As I meet writers online and at writer’s conferences, I hear misconceptions about social media. I’ve kept a list of them and decided to debunk these myths for you one-by-one.
Let’s get started.
Social Media Is Hard to Learn
This is the misconception that I most frequently hear among writers, especially authors who are about to embark on their marketing journey. If social media were difficult, it wouldn’t be so easy for a 12-year-old to use.
Like any new topic, we come to social media with questions and some trepidation. What if you make a mistake? Well, if you make a mistake and you’re new, then you probably don’t have much of a following, so only a handful of people might see your error, right?
Besides, everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and none of them are fatal.
I always advise writers new to social media to start with one social media network where they’ll find their readers. Once you rock it, move on to a second. In about a year you should be on two social media networks and rockin’ them. If you’d like, add a third but don’t add a fourth. It’s doubtful that you’ll need to use four social media networks to mingle with your readers. See more on this topic below.
Facebook Is Silly
Sure, you’ll find plenty of cat videos on your Facebook newsfeed but don’t mistake that silliness for how dominant Facebook can be. Romance and thriller authors, in particular, tend to do well on Facebook.
When you add Facebook ads to the mix, you’ll find that Facebook can help you sell loads of books and grow your email list. You can use your Facebook profile to share pictures of your dog or cat and to schmooze with friends. But on your Facebook author page, share your blog posts, images, and niche-related memes, and dabble in Facebook ads to grow your following and sell more books.
Pinterest Is for Hairstyles and DIY Projects
Sure, images of hairstyles, DIY projects, and wedding dresses are abundant on Pinterest. Know what other photos are popular?
- book covers
- author quotes
- libraries and bookstores
- blog post visuals
Also, Pinterest is awesome at referring traffic to websites and landing pages. As Mashable has stated, “When it comes to referral traffic from social networks, there’s Facebook and Pinterest — and then there’s everyone else.”
So every time you write a blog post, pin an image to your pinboard designated for your blog. And create pinboards that make sense for your genre and niche.
Twitter Is Dying
While attending the San Francisco Writers Conference, a literary agent nonchalantly stated, “Don’t use Twitter; it’s dying.”
Sure, Twitter has had some rough times, which is why founder Jack Dorsey returned to the CEO seat, but it’s not dying.
In fact, Twitter has gone through several changes, from Twitter Moments to tweets expanding to 280 characters. And we can probably expect a few more.
In the interim, influencers have not flocked to other social media sites and you shouldn’t either. You’ll find that Twitter is the place to meet influencers, find new readers, and post information that will trigger traffic to your website. In my case, Twitter refers more traffic than any other social media network, and I’m sure it can be powerful for you, too.
I Need a Graphic Artist to Create Images for My Social Media Posts
Actually, no you don’t. All you need is a free application, such as Canva or Pablo or a paid application, such as PicMonkey.com and you’ll be able to create all the images you need without the added expense of a graphic artist. All three applications are easy to use, and none require training in graphics or Adobe.
I Need to Be Everywhere
Negative. In fact, it wouldn’t make sense for you to be on every social media network because your readers aren’t.
Let’s break this down. You only need to be on those social media networks that your readers use. For example, let’s say that you’re a romance author. It would make sense for you to be on Facebook, and depending on your reader demographic, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. You wouldn’t need to be on Google+, which a predominance of men use, or Tumblr, which young adults primarily use.
I like to think that no author needs to be on more than three or at most four social media networks. Who has the time to be on more social media networks? To spend time on social media platforms that your readers don’t use, well, is a waste of your valuable time that you could use to write another book.
So the next time an expert says that you need to be everywhere, leave the workshop.
Brand Isn’t Important
Whether you like it or not, as an author you are a brand. Everything you do and say online will reflect on your author brand.
This is why it’s so important to use your author name as your username on all social media platforms and to keep your banner and header images and avatars consistent as well.
It’s also important to monitor your comments online. If you want to comment on current political events, stop and think, “How will this reflect on my brand? Will it hurt me or help me?”
Think about well-known figures in the indie author field. Do you see Joanna Penn, Jane Friedman, or Mark Dawson commenting on political events? No, because they want to keep their brands clear of distractions. Despite how tempting it might be to comment on today’s political developments, it’s best to steer clear of comments that might antagonize your following.
Facebook Pages Can Take the Place of a Website
Some authors have asked me if a Facebook author page can take the place of having a website. The short answer is no.
You don’t own your space on Facebook. Facebook can change the look and feel of an author page at any time. Or, Facebook could disappear. Well, that scenario isn’t likely, is it, but I say it to emphasize your lack of control over the platform.
You need a website that you control, that has your author name as your domain name, and that you use to host your blog. You’ll be the only person who can control the website and no one, other than you, can alter the site. Awesome, right?
I Should Respond to Trolls
They’re out there. They’re on Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn and Goodreads. They make unfounded assertions and are just plain mean at times. What should you do?
We’ve all experienced men on Facebook who say, “I can’t stop looking at you.” Or readers on Goodreads who say, “If you’re a self-published author, I’m not interested.”
Don’t worry; their karma will eventually get back to them. In the meantime, ignore them.
I Shouldn’t Share a Competitor’s Posts
Just the opposite is true. As I like to tell writers, on social media, we don’t have competitors; we have colleagues. The beauty of social media is the ability to meet writers in our genre, join forces, and co-market each other’s books.
Let’s say that you’re a romance writer or thriller author. Your readers are voracious and can finish a series of books in one weekend. Guess what? You can’t possibly write enough books to satisfy your readers’ appetite for your genre. Why not join forces with other writers you admire and co-market each other’s books? Tweet his or her tweets. Write guest blog posts for each other and while you’re at it, expand the circle with additional authors in your genre and help each other sell books.
I Don’t Need to Post Consistently
False. You need to post consistently, whether that’s three times a day on Twitter or twice daily on Facebook. There are few things worse on social media than to encounter an abandoned social media profile or one where the author posts irregularly. Respect your readers by being available to them.
Social Media is Best for Businesses, Not Authors
This is also false.
Besides, whether you realize it or not, if you self-publish, you are in the publishing business. You spend time writing, and spend money on formatting and graphic artists, correct? And you hope to sell sufficient books to recover your costs and make money. Well, that’s a business model.
Self-publishing books is a business and social media can further your brand, help you to engage with your readers, bring traffic to your blog and website, and further your publishing business.