(These notes are from my workshop, “Writing in the Online World.”)
Social media platforms for authors:
Social media is not a waste of time for authors. In fact, it is part of your mission to spread the word about what you do, build your audience, and develop relationships that will benefit you over a lifetime of writing. Developing your audience is so important that it should be integrated into your daily life—and luckily, you are living in a time when tools like social media make it easy, quick and free to reach your readers. Think of social media networks as:
- a direct extension of your blog and website.
- a great way to share your personality and build trust in your readers.
- a way to spread ideas you want to communicate, in small frequent doses. Explore the different social media networks and find a few that meet your desired outcomes. It is better that have a few well-managed channels than to try to participate in a lot of channels infrequently.
- a way to provide resources to your followers that have consistency and depth. Decide what kind of focus you want each of your social media platforms to have. For instance, you might focus your Facebook wall on information relevant to writing and publishing, while you might use Twitter to follow and learn from your influencers and to share quick tidbits about your writing journey with your readers.
Just remember that social media platforms are not a substitute for your author website and blog; you need both to maximise your brand’s impact.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumbler, Instagram, Reddit, VK, Flickr, Vine, Meetup, Ask, Classmates, Snapchat and so on are a handy way for you to:
- provide quick daily updates for your readers, your followers, and to engage them in interesting conversation.
- follow publishers, well-known authors, agents, and others who can help build your writing career as you build relationships with them through comments and conversation. Social networking is not a fad. It is a way to socialise, have conversations, and form meaningful relationships with people. Aim for meaningful and authentic interactions.
- let people know you as well as know your writing. You are not a writer with books to sell; you’re an author with a brand to promote, which means letting the world know what you’re about and what you are passionate about.
What you do on social media is part of your visibility and reputation as a writer, so think carefully about each tweet or status update or post you make:
- Be interesting, reflecting your unique perspectives.
- Have some fun. Experiment.
- Respond to other people’s stories and updates with your own take.
- Be helpful. Remember that you get what you give.
- Be open, and consider friending/following people you don’t know well. But use lists and watch your privacy controls. If something doesn’t feel right, like a friend request from a certain person you feel you can’t trust, just don’t do it.
- Be a bit personal. Share some things that have had an impact on you or have touched your life or that you feel passionately about. Be a bit vulnerable; it’s easier for people to like you if you don’t come across as perfect. Be authentically yourself.
- But also be clear, concise and credible.
Over an extended period, you will interact hundreds or thousands of times with all kinds of people. Some people may not respond, but there’s a good chance they are still observing, and you will become known to them and make an impression. They’ll remember who you are. As relationships develop, opportunities may well open up to you, such as interviews, guest blogging posts, speaking and teaching opportunities, consulting, and more. As people come to know who you are, they will think of you when an appropriate opportunity comes up. The goal is to grow your brand, allowing your book sales and other promotional activities to happen as an extension of your author brand and platform efforts.
Some popular social media sites:
Here are some popular social media/social networking sites, and notes on what they offer to authors:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ Currently, the most successful social networking service. Besides your personal page/profile, which is a great way to connect with personal friends and acquaintances, you can also have an author “page” https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php – To set it up, choose from topics such as “artist, band or public figure” or from: local business or place; company, organization or Institution; brand or product—a good way to share your business as an author. Some authors choose to only use a personal page; others restrict their personal page to personal friends and their author page for their writing followers. Facebook is a great platform for providing focused content about who you are and what makes you tick. This appeals to readers, and there’s a good chance they’ll follow the path to your website, sign up for your email list, and buy your book(s). Facebook also makes it possible to share updates that take advantage of pretty much all types of media (short videos, photo albums, messages, audio links, and more). In fact, more video content is now shared on Facebook than on YouTube! It even has live video now.
- Google+ : (https://plus.google.com/) Create circles of people who share your interests and get discussion growing. Just having an account helps position you in Google’s search engines more favourably; posting and linking does even more so. These links tie into searches through Google and direct potential customers to your website.
- LinkedIn: (https://www.linkedin.com/) is a business-related networking site, used mainly for professional networking, but it also includes some great writers’ discussion groups you can join. It can be very useful if you want to do serious marketing. Use the Showcase Pages to dive deeper into your services and spotlight your products for a targeted audience.
- Twitter (https://twitter.com/?lang=en) – the ultimate micro-blog – send “tweets” of up to 140 characters to let your readers know what you’re up to with your writing (and other interests, if you choose). There are great benefits to Twitter if you explore it and use it wisely. It is a good tool to learn from and to educate others and amplify your own impact. Some advantages of Twitter is that you reach all your followers with your tweets, you can tweet as often as you like without penalty, and you can engage your readers at a rapid-fire pace, in real time. Bookbaby has a good guide: Twitter for Authors in 10 Minutes a Day (https://www.bookbaby.com/free-guide/twitter-guide )
- If you like creating videos for your website or blog, or trailers for your book, you’ll definitely want to sign up for a YouTube account (https://www.youtube.com/ ) and/or a Vimeo account (https://vimeo.com/). This article discusses the differences between the two: http://sproutsocial.com/insights/youtube-vs-vimeo-business/
- Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/) has evolved into a social media channel that can increase brand recognition and authority, and expand reach. It allows readers to find quality ideas, real-world examples of concepts, and all things educational.
For more in-depth information on how to make use of the different social media platforms, check out Seriously Simple Social: A Brief but Robust Guide to Social Media Strategy by Kirsten Oliphant. Her website is also a great resource for social media topics. http://createifwriting.com/
Are you using social media to build your author brand and platform? What has worked best for you? Please share your experiences and insights in the comments. Thank you!