How I Use Social Media As An #Author

Social media buttons

A while back I was interviewed for a forthcoming book on social media, and how I use it as a ‘wrangler of words’, selling my wares. Here’s my version of what went down.

What are the main forms of social media you use in your work as a writer?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, & various blogs.

What do you get out of using Youtube (any specific examples)? Why do you think that’s worth doing as well as a blog?

I started using YouTube because I was getting more and more radio interviews and needed some way of being able to put the audio on the web for people to find. I’ve found radio interviews on their own are pretty ineffectual. No one is listening. Or at least, no one is listening AND in a position to do anything about whatever it is you’re promoting – they’re either driving, or working, or on a rooftop somewhere. Regardless of how charismatic you are, once the interview’s over – you’re forgotten! And it doesn’t matter how big the radio station is (I’ve been on Radio Two and the World Service) or how long you’re on air (I have a monthly self-help slot on a local radio station) – it’s still ineffectual.

BUT, put that interview on the web, where people can find it, listen to it, and get to your book within a click or two, and then that interview is definitely worth doing.

I like YouTube because (once I’ve converted the audio into a video) it’s easy to manage, and that YouTube video can be embedded into a blog post, or a Facebook post, really really easily. And people like YouTube. They’re familiar with that big red play button. They’re more likely to click that than read what looks like a lot of words. Of all the posts on my blog, the audio posts are the most popular.

What have you personally gained as a writer through using social media? (skills, work, case studies etc)

I’d like to say ‘sales’… but I don’t think that’s entirely true, and it’s extremely difficult to measure. All the stats I collect suggest that my social media activities are probably only responsible for 20% of my book sales. If that. What social media has given me is…

  1. A way to interact with my existing readers – which is both fun, and presumably increases the likelihood that they’ll buy the next book, or recommend me to a friend.
  2. Office banter – the life of a full time author is a lonely one. Twitter and Facebook take the place of work colleagues. Who needs another cuppa?
  3. Networking – I’ve met some very useful people via social media. The author Keris Stainton was really helpful back when I was starting out. I found Alison my proof reader. I met and became great pals with Jamie Anderson (son of the late great Gerry Anderson). All have played a part in the production of the five books I’ve written so far. And the list goes on and on.

Which apps or tools do you find most useful to help you manage your social media?

Hootsuite is a life-saver. For me it makes sense of twitter, and makes it easier to manage. I’m not sure it’s worth paying for the full version (I did try it for a month but the extra functionality wasn’t worth the money).

I use goodness knows how many wordpress plug-ins to automatically tweet posts, or insert my twitter feeds on the side of my blogs.

Facebook is getting easier to manage now that you can schedule posts, and they have dedicated iPad apps for the various facets of the site.

What advice would you give to a writer who’s just started dipping a toe into the world of social media and isn’t sure what they’re meant to be doing?

If you’re unpublished forget about using social media to plug yourself and your (unwritten) works – you’re not at that stage yet. But do use it as a networking platform to schmooze with other writers, and to make contacts.

If you are published dismiss immediately the notion of creating a Facebook fan page for you the author. Only 1% of the people who ‘like’ that page will see your posts, and even less will interact with it or do anything useful (…unless you’re willing to pay Facebook to ‘boost’ a post of course, but honestly, that doesn’t make financial sense).

Instead, use your Facebook profile as your author platform. What do you mean you want to keep some posts for friends and family only? Why?? What on earth are you saying to them that you can’t tell the world? Stop that immediately.

Above all, published or unpublished, remember that it’s SOCIAL media. Not SELLING media. So be social. Say something funny or interesting. Keep your promo activity to a minimum, and find new, interesting ways to plug stuff.

Social Media For Writers by Joanne Mallon is now available, in print and as an ebook.