Let’s say you’re, oh, I don’t know, an aspiring writer with a project (or two or three) under your belt, and you’re looking to expand your readership, as well as grow interest in your future projects. I’m asking for a friend.
Then you look around and read stories like this one and this one and this one, and maybe good books like this one, where everyone talks about how writers need to have some sort of “social media strategy.” And because you live in the 20th century and are at least mildly interested in new technology, you think you know what that means. It means to have an idea why and how you’re going to use the various social media tools to communicate with your loyal and ever growing fan base. And hell, you’ve got a blog, a Facebook author page and Twitter account, so there you go! You’re set for life! Now you can just sit back and let the Benjamins drop on your lap.
But then, as you sit back and stare at your empty lap, you realize that you really don’t have any idea what do now that you’re past the point of no return. You’ve got the tools, now what do you do with them? Let’s figure this out together, you and me, right now. Because it ain’t gonna social media itself and I need to make some progress on this before I launch Sun Spots next month.
So the first thing we need to do is figure out the WHY — why do I need a strategy? Well, when I look at some of my favorite authors, they all have used the internet quite successfully to interact with their readers, and I want to put the infrastructure in place to best enable that (notably, Hugh Howey is awesome at this). Even if you can’t currently tell, I have a whole lot of writing to get done, and with my upcoming Kickstarter, I want to use social media to: a) get the word out about my projects, and b) talk to my readers and engage with them, find out what makes them tick, and share cool stuff with them (because that’s what I want from my favorite writers).
The next thing we need to examine is the tools I am using, as well as those I am not (yet). For instance, I really need to get a YouTube channel going, because I have a lot of ideas for cool content, discussions, stories, lectures, etc. But I’m going to start today with those that I have at hand: Facebook, Twitter, and my blog (which you’re reading). Furthermore, I have two Facebook pages: a personal one and an author one. I recently reached out to a couple of my favorite authors who don’t use an author page, and they answered: “Too lazy, basically. If I had an Author page I’d have to update two FBs…” and “I think facebook should be fun and an author page is just a bit too formal for me. And even at the 5k limit, people can still follow me if even they aren’t my friend, since my posts are public.”
But then I see other authors who clearly use both (Christopher Moore comes to mind) and I go back and forth on which I should be using for what use. At this point, I’ll just list what I’m trying to do, and list the various tools I have, and see where things match up.
Here are the actions I would use social media for:
- Create and share content, both long and short, whether writing on music and games, excerpts from projects, or just writing cool stuff
- Update on what I’m working on, whether my own self-publishing or when I’m a contributor
- Share stuff I like, as in links and posts of other cool people
- Interact with like-minded folk, sharing ideas and having conversations
- Place people can contact me for whatever reason
I’d really like to put this in a table, but I’m now just realizing that WordPress doesn’t allow that. Hm. So here’s a list of how these social medias could best accomplish my actions:
- Blog: Create and share larger content (gaming, music, writing, kickstarting); project updates
- Twitter: Share stuff I like; Create and share micro-content
- Facebook Author: What I’m working on
- Facebook Personal: Just stuff about me and my life
So you’re really stuck again, and go and do more research. You read this writer, and understand that your Facebook author page is a great place to produce more content. Well, that makes sense and falls in line with my overall goals. The other point she makes it to fully lock down my personal page, and hide it completely from anyone not specifically a fan. Hm. That also makes sense, as I have some privacy concerns with my family and other items. Finally, she says I don’t have to do this until I have hordes (even small) of followers.
I do think it’s a good idea to figure how whether I’m going to keep my personal FB page totally private or open it up for others. And I should figure that out before I start my next Kickstarter, so that, if and when backers want to find me on FB, I am easy to find and communicate with.
Maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse here. Maybe I need to focus on creating more content before I worry about a strategy. It would certain do me well to be creating more, more often. As a middle-aged adult (I hate saying that) with a family and career, that’s my challenge — not enough time to write. I would love to write more, publish more, and share my crazy ideas with everyone.
But this exercise has taught me a few things and I hope sharing them will help as well. First, you need to know what you want out of your social media. For me, I really just need to know what I’m using each platform for, and this exercise helped me figure that out. Second, each platform is used for different things. It’s good to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of the platforms and how they can help/hurt your overall readership. You need to use the platforms for specific things, and not expect the same results from each. And finally, as mentioned, it all comes down to content. If you’re pumping out new content on a weekly or daily basis, sharing new ideas and writing all the time, then you really have the opportunity to optimize your various platforms. But until that time, you’re just another dreamer.
I’m going to keep things the way they are right now, but I am going to work harder at generating content to share. And I’ll share my content through specific channels. I am also going to drive people to my Facebook Author page and see how that works. Finally, I need to make a decision about how to use my personal FB page.
And you — it’s time for you to share some content! Get to work!