The biggest question I get when working with authors is "how do I do that social media thing?". I grew up using social media, snapchatting boys I had crushes on in high school, watching vines in between finals when I should've been studying in college, and connecting with friends on Instagram when I should've been writing my blogs on author marketing.
Don't worry, if you don't know anything about any social media at all, I'm here to teach you what they are, how they work, and whether or not it is worth your time to invest in them. You're a writer, you want to spend your time writing. Hopefully, if you read this, you'll be able to maximize writing time and minimize social time.
Social Media is about as controversial as pizza being a vegetable, those articles arguing whether or not bacon causes cancer, and the statistics saying wine is as good for you as an hour on the treadmill. Some people view social media as a distraction from what truly is important to you as an author: WRITING. If you've read the book Digital Minimalism, (PLEASE pick up a copy) by Cal Newport, you'll learn that not all social media is created equally. Sure, after two hours of scrolling you've hit the digital bedrock that is pictures of kids from parents you don't even know. You've scraped the bottom of barrel of drama from girls you barely were friends with in high school. THAT is the media you want to avoid. As an author, you need to find what is important to you as a writer. Be it writing groups, promotion pages, or new book announcements. To be successful at social media you need to surround yourself with social sites that add meaning and value to your life as a write. Most simply put, use Social Media as a doorway directly to your readers and other writers.
BEFORE I START, this isn't going to be a blog on "how to use", this will be more "what they are", if you're interested in a "How to use" blog, great! It's coming up! Subscribe to my newsletter and you'll get a ding every month with all the posts I've put out. (I promise I won't spam you. You want to get ten emails a month from me about as much as I want to make ten emails a month for you.)
Maintaining your online presence builds your "author platform". Social Media is a doorway to your followers, a way you can communicate with fans, friends, and other writers before, as well as after you start writing your book. Before you start, take a minute to think about your goals for these online accounts. What do YOU want from your online presence. Is it to make writer friends? Build a community? Communicate with readers? Write your goals down! I will discuss them in another blog!
Should you get one: Absolutely!
Facebook is the Number 1 Social Media sites in the United States. With more than one billion users worldwide, Facebook is a sure fire way to reach people that you know. You sign up for Facebook using your name and personal information and connect with friends online. From this, you can post photographs, write posts, connect with friends, and join groups that you're interested in.
Because you are so likely to reunite with a community of authors that you know personally, Facebook can be a great way to make your friends and family aware of the fact that you are, indeed, writing a book. I've reached out to the Facebook community multiple times involving them with the process of my book in particular. I've done things like make polls on character names, and asked for good names for beer brands (Thanks Jean!). I've even had friends tell me that, thanks to Facebook, they now know I'm writing a book and want to get a copy. In short, I recommend that every author get a Facebook page so they can connect with the friends they know personally who will support and encourage them throughout the entire process.
Professional Author Pages:
If you want to separate your author profile from your personal persona, you can create a professional author Facebook page. I think that this is perosnally the way to go, as you can interact with fans as yourself without allowing them to breech your personal life that comes with a personal profile. You can choose to stay strictly professional and create posts that ONLY relate to you, your writing, and your books.
When would a professional page be good for you?
You want to keep your author brand separate from your personal life.
You do not want your name associated with your books (Let's say you're an elementary school teacher who writes erotica.)
You write under a pen name.
You do not want your matters that you share with friends you know personally to be shared with strangers who only follow you for your book page.
You plan to have a social media manager edit your facebook page.
You want to learn Facebook insights.
Should you get one: Yes!
Twitter is a go-to site for authors. In fact, Twitter has a huge #writerscommunity filled with authors, agents, and publishers all chattering about what they love most about writing. More specifically, twitter is a news and networking site where users "tweet" or post short 140 character blogs. They can choose to communicate through "Hashtags" to make their posts more visible to people searching. Twitter in itself is so popular because of how "to the point" it is, because the messages are forced to be short the user is forced to be concise. It's easy to binge-read thousands of posts in a short amount of time. As an author, you can get feedback on yoru stories, advice on publishing, make new author friends, or even find an agent through this site. Twitter is a fantastic place to get yourself seen by other authors or communicate with readers or reviewers. Because of the immense pressure put on the used through the word constraint, I recommend keeping up with this twitter and communicating with other users. Five minutes a dya should do it.
Should you get one: If you're willing to preform upkeep on it.
Instagram is pretty similar to Facebook and Twitter. You have a "newsfeed" or a place where your friends pictures and videos appear. For Instagram the posts are exclusively for photographs, so you are unable to post something with pure text. It's currently exclusively for mobile posting, so you will need a phone or an iPad to use and post on the app effectively. Like twitter, people can communicate and find posts through "Hashtags" like #Bookish, #Bookstagram, #WritersCommunity. Instagram has a very big community of readers. Even though demographics seem to shift to women in the United States, ages 18-34, (Meaning authors who hit this target market will have a serious advantage), it's a great idea for other authors to take advantage of this reading community. I think if you're writing in this target market OR are willing to take the time for it you should do it.
Should you get one: I'd advise against it.
Snapchat is a photo messaging app used by younger audiences on mobile devices. Their claim to fame is the fact that the photograph messages only appear for a short time before being lost forever. This app started out as a simple photo messaging system but you can now video call friends, send money, or even create little animated versions of yourself that dance around to music you play in the videos. While snapchat is fun, it's mainly used by users ages 13-24, and while a lot of younger people use the app, it is not a place where marketing efforts for a book will go very far, especially if you aren't in the demographic itself or already have a large following. My advice would be to spend your time on more important things, like writing!
Should you get one: You can't.
Vine is dead :(
Vine was a short video hosting service where users could share six second videos that played on repeat. This application skyrocketed in popularity, but the company went under in 2017 because of lack of funding and a lack of an ability to advance. I only mention this one because the videos that were once shared still are very popular. For now, kids just watch old vine videos and reminisce on what vine once was.
Should you get one: Please!
Goodreads is a cataloguing website where users can list off the books they have read, are currently reading, and want to read. Think of it as a digital book shelf that you can share with your friends. You can even connect to Facebook and meet your friends from other websites. As an author you will need to get a Goodreads account to catalogue your book on the website. In addition, you can connect your social media, your blogs, and talk with your readers. Goodreads is not only a valuable tool in your author platform but should be viewed as a step in the path of publishing your book.
Should you get one: If you want to.
Youtube is a video-sharing website where users can upload videos for their fans to save, comment on, and share with friends. It is one of the most widely used social media sites online today and is valued at almost $100 billion. Because a lot of Youtube's success rides on the consistency of putting out media, it's difficult for authors to promote themselves using a Youtube platform alone. While Youtube can be a way a lot of content creators find success, the content they create is mainly visual base and requires a lot of time and video editing skills, authors won't find a lot of money from the site unless they have an existing platform in video blogs or are selling a book about these blogs. I would recommend steering away from using Youtube as a marketing opportunity and use it more as a tool to learn more about marketing and media channels.
Should you get one: If you are willing to blog consistently enough to maintain the blog. Wordpress is a free blogging system that users can use to put out their own content to an array of followers. It's not as personal as Facebook and users can create more text based content than twitter, making it perfect for writers. This site is most commonly associated with blogging and may not be the best for authors who are not interested in putting out different blogs consistently over a period of time. However, if blogging is something that interests you Wordpress would be a great way to connect with readers.
Don't stress yourself out. If you're not interested in using one of these social media platforms then don't use it. Half-assing a twitter, only posting once every three months, and not creating good content is only going to stress you out. Unless you're willing to work with it and know that it will benefit you and you will sell yourself or build your platform, it's only going to distract you. While creating a Social Media platform is important, you need to be as serious about selling your book as you are about writing your book. Keep up with your profiles for at least five minutes a day and you should be prepared to maintain your profiles.