For those of us who grew up without the Internet, social media can still be a bit of a conundrum. Like the YA version of ourselves, we might often say, “Do I have to? Do I really have to?” The short answer: Yes.
I admit that I struggle with social media, and not so much because I can’t carve out a half hour a day to tweet, post, or tumble, but because I find it boring. (Cue the pitchforks and hellfire from all media experts everywhere.) Let’s face it, fiction writing is so much better than 140 characters of stuff someone can read in two seconds and dismiss just as fast. Writing is all-consuming and wonderful and difficult and brain-busting. And did I mention wonderful? So, if I have a choice to write instead of tweet, I’m going to choose it over boredom every time.
Full disclosure—as a writer who is still chasing my publishing dreams, social media doesn’t play as large a role in my life as it does for an author who is about to debut their novel in the coming year, or who already published and have an established platform. But, wherever you are on your writing path, social media is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be boring. The key is to make it fun, because fun is something everyone likes. There’s even a band named after it.
I know…it sounds weird. Social media, fun? Nonsense! But, I promise it can be much more palatable if you keep the following ideas in mind:
As authors with an agenda, it’s easy to forget that most people use social media as a leisurely distraction, a place to see a funny video or chat with a friend, to share a sarcastic comment. It’s an outlet during a stressful day, a pair of glasses that filters how we see the world and engage in it. That’s why it’s important to be a person first, and an author second. Whether you are an indie author, traditionally published, or unpublished, jumping into a fun space and waving your agenda around isn’t going to lead to droves of followers. Besides that, the opposite of a good time is logging onto your platforms and noticing your tribe has scattered, or that you don’t have a blip of activity on your post-tweet-tumble-pin…you get the idea.
Social media can be fun if you use it the right way, like talking about your passion for writing, sharing the successes and work of others, linking to relevant articles, and yes, even reblogging that GIF of a cat falling asleep on a book. This makes you human, and humans are who we want to connect with. If I see a picture of a book and a sleepy kitten, yeah, I’m gonna follow that person. An hourly reminder of how much your book costs on Amazon, not so much. Does this mean you shouldn’t promote yourself and your work? Not at all. It just means that you put thought into how and when you advertise yourself. If you’ve given yourself time to build a following of friends who care about you and your success, you’ll see a greater response to your promotion. And you’ve made it fun for yourself in the process.
Many authors also believe they have to be on all social media platforms. Between the current major sites, and those in the periphery (I’m looking at you, Vine and Tsu) , trying to keep up is a big pile of no fun. Rather than trying to have a presence on all sites, choose two or three platforms that you enjoy. Not everyone loves Facebook or Pinterest, while others live and die by status updates and pinning. It’s a personal preference, and while there’s loads of data out there outlining which sites are frequented by young adults, and the sites authors should use to reach their target audience, the reality is that it’s better to use the sites you prefer rather than avoiding it because you hate it. Once you’ve chosen the platforms you do like, it can be worthwhile to understand the best and worst times to post. Here is an interesting and handy infographic from PR News on just that topic.
At some point or another, you’ll probably exhaust your quota of fun and end up staring at your screen, not knowing what to say to the world. That’s okay, because social media doesn’t have to be about writing all the time. Maybe you’re an author who also likes to knit soda koozies. Or, you’re a busy parent who loves finding new life hacks. If you heart your hometown, a TV show, or a specific cause, then share it, tweet it, post a video of it. Struggling for something to say on social media will make you fear it, so expand your repertoire of topics to include a few things beyond writing that you’re passionate about. Not only does it diversify your followers, it can help you stay out of that no fun rut.
I hope these tips for social media savvy will help you approach it with more zeal and less yawn. What do you do to make social media fun and engaging? How has it helped change your outlook on social media?