At my day job, I recently attended a conference about the use of social media. It was aimed at small businesses, but a lot of the information that they covered is applicable to writers as well.
First off, there’s nothing to say you have to be on any social media platform. Time spent on social media is time that you’re not able to spend on your writing. Depending where you are in your writing career, you may want to focus your limited time/resources on writing now and leave social media for a later time, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you do have the time however, and if it is managed effectively, social media can help you increase your visibility, connect with readers, network with industry professionals and, once you’re published, sell books.
- The 55-64 age-group is the fastest growing social media segment
- 81% of consumers are influenced by their friend’s posts on social media
If a social media presence is something you want to pursue, then you need to answer some basic questions:
What is my goal?
If your goal is to increase awareness, the information you post (regardless of the platform) will be different from what you might post if you were attempting to sell books. Having a specific goal in mind will help keep you focused when doing your posting and can help you keep your social media activities down to a manageable level. Establishing a goal also provides a way for you to measure the effectiveness of your social media presence.
Which platform(s) do I want to use?
Once you know what your goal is, you need to decide which platforms you want to use. You want your social media practice to be sustainable, so the key here is to choose a platform that you like and are interested in. There are a number of social platforms – wordpress, blogger, twitter, Facebook, pinterest, YouTube – just to name a few. Some are social networks, some facilitate discussing / sharing, and others allow for the publishing of content. Google “social media landscape” if you want to get a visual idea of just how many social platforms there are.
A consideration when deciding which platform(s) you want to use is how much time you have to spend on posting. If you have a limited amount of time, choosing a blog that requires a fair amount of thought and writing time, might not work for you. Something like twitter, with its 140-character limitation might be more appropriate (though be careful, it can wind up taking a lot more time than you expect).
What do I want to post?
After setting your goal and choosing your platform, you need to decide what it is you want to post. Are you looking to create new content (like the blog posts we do here at Eight Ladies Writing) or are you more interested in organizing /presenting content by others?
An interesting rule of thumb I came across for what to post is the 60-30-10 rule. According to the rule, the goal of 60% of your posts should be aimed at audience engagement, 30% should be to inform/educate, and 10% aimed at selling. Now this specific rule was presented for the small businesses, but if you are at the “published book” stage and are attempting to get readers to buy your book, this would be applicable.
How often should I post?
Your posting frequency depends on the platform you are using and how much you have to say. Here are some rough guidelines for a few of the main social media types (be aware that these recommendations are constantly changing as new platforms pop up and people’s tastes change):
While your author website may be fairly static, your blog needs fresh content on a regular basis to keep readers coming back. A frequency of at least once a week is suggested. Keep in mind that, since a blog is created content (unless you are just posting links), it can be a fairly big time commitment. Also, if you want to drive traffic to your blog, you’ll probably need to have a Facebook or Twitter presence as well.
Facebook can be a good way to network with both readers and writers, as well as to increase your visibility. If you are establishing a writer presence on Facebook, make sure to create a page for your writer-persona that is separate from any personal page you might have. A posting rule-of-thumb here is no more than two posts per day. More than that and you risk becoming irritating, rather than interesting. When it comes to posts, quality not quantity is the key.
“Its 2011 study found that the sweet spot is five to 10 posts per week. Facebook posts reach their half-life at the 90-minute mark.” ~ Socialbakers
Fun fact: Photos are liked twice as often as posts, which makes sense since the majority of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
Twitter is an interesting platform in that tweets have a relatively short shelf-life. It’s as if you are talking to people at a cocktail party with a pretty brief attention span. If you tweet something in the morning, it’s not likely to be seen by someone later at night (unless it has been retweeted). That means that, in addition to deciding what to tweet, you also need to determine when to tweet in order to reach your target audience. Because of the timing aspect (remember to be aware of time-zones), the posting recommendation for Twitter is 3 to 5 times per day (preferably spread out during the day).
Moz’s Peter Bray ran the numbers and found the 18-minute mark to be the time it takes for half of a tweet’s retweets to occur. In other words, once a tweet has been live for 18 minutes, it has reached the peak of its engagement.
Whatever your social media strategy, remember that consistency is key.
So – how active are you in social media? Which do you use to connect with writers and/or your readers?
Edited to add: As I mentioned in last Wednesday’s post, my goal is to write 500 words a day. How did I do this week? I just squeaked by, hitting 3,630 for the week, with about 32 minutes to spare.