The Right Way to Use Social Media to Build Your Writer's Platform
You've heard that social media is a great place to build your writer's platform. And many publishers actually seek authors who have established certain levels of a follower base and engagement.
But adding social media to your already-busy schedule can sound like a ridiculous idea. You're already so busy – how can you do social media and still have time to focus on your writing?
I'm sure you know by now that social media can be a huge time waster. It can keep you from your writing work all day long if you let it. But it's also a valuable tool when used properly.
So, what's the right way to use social media to build your writer's platform?
That's where discipline comes in.
If you're short on time (who isn't, right?), decide on how much time you can work on social media. If you can only devote 10 minutes per day, start there.
Before we talk about building your writer's platform, let's talk about its purpose.
Social media is all about engagement and interaction with people. Sure, we want people to buy our books and become devoted readers, but on social media, we need to create an environment where readers and potential readers get to interact with us. It needs to be a place where they get to see the "wizard behind the curtain".
The trick in making our efforts effective is getting followers to engage with us. That's easier said than done because Facebook limits who gets to see our posts, and the lifespan of a tweet can be low, especially for Twitter uses who follow a lot of people. How do we get people to engage with us when only a few people ever see the things we share?
Two things need to happen on Facebook.
- We need more fans on our page
- We need to post things that fans are interested in
On Twitter, it's a bit easier. We still need to post engaging content, but we can like, retweet, and reply to people's comments, and we can use hashtags to make our content more visible to people who haven't followed us yet. We can actively seek new people to follow (note: Twitter does have limits on how many people you can follow if you haven't reached a certain follower base).
So, what constitutes engaging content?
That depends on your target audience. Generally, people want to be inspired or encouraged. They need to know that they're not alone, that other people have similar challenges. They need tips and tricks to help them get through the day. People also like to see what writers are up to every now and then.
Something to consider here is the age requirement on social media. The general rule among the big guys is no one under the age of 13 can open an account. Of course, that doesn't stop kids from opening social media accounts, but if they get caught, their accounts are shut down. So, if your readers are under 13 (for instance, if you write children's picture books or middle-grade fiction), you will need to target their parents, librarians, teachers, and any other individual connected with children in your audience's age group.
Now that we have an idea of what types of things to post on our social media accounts, let's go back to the time commitment.
If we have a good idea of the things we want to share and we get into the practice and routine of posting our updates, eventually, it will become easier and we'll get more efficient.
The trouble many writers have is that they get sucked into surfing the news feeds. It can become a never-ending process where we're constantly looking for what's new – the shiny object of social media. What new posts have we missed in the last ten minutes since we started scrolling? It doesn't help that Twitter informs us of new tweets as they come in. 🙂
But if we want to make social media a useful tool, we must learn to set time limits. We also must give our writing work priority over social media. So, when our time is up, that's it. We're done and we're moving on.
Remember, social media can be a useful marketing tool for our writer's platform, and if we can learn to set our limits, we can use it without sabotaging our creativity and writing work.