrepreneurs of all kinds about the sales potential of the internet's social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or Ning just to name a few.

That really is just a few ever since everyone noticed that MyPage.com, the original social site intended for college students started attracting new people at a rate previously unseen in media. Lately, it's become de rigueur for every music group or faux celebrity to have a page on MyPage.com or risk being forgotten.

There's been an explosion of other social networking sites trying to find a clever niche and become the next media giant only available on the net along with all the lovely ad dollars that will be included.

Facebook.com, an updated version that appealed more to grownups grew a thousand percent over the same month a year ago and if it were a country would have the same size population as say, Brazil.

Linked In.com is the business version where an introduction is required to connect making it seem just a little more exclusive. Ning.com is a place where anyone can build their own social network and invite their friends or promote their cause or sell something.

That's what the buzz is all about right now. Selling something has never been so accessible for so many to reach a potentially worldwide audience ever before in the history of humans. If you have a Blackberry or a laptop you can set out to tell the world about your new gadget or book or CD or next gig.

Therein lies the potential glitch and the charm. Before, the media had gatekeepers and groomers so that pitches were honed and humans were trained and all of it was as entertaining as possible. The ads are why a lot of us look forward to the Super Bowl each year and companies compete to stand out in front. Millions of dollars are spent getting it just right for 30 seconds of your time.

But the internet makes it possible to go out there and be clever with no groomer, no funny writers and maybe, just maybe you'll go viral. That's web speak for hitting a nerve and everyone tells everyone else for free and for fun and you're an overnight sensation without spending a dime.

It happens just often enough that dreamers are constantly tweaking their tweets on Twitter trying to make it happen. Twitter.com is the clever stripping down to just a sentence. That's all it is, an endless stream of consciousness limited to 140 characters per entry that others can even get as updates on their phone. Most will never meet you or know all that much about you and yet they know you just ate a grilled cheese sandwich and don't like the rain coming down.

Even that has been usurped by a few hundred thousand who are cleverly trying to disguise pitches in their small tweets. Some use profundity and humor seems to work best of all but eventually they mention the web site and free t-shirt that comes with buying the book or hiring them for an hour of their time. *Sigh*

The New York chapter of the Women's National Book Association held a panel recently with such notables as Peter Costanzo, from Perseus, Ron Hogan an original blogger at Beatrice.com, Kelly Leonard, from Hachette Books and Abby Stokes, an author of tech-friendly computer books. They were there to discuss how to use social networks to market your book and had a waiting list of writers longing to take notes.

The event ended up being SRO with attendees and panelists tweeting live during the presentation. That spawned a lively conversation in real time on Twitter, which on the net was attended by attendees and people sitting at home in their pajamas. Whew, it's exhausting.

It's all a good sign that we're hitting a new curve in the social networking game where a backlash against openly courting a following for a buck will probably hit soon. Then everyone will look for the next way to manipulate the web while wishing they had tweeted or blogged or updated just a little bit sooner. By the way, you can follow me on Twitter at MarthaRandolph. *Wink* More adventures to follow.

If you'd like to get involved in the 2009 America Challenge to raise funds for community-based charities email me at Martha@CagleCartoons.com for more information. Together we're going to build stronger communities and empower ourselves.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2009 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.

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