Monday, April 30, 2018

Common Author Questions: What Social Media Do I Need?



Social media can be an acquired taste. Some people, especially younger, take to it instantaneously, while others will hate it until something worse comes along. Writers are told to keep up with social media in order to keep in contact and personable with their readers, but to those who don’t really like talking to people in person let alone having them enter into our private lives, it can just be a pain in the ass.

I see a lot of authors asking if they should start with Instagram, Snapchat, or Pinterest, if they really need a Twitter account, and how many author pages on Facebook they must have. While I highly recommend a website and say everything else is supposed to be fun, there are some unseen benefits of each type of account.

Facebook

A great stand-in for a real website.

While having your own domain will make you look more professional, Facebook is easy to update and reaches your friends and followers directly without them having to consciously go to your URL. You don’t have to know how to fool with a HTML, Wordpress, or pay a designer every time you want to put up new information, and it’s free!

Content

Facebook is the most flexible of the social media sites, allowing you to distribute images, lengthy passages, and video. Sharing blogs and webpages is easy because it automatically selects a picture from the site, and you really don’t have to learn too much more about computer use to get it to work for you. It’s very user friendly and with a high amount of traffic, it’s one of the best methods to getting word out there.

The problem is Facebook doesn’t want it to be turned into a spammy place and will restrict any content that… well, is spammy. The algorithms that determine which posts show up in your feed will automatically restrict a post with a link in it, showing it to fewer people than had it only been text. Your regular personal page is supposed to be used, shockingly, as a personal page, and you can’t friend more than 5,000 people. You can create an official author page in which an unlimited number of people can like, but pages, tending to be more commercial, don’t show up as often in people’s feeds as personal pages. Basically meaning that while one of the better places to market yourself, the best content is going to be with anecdotal or joking posts rather than straightforward, “Buy my book!”

Twitter

Fast by force, Twitter allows you to take only a few seconds (and sentences) to interact with your audience. Keep them updated on your doings in less than 140 characters, post an image, or link, and go on about your day.

Content

Twitter by nature only allows you to say a limited amount of words. It is best suited for a flippant one-liner to remind your readers that you exist. It does successfully give a generalized idea of who you are, and its low-attention span audience is more likely to impulse click on links. I find that most of my blog post hits come from Twitter, and Twitter does not hide your self-promotion.

It’s also an easy way to make friends because the limitation doesn’t mean you have to be too thoughtful in your responses.

Instagram

Humans are visual creatures and Instagram is great for familiarizing people to you without having to come up with a textual post every day. Upload your photos, make a comment, and scan through what your friends are doing. I personally don’t have a lot to put on there, but have enjoyed puzzling out more ways to take photos and make drawings that people would be interested in.

Instagram does not allow for links and comments aren’t expected. If you are a photographer, designer, artist, model, or just have a lot of pictures of your cat, it becomes a really easy way to connect with people.

Content

Instagram is images only, though I find that pictures with commentary below tend to receive more attention. For me it can be somewhat difficult to find things to post because I’m not as much as a visual person as other people tend to be. It’s good to show off aspects of your life though, like your work space, the manuscript you’re editing, cover reveals, etc. If you have a lot of photographs or drawings anyway, it can be quick and easy to post them to your readers.

Snapchat

Snapchat primarily focuses on video and images, but unlike the other forms of social media, what you posts disappears after a certain amount of time. You can choose to keep something for others to view later on, but the point is it is a way to connect with people without fearing the typical issues of posting to social media. However, people can save your images—just keep in mind it will tell you if you had done so.

Content

I’m not a user of Snapchat and only considered it at one time because I wanted to connect with my friends who were active on it. Ultimately I deleted it, but it would be useful for those who are good in front of a camera and want to quickly update their fanbase on information without having a page filled with spam.

Pinterest

Pinterest is similar to Instagram in that it is image based. However, instead of mostly posting your own pieces, you scavenge the web and their topics to save images that you like.

Content

While you can upload your own photos and get attention through the site (which is a lot more link friendly than Instagram), the intended use of Pinterest is to get ideas and inspiration. This was one of the sites I once started to stalk people, but never really got the point of until years later.

Today I use it to collect images of costumes and locations, as well as different drawing styles and book covers. One of the greatest things about the site is that it really identified for me the cohesive tone and atmosphere I was looking for. By being able to collect all the images that work for me, it’s easier to identify elements of what I like as well as see the bigger picture I’m going for in my own work.

Google Plus

The off-brand of Facebook, Google Plus’s extra benefit is that you can easily share and collect a wide variety of actions on the internet. It’s more about bonding over external content, easier to search and explore than what others put into feeds.

Content

It is really easy to collect content from other sites in one steady place. My Google Plus account, which I don’t use very much, consists mainly of blog comments and posts I’ve made. It’s a conglomeration of external content with few straightforward statuses. The point is the ease in which you can see what you, or other people are doing, all across the internet.

Linked-In

I don’t know about other businesses, but for authors Linked-In seems fairly ineffective to me. It’s basically an online resume allowing people to network and present themselves in a professional matter. Unfortunately, readers don’t care and agents and publishers aren’t going to be looking.

Content

Linked-In allows you to post your resume as well as search for jobs. If you are a freelance editor or graphic designer, it might be useful to have your credentials there.

Wordpress, Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, or Livejournal

While at one point people were told every writer should blog, the community has more or less decided it’s not effective enough to force yourself into doing it if you don’t enjoy it. The benefit of having a blog—long articles you’ve written about subjects you’re interested in—is that when you have new content frequently, people are more likely to come back. An author who otherwise only comes out with a book once a year is more likely to be forgotten about.

Wordpress is user friendly for those who aren’t too technically savvy, but it can be controlling like a mother-in-law. It’s gotten better over the years with its money grubbing schemes to allow for diversity, but it doesn’t give as much design flexibility as Blogger. Unlike Blogger though, it is less glitchy, less room for amateurish styles, and has a larger community.

Blogger, which I use, is much more willing to work with what you want, just so long as you know how to work with computers. It still has a community, and my only real complaint is sometimes it has formatting bugs that are frustrating, liking adding an extra “return” before my last paragraph.

Wix makes designing your website free and easy, but is the least flexible of all of the options. Once you choose a tablet, you’re stuck with it, and you can’t alter their templates, making most Wix sites immediately obvious.

The benefit of Tumblr is similar to Wordpress in that it has a great built in community. I don’t use Tumblr, but personally have found the blogs to be harder to navigate. It seems preferable for images than long text.

Livejournal is easy to use and for strict blogging. The sites are usually easy to read and navigate, look good, but also has a reputation for being a personal “journal” rather than a professional blog. It has a built in community, but has made me feel in the past that if you are not part of that community, you shouldn’t be reading.

Content

People talk in length about the best sort of content a blog should have, but overall, posts tend to have more description than, say, Facebook statuses. You have more flexibility to “waste people’s time,” because they came there to listen to you instead of other social media accounts where they just happened across your status.


Blogs are a fantastic way to get people to know you better, care about you more, and invest in your career. It’s also a good way to gain trust. I’ve bought several novels I wouldn’t have otherwise if I didn’t read their blogs.



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