Whether or not Facebook loses popularity and goes the way of earlier websites like Myspace or Friendster, it’s clear that the social network is here to stay. Huge companies like Barnes and Noble or Penguin all have social media experts that use Facebook and Twitter accounts to alert their audiences to new books they’re publishing, but when you’re self-publishing, all you have is yourself! That’s why it’s important to know the basics of which social networks are worth your time and which you can choose to forgo.
Remember, don’t let worrying about social media get in the way of actually writing! It can be tempting to spend all day on Facebook waiting for people to say something nice about you, but it’s much more important to actually put out work that people will enjoy. Marketing is great, but you need to have a product to market!
Check out some of the best social networks to focus on after the jump:
Right now Facebook is pretty a unavoidable network, since almost everyone has one that they use to keep in touch with personal contacts. However, sometimes when you use a professional page, interactions between you and those who “like” you can get one-sided. After all, your followers have so many facebook friends and “liked” pages that fighting for attention can be difficult! At BookWorks, we tend to use Facebook primarily as a way of sharing interesting links, information, and publishing news; we update it fairly regularly to make sure the BookWorks logo shows up on our follower’s news feeds. You might choose to use your professional page in the same way, though if you find that your fans are very willing to engage you, make sure to continue the dialogue with them! If your fans see you as a friend who listens to what they have to say, they’ll be much more likely to endorse your work.
Twitter is a little easier to navigate than Facebook because it’s so much simpler, and because the people using Twitter are usually more interested in sharing information. However, the basic way to use it doesn’t change — it’s easier to use it as a sort of online billboard for information rather than a way to engage in one-on-one conversation. However, don’t let that discourage you from trying to connect with your followers! You might even choose to follow them back as a way of getting to know your audience better.
To make social networking easier for you, you can use a free service that schedules Facebook and Twitter updates for you in advance. There are several to choose from, like LaterBro, Tweetdeck, or SocialTomorrow. Tweetdeck is a program actually managed by Twitter and tends to be the most popular for users just starting out with scheduling, but feel free to experiment and figure out which service works for you.
GoodReads is a particularly great resource for publishers, authors, and avid readers because it’s based entirely on book reviews and book discussions. Billed as the “largest website for book recommendations,” it’s helped to launch the careers of several successful self-published authors such as Colleen Hoover. There are also many groups for self-published authors to interact with one another.
To get the most out of Goodreads as an author, however, you can’t just use it as a billboard for your work. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, GoodReads is an extremely personal website where people share book recommendations and talk earnestly with one another. If all you do is shill your own book, people are probably going to be less interested in what you have to say!
Like Goodreads, Wattpad is a great site for readers and writers. However, rather than just tell people what you’re reading, on Wattpad you can actually publish, read, and share entire short stories for free. This makes it an incredibly great place to promote your work and gain loyal followers who are interested in your writing.
As with Goodreads, remember that you want to use Wattpad as both a reader and as a writer. Other Wattpad users need to know that you aren’t only interested in advancing your own career and that you truly enjoy sharing and reading stories. If you authentically enjoy your experiences on these sites, you’re sure to get more friends and fans than if you’re only using them as a means to an end.
Obviously this list doesn’t include all the social media websites available to you. there are Google Plus and LinkedIn, which are similar to Facebook and Twitter, and there are blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr (though Tumblr can often take on a wildness of it’s own because of it’s passionate user base) that often have elements of interactivity between users. If you already are very familiar with these websites and use them regularly, then you might want to try using them for professional reasons as well as personal. If not, however, don’t feel like you have to have a presence on every single social network. It’s better to have a loyal, concentrated following on one social network than it is to have a lot of followers across all social networks who clicked the “follow” button once and don’t even remember who you are.
We hope this has been informative for you! Next week we’ll begin to focus on how to put together your own website, whether for your book or for a concentrated author page.
Do you have any questions about a specific social network that you’d like us to answer? Let us know in the comments below!