I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time on social media (whether I plan to or not…). I love connecting with friends, seeing what everyone is up to, catching the latest news, and squeeing over adorable cat videos. But social media for authors? It feels like one in a list of a million things I need to do for my career.
Among all that business, I’m here to say that investing your precious time in social media is absolutely worth it—and I’ll give you some tips for how to approach it.
Do You Need a Social Media Presence as an Author?
No one needs a social media presence as an author, but should you strongly consider it? Absolutely!
We live in a world where many people search for things on Facebook or Instagram before Google. People follow authors on Twitter instead of bookmarking their websites. The playing field has changed and we, as authors, must adapt to it.
Being on the major social media platforms means you’re not only easier for your readers to find, but it’s easier for them to share information about you to their friends.
The word-of-mouth aspect of social media is invaluable! I’m way more likely to buy a book (or any product) if it comes recommended by a friend.
What’s the Benefit of Social Media for Authors?
The greatest benefit you’ll get is building relationships with readers. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide them with a glimpse into our lives and writing adventures, which help them to connect with us on a human level. That in turn makes them want to support us (and our careers). Authors are like celebrities to many, and social media has provided a venue for people to jump ahead a few degrees of Kevin Bacon and get close to those they admire.
Also, we’re inundated with sales posts in every digital direction we look, which means it’s critical to try to stand out among the white noise. If you talk about parts of your life outside of writing, like your love for crochet or obsession with Scotland, then those who love those same things will take notice and likely remember you.
Should You Separate Social Media Accounts Between Your Writing and Personal Life?
This is one of the most frequent questions I get and, unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. It completely depends on your circumstances and comfort level. Ask yourself these questions to help decide what’s best for you:
- Do you need to keep your “real life” private for your day job?
- Do you have the time and energy to manage two sets of accounts?
- Do you write a heat level that you aren’t comfortable associating with your real name?
- Do you already have an established writing presence under your real name?
- If you’re agented and/or published, have you talked with those folks about it?
- Do you already write under a pen name or do you plan to?
Keep in mind that if you decide to go with separate accounts, social media platforms are pretty dang smart and may suggest your writing account to your real-life friends (and vice versa). If you have a serious privacy need for keeping the accounts wholly separate, then I recommend using a second device to manage those accounts and don’t connect them in any way (e.g., don’t use your real name account as an admin of the author Facebook page and don’t follow your author accounts from your real name accounts).
How Do You Get Started?
Is there a social media platform you find yourself using most of the time in your personal life? Start there because you’re already gravitating toward it and won’t have as much (if any) of a learning curve.
Also, think about the type of content you want to share. For example, if the thought of figuring out images to share on a regular basis makes you want to pull your hair out, then Instagram may not be a great fit for you.
Give some consideration to where your audience is, too. Think of some authors who you think would share readers with you and visit their social media accounts. Where do they get the most engagement?
Facebook remains a good catch-all across age groups, interests, geography, and socioeconomic levels. I often recommend that as a good starting place, unless you’re really drawn to another platform. Facebook allows for the greatest variety in types of content—from photos to live video to sharing links to people being able to share what you post with their friends. It’s a good place to be.
It’s important not to overwhelm yourself and try to do All The Things.
Pick one platform and use it for a while as you build your presence. Then tell your audience on that platform that you’re on another one. It’s much easier to build audiences that way than trying to do them all at once. Frankly, it’s also really freaking overwhelming to try and manage multiple social media accounts, and it is more manageable if you tackle one at a time as you learn to fit it into your life.
At the end of the day, do what feels most natural, because you will come across as more authentic to your readers. Social media is there to support you and help you achieve your goals, not be a barrier to them.
Ready to take your social media to the next level? I’ve listed some resources below to learn more and get ongoing support. I’ll also be teaching a couple of free online classes and a webinar about social media for the upcoming SavvyWriterCon (Sept. 14-16, 2018) at Savvy Authors.