Do you tweet? Have a Facebook page? On LinkedIn? You do blog… For the first time in recorded history, everyone has the potential to get their message out to the world for free. Within the last 2 years author platform has changed radically. Now publishers expect authors to have a social media platform.
Why You Need To Be On Social Media
Social media allows people to connect in a variety of new and innovative ways. It’s not about selling, though that’s hopefully the end result, it’s about connection and added value. What can you give me? What can I learn? Social media has levelled the playing field, so to speak, by giving everyone the same basic set of tools available to large corporations and celebrities – for free.
As an author/writer you want to be found, to be accessible to your readers and the media. Authors build brands based on their name. Think: Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Nora Roberts, Brandilyn Collins – they don’t have a website for each book they publish – their business is their name. This is the new reality. It’s like Prince William saying, “I want to be a Prince, but I don’t want to ever appear in public.” You can’t be one without doing the other.
If you’re a writer you should have a blog. Blogs are easy to sign up for, free, and the back end (the part that determines how things ‘look’ on the web) uses the same shortcuts and buttons that you find on Word or WordPerfect. You can start a blog on your website, or create a website with a blog platform. MacLean’s for example uses WordPress. There are millions of blogs out there, so plan ahead and know how you can stand out from the crowd. Find something remarkable (remarkable as in – wow – that was an awesome post – I’m going to share it with my friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter). Content is King. The key to blogging is consistency, value, and perseverance.
Avoid using your personal profile as a marketing platform because it wasn’t designed for that (one limitation is the 5000 friend limit). You ‘like’ a page. Pages are meant for businesses, bands, public figures, etc., and once you have 25 fans Facebook will give you ‘insights’ into who’s viewing and interacting with your page. Pages allow you to customize the tabs (you’ll probably need a web guy for that) and create a welcome tab with links to your website or online store (Facebook lets you provide the added value and connection people are looking for, and also the option to easily find where to buy your books.)
You ‘join’ a group. Groups are gathering places for people sharing common interests. Groups won’t give you demographics of visitors (insights) and limit how you can customize the look of the group. One of the most annoying features of a group, for me, is when the settings are set to send a notification every time someone posts on the group’s wall. Every time. With a page, you only see the page owner/administrator’s status on your home page.
If you tweet on Twitter does that make you a twit? Sorry, couldn’t help it. Twitter is a free to join platform where you ‘tweet’ a status in under 140 characters. News spreads faster on Twitter than anywhere else and has become a news source. Just this week there was a Twitter hoax in Stratford, Ontario that Oprah Winfrey was in town – local news crews even showed up due to the twitter flurry. Turns out it was only her film crew in town. Airlines employ people full-time just to monitor Twitter. Ignore Twitter at your peril! There are Twitter ‘rules’ or etiquette though – Marcy is going to post about that next week so stay tuned.
If Facebook is the Home, Twitter the water cooler, and MySpace the Club (who uses MySpace anymore?) – LinkedIn is the office. Connect with other professionals, post your resume, a job opening or give expertise in the question forum. Just another way to build an audience. Is your audience on LinkedIn? Then you should be.
Youtube is a free video sharing platform. Anyone can post on Youtube, and there’s a good variety of privacy settings available. This is a great way to share an author interview, a book trailer or added content. Youtube also has a great ‘insights’ feature. If you use gmail or google docs, you already have a youtube account.
Don’t understand how to get started? Stumped about how to do something? Just Google It. Seriously – just type in your question to google and let the google spiders do their magic. The whole world is at your fingertips 🙂 No excuses! I wrote about building author platform, be sure to check that out too.
Overwhelmed? Pick one or two to start with, and master those first. There’s so much we could say about Social Media. What questions do you have?