Making the most of your social media

Everywhere you go, people tell you that having an internet presence is very important for writers. But why? We aren’t in a position to give our work away for free through our internet presence, what else do we have to offer? I’ve spent a lot of time looking around online, trying to figure out what I can offer the people who come here and read what I have to say. After weeks of research, the conclusion I reached is that all I have to offer is an opinion.

So why use social media? Why spend the time building up a platform and a presence? There’s a few reasons for it that I’ve found. Though they, too, are only opinions.
An author should be accessible. Once people have read your work, you should be easy to find. If you don’t maintain a presence on the major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, you’re less likely to be found by your fans. Likewise, a blog is sure to turn up on Google, as the dynamic, ever-changing content of blogs makes them very easy for search engines to find.

Something important to remember is that these connections are not really meant for selling your work. Look for authors on Twitter, especially indie authors. What you’re going to find is a sea of voices, all fighting to shout louder than the rest, all trying to convince you to buy their work. This is a bad thing for a lot of authors to do, because you just become another nagging advertisement echoing in the ears of people who are tired of being treated like nothing but a wallet with legs.

It’s more important for these connections to be used for interaction. Yes, the kind of interaction you’d have with a friend in another state or your mom back home! Regular, human, face-to-internet-face interaction. While branding yourself and your work is important, it’s more important to be what you are: A person.

Some of the best advice on using social media I’ve come across came from Allison, the manager of the online handicraft marketplace Delighted. It’s advice good enough to repeat here, along with a useful infographic for Twitter and Facebook that I originally found on their forums.

The advice Allison shared for Twitter surprised me: If you’re not excited about using it, forget it. This was sort of a relief for me, because while I use Twitter, I’m more of a casual user. I don’t tweet a whole lot, sometimes just once every few days, and I have a tendency to forget it exists.
That said, at least I have a presence there. And if a Twitter user is looking for me, they can find me. I can still be contacted that way, it’s just not my first choice.

There were a few important points for Facebook usage. For starters, don’t post a lot. Once a day is plenty. If you post more than that, you’re going to be mentally categorized as spam, and users will start hiding you from their feed. That’s exactly the opposite of what you want! Whenever you post, you want to include questions or encouragement for users to interact with your media. Inviting interaction can be as simple as posting a picture of your main character’s car and telling users to “like” the photo if they’d drive one. And always acknowledge your commenters. Everyone wants to be recognized.

As an aside, images generally receive a stronger response than text updates. You should always be sure to upload the images to your own page, rather than sharing them from elsewhere. That way, if a user shares what you have posted, it will be linked back to you!
Also, be sure to include a link to your blog or website in your “About” info, so that it appears on the top whenever someone views your author page!

Pinterest may not seem like an obvious choice for writers, but it can be a useful tool because of the way photos shared can quickly go viral.
Make sure your profile is filled out and includes a link to your website or blog. Create boards for each of your stories and then fill it with relevant things – Outfits your characters would wear, snapshots of cities they visit in their travels, and of course, the cover of your book, if it’s already published. Try keeping a board for inspiration, too, so you can share glimpses of objects or scenery that motivate you.

And of course, be sure to make the most of your descriptions. Fill out the description fields of all of your pins and the boards you’re pinning to, and make the descriptions as relevant as possible. After all, what’s more likely to be found in a search engine? A statement of “I love this!”, or something like “These red flowers look just like what the vampires grow in Arizona!”?
The latter provides a lot more keywords and variables, meaning your pin might turn up when someone’s looking for any of those things – Flowers, vampires, Arizona, or just the color red.

Blogging is my favorite, but what’s your preferred social media platform?

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