And so we come to the last in the current series of Social Media for Writers. There are other platforms out there right now (Instagram, anyone?) and more being added every day, but I think we have enough food for thought (and fodder for procrastination) for now.
For the last in this series, I thought it might be timely to do a wrap-up. After all, with so many social media platforms to choose from, how does a writer decide where to focus his or her efforts? Which ones work best for writers? Do you have to do them all? (Seriously, how many hours in a day would you need to do that??)
So I’ve called in Rachel Thompson, author of three best-selling books (including her latest Broken Pieces) and founder of BadRedheadMedia (how could I not love her with a name like that?), where she works with authors looking to learn social media and branding skills. She’s also super-friendly, tweets great information to her legion of Twitter followers, and has a great way of cutting through to the good stuff.
How can an author make the most of social media to help sell books?
Rachel Thompson: “Learn early on: social media is about relationship-building, not the hard sell. Connect with people, be authentic, don’t be an automaton who only shares links to their own stuff.”
What are the biggest mistakes that authors make?
RT: “As I mentioned above, constant self-promotion is probably the most ineffective way to sell books on social media. Connect, build relationships, be authentic, be generous. There’s a person on the other end of that tweet or post – make it count.”
Do I need huge numbers of friends/followers to make social media work for me?
RT: “Not at all. That said, you should aggressively follow targeted people – anywhere from 25 to 100/day. More than that and the Twitter Gods get twitchy. Maybe 10 connections on Facebook. Google+ so far is a free for all. Go nuts. Same with Pinterest.
“Why? If you do want to attract agents or publishers, they will expect you to have an interactive, busy platform and expecting 5K to 10K followers isn’t unheard of. Again follow people daily. I recommend ManageFlitter.com (they’reAustralian, too!) to help manage unfollowing and following. They make it so easy!
“And even if you’re happily indie, there’s no question that the more followers people see, the impressed they are. I caution people to look closer before following – given that people can purchase tens of thousands of followers, number of followers doesn’t say much. Instead, look at how many people have retweeted and favourited their tweets. That says much more about their reach.”
What are the most effective forms of social media for authors?
RT: “To be sure, Google+ is critical for improving any author or bloggers ranking, SEO and SMO. Twitter is my favorite, as long as people are using it to connect. Some self-promo is fine – I typically go for a ratio of 50/30/20 (promotion of others, info/resources, self-promo, respectively). A Facebook page and a personal account (one for business, one for personal) are also effective for relationship building.”
Are there any that you think are a waste of time?
RT: “I don’t spend a lot of time on the more visual means of social media (Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest) most likely because I’m an author – I love to read and write! But I do enjoy Pinterest and making the occasional YouTube video – that can also be helpful for authors because it’s a Google product.
Can you suggest five authors that you think are doing social media well?
RT: “Yes! All of these authors are super-interactive, generous, informative and just cool!
Justin Bogdanovitch (Sandcastle and Other Stories, The Conversationalist), @JustinBog
Terri Guiliano Long (In Leah’s Wake), @tglong
Eden Baylee (Fall Into Winter, Spring Into Summer, and many more), @edenbaylee
Steena Holmes (Finding Emma), @SteenaHolmes
Hugh Howey (Wool), @hughhowey
Which forms of social media do you think work best for you?