More of the population is using social media than ever before. For authors social media is an excellent way to meet and mingle with readers. In fact, compared with book signings or other traditional ways of meeting readers, social media is easier, more immediate, and ongoing.
We get to interact from the convenience of our homes in between loads of laundry while we sit in our pj's. (Not that I’ve ever done that, mind you!) We can instantly meet a variety of people all over the world. And then with a little bit of effort, we can continue to “see” those people around cyberland.
In addition to the convenience for authors, social media benefits readers too. As a reader, I love getting an inside glimpse into the personal lives of my favorite authors. I’m always fascinated to hear about their writing process. And I’m thrilled when they take a minute to interact with me personally.
Social media is a fun and beneficial way for both readers and writers to mingle—at least that’s been my experience so far. But where’s the best place to hang out? On blogs? Facebook? Twitter? Yes, there are others, like MySpace or LinkedIn. But the top three current hot spots seem to be blogs, facebook, and twitter.
Between the three most popular, is one more effective than another in reaching out to readers? After all, we don’t want to spin our wheels and waste effort. We want to make wise use of our limited time and go to the places that will help us the most.
As I’ve traversed the hallways of various social media sites I’ve come to the conclusion the sites will only be as effective as we make them. Each one has pros and cons. But ultimately, the success or failure depends on how well we use them.
The Key to Using Effectively: Writing quality posts and visiting AND commenting on other blogs Pros: More in depth communication, deeper sharing, learning more about others Cons: Can take quite a bit of time to not only write posts but also visit other blogs, which can subsequently lead to blogger-burnout
The Key to Using Effectively: Sharing personally AND being interested in the personal lives of others Pros: Quick way to stay in touch with others, especially about the non-writing aspects of life Cons: Not the best place to advertise for our writing accomplishments (I recommend establishing a separate a Facebook Page geared more specifically toward our books and writing. See this post.)
The Key to Using Effectively: Making it mostly about socializing, encouraging, & building community Pros: Easy way to chit-chat; quick way to post helpful links; unprecedented opportunities to meet business experts (agents, authors, social media experts) Cons: Tweets come and go very quickly which makes it difficult to keep up with everyone (having a way to organize followers into lists can help)
I suggest a combination of all three. I try to mingle off and on throughout cyberland. I know there are some who have all three inter-connected so that blogs will automatically post to twitter and facebook, and so that their tweets will post onto facebook or vice-versa. This may save time and work to some extent.
But . . . I’m convinced that the most effective way to use all three is in the personal factor. The more personal we can be with those on our sites, the more we’ll benefit.
Here’s the thing, I know several authors who ONLY use one social media, like Facebook. They don’t blog or tweet. And yet, they do an excellent job of interacting with their readers—making a point of responding to each reader who leaves a comment. They’re using social media to personally connect and that’s the key.
Could they reach out to more readers if they branched out into other social media? Maybe. Could they extend their online presence? Probably. But by using one and doing it effectively, they’re accomplishing more than if they used ALL of the social media and only plugged their books.
My suggestion? Jump in and try new social media. Watch what others are doing. See what works and what doesn’t. Learn how to make the most out of each site. Don’t be shy. Step out of your comfort zone. Participate. And most of all, be personal.
What social media do you like the best and why? What are the pros and cons for you?
P.S. If you'd like a chance to win a copy of The Preacher's Bride, make sure you head over to the trivia question of the week and leave a comment there!