One of the most common questions I receive from writers, especially writers just starting to build a platform, is how to handle social media. I don’t claim that my way is the only way or even the best way for everyone, but here are some of my ideas to get you started:
Some writers ask if they should write one blog post a month. The consensus among industry professionals I know is that this once a month isn’t often enough for a blog. Once a month lends itself more to a newsletter. I suggest starting out with a blog post once a week. Then, if you find you really enjoy blogging, you can increase the number of posts. I also suggest writing blog posts in advance to stay ahead of the curve.
Choose a topic and stay close to it. For example, I enjoy following several blogs on minimalism and decluttering. When I see those blogs in my email box, I know I’m getting an article on those topics. I don’t want an article on those bloggers’ ideas on how to get the baby to eat green peas. I want them to stay on topic. While you have some flexibility as an author, I recommend that you don’t wander too far off topic in your blogs.
I suggest posting status updates at least once every business day. I understand this can be challenging.
A frequent complaint is about authors who constantly promote. This is why you want to keep book promotions to a minimum and mix in personal items. What are your hobbies and interests? Perhaps you can post on gardening, cooking, travel, or crafting.
Most authors share personal family pictures and updates, but not all authors feel comfortable doing this. If I am unsure about a status, I’ll ask the family member I’m posting about before mentioning anything on Facebook.
I find that links posted to FB aren’t as popular as status updates with no links. I also find that questions resonate with my friends.
Of course, status updates on Twitter must be brief since 140 characters is their limit. I like using links for Twitter. I follow several interesting blogs so I usually post to Twitter several times each business day. If you’re looking for ideas, you can follow me (@Tamela_Murray) and retweet some of my tweets, and follow other friends and RT them.
As a Christian agent representing primarily Christian authors, I want to be careful about posting anything offensive. I always make it a point to read or at least skim any articles I recommend. Sometimes I’ll read an otherwise good article when the author suddenly drops an “F” bomb or worse. This will keep me from posting a link to the article. However, you can take a shortcut by sticking with posting links to our agency blog posts and the blog posts and articles from other Christian agents and authors. Most of us try not to offend. Follow several agents and authors you especially like and post links to your favorites.
Many people enjoy using tools that will allow you to schedule updates and tweets. For me, social media is fun and interactive, so I don’t schedule tweets or updates. This does mean my activity is less regulated and even, and sometimes I’ll even miss some items, but that’s my preference. Since I don’t use these tools, I can’t endorse any, but here is a link to a good article to get you started with a Twitter scheduler if you wish. In addition this linked article mentions Buffer (for Twitter users), which Steve Laube recommends. He also mentioned a tool called Hootsuite which creates a one stop dashboard for all your social media.
This is a fun platform, particularly to post pictures of your hero and heroine, costumes, locales, and the like. If you enjoy such visuals and they come naturally to your project, this is an excellent addition to your platform that you don’t have to visit every day.
Yes, there are many other social media platforms available. I chose to address only the most prominent. If you can find your potential audience on other platforms and/or those work for you better, go for it!
For balance, I don’t participate much — often not at all — on social media during the weekends. I strongly recommend that you decide now how to balance your social media activity with your offline life. Do what works for you so six months from now you won’t have to read the many articles online about social media fatigue and burnout.
Once you do start using a social media platform and set up your web site, be very careful not to abandon it. Why? Because editors and agents giving your work serious consideration will immediately do a Google search on your name and visit you online. A blog with no posts for a month or so won’t be impressive, nor will broken links or an old homemade web site. This is why it’s better not to be too ambitious first along. I’d prefer to see a regular blog once a week than four times a week, but abandoned during the past holiday when you got too busy to post. Most people can handle a blog post a week along with two tweets and one Facebook update every weekday. As you become drawn in to activities, you’re likely to post more, but that’s a start you should be able to maintain.
Most of all, have fun! Yes, you are promoting yourself, your business,and your brand. But I think social media should be an enjoyable part of your workday. Now enjoy!
What is your favorite social media? Why?
What author do you think does a fabulous job with social media? How?
What blogs do you follow? Why?