It is a question that plagues every writer; with so many social media networks, which is the best for me?
Although a fair question, the right question is probably, which one fits in best with your lifestyle and your audience? With so many things distractions and commitments clamouring for your attention, it makes sense to devote your time to an activity that will enable you to get the best possible result. And make no bones about it, being on social media takes work. Fortunately, I’ve got two recommendations that cut out 80% of the work for you 😉
Do writers need to be on social media?
In the event you aren’t convinced on the benefits of social media, the best thing I can say about it is that it is good for building your platform. However, you must know from the onset that not every network will be right for you. abidemi.tv is on all the major networks, and through trial and error (and we’re still learning), we’ve realised how differently people engage with us on those networks, and learnt to target our efforts more effectively.
If you want to be on social media to sell books, it’s probably best to first build up your audience, before flogging your wares; you have to earn people’s trust. You don’t want to be like that annoying person in your sports club who only shows up when they want to flog you their discounted sport gear. So, earn your audience’s trust first, before flogging your books all over their social media feed.
Back to the best social media network for writers. For this post, I’m going to focus on Twitter and Facebook only. Currently, I’m conducting an experiment on Instagram and Pinterest for authors and will report back once I have some data.
Facebook for writers
Facebook is a great way to interact with your fans. You create a page, which is not to be confused with your personal profile, and that’s it; you’re done.
Having a page offers some clear advantages over using your personal profile:
- With a page, you can create links to your author ‘shop’ (wherever that may be; your website or elsewhere), so that people can see and shop for your wares, so to speak.
- With a page, you can get clear insights into your audience with Facebook’s analytics, which can broken down by region, interests, age and even gender. In addition, you also get to see who engages with your content and your engagement reach, so you can craft better-targeted content for them.
You can sell your books on Facebook using Facebook Ads, which has one of the most advanced analytical tools in the industry to help you create a well-targeted ad. So from as little as $5/d, your advert could be shown to millions of potential readers. But that’s a post for another day.
Engagement levels on Facebook
I’ve found engagement levels to be low on Facebook. And if I’m honest, I’m more of a Twitter fan, as I find the Twitter audience more to my taste. Unlike Facebook, I’m not assaulted by supposedly cute pictures of animals and gurning babies all day.
It would appear that I’m not the only writer who struggles with engagement levels on Facebook, though. In my research, I came across some author pages with 1000s of ‘Likes’, yet when they post an update (which is not necessarily promotional), they get minimal reshares or comments. Which makes me wonder; why does the author bother with something that gives so little ROI for their efforts?
Twitter for writers
I’m a Twitter person. I love it. It’s nice and quick (140 characters; what’s not to love?). It’s a great tool to use to do some quick research. Recently, I did a call out for ghostwriters using the hashtag #journorequest and got a really good response. In fact, I connected with an author with a niche in business ghostwriting, which resulted in me interviewing the person.
People worry about being trolled on Twitter, which I understand. But part of being on social media, or even doing something as public as publishing a book, or being a writer (if you are not yet published), means that your work is out there for the world to consume. As a creative, you have to learn to take all forms of criticisms on the chin (easier said than done, I know).
I’ve never been trolled on Twitter, but that’s because the official @abidemitv Twitter handle (which I maintain) is mostly about writing. Once in a while, I rant about African politics, but, no one really cares about Africa, so for the most part, I’m left alone. I do know that if I start writing about ‘controversial’ topics like race or feminism, I will get shot down; by trolls and those purporting to help me ‘fight my battle’. It’s the Twitter way.
Signing up to Twitter
Like Facebook, you can sign up to Twitter as a business or a personal profile. If you sign up as a business, you will have much better access to your audience analytics, and trust me, you want to know who’s reading your tweets – you may need them for influencer outreach.
Much like Facebook, you can set up advertising campaigns on Twitter based around three goals:
- Increase your followers
- Send traffic to your website
- Sell products.
Find out more about setting up your Twitter profile.
Social media management tools
You don’t have to be glued to your phone (Twitter and Facebook are available from the App store and Google Play respectively), or computer, to update your social networks. Buffer and Hootsuite are two of the leading scheduling tools around, and they are affordable free (with powerful Pro version available).
About 80% of our social media updates are scheduled (we use Buffer), sometimes up to two weeks in advance and it takes about an hour a week to do this.
Having said this, during the day, we sometimes share stuff that we’ve seen on other people’s feeds, to keep things organic.
So, which is the best social media network for writers?
To reiterate, you don’t have to be on every social media network. You can start off with Twitter and Facebook and with increasing use and confidence, discover the one that’s best for your needs (that’s the best one for you).
Selling books on social media
Social media is here to stay, and is a necessity if you want to create and maintain your author platform. The key is to be intentional with everything you put up, by applying the 80/20 rule; engage 80% of the time and sell 20% of the time.
If you’re just posting updates without a clear objective, you’re wasting your time. I try and shake things up on our social media platforms by either posting an update (for example, a blog link), that links back to this website or when appropriate, to one of my books on Amazon or the site itself. So, if I post three updates a day, then one of them has to link back to this website. If I decide to post every other day, then at least, one of those posts will link back to website or our products. That way, we get to have some ROI, either in visitor traffic or product sales.
I know some people might bulk at these tactics, thinking writing should be all about ‘the art’. Whilst I agree with this, ‘the art’ still needs to be sold, so that writers can do little things like, you know, have a roof over our heads, food to eat and a laptop to work on. That is why being intentional about social media and its uses is important, particularly so if you want to build your author platform and widen your audience reach.
Are you on social media? Which network works best for you? Do share in the comments below – and don’t forget to share this post, either!
Also published on Medium.