Figuring out when and how to use social media as a writer can be overwhelming. It's easy to while away hours checking Facebook or clicking on links to articles or videos and then feel guilty because we “should” be doing something else, like writing or promoting our writing.
Also, many people dislike everything about social media. It can seem like a place people go to toot to their own horns endlessly or tell everyone that they had eggs for breakfast, and who wants to be “that person”?
Having Fun And Being Who You Are
Over the coming weeks I'll offer some tips on social media. Today I'll share a bit about how I use social media as an author (and a person).
My main rule for myself on social media is that I need to enjoy what I'm doing and genuinely want to connect with the other people there. Which I guess is two rules. If you follow those two, you'll have a happier life and be less likely to come off as, or to be, that person who's just there to try to sell people things or say how great you are.
As part of that approach, I stick with a few social media platforms I like and use for reasons other than my writing. I do sometimes make a few of them do double duty, which is a good way to get a little bit more exposure without more effort.
I got on Facebook in the first place because my nieces and nephews lived in other states. I liked being able to occasionally see a post about how they were doing and see photos of them, and they were nice enough to accept my friend requests.
After I started publishing my writing, I started posting about it occasionally on my personal Facebook page. I try to share only big news or something particularly exciting. Recently, I shared that the first book in my Awakening series, which is temporarily free to publicize the series, reached number five on the Amazon Best Seller List for free books. I figured that qualified as pretty cool, and my friends were excited for me.
I also post articles on my Facebook page that I think might interest my friends or anyone else who stops by my page. My Instagram account (more on that below) also links to Facebook, so if I post a photo of my parakeet on Instagram it also shows up on Facebook.
I also periodically update a separate author page. There, I am more apt to list day-to-day developments in my writing.
When I use Facebook, I rarely read the newsfeed. Instead, I look at Pages of people I want to keep up with. That limits my time on Facebook and ensures that I enjoy it.
As you probably know, Twitter allows you to post very short comments (which is called tweeting) as well as photos. I love Twitter for connecting with other writers and people who share my interests.
I have occasionally bought or sold e-books through Twitter, but mostly I like it for the people and for finding articles on helpful topics. I met the producer/narrator who later went on to produce the audiobook editions of the last three books in my Awakening series on Twitter.
I also started learning about self-publishing there, as I searched for #self-publishing and found tweets and articles by authors Joanna Penn and Melissa Foster. Neither was very well-known at the time and both were generous about sharing what they learned as their author businesses grew. Now I tweet about the articles on this website, as well as about what I'm reading or watching. I still connect with and learn from other writers on Twitter.
Pinterest has online bulletin boards where you can tack photos virtually. I used it quite a bit for a year or two. I have several boards, including one for whenever I finally decide to remodel my bathroom and one of fictional female heroes.
I still visit For When I Remodel My Bathroom as I try to decide what to do and when. I haven't been to the other boards very much lately because I have stepped up my writing schedule and that's the social media platform that fell by the wayside. I still like it though and I'm sure I'll go back at some point.
Pinterest posts can be linked to Facebook and other social media, so if you like it, it's a good way to post on multiple platforms at once.
As I wrote about Friday when I recommended Goodreads For Authors, I love this social media platform. As a reader, I use it to track books I want to read and to review books or place them on my virtual shelves by category. I have an author biography there and I've made sure my books are listed.
As an author, I like reading the reviews of my books by Goodreads users. They generally include a lot more information about why they rated the book as they did and what they think about it. I've also done giveaways of paperback editions through Goodreads, I created an author blog, and when I review books, I include a paragraph at the end for other writers talking about what they might learn about fiction writing through reading that particular book.
Goodreads also can link to Twitter and Facebook, so every review I do also is posted on those social media platforms, which is nice. Reviews can be automatically posted to the author blog on Goodreads. So, it's another nice way to do one thing and have it appear in multiple places.
Wattpad is a writing social media platform. Many people write chapter-by-chapter and post as they go. Others post finished work one part at a time, which I've been doing with The Awakening since last summer.
I also really enjoy seeing what other writers are doing. The platform skews younger, so for me there's an added advantage in seeing what's engaging to readers and writers in a different age range.
Whether Wattpad helps sales is hard to say, but I don't see much downside to doing it. Once I spent a couple hours setting up my bio and learning the platform, the time commitment became minimal. It takes me only about 10 minutes to post a chapter each week. I usually spend another 10 minutes or so looking around the site and answering any messages.
Instagram is pure fun for me. So far as I know, nothing I do there helps me sell books. I mostly connect with people I already know personally or have met through Facebook.
My oldest niece, who told me about Instagram, once said that she loves it because everyone's happy there. People typically post photos that make them feel good, and there is relatively little in the way of political commentary. I most often post photos of my parakeet or of really nice sunrises or sunsets or beautiful photos of Chicago streets and buildings.
You can put links to websites or products on Instagram and you can buy advertising, but I haven't looked into doing either one. I like having a platform that is just fun.
Instagram does also link to other platforms, so mine was linked to Facebook and Twitter. Recently, though, I had to update my passwords and I actually haven't figured out to how to make that connect again with Facebook and Twitter. Once I do, my Facebook page will have a lot more photos.
I hope this overview has been helpful. Please share in the comments what social media you like and whether you use any platforms I've missed.