I sometimes teach online courses on publishing for Southern New Hampshire University when my normal teaching schedule allows. And one of the modules is on self-promotion where I encourage students to be on social media.
I get some push-back. Some students don’t like Facebook or Twitter because they don’t agree with what these companies represent. Others don’t want to waste time, because let’s be honest, it can be a huge time waster. Others see it as a chore to have to interact with strangers — or with their family members they tell me, which always makes me laugh.
I do believe that it robs us of valuable time that most of us do not have, especially if we are trying to earn a living writing.
I also tend to be an introvert. I don’t like to stand out and join random conversations. I am one who likes to blend in and observe and listen to other people voice their opinions. Maybe this comes from years of observing people with the goal to write better characters. The more I talk the less others do, and as a writer it’s always better to listen.
So, I get it and understand the reluctance to participate actively on social media. And yet, I still recommend being on at least one social media platform. When I hear writers tell other writers that being on social media is not essential for author success, it makes me wince.
I’m sorry, but it is absolutely essential, especially in today’s world.
We can agree that the social media world is a bit awkward and strange. But if we can get used to the differences and adapt to proper internet conduct, we can use it to benefit us as writers.
One thing we should understand is that social media has its own rules.
Have you seen the commercial where a guy shows up as a friend’s house and says, “LIKE” and the friend looks at him like he’s crazy? So, she asks what he’s talking about and he clarifies that he liked what she said, but she still thinks he’s weird.
It’s funny but this commercial shows how different we behave online compared to in person. We don’t make opinioned claims in real life and wait for other to like it. We don’t join a group of people at a meeting or party and toss in our advice or opinions either. We usually stand back and let them welcome us into the conversation.
But on social media, you do want to join random conversations. You want to like and applaud and leave emojis. You want to let readers know what you enjoy and what you think about things. As you interact with others, you gain connections.
The Top Three Reasons to Be on Social Media
1. To connect with other writers and be part of an author community
As we become more and more comfortable in a virtual world, we really need to connect with writers online. The conversations we engage in about book covers and editors, about the type of books readers enjoy, and even about social, political, and current event topics help to keep us engaged in society. Lack of interaction and exposure to what others are thinking can lead to feeling isolated and out of touch.
2. To build your author platform
This is the reason most authors choose to be on social media. Connecting with potential readers and building a platform is the big draw of social media. It’s a great place to find other people who with similar interests and build a following.
It also become a great place to ask other people for their opinion. Do they like your potential book cover? What genres do they like best? What storylines are they tired of reading? Getting reader feedback is important as you are building your career and creating that platform.
You can announce events or lead readers to your website.
3. Social media gives you access to people you would meet otherwise.
I’ve met interesting people for all walks of life. I have virtual friends who are in the health and fitness industry, who are internet marketers, people from other countries, funny people, highly intense people. These people would never be part of my small circle of acquaintances who all seem to be writers, teachers, or moms.
I hope that as writers you do spend a lot of time observing people and seeing how they think. Social media is such a great place to do that.
The Best Social Media Platforms?
This is a matter of taste. For me, it’s Facebook. My audience and age of my readers are likely to hang out there. Goodreads is another great place for authors and readers. I also like LinkedIn for the professional connections.
I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but if I was writing YA, I would absolutely be there and probably TicToc too. Instagram is another great platform and many writers love Pinterest.
So, explore the different types of social media platforms and use the ones you like best. You do not have to be on all of them.
When you do choose one or two that you fit your personality, really work it. Create your profile or pages completely and in detail. Take the time to add all the links and personal details that will attract your readers. Make it reflect you!
Then take the time to think about the content you want to share. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be all about your writing. Readers want to see you as a well-rounded person. For example, I share a lot about my dogs. I love dogs and anyone who visits my Facebook profile will notice that immediately.
Also vary the kind of things you post. Sometimes post text, other times a video, other times a photo or meme. Keep it interesting.
And post often. Five to ten times a day is what I heard works well because people visit social media at different times and may miss what you posted early in the day or late at night. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can post something quickly before you go to work or during breaks or as your going for a jog. We all have our phones with us constantly anyway, so a quick post shouldn’t take too long.
As writers, we really need to look at social media differently. It is part of promoting our writing, so if it feels like work, it kind of is. But it is fun work. We are connecting with potential readers and that’s really awesome.
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