As someone who works in digital media as well as being an author, I often get asked by other authors “Do I really need to use social media?” The simple answer is YES! Publishers, agents and festival organisers are no longer just looking for people who can tell a good story, they want you to have an online presence. Having a ready audience for your work is a great indicator to a publisher that you’re pro-active at promoting your work. And if you’re a self-published author, how else are you going to get the word out about your amazing space-opera zombie novel? Social media is a great place to connect with other like minded authors and readers.
But there’s so many social networks out there, it’s hard to figure out which ones you should use. I’ve done up this handy chart to show which social networks could work best for you:
|Essential||It’s the world’s largest social media network with over 1 billion users, and powerful advertising targeting|
|Essential||Goodreads||If you have a book, claim your author profile. It’s good for connecting with other readers, having another audience for your blog posts and doing promotions to an international audience.|
|Good to have||Google+||If you’re using gmail or google services already, it’s easy to set up Google+. I would highly recommend using it as it increases your presence on search engines.|
|Good to have||With comments limited to 140 characters, it’s a great chance to show off your wit. Great for connecting with big name authors and sharing opinions, following news trends and live tweeting at events.|
|Good to have||This is most useful to writers if you offer subsidiary services such as editorial and manuscript assessments.|
|Optional||YouTube||Do you have a special skill or engaging personality? Why not make videos?|
|Optional||Wattpad||I know a number of authors who have had success developing a fan base on Wattpad, where you read and share stories, get feedback and engage with your audience.|
|Optional||Tumblr||Share quotes, pictures, repost items.|
|Optional||Are you a high-flying professional author with an incredible lifestyle? Or like cats? Then Instagram might be for you.|
But social media is not useful if you’re not using it. There’s nothing worse than seeing an inactive social media profile. Don’t spread yourself thinly across social media platforms – stick to 2-3 and do them well. Think about which ones are going to be most effective for reaching your audience.
Tools for managing your social media
It can be really hard to keep track of your social media accounts once you set them up, so here are a couple of tools to keep you posting:
- Hootsuite – I use Hootsuite to manage all my social streams, which helps with scheduling and saves a lot of time in the week.
- Buffer – Is another scheduling tool for social media. They also have a fantastic blog to follow.
- Social Media Examiner – Is a great blog for keeping up to date with social media trends. If you’re looking to learn how to do something on social, chances are they’ve covered it.
General tips for using social media for writers
- Don’t troll. Just don’t.
- Be aware that this is your public face – you should assume anything you post on social media streams or websites is or can be made public. This is especially important if you’re balancing a day job where your employer can find you online.
- Create a separate Facebook page for you as a writer, rather than using your personal account.
Check that the privacy settings on your personal account are PRIVATE!
- Set aside time once a week to sit down and manage your social media and website, grow your presence and interact with other users. I usually schedule this in for Friday afternoon.
- Be useful – provide tips for other authors, promote other people’s work as well as your own.
- Don’t use the internet for evil… it’s hard to erase if you turn back from the dark side…