Most of us, as writers in 2019, recognise the need to build author platforms online. Ideally, we should aim to do so in advance of launching any books, although it doesn’t always work out that way in practice.
This post is about how I use social media as part of my own author platform, and includes tips to help you build your online presence, as a writer.
I wrote a post, in 2018, about various social media platforms that authors can use, and shared my personal experience on how to use each of these effectively, as an author. I have decided to create an updated version, which is what you’re reading right now.
Disclaimer: I’m not a social media expert. I don’t have huge followings on every site I give advice on. I wouldn’t say that I have “huge followings” anywhere, but I’m definitely more successful on some sites than others.
It’s one thing to know what could theoretically lead to success on a particular platform, but time and energy are limited.
I offer what I can, in the hope that it might be of use to other writers.
The question, when it comes to social media sites, is: Where do you start?
There are so many social media networks nowadays. Do you need to be on them all?
I would say, definitely not, and I have definitely been guilty of trying to be active on too many myself. I’m still trying to find the right balance, in that respect.
The reality is that there are simply so many alternatives. It’s hard to imagine anyone – who wasn’t a celebrity, with a huge following already – being successful on every platform.
And someone in that position would, almost certainly, have dedicated teams to manage their various social media channels. Hardly comparable to the position that most of us are in, when we’re just starting out.
Most of us will find our personal favourites, by trial and error. The networks that you actually enjoy are probably, on the whole, the ones to go with.
There are, however, some that do tend to be more useful for connecting with other writers, or people from particular target audiences, so it’s worth keeping those factors in mind.
I’m still in the early stages, when it comes to building my own platform, but am definitely starting to discover which platforms work for me.
Although, in this post, I’m primarily discussing social media, I should mention that it’s important to have a home base.
By this, I mean a website or blog – an online space, to direct your online traffic to, other than social media. And, no – an Amazon sales page alone isn’t sufficient.
A static website is okay, but having a blog is ideal, as you’re giving the search engines more fresh content to find. Even if you blog infrequently, it can help with your online presence.
In terms of generating blog traffic, my primary channel is definitely Pinterest, at the time of writing.
Pinterest is actually more of a visual search engine, rather than a traditional social media site.
I create multiple Pins for each image, using Canva. (Unfortunately, I’ve recently had technical issues with the free version of Canva, but that’s a whole story, in itself.)
I have created various boards, covering my subjects of interest, with the primary focus being different aspects of writing craft.
I’m also a member of four group boards, three of which are entirely writing related.
My Pinterest for Writers post gives more information about using this site, as part of your author platform.
The social media site I focus on, alongside Pinterest, is Twitter.
It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers.
It’s important to post regularly on Twitter, an intervals throughout the day, so I use Twittimer to schedule posts. The scheduling helps, although it’s vital to stop by regularly and interact in real time: daily being ideal, although not always possible.
I currently post mainly links to blog posts, and writing and inspirational quotes. Random thoughts and questions can sometimes perform well on Twitter, but keep them writing related, if that’s what your account is supposed to be about.
Use hashtags. 1 to 3 per post is the general recommendation. I currently stick with 2. 4 is borderline, but more than that, and your posts will tend to be regarded as “spammy”.
But don’t miss out by omitting tags altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend the following: #writingcommunity, #writercommunity, #writetip, #whyIwrite, #amwriting, and #writerslife.
Right now, #writingcommunity is the absolute best. If you only use one hashtag, make it that one.
For more about using Twitter as a writing platform, read my Twitter for Writers post.
I’m using Instagram, and it definitely has an awesome writing community.
Personally, I’m finding it difficult to grow my follower numbers, and post reach is inconsistent, due to constant algorithm updates. I’m not focusing upon my numbers right now, however: more so on staying connected with the valuable community I’ve been able to build on there.
My Instagram for Writers post gives more information, which may be of interest. Incidentally, since writing that post, I’ve reduced the number of hashtags I use, as I feel that 20 or more tends to be regarded as “spammy”. I currently use roughly 8 to 12 per post, and my recommendation would be to stay within that range.
I do still post on Tumblr, but have been through the stressful experience of having my account suspended and subsequently restored, over the Christmas 2018 into New Year 2019, period.
It’s a highly visual platform, and does have a vibrant writing community. The ability to queue posts is a useful feature. More about Tumblr on my Tumblr for Writers post.
Well, I’ve had a surprising recent success with my 80s/90s Music page on Facebook.
I think that, at this stage, I would advise all writers to maintain at least some low level presence on Facebook, if possible. Organic post reach does tend to be very low.
When scheduling to Facebook nowadays, I definitely recommend using the native scheduler, as your post reach will be better than if you had used an external app, such as Buffer.
I dabble in other social media sites, such as Reddit, but I’ve learnt that you can’t be everywhere, and I often can’t cope with maintaining even my primary sites.
Blogging and SEO is a high priority for me, at the moment. And my WIP – well, it should be…!
Check out my May 2019 post, in which I honestly discuss some of the stressful aspects of blogging and social media.
Hopefully, this updated Social Media for Writers post will be of interest.
My old post contains different information, and I will keep it “live”, as much of it is still relevant.
But, for example, I had a section on Google Plus in that post. I discuss the planned closure of Google Plus in a post from 2018.