I got my copy of the latest issue of RWR (Romance Writers Report) and flipped through it like usual — and stumbled across two articles on how to use social media as an author. It’s interesting timing because I recently stopped by The Writers Vineyard to talk about how to use Twitter as an author. My once-monthly post on The Writers Vineyard for the foreseeable future will be about how to use the various social media platforms effectively.
As well, at When Words Collide in August of this year in Calgary, a colleague and I spoke to a room full of writers about the various social media networks (Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress/Blogger, LinkedIn, etc) and how to use them effectively. The talk was well-received, but what I’ve found is that a lot of people just don’t know what they’re supposed to do on social media, especially if they’ve got a product to sell.
While a lot of what I will be sharing in this post, future posts, and over at The Writers Vineyard will largely be based on my personal experience, I am also in the midst of taking a social media marketing certificate course (and have so far passed the modules for Twitter and Facebook, but it will also cover, among other things, blogging and Pinterest).
So what’s the number one thing you, as a writer, should NOT do on social media? Promote your book.
I know, that’s counter-intuitive. You joined social media for the sole purpose of promoting your book — and you were likely told by your publisher or by friends that you need to be on Facebook/Twitter/Whatever to sell your books. To an extent, that’s true. It’s all about how you manage the network.
As the two articles in RWR highlighted (“What readers wish writers knew about social media” by Lisa Kessler and “The virtual living room” by Shana Galen), on social media you are expected to be social. To be successful on social media, you need to be friendly and approachable…and not always hawking your book. People who do constant promo are quickly ignored and often unfollowed/unfriended.
So why do the investment? When readers get to know you, they get to like you. And when they get to like you, they want to buy and read your books. And, often, they are likely to help you promote it in their own networks be retweeting/sharing, recommendations, or book reviews and ratings. Social media does NOT have an immediate result. Social media is a long-term investment that will bring returns in the future. How much returns it brings is dependent on the success of your social media platform.
Since social media requires a lot of investment, it understandably requires a lot of time and attention–so, as a writer, you probably can’t launch yourself on every social network, even though you want to. You need to pick one or two (or however many you think you can reasonably handle) and give it a try. Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads are at the top of the list in terms of writer/reader popularity, so make sure you are handling one of those capably. (For example, I know how much of a time suck Facebook can be, so I’m not on there. I’m on Goodreads, but not to the extent I wish I was. But to make up for it, I have a fairly active Twitter presence and seem to interact a fair bit there.)
Writers and social media is a massive topic, not able to be covered in one blog post… so I think I’m going to bring it to an end here. Keep an eye on my blog for future posts about social media — not only will I post here, but I’ll also notify y’all when I’ve got a post up on The Writers Vineyard. (In October on TWV, I’ll be talking about what you should and shouldn’t tweet about, and November will be about Facebook — profile vs like page.)