I have written a previous post about authors and social media. If you agree that authors benefit from social media, logic takes you to the next issue: choosing the right social media sites for authors.
I cannot think beyond Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. Not all of these sites will suit all authors all the time, but you can be picky about where you want to be and when you want to be there.
I am just a kindergarten author and a grade five social media user, but what I know is you do not expect sales magic from social media. Your social media pages will not pull in crowds of buyers. They will help lead you to the right turf, where gangs of readers, authors, designers, editors, agents and publishers get introduced, exchange news, help each other out, make deals, spy on each other and just hang out. Your pages are just part of the initiation rites. Your body tattoos.
Once you are on the turf, you stay engaged. Engagement is what this stuff you keep hearing about—image, platform, presence, becoming an influencer, whatever—is all about.
Over the long term, of course, all that activity should bring about more fame, and thus, more sales. You cannot expect to open sesame a social media door and enter Alibaba’s cave in the first chapter.
I have been most active on Facebook and Twitter. I now intend to shift focus to Google+. Facebook limits your exposure. There is common talk that your posts reach only 16% of your followers, but I understand that is the average for all users. The actual results vary from 2% for the meh pages to 47% for the rah pages. I am reasonably sure those Facebook users who have hit 47% are big Facebook Ad spenders. I am not sure that is the way to go for authors. There has to be more “free” in social media sites for authors.
However, I have no plans to terminate or even slow down my presence on Facebook. I find the site the best of the lot for creating and boosting new relationships, even if Facebook restricts my reach. Facebook has some useful groups, and I have become virtual cozy with hundreds of great folks.
If you want your communication channels open to all of your Facebook connections all of the time, form a community on Google+ and ask them to join.
Here is something you should do—link your Facebook fan page as your employer in the “Works At” part of your personal profile. It works very well to draw attention to your fan page.
I have no plans to slow down on Twitter, either. I am fond of Twitter, but honestly, I have no clear idea about its value to authors. There is so much noise. I have questioned a few social media gurus about how I can roar louder than the background on Twitter, and I always received a standard one-word reply. Persevere.
I will. Persevere, I mean, in 140 characters. It is a challenge to convey your ideas in 140 characters and I am to see where I get by hacking away at that challenge. Practically speaking, you should actually count on about 120 characters, because you want to leave space for retweeters to comment. The character count limitation tends to mute your roar.
One way I cut out background noise is by creating lists, which help me concentrate on tweets from the right people. I use Hootsuite to keep track of tweets from my lists. And believe me, Twitter has plenty of right people.
Apart from authors, the Twitter user population also includes editors, artists, literary agents, their assistants (who are worth keeping tabs on because they invariably become agents themselves), publishers—the world of writing and publishing is well represented.
Like Facebook, Twitter makes it easy for you to start new friendships, but does not offer the same range of interaction opportunities. On the flip side, Twitter does not restrict the number of people you can reach out to at any time. Opportunities in social media sites for authors, especially the struggling ones (there, I just described almost the entire population) should not be restricted in any way.
Surprise yourself by searching for results using the hashtag #amwriting on Twitter.
Can somebody please give me a fail-proof way of uploading a background image for my Twitter page? I have been trying for about five or six months. Yes, five or six months, you read that right. I tried everything, including help me messages to Twitter. All I got was rote responses asking me to follow Twitter’s guidelines for background images (I had, with full fidelity) and referring me to their relevant help page (I had already found it a hundred times without their directions. It was about as helpful as a pair of flip flops in a North Pole blizzard. My Twitter page is a lot of white space right now, just like the North Pole).
It has become my favorite social media site, and I regret that though I joined it pretty much at the beginning, I neglected it. I find Google+ offers you an advantage that is a contradiction in terms: it is nowhere near as crowded as Facebook or as noisy as Twitter. That means it gives you more scope to roar and get heard. Google+ plus does not restrict you in the number of followers your posts reach or the size of your posts.
Google+, of course, has the might of Google behind it. A Google+ account helps you with Google Authorship by getting your personal author information included in search results featuring your content.
Google+ has Communities and Circles. The first is similar to Facebook groups. The second allows you to slot each of your connections in personal categories such as family and friends and work categories such as other authors, agents and publishers. Google+ Circles are great for focusing your interactions.
Like Facebook, Google+ allows you to have a personal profile page as well as business pages.
And here’s something huge. Google+ has this thing called Hangouts, which allows you to conduct video conferences live. There are limits to the number of active participants, but no limits on the number of people who can watch/ listen in.
My experience is that making new connections on Google+ is not as easy as on Facebook or Twitter. However, the average quality of connection is higher in terms of suitability of connections for your particular purposes. Read another way: you do not get submerged by unnecessary background noise on Google+.
Content on Google+ has more value than content on Facebook or Twitter. You have unrestricted reach to your followers, with a bonus: you get on the search engine radar.
You can record your Hangout sessions and link to the videos from other platforms like your blog, Facebook or Twitter. That makes it ideal for interviews. Or author readings.
Let us get this straight: LinkedIn is all mafia. It isn’t anything personal, it’s just business.
Linked, too, has groups, thousands of them, and a lot of them are oriented towards authors, writing, publishing and book marketing. LinkedIn gives you some essential information on each group: the number of members and activity history on discussions and comments. This allows you to identify the more active groups.
That last sentence also implies that you join a few LinkedIn groups.
Compared to Facebook, Twitter and Google+, Linked is more staid. Most LinkedIn users are serious professionals, and the LinkedIn atmosphere is more businesslike. I have had the nasty experience of being rejected by a group because I was not an author with enough experience! I will rectify that particular situation when I finish my opus on social media snobs.
LinkedIn is all business, as are LinkedIn groups. You will find less content about the nuances of writing—elementary stuff like grammar and vocabulary—than about post-elementary stuff like publishing houses, trends and special offers from publishers and agents.
Go max on your profile. More than any other social media site, your LinkedIn profile gives you credibility. Get endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. They may not have much of a role in building up your fan following, but they have great business value.
LinkedIn has an excellent search function. It is great for reaching out to just the professionals that you have been looking for.
Well, I just have a confession to make about Pinterest. I am not into Pinterest yet. No, I have nothing against that site. I do hear a lot about its utility for authors.
I have spent months wondering whether to pin or not to pin.
Would you just post a comment letting me know of the specific benefits of Pinterest, with some verifiable examples? It would be a big favor. Anything else you can contribute about the benefits of various social media sites for authors?