When I made the decision to go down the indie author path I was advised that social media would become a fundamental part of my daily routine. They weren’t lying. Social media is one of those things that can consume every available second of every day if you let it. It’s like rust—it never sleeps, never takes a sick day and it eats lunch at its desk. And for a writer, that’s bad. We have enough things in our lives to keep us from writing.
Nevertheless the benefits outweigh the risks in my view. Although still a n00b in many ways, I have learned a few useful things. In fact, I’m always learning. And with others out there sharing their experiences, mistakes are easier than ever to avoid—at least in theory.
Certainly Twitter and Facebook are key. The challenge is there are other new tools coming to market every day, and I am trying my best to stay abreast. It ain’t easy.
Do No Harm
For me, the first rule of social media is to do no harm. That’s right, just like real doctors. These are powerful tools we are dealing with, and they can do a lot of damage. You only have to look at the trouble people—especially celebrities—get into when they engage in drunk tweeting. (I was going to link to some relevant examples but they are not fit to reprint.) And once you do it, it’s like that line from ‘When Harry Met Sally’: “You can’t take it back…. It’s already out there!”
Building the Platform
Everyone seems to be talking about building their platform which is important if you want to sell books. Twitter of course is great for this. And if you’re a writer who’s just starting out, here are four things you can do:
Note that I created this list based on an article by Brian Solis. They’re a little different because my list works better for me. If you really want to learn how to do things, read anything by Brian—especially his masterful book Engage!
Listen. You probably shouldn’t start diving in and tweeting right away. You need a plan. Follow people and listen to the conversations going on out there. If you’re already published, search the Internet to see if anyone is talking about you or your work.
Engage. Now join the conversation by adding value. Retweeting is a great way to begin. And if you can, add your own commentary. Oh yeah, and use hash tags. Those help when people are searching for particular topics.
Measure. This is important. The reality is you should always be measuring. How do you know if things are getting better if you don’t measure? The easiest measurement for Twitter is number of followers. You can also use more sophisticated tools to measure sentiment.
Adapt. Based on what you learned, refine your approach—especially if you find that people are being mean. One thing Brian Solis advises is to be genuine. That will certainly help you. And you might want to think about developing a thick skin.
Facebook is another story. For one thing you measure with Likes. I’m not going to go into fan pages here. That’s a topic in its own right.
Then there’s your blog. In order for a blog to be successful you should post regularly. I’ve chosen once a week because that’s all my schedule will allow. Check out Joel Friedman. He posts several times a week—consistently. And it’s good stuff.
What about Pinterest?
So finally we get to this question. What—if anything—is a writer supposed to do with Pinterest? Well, from a social media perspective it’s just another channel.
I’ve been playing with Pinterest for a while now and although I enjoy pinning things to boards, I’m not really sure how I as an author am supposed to leverage it to sell more books. I would love some feedback here because I know there are lots of very smart authors out there who may have already figured this out.
Or could it be that this is just one of those tools that are purely for fun? In that case, I probably won’t spend much time with it.
I ran across an article entitled “5 Pinterest Boards for Content Marketers.” The Pinterest examples here are excellent but are for brands—not authors. They can still teach us something.
What I’ve observed so far is that Pinterest is a great way to let people get to know you by the boards you create and the things you pin to them. Since I began, people have been liking my pins which is always heartening because I’ve now created an instant connection with someone I never met. And that might—just might—lead them to check out my work.
So perhaps in reality Pinterest is useful for building an author’s platform. Like Facebook it can show the personal side. Also it’s evolving.
What are you using Pinterest for? Have you found engaging that way to be productive? I’d love to know because I’m feeling the pressure to use Instagram. I know—don’t get me started.
- Picture Perfect: Why Pinterest is a Great Marketing Tool (sociableblog.com)
- How Pinterest Is Becoming the Next Big Thing in Social Media for Business (mediahandlers.wordpress.com)
- 4 Clever Ways To Grow Your Pinterest Followers Using a One Week Blitz Campaign (growmap.com)