Updated: Dec 31, 2019
What do you want, expect or need from social media? If you can answer those questions, you will have a better understanding of how to use social media to represent you and your author brand. (If you can actually answer these questions, you should be able to solve all the problems of the free world.)
In January I wrote about getting on social media as a new author. A few months later and I have a much better understanding of how to use social media. There is a learning curve. I hope the information in this post will help you navigate and get the most out of using social media.
Pinterest. By far the easiest one to get on. Jane Friedman has a great post on using Pinterest. She gives you a clear understanding of using it and why it works.
First get on and create an account. I started a business account. It allows you to link to a website; it also provides analytics & things an individual account can’t. If you are doing this for your author platform, you will want to set up a business account.
Once set up, start building your boards. Search and pin. That’s it. I have boards for my characters, for my books and my blog. Every time I write a new blog post, I pin it to my blog board. I have boards for all the things I like. I have a board for writing and one for publishing. I pin to several group boards. I suggest you use Canva and create your own pins. (I love Canva, it is highly addicting.)
Book one in my series is going to be published in March, so I created a book pin to garner interest in the book.
The great thing about Pinterest, it isn’t a social network. You don’t engage on Pinterest. I don’t have to spend time on there and chit chat. I get in; I pin a bunch of stuff, then I get out.
Here are a couple of other articles that will help you learn how to maximize Pinterest and why you should be using Pinterest as an author. What’s New At Pinterest For Authors by Milena Schmidt and Pinterest For Authors: A Step By Step Guide by Book Marketing. Both of these give you a great understanding of using Pinterest specifically for book marketing.
There are websites like Tailwind, that will allow you to schedule pins. It is free to start but then you have to pay. I just get on a few times a week and pin a bunch of shit, as well as make my own. Check it out for yourself. It does seem hard to get followers. I am up to 76, WOW! Right?
Facebook. I am not a FB fan. Let me explain. Per FB rules you can’t create a page without a profile attached to it. You can’t create a profile under a pen name. It’s long and convoluted, but essentially your profile must be the name you go by every day. (FB’s words.)
However, you can have an author page linked to your profile. I write under a pen name, I created my profile under my actual name, but I locked it down so that a search of my pen name only brings up my author page. (Update: Here is my new FB address: facebook.com/DarkForcePress
This article by Shoshanna Evers on the Writer’s Challenge pretty much sums why I don’t like FB.
I think FB purposely makes this hard because they are crazy ass control freaks. However, that’s just my opinion. Which will probably get me locked out of my account. The point is they make it so hard and confusing, and they are constantly changing the algorithms or making you pay to reach the people who have followed your page.
I don’t put much weight behind FB, so if shit happens, I’ll just fold it up and move on. But for other authors who have built their platform around FB this just isn’t an option.
Jane Friedman has an excellent article on the difference between pages and profiles. I don’t agree with her in this article, but only because of the horror stories like the one previously mentioned that seem to happen when you use your profile for business related stuff. Read this and you can decide what will work for you. Either way, you can’t go wrong reading anything by Jane Friedman.
Whichever you choose to do, you must engage on FB. It is a social network. If someone comments on your post, respond back. If someone sends you a message respond back.
Author On Line has an article about Facebook for authors by David Henry Sterry, Jane Friedman has a great post on getting started on Facebook. In this she gives detailed differences between profiles and pages, this should give you more information to go along with the earlier article I mentioned. Another great article is at Digital Book World.
My best advice for Facebook, decide if it is something you really want and need before you start the process of setting up your account.
Twitter. I didn’t like Twitter at first. I had few followers, and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. It takes a lot to get going on Twitter. Many people give up and don’t put in any effort. You must put in time and effort on Twitter. You must follow others, and you must engage. Constantly.
I read Marcy Kennedy’s Twitter For Authors before I opened an account. It made the process much easier.
Grow your following organically. Those that choose to follow you will do so because you have great content on your timeline. Follow people you like, follow people who write in your genre. RT things of others.
I used @2blondesmedia to get my account going. They help you follow quality people and they post your content.
Post your stuff. You don’t want people to check your timeline and have to scroll through tons of other people’s tweets to find anything of yours.
Get your content out there. Say goofy, funny things. If you are sarcastic, say sarcastic shit. JUST BE YOURSELF. I say dumb shit every day. I misspell stuff, leave off a word, just roll with it. Have fun with it.
Remember to use hash tags for everything. Caitlin Muir has an article on Author Media and 102 Hashtags Smart Writers Are Using to Build BIG Brands on Twitter by Krissy Brady should tell you all you need to get started using hashtags.
My only rules (for myself); I don’t engage in anything political. I don’t say anything to someone that is derogatory, and I don’t argue with people. (You shouldn’t argue with anyone on any social media).
Here are a few articles that will give most of the information you need to learn Twitter fast. First Frances Caballo’s The Ultimate Guide to Twitter For Writers has just about everything you need. Read through it before you set up your account. Then read this article by Frances Caballo on Magnolia Media Network. This one has a few more tips for writers.
The last article is on Jane Friedman’s website by author Marcy Kennedy. (I love her stuff). This post is perfect for explaining what not to do if you want to use Twitter to grow your author platform.
My advice for new authors is to at least use one of these, but if you can manage the time, I suggest a minimum of two. Click on either of these and see my profiles. I can’t readily endorse FB because I really don’t like it. I use it and I am following everything that Jane Friedman and Frances Caballo say to do. Check out my page and see for yourself.
I am currently using Medium and LinkedIn as well. But I have a blog, so I post some of my blog posts to those. Medium isn’t for everyone. It has a steep learning curve, and I am not that great at it myself. I suggest if you want to venture into using it read 13 Ways For Authors To Engage On Medium by Kate Lee. (Update: No longer Medium or LinkedIn.)
Then read all you can find on how to maneuver around Medium. It is a powerful tool, but I haven’t begun to tap into it. If you do get on it, follow groups that you have an interest in. If you get on this after you are on Twitter, it will link all your followers on Twitter. I think I will look at putting less time into FB and concentrating my energies into Medium.
LinkedIn. I was on this before anything else. So I have had to link it with my actual name. I post a few of my blog posts to it. I would suggest you find groups or people that you like and follow them. I find it hard to say exactly what pops into my head, because of the type of platform it is. I don’t swear on it (much) in my posts, and I don’t say anything too sarcastic. It just has a different vibe. As a new author, if you weren’t on this before now, I would pass on it.
Instagram. Not on it. I do know you can link it to FB. (quite easily) I just don’t need it right now.
You have to make some serious choices. You can’t do everything. Pick a couple (2 or 3) and start there. I highly suggest Twitter. Most of my traffic to my websites comes from Twitter.
If you have any questions, shoot them to me at email@example.com. I will help any way I can.
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Now have a drink, and let this absorb into your brain.
I write crime fiction horror, thriller, and paranormal novels. My time in the Coast Guard and my degree in Forensic Chemistry helps me create fantastic stories.
If I'm not writing, I am binge watching Netflix and probably drinking whiskey.