As I meet writers online and at writer’s conferences, I hear common social media misconceptions that authors tend to share. I decided to debunk these myths for you one-by-one.
Social Media is Hard to Learn
This is top among the social media misconceptions I most frequently hear, especially from authors who are about to embark on marketing. If social media were that difficult, I doubt it would be so easy for a 12-year-old to learn.
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 yet, so only a handful of people might see your error, right?
I always advise writers new to social media to start with one social media network where they’ll find their readers. Once you've mastered it, move on to a second. In about a year you should be on at least two social media networks and rockin' them. If you’d like, add a third but not a fourth. It’s doubtful that you’ll need to use four 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 profile’s news feed but don’t mistake that silliness for how powerful 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 Only Hairstyles & DIY
Sure, images of hairstyles, DIY and crafts projects, and wedding dresses are popular on Pinterest. Do you know what other images are popular?
Images of bookcases, book covers, author quotes, libraries and bookstores, infographics, and blog post visuals.
Also, Pinterest is second to Facebook in 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.”
Twitter Is Dying
While attending the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, a literary agent nonchalantly stated, “Don’t use Twitter because 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 character counts in tweets with images expanding to the full 140-character count to Twitter Moments. 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.
I Need a Graphic Artist to Create Images
Actually, no you don’t. All you need is a free application, such as Canva.com or Pablo (https://pablo.buffer.com), or a paid application, such as PicMonkey.com ($35/year) and you’ll be able to create all the images you need without the added expense of a graphic artist. All three apps are easy to use, and none require training in graphics or Adobe.
To find copyright-free images, go to LibreStock.com, a directory of sites that offer images for free.
I Have to Be Everywhere
Negative. 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, Pinterest, or Twitter. You wouldn’t need to be on Google+, whose users are predominantly male, or Tumblr, which young adults primarily use.
No author needs to be on more than three social media networks. To spend time on social media platforms that your readers don’t use is a waste of your valuable time that could be spent writing another book.
You Can Ignore Analytics
Are you ignoring your analytics? If so, you may be wasting precious time on social media.
Where is your website traffic is coming from—Twitter or Facebook or another source? You can stop guessing and open Google Analytics (GA) to find out.
To get Google Analytics, sign up for a Gmail or Google account. You’ll need your webmaster to insert a code on your website. Once that’s done, you’ll receive emails notifying you that your new GA report is available for your review. The depth of information available on GA can be overwhelming so just monitor the data that’s most relevant to you: the demographics of your traffic, which sites are referring traffic to your website, and which pages receive the most traffic. Best of all, GA is free.
Facebook’s Insights is also free and available to anyone who has a Facebook page with at least 35 Likes. You’ll find detailed information on the demographics of your fans, when they're on Facebook and which posts resonate with them the most. The information here is invaluable.
Be sure to check your free analytics on Twitter and your Pinterest business account as well. (Pinterest profiles don’t have access to free analytics.)
Brand Isn’t Important
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 you must use your author name as your username on all social media platforms and keep your banner, header images and avatars consistent.
It’s also important to monitor your comments online. Before you comment on current events, stop and think, “How will this reflect on my brand?
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, it’s best to steer clear of comments that might alienate your following.
Facebook Page In Lieu of a Website
Can a Facebook author page take the place of 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 like they did recently. Or, Facebook could disappear. Well, that isn’t likely, 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 its domain, that you use to host your blog, and that you can manage as you see fit.
A Word on Trolls
They’re out there—on Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn and Goodreads. They make unfounded assertions and are just plain mean at times. What should you do?
Ignore them—full stop
I Shouldn’t Share a Competitor’s Posts
Another of the social media misconceptions where 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
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, editors, and graphic artists, correct? All with the goal to sell sufficient books to recover your costs and make money—that’s a business model. As an authorpreneur, social media can extend your brand, help you to engage with your readers, bring traffic to your blog and website, and further your publishing business. Don't let these social media misconceptions get in your way.
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