For Writers: A Guide to Social Media Outlets

OVERWHELMED.

That’s the term someone I know recently used to describe their experience with social media. That someone is a writer. An author. A very busy person. And staying active in all the social media groups is time consuming and sometimes daunting.

Will anyone comment on your blog? What should you blog about? Or should you have built a website? Why does Twitter feel like a 5th grade playground? Do you even need a FB author page yet? Should you post writer things on your personal FB? What the heck is Tumblr? Triberr?

The thing about being a writer, even if you’re not published, is that it’s important to have an online presence. Visibility and accessibility are key components to your career. If you’re new to writing, the foundation you build now will help propel you later. If you’re a newly published author or even a long pubbed author, creating a healthy online identity can help you promote yourself and your work.

But what do the different social media outlets DO? How are they different for the writer? Do you need to participate in all the sites out there? 

First of all, let me say that you do NOT have to join every social media group that comes along. You should do what you like. For example: LinkedIn. I joined it. I have a profile. But there is a lack of interaction with other people on that site (for me) that prevents me from visiting often. Sure they “endorse me,” but I’m not having conversations. It’s a site I can live without. 

Now. What do the different social media outlets DO and how are they different for the writer? (I chose my top 8 sources)

  1. Facebook Personal Profile: This one is pretty simple. This is your PERSONAL page. Post images of your kids and your vacations and your dinner HERE. Not promo for your books. Try to keep your writing separate from this site unless you purposefully want readers to have access to your personal life. OR…you can choose to make this profile about your writing and not your family/daily life. That choice is yours. If you do that however, be sure to turn on Subscriptions to your profile so friends/readers can follow you.
  2. Facebook Author Page: This is a public figure page that allows readers/followers to like your page so that your statuses show up in their FB feed. This is a great way to: separate your writing world from your personal world AND it provides you with analytics so you can see who is reading your posts and when. Post author news/writing journey info here.
  3. Twitter: Ah, Twitter πŸ™‚ Twitter is an outlet that allows you to participate in a large writing community you would otherwise not have access to. It’s like walking into a room FULL of like minds: authors, agents, editors, book bloggers, book lovers, readers. It’s here that you establish relationships within the industry. Later, (when you’re the next Patterson), it can also be a sounding board for your fans and readers. Follow other writers. Follow agents. Follow editors. Follow publishers. Follow book people. Then communicate. (Don’t bombard people with promo though.) COMMUNICATE. It’s that simple and that hard πŸ˜‰
  4. Tumblr: I only recently found tumblr. For me, tumblr is an insight into my writer mind. (Scary, I know.) But it is. It can be whatever you choose it to be, but in my opinion, tumblr is a way to compile all the things that make you the writer you are. I post cool sci-fi pics and quotes that mean something to me and music that I write to. I post images that give me ideas and funny writing posters that I identify with, clips from movies that stuck with me. We’re all a product of the culture we’ve lived in, whether you grew up watching the Bionic Woman, like me, or you were more concerned with playing with Barbie dolls, or you were a nine year old girl reading Lord of the Rings. Again…it’s about all the things that make you the writer you are. It can be a fun place for readers to make contact with you as tumblr has an “ask me anything feature.”
  5. Pinterest: FUN. Ok, I might be biased. I think I have over 6,000 pins on Pinterest. For the writer, Pinterest can be idea central. It’s an unending Dictionary of Ideas. A place for you to log inspiration into groups. The thing is, you might have Story Boards for each of your books, (which is GREAT to have for readers to access), but you might also have a Delicious Recipes board. Pinterest is only about Writer You if you make it that way. 
  6. Triberr: Triberr is a community that lists blog activity from Tribemates you follow. This makes it easier for you to go through your blog log and tweet or post useful links. It’s a blog roll at a glance. My only issues with Triberr? 1) While it’s given my blog and my Twitter some serious attention, meaning my blog posts get tweeted like CRAZY and my blog gets several more hits, I still don’t see interaction. Few comments. Few people TALKING to me. Which is what I want. I want to know the people that read this blog. 2) People have a tendency to tweet every post on Triberr and do nothing else. Their Twitter feed is nothing but links to Tribemates’ posts. This is NOT okay. Do not do this. I only retweet posts from Triberr that I’ve looked at and know provide content my readers/followers might enjoy. 
  7. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is not just an avenue for job seekers. It can be a connective point for writers and readers. Other writers endorse you for skills you claim, whether it be blogging, writing or editing. The list of skills is long. I have to put in my two cents here and say that, as a writer, I don’t enjoy LinkedIn like the other outlets, mainly because of lack of one on one communication.
  8. Blog/Website: Maintaining a blog. Another sometimes daunting task.  I used to think I HAD to blog every day or I was failing in some capacity. This is NOT true, by the way. A blog is a helpful tool for people to get to know you as a writer AND as an individual. Like it or not, we all like to see that those we respect and admire are also human. While we like helpful posts like this one, and cute posts about your latest book, we also like posts that provide a peek into the daily life of whoever it is we’re reading about. This is less intrusive for you, the writer, than allowing readers access to your personal FB profile in that YOU control what the reader sees. Also, once you have books to sell, a blog or website is a one-stop shop for those seeking your book. You should provide them with links to all avenues they have to follow you. Just like I don’t prefer LinkedIn, some might hate Twitter and only follow FB pages. Others might have banned FB and love tumblr. You never know. Just be accessible.
But what about TIME????
Social media CAN be a huge timesuck which is a really bad thing for the writer on deadline or the writer with only 3 hours a day of free time. And this list above? That’s only a FRACTION of the social media sites on the net.

My advice: Choose to participate in the social outlets that you will actually USE and ENJOY and INTERACT ON. THEN, make a schedule of when you’ll be active on those sites.

If you’re like me and have all of the above outlets open on your desktop all day, you might benefit from a couple apps called Self Control (MAC users) or Freedom. These apps are like time out for writers πŸ™‚ They block your internet usage for a specified amount of time so you can zone out and focus. Some of us just don’t have the “self-control” to NOT click over and see if we have any @mentions or likes on our FB post. (not ME, of course…)

Other Cool Apps for Taking Control of your time:
What about you? What Social Media outlets do you use most? How do you balance the time between your online presence and actually writing?

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12 Comments

  1. Chose the ones that are right for you – best advice. I'm not on Facebook because that's just one more social platform that I don't have time for. I focus on blogging and Twitter and that's it. Those two are overwhelming ehough.

  2. Hi! im just learning about Triberr and have opening a tumblr account is on my to do list. Facebook I love and im on twitter but I feel like I just don't GET it. lol
    Great overview. πŸ™‚

  3. Goodreads, if you have time for it, as you said. Great place to interact with readers and market–but it can also be a time suck, so if it's not for you, use your other outlets and forget this one.

  4. Hey MK…Yes. Goodreads. I love listing my books on there; ones I've read, want to read, am currently reading. And I'll be honest: I do check reviews on GR sometimes before I purchase a book. BUT…I don't really interact with other readers on Goodreads, though I know some people do.

  5. I blog for my stories, and I like to keep my personal life separate, managing multiple accounts does always seems daunting so I guess its a matter of pros and cons. I've yet to be convinced on the side of twitter, though many have asked I join, and the communicating and networking opportunities are highly appealing.

  6. Hi Merissa πŸ™‚ Twitter is just communication, which can be harder than it sounds. But…I've met some fabulous writers on Twitter. Totally invaluable to me, but that's ME. Maybe you'll get the hang of it πŸ˜‰

  7. Hi SJP! Twitter is what you make it. Like I said in an earlier reply, it has been invaluable to me. Nearly every writer I have met in the last three years has been through Twitter. I've made a few connections via blogs but Twitter allows me more access to more people. Maybe I'll see you there πŸ™‚

  8. Interesting post,Charissa. I listened in on a teleconference with Dan Blank on this same topic today, and your comments mirror his. I'm learning to like Twitter much better than FB because of the human interaction with folks. Thanks for taking up the difficult subject of OVERWHELM!

  9. I'm not on Tumblr, Pinterest or Triberr, though I'll check them out, so thanks for the heads-up. My blog following is growing steadily and generate quality comments, few as they are; I've generated some good discussions on LinkedIn, but response is generally unpredictable; FB is truly a time-suck and leads to stuff being regurgitated (I'm so over it); I get the potential of Twitter, though it totally overwhelms me, so I'm yet to use it 'properly.' Thanks Charissa, and everyone else for sharing your insights. -Belinda.