Every so often, I like to revisit the topic of what social media we all “should” be using. (Here’s my caveat: there are no hard and fast rules; things change quickly in this realm; do what feels right for you.) Social media serves several functions:
- you connect there with friends and colleagues
- you connect there with readers
- you learn about what’s happening in the industry
- you can do some promotion (but be warned – only 10-20% of your social media time should be spent on promotion.)
I interact with enough publishing industry types to know that publishers do want authors to be involved in some form of social media. Here’s a short list of my current recommendations, including the first two that aren’t strictly “social”.
- Email. Essential. I still have a few friends who use email accounts that they share with spouses. Really? If you are a serious author, you must have your own account. Must. And the closer it is to your real name, the better. “Pookywoo@gmail” just isn’t professional.
- Website. Essential. A clean, easy to read, mobile-friendly (*essential element*) website is crucial. It’s your home, your landing page, and where everyone in the world looks first for information about you and your books. I recommend WordPress.org (not WordPress.com), as it’s easy to manage once it’s been set up, although you may want professional help in the setup. I’ve used Websy Daisy to build my newest website and highly recommend them.
- Blog. Optional. WordPress has built-in blogging capabilities. I used to use Blogger, a dedicated blogging platform. I like blogging as another form of writing, but it’s not necessary to do so.
- Facebook. Essential. While young readers are not on Facebook as much as they are on other platforms, Facebook is a huge presence in the social media world with millions of daily hits. You should at least have a personal page, where you can interact with colleagues and follow pages or groups of interest. A separate author page is optional, but can be another way you reach readers who are not necessarily your friends.
- Twitter. Necessary, maybe even essential. So much information is conveyed so quickly on Twitter that I recommend it. Unlike Facebook, tweets disappear very fast, so I use the two in different ways. (Example: if you have a book signing coming up, broadcast on Facebook days before and on Twitter hours before or even moments before.)
- Pinterest. Optional. I like Pinterest because I use it to “park” visuals that are relevant to my books. This has been especially useful to me for my historical novels, because I can post, for example, maps that only I have access to, and direct readers to that information.
- Litsy. Optional. A new reader/book lover platform that is an app. I haven’t used it much but I like what I see, as a way to share book love in a growing community.
- Goodreads. Optional. The granddaddy of book lover platforms. I use it, but not much, as a way to connect with readers. They have decent author support and information. But be warned: snarky reviews are common. I rarely, if ever, read my Goodreads reviews.
- Linkdin. Optional, maybe even unnecessary. I have yet to see why this platform is useful to self-employed writers – unless you are searching for a job.
- Tumblr. Optional. This is a micro-blogging platform, and unless you are really into that, it’s fun but not necessary. However, younger people love it, which might mean it’s a great place to connect, especially with YA readers.
- Instagram. Optional but may be becoming necessary fast. Instagram allows you to post photos with short captions. It’s fun and easy to use, but more importantly, younger readers like it.
- Snapchat. Optional. Confession: I have yet to use Snapchat. However, it is the fastest-growing social media app in the world, with millions of users. More like a messaging service, content disappears fast. Plus it’s hard to use if you’re older than, say, 20 (this according to Slate.) So, yeah.
That’s what I have for now. For today. For, um, 9AM this morning. Don’t feel bad if social media seems like a stream of consciousness, because that’s exactly what it is.