Go Play in Traffic

by Greg on May 28, 2009

If you want to set yourself up for success and happy accidents in social media, you have to start playing in traffic. And yes, I mean play – with a sense of fun and purpose and a spirit of exploration. Because if you get yourself into the traffic flow, rather than standing still, you’re much more likely to find great people to travel along with… and it becomes far easier to get folks to see you and what you’re offering as a destination and not just something to look at in their rear-view mirror.

It's all a bit of a blur

It's all a bit of a blur - Unhindered by Talent

Even though there are hundreds of millions of blogs and tweets and more competing for eyeballs, you don’t need to reach everybody on the internet in order to reach your goals. Instead, what you want is to focus on is finding ways to get the traffic and connections that are right for you. That’s when good things can start to happen.

So you need to ask yourself first and foremost… why are you jumping into social media? If you’re blogging… who are you hoping reads your site? If you’re hoping to make waves on Facebook… how? Trying Twitter? Why? Your answers can be simple or complex, but it’s critical that you know. After all, how can you know what traffic to play in if you don’t know who you want to be playing with?

When I started my blog, GottaBook, my main goal was to join the wonderful community of children’s literature enthusiasts that was sprouting up online. My secondary goal was to gain exposure for myself as an author and poet. Once I knew what I was shooting for, I started playing in traffic by jumping into conversations on blogs and email lists where people were already talking children’s literature.

By actively participating and offering up comments of value, I became part of the broad community. That, in turn, led people to check out my blog and become part of the growing community there. I put up “road signs” – links and posts directing folks to destinations I thought they should check out – and others did the same pointing to me. I also started posting my original poetry on my site as a way to offer something fun and to address my goal of getting more people to see my writing. I’ve used other social media, as well, sometimes linking into my blog from my Facebook account or tweeting about my posts. Both these acts put me in a different flow of people who might not visit my blog all the time… or even know about it.

The playing has paid off – I’ve become part of a fantastic community and gained attention for my writing. But wait… there’s more!

You see, I stayed alert for happy accidents and opportunities, and those have been plentiful.  I’ve seen my poems get passed around the world, online and off. I’ve been featured in magazines, newspapers, and websites, and gotten a two book deal. I’ve had almost 100,000 people read my poetry via Google searches in the past 12 months. I’ve also been able to create happy accidents for others by linking people together or by being able to share information that I’d learned as I traveled around. And I’ve even had places to stay on road trips!

There’s no mystery in how things have happened for me and for many others who have reached goals using social media, even though it’s not always clear at first glance why events happen the way they do. We all make mistakes and get surprised along the way, but there’s one thing I am absolutely clear on: if you’re not out there trying, odds aren’t in your favor to reach your goals. So…

Go play in traffic. And I’ll see you there!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen Robinson May 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Great stuff, Greg! I look forward to following your journey through traffic on this blog, after years (!) of enjoying GottaBook.

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Susan Taylor Brown May 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Glad to see you got this up and running Greg. So many people need this kind of help and if you can demystify it for them they will soon get the joy of experiencing their own happy accidents.

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Deb May 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Well now, could not be more perfectly timed! I am finding myself contemplating (still!) where to jump in and play–

Looking forward to following along as you continue to play in traffic-and jump in my own self. Or, at least continue to stick my toe in.

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Kristy Dempsey May 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Loved this, Greg! Especially loved, “I’ve even had places to stay on road trips.” Oh the benefits of making good friends. By the way, where do you live? ;)

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Greg Trine May 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Hey Greg,

You intelligent soul you. Nice looking site and smart content.

the other Greg

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MotherReader May 28, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Wow, you’ve have us playing in traffic right from the beginning. I can’t wait to see where you take us next. Just say it’s not running with scissors.

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Mary Ann May 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Greg, I love reading your thoughts. Your positive spirit shines through, plus insightful questions. I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on making the most of social media.

Did you read the Goodreads blog about how it’s posting an alternative to the NY Times bestseller list, showing the most books read and commented about in a particular time. Times are certainly changing.

best of luck, Mary Ann

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Greg Pincus May 28, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Thanks, y’all! I appreciate the support and kind words.

And Mary Ann – I love the GoodReads idea. It’s not the same as “best sellers” but it’s a great way of gathering their own data and seeing what it shows. Very clever!

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Dawn Stephens June 1, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Love the comparison of “traffic” – and road signs! What a great way to explain it all. I will be sending others to this blog so they will understand better too. thanks Greg.

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