A Social Media Starter’s Guide: 3 Things All Writers Should Know
For the people who use it, social media is a treasure trove of cat gifs, memes, and lively discussion. But if you’re not a social media fan, the various social media platforms can be mega-intimidating. What is one expected to do on Twitter, exactly, and do you have to be on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram?
As a writer, whether you’re published or pre-published, social media is a great opportunity to learn more about the publishing industry, make connections, and build your publishing network (for more about how to do these things IRL, check out my post on writers conferences). If you’re already using social media, you get a gold star! But if you’re not, I’m here to help you get set up and to assure you that social media isn’t as overwhelming and all-consuming as it may seem.
Here are three things to know before you dive into social media.
1. You don’t have to do all of it.
Snapchat. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Vine. By the time I’ve finished writing this post, there’s probably a new social media platform debuting on the scene. But even though there are more social media sites than there are letters of the alphabet, you don’t have to have an account on each and every one. In fact, we often recommend that our authors focus on one or two platforms that they enjoy and where they feel they can build a following. Release yourself from the obligation to have an account on all of the “social medias” and instead focus on the one or two that you enjoy. Which leads me to…
2. Participate in the type of social media that you enjoy.
Do you love to take photos of beautiful books, author swag, and your breakfast sandwich? You should be on Instagram. Do you love participating in conversations about the Future of Young Adult Books, sharing bite-sized content with your fans, and making connections with other writers? You should be on Twitter. Do you love sharing longer stories about bookstore encounters and photo albums of the recent con you attended? You should be on Facebook. There’s a social media platform for everyone, and you’re going to excel most at the platform that matches you. If being constrained to 140 characters on Twitter makes you feel like you’re suffocating, you don’t have to use Twitter! Find the platform you enjoy and you’re guaranteed to find more followers.
3. Keep it professional.
Each writer has their own individual goal on social media. Maybe you want to meet other writers so you can help promote each other’s books when it gets to publication day. Maybe you want to “listen in” on conversations between editors and agents so you know who might be a good match for your book. Maybe you want to promote your book to readers who you just know will love it! But whatever your goals may be, remember to keep it professional! If you have a bad encounter with an agent or editor, tell a friend about it instead of firing off an angry tweet. Treat other people with respect and kindness on social media even though you can’t see them.
What do you find the most fun—and most difficult!—about being an author on social media? Tell us in the comments!