Professional Surfing: Use Social Media to Research Writing Projects

Today’s guest blog is written by Rochelle Melander, author of Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It)

How to research a book onlineFor most writers, social media disrupts our well-ordered life. Who has time to tweet and link and pin when we have queries to write and deadlines to meet? We need social media to build our platform. But finding the time to use it well and not get pulled down the proverbial rabbit hole can be challenging. The solution? Use social media as a research tool. That way, when we use social media we are both collecting useful information and increasing our social media reputation. Here’s how:

1. Collect and organize.

For years, I’ve used the Internet to research and gather information for writing blog posts, articles, and books. But I’ve struggled to organize the information I find online so that I can return to it when I am writing. No more! With the help of Pinterest, a social bulletin board site, I can now pin images connected to fascinating content from any web site I happen across. I’ve created thematic boards to help me manage the information I need for future blog posts and books (as well as some wonderful recipes and cool clothes). In addition, Pinterest is great for collaborative work—users can share bulletin boards, making it possible for a writing pair or group to pin articles and ideas to a single board. Note that Pinterest is a photo driven site, so it is hard to collect information from sites without photos.

2. Read, collect, and connect.

Not a picture person? No worries. Visit ScribD, the online library site that allows users to read, collect, publish, and share documents and other written work. ScribD users can search for their subjects in documents, people, and the collections of other users. Like Pinterest, ScribD users can follow people who read or upload great information—expanding the scope of information they see. For me, ScribD has become a great place to review new research and collect it in one of my themed collections. Writers can also upload documents and receive feedback from other users.

3. Discover and ask.

Social media makes finding reputable sources easier than ever.

  • Use Help a Reporter (HARO.com) to ask for sources on a specific project, usually a book or magazine article.
  • Use the ANSWERS feature on LinkedIn (under the MORE tab) to ask questions of a wide audience of professionals. Answer questions to get featured as an expert.
  • Ask questions of your followers at Twitter. If you use an appropriate hashtag, you will get answers from experts you don’t already know. And don’t be shy—if you’re hoping for a quote from a well-known expert, Tweet to them and see what happens!

Create a plan to make social media a regular part of your research routine. The next time you spend hours surfing online, you won’t have to feel guilty. It’s research!

About the Author

Rochelle Melander is an author, speaker, and certified professional coach. She is the author of ten books, including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) Rochelle teaches professionals how to write good books fast, use writing to transform their lives, navigate the publishing world, and get published! Visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com

Photo courtesy of by Stuart Miles

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