The Social Media tools you should absolutely use

Posted Jul 8 2015, 12:20 pm in , , , , , , ,

Postscript Social MediaWhether you’re a new writer or a veteran, one thing remains constant: your speculation about social media. 

What tools are the best tools? How much should you be posting – or how little? How much does your publisher care about social media (if you are traditionally published) – and how much should you care? And what in the world is Tsu?

Bottom line, there is a simple way to identify the right tools and services for you. 

It’s whatever you’ll use consistently.

No, really. 

Social media is an extraordinary tool for authors, but it’s a tool that has value only to the extent and the depth to which you use it. It’s sort of like learning an instrument or developing a craft. The ones who succeed are the specialists who focus. So whether you’re willing to commit to social media daily, weekly, or some amount of time in between, focus on just a few tools and you’ll have a far greater chance of truly connecting with an audience base.

What does that mean for you? In a sense, pick your poison. The following social media tools are the most commonly used, and each has its purpose: 

Website Blog

This is the old standby, that was embraced then abandoned for the allure of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. But there’s value in rocking it old school with a traditional blog: it provides stickiness to your website, which is where you most want your readers to be, and it can give you a constant forum, instead of the rush of the traditional news feed. With today’s social media plug-ins available for most sites (especially WordPress-based sites), you can push your blog out to sites like Facebook and Twitter, rendering it instantly repurposed content. You can also host contests without restriction on your own blog. So there is goodness there… just don’t leave your poor blog to lie fallow for months on end. 

Facebook

I’m not going to lie, I struggled a long time about Facebook. It has always struck me as a huge machine. That said, it’s a huge machine that connects billions of people, and billions of people include millions of great readers (as well as your fans!) Facebook is best for longer, warmer posts that are intended to engage readers for a more thorough commitment. If you do nothing else on Social Media, you should be on Facebook (ideally with an author page, not simply with your personal profile).

Twitter

Twitter is the next obvious candidate for activity. You can push your Facebook posts to Twitter, which covers some of your bases right off the bat (though I wouldn’t push Twitter posts to Facebook – by its nature, Twitter is less engaging). But Twitter is easy, and fast, especially for those of you who are pithy writers. Interestingly, you’ll find more authors and bloggers connecting on Twitter to start, but don’t discount it for readers. It can be a GREAT tool for building viral buzz! 

Pinterest and/or Instagram

I’m including these as an either-or, because the choices behind these tools center to some degree on what you’re writing. Instagram is a tool that works well for YA authors, Pinterest works well for authors of fiction for the 18-and-up set. It’s not that teens aren’t on Pinterest, but not to the level that they’re on Instagram (at this hot second in time). Neither of these are obligatory, but if your book lends itself to lots of pretty pictures (or lots of scary pictures, if that’s how you roll), Pinterest could be for you. Instagram is great for author events as well, but you can cover that base in Twitter/Facebook if you can’t face another social media tool. 

YouTube

Just like pictures are worth a thousand words, video is an outstanding way to connect with fans. You can take videos of yourself chatting about topics important to you, create book trailers or other promotion, or get creative and video the world around you. Even better: embedding YouTube videos in your blog/social media posts is a snap, and increases the engagement potential for your posts. 

Tumblr

Tumblr is sort of the happy medium between a straight-up blog on your website, and the “micro-blogging” world of Facebook and Twitter. It’s graphically driven and generally shorter form, but it otherwise works like a typical blog. If you don’t have an embedded blog on your site (or even if you do–you can post to both), it can be a good way to build a platform. 

LinkedIn

So the jury is out on whether LinkedIn really serves authors well – its a tool predominantly meant for business connections, after all. But if you’re a nonfiction author, you absolutely need to be on LinkedIn. And, let’s face it, business people read too, so it’s a good forum for publicity… unless you’re writing erotica under your own name, and then it’s a good forum to get weird questions from your co-workers. Consider yourself warned.

…I’m going to stop there. There is literally a Tsunami (see what I did there?) of other social media options that crop up every day, but eventually you have to get back to writing your book. 

But which ones MUST you use?

The answer, again, is simple: whichever ones you WILL use. I’m the worst at keeping up with Facebook and Twitter, but I have both accounts, and I feel strongly that both can serve the focused, consistent author. I have blogs on all of my websites, but I don’t blog often – except for on Postscript, which makes sense because I have a focused platform about which I feel passionately. In a perfect world of bunnies and unicorns, I would blog AND post for all of my pen names AND Postscript every week. That’s not feasible right now, but that’s the goal. 

You have to make similar goals for yourself, and stick to them. Because social media can be an extraordinary tool… if you you use it consistently. 

 

 

 

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