Alas, when it comes to social media and the subject of marketing, what are they but tools and methods for communication attempting to reach out, connect and engage with an audience (and maybe get someone to buy, depending on your goals). While there are many methods for conveying information such as video and images on the Internet,much of the way we correspond on the today is through writing. Today, I interview esteemed writer Dave Kravets about the importance of writing in how we bond, relate and engage on the Web, particularly with social media. Dave writes for the infamous Wired Magazine and writes his own wildly satirical and journalistic blend of untruths and tall tales on his website, TheYellowDailyNews.
You can also follow Dave’s adventures on Twitter @dmkravets
Frankie: Dave, you’re a Senior Writer at the famous publication, Wired Magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about your history in the field of journalism? How did you ended up at Wired?
DK: I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years. I was the legal writer for The Associated Press in San Francisco, when Jerry Brown, the attorney general, hit me up to become his press secretary. I took the job. Lasted just a few months. I wasn’t cut out for politics. I then got a job at Wired.
Frankie: 25 years is a lot of writing. I remember seeing some of your AP articles in the San Francisco Chronicle. You are also the creator of TheYellowDailyNews, (www.theyellowdailynews.com) which I’m sure readers get a pretty good laugh. It seems as if you take current events and make them a play on politics, technology, media and religion. Can you tell us what that’s about?
DK: TYDN is basically my version of the Onion. It’s basically a site of commentary under the guise of fake news.
Frankie: TYDN is great! I can’t wait to see some of your new stuff. What is your take on the impact social media has on writers? Has it saturated the medium with everyone writing articles and blogging these days?
DK: Social media has had a few impacts in my view. Many of the young writers have taken it and made themselves part of the story, and have become more about “look at me” instead of “look at what I’m writing about.” That galls me. On the other side, social media has some benefits, if used in a tactful way, such as having a dialogue with your readers.
Frankie: Right. Dialogue let’s you know you’ve connected with your readership and didn’t bore them into drooling on themselves. How did you learn to become adept at the craft of written communication? Does it matter whether someone has a formal English and writing education, or can an OK writer become a good writer with a sort of learn-as-you-go experience?
DK: I have a degree in journalism, philosophy and a MA in political science. The best writing experience is via writing. However, in my business, I view the writing aspect as less important than the actual news-gathering process.
Frankie: That is interesting. Though, not necessarily journalism, I can see how the “news-gathering process” is important for anyone who writes blogs and articles. Well-researched written guts mean the writer actually made credible strides in creating content, rather than spouting off without anything to support their writing.
It was recently reported that most mainstream media outlets use social media as a one-way a broadcast tool for people to consumer and do not engage readers. In a way, this makes sense, since journalists are tasked with reporting the news as opposed to acting as opinion columnists soliciting feedback. Yet, do you see a change in the future in how media outlets will respond to and even interact with their audience through social media? Or, will mainstream media seemingly always continue to use these platforms as sort of a glorified RSS feed?
DK: I think the mainstream media will continue to use social media as an RSS feed. That said, there’s tons of other new media out there, that are now becoming the traditional media and are engaged with their readers.
Frankie: We know that marketing with social marketing consists of various types of multimedia such as photos and video, but mostly it’s about the written word with posts, blogs and articles that communicate to audiences. For those that manage social networks for organizations, or even small businesses handling their own social presence, how important do think it is to have a grasp on the art of writing?
DK: I think the art of writing is not as important as engaging with your audience. If you have their respect and ear, they won’t care as much about any physical writing shortfalls. People love to engage on social media, that’s the whole point of it.
Frankie: With our short attention spans and gluttony of information flying by on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, how important do you think it is for the writer to create headlines and articles/blogs that stand out?
DK: Obviously, if you don’t have anything to say, there cannot be any engagement because nobody will come to you to engage. Clearly, one must draw in people for such engagement. Depending on your business model, crafty headlines and stories are needed. The stories don’t have to be written masterfully as much as they must be interesting or entertaining to draw the reader to you, so you can engage with them.
Frankie: That’s something I wholeheartedly agree with. As you say, find an angle. Are there any authors or journalists, even other writers that inspire you or give you inspiration with their writing?
DK: Hunter S. Thompson has been my most influential writer. He’s crazy and deep down, I am too.
Frankie: HST was an amazing writer. I’m just now getting into how wildly he crafted words together in such strange ways, but allows the audience to make the connection.
Gonzo! What advice would you give to those starting a business or who are managing a client in the world of digital marketing where the written word is a major player in the success or failure of that operation?
DK: Don’t try to fool your readers or clients. They’re not dumb. Cater to their needs and engage with them. No hyperbole.
Frankie: Dave, thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing more of your articles in Wired and especially on TheYellowDailyNews.
DK: Thank you Frankie!