As my loyal blog followers know, I’ve never had a guest post. Well, that is all changing right now. 🙂 Judy L. Mohr has been following my blog and commenting her useful tips on many of my posts. When she offered a guest post, how could I refuse? With all the help she’d already given me, I hope she can pass some of the knowledge on to you. –Joy
The Myth Behind Social Media by Judy L. Mohr
I remember quite clearly the thoughts that went through my mind when I started down the path toward publication. Time and time again, I would see a reference somewhere saying that all writers needed a platform. The jargon was bounced around every which way, and I was so lost.
Publishers and agents alike constantly pushed the concept of an online presence. The concept of building a following was just too much, and there was very little solid advice on what to do.
Then I learned the truth.
A writer’s platform is not a website or social media — for that matter, it’s not your books. A writer’s platform is everything that you do to connect with your readers.
This is where those building an online presence tend to fall down. Many writers push their latest book until people are sick of seeing the ads. For those who have yet to publish, it will be blog post after blog post. However, the connection with the readers is lost.
Social media is called social media for a reason — because it’s meant to be social. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are all about interacting and fostering connections that could be beneficial in the future.
Social Media is About Fostering Connections
Without those connections, you will struggle in a big way to get the word out about your projects. We need help. We can’t do it alone.
To be successful in your social media marketing efforts, the first thing you need to do is stop thinking of social media as marketing, because it’s not. Think about it as an opportunity to meet others, making those contacts that could lead to other opportunities.
The next step in building a presence on social media is to focus your efforts on the networks that you actually enjoy. Choose only the networks that will suit your style and main objectives. Everything else is a waste of time.
Every time I turn around, there is another social media site that many seem to think is a good idea for writers to use. However, if I was to sign up for every site in existence, I would either come across as a fully automated bot, or I would spend so much time on social media that I would never get any writing done.
There is an old saying that couldn’t be truer when it comes to social media and an online presence: it’s better to do one thing well, than to do a half-assed job on multiple things. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Navigating Through the Social Media Maze
When looking into different social media sites, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my personality fit this site?
- Will the site fill a need that my other ones don’t?
- Do I actually have the time required to service and maintain an account for this site?
- What is the plan for content on the account?
- How often do I need to post to the account to build a following and gain attention?
- Do I have the budget to build the account?
- What is the goal for the account? How will I know if it’s successful?
- Why should I spend time on this particular site instead of other marketing activities?
So, what are some of the more common social media sites, and what are they actually useful for?
Facebook is designed for longer messages, using complete sentence structures. The site is ideal for networking with other writers or those with similar interests. Because of its longer post format, you can get help on an issue and share your knowledge with others. The sites networking features alone make Facebook a valuable social media site for writers.
Twitter’s short message nature (140 characters) has made the site ideal for those who don’t have a lot of time to carefully construct a full post. A quick hashtag search will narrow your feed to just the information you want to see, but you are not limited to just those you follow.
The writing and publishing community is strong on Twitter. Agents hover on the site, posting information about their manuscript wishlists (#MSWL), and any other tidbits of information that they might have. For writers, Twitter can be a valuable resource, even if you do nothing but lurk around gleaning information.
Instagram is the perfect playground for anyone who takes lots of photos and wants to share them with the world. Photos have short captions and are tagged to gather attention. That’s what the site was designed for: photos, photos and more photos.
If you are a budding photographer, then seriously look into this site. It could be a brilliant way to showcase your work.
Google+ was meant to be an alternative to Facebook, however, the community just isn’t there—not really. However, if you frequently use Hangouts, YouTube or any other Google-related product, you will want to ensure that you take a look at your Google+ profile, just in case.
Tumblr can be better thought of as the social media site for bloggers. It’s designed for the longer format posts that are light on copy but heavy on images. It is assumed that users of this site have a blog hosted on Tumblr.
If you are working on a book about crafts or a cookbook, then Pinterest might be the perfect site to connect with your readers. Many of the users on Pinterest gather crafty ideas and others posts of that nature. However, the ability to share posts is limited; it’s designed for sharing photos.
LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals, such as engineers, businessmen, doctors, editors, etc. This is where professional freelance writers and editors can connect with potential clients. However, fiction writers are unlikely to connect with their readers on this site.
This site is designed for photographers and illustrators. If all you do is write, and nothing else, then DeviantArt is not for you. Saying that, if you are looking for an illustrator for your work, many of the illustrators on this site have portfolios that showcase their awesome talent.
Snapchat is a newer beast, designed for teasers. Messages are sent to followers, then disappear after a short period of time. The lack of longevity of posts means that followers might not see your messages. Unless you intend to have fun with teasers, I would be leery of incorporating Snapchat into any online platform.
The biggest attraction of Reddit is the feature revolving around asking random questions. This feature makes this site good for general public publicity. In addition, there are writing communities where you can get advice about publishing, etc. Exactly how this might work within your own platform—only you can answer that.
Periscope is meant to be Instagram for videos. The site is still in its infancy and is struggling to gain a hold. It is interesting to note that the live features on Facebook and Twitter came about because of Periscope.
Sites NOT Suited for Networking
While there are many sites out there for making new connections and fostering working relationships, there are many sites and apps that are NOT intended for networking.
ANY site or app designed for dating was never intended to advertise your writing. Do yourselves a favor: don’t go there.
Programs and apps like Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger are great tools for having private communications with people on the other side of the world. However, these were designed to foster connections that already exist.
I know that it can all be overwhelming. At the end of the day, all I can really recommend is to start with only the sites that attract your attention. Build your network and following on those first. Don’t jump on the trend wagon because everyone else is going. Focus your efforts on the sites that will help you achieve your ultimate goal, whatever that goal might be.
Remember, social media is about making connections. Use the right site for making the connections you need.
About the Author
Kiwi Judy L Mohr is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is also a freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services (http://blackwolfeditorial.com), working on projects from writers around the world. When she isn’t writing, editing or doing something for writing within the local community, she is hosting her own radio show about science on KLRNRadio (http://klrnradio.com/shows/conversations-in-science/). Judy is the author of Hidden Traps: A Writer’s Guide to Protecting Your Online Platform, which is slated for release come August 2017. You can follow her crazy adventures on her blog (http://judylmohr.com) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/JudyLMohr ).