Do you shun Facebook? Does the thought of people following you on Twitter make your palms sweat? As prevalent as social networking through social media has become, you can certainly choose to avoid it in your personal life. After all, not everyone needs to know what you had for breakfast.
But if you’re a writer trying to build your online platform, social media may be a necessary evil. With readers depending more and more on the Internet to choose and acquire their next great read, you might be putting yourself at a serious disadvantage by avoiding socializing online.
Here are some ways to promote your work via social media without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.
Focus on what you like to do.
There are many social networks available these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to get on all of them. Realistically speaking, several neglected profiles are just as bad as none at all—people will notice the lack of activity. If things look stagnant, they won’t stick around long enough to do what you want them to do, whether it’s buy your book or read your poetry.
Find one or two social networks on which you’re comfortable spending time. Every social network has its own personality and tempo, so there’s something out there for even the most introverted of users. If Twitter feels too personal, consider something like Pinterest, which depends more on the quality of the pins than the personal life of the pinner.
You might also find a social networking site that’s specific to your interests, like Goodreads for book lovers or MyOuterSpace if you’re into science fiction. Chances are, if you’re into it, other people are too.
When you find the right fit for you, focus your energy there and update often. You’ll find it a lot less stressful if you actually enjoy what you’re doing.
Set goals that encourage you.
One of the reasons people give up on social media so quickly is because they don’t get thousands of followers right away. It’s easy to get discouraged when you feel you’re shouting into the void. Building your fan base takes time—but it’s not impossible. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to build too much too fast. Set realistic expectations.
Give yourself small milestones that will ultimately get your numbers up. If you’re on Facebook, try increasing the number of people who like your page by 100 every month. Or if you’re on Twitter, write each tweet with the goal of having at least one person retweet it—and increase that number as you gain more followers.
Not only will these baby steps help you slowly expand your reach, but they’ll also keep you engaged enough to stay active (thus avoiding the dreaded stagnant profile) while still putting thought into the content you post.
Set up an (easy-to-follow) schedule.
If you’re on the more introverted side, tweeting every time a thought crosses your mind might not come naturally to you. And that’s okay! Some of the best social media marketing isn’t done at random, but rather with a keen sense of timing.
Try to keep an eye on when your followers are the most active. If you tend to attract night owls, for example, you can put your posts up later in the day to maximize the chances of catching their eye and engaging them. If your followers belong to the early-bird crowd, greet them with a friendly “Hello!” and some helpful info first thing in the morning.
Most importantly, work around your personal schedule—don’t interrupt your writing time. If you feel social media is a distraction from your work, you’ll begin to resent it and want to give it up. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an arduous chore! Even five or ten minutes a day is better than nothing at all.
When all else fails, call in the troops. Depending on your resources and budget, there are plenty of people you can turn to for help with your social media marketing.
Got a pretty sweet book deal and some funds to put toward promotion? Hire a professional publicist or PR team to maintain your Facebook and Twitter accounts for you. Not only will they make sure your profiles are updated regularly, but they’ll help maintain a consistent voice that will ultimately become part of your brand.
If you’d rather not shell out the cash or prefer a more personal approach, consider reaching out to friends and family members for help. Some people—especially those from younger generations—take to social media a lot more easily than others. Even if the thought of promoting yourself makes your knees weak, these folks might not have any problem hopping online and helping you get that marketing machine roaring!
Social media might not be around forever, but it’s certainly not going anywhere any time soon. In order to remain viable in today’s market, a writer must promote his- or herself online. Figure out what it is about social networking that you don’t like, then find ways to work around or through it. At the end of the day, you may find that it’s not as bad as you always thought it was.
QUESTION: Which social media sites do you most enjoy using? Which work best for you?