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social media for authors

Thoughtful social media is great for a writer’s platform, but it is also a time suck. As writers—or maybe it’s a good time to use the more progressive label “author-entrepreneurs”—we need to decide the degree to which we will be involved with social media.

As part of my Book Marketing class at Duke University’s OLLI program I will spend an entire class dissecting the demographics of each social media platform. Our first week was spent focused on genres and reader demographics, so as the semester moves along the social media component will help students decide the social networks (if any) are worth their time in reaching their target readership.

During a short preview in class last week I used Facebook as an example of unreliability. Facebook’s algorithms changed over the past year or two. What was once a great megaphone for connecting with those who ‘liked’ your page has now turned into a virtual equivalent of tin cans held together by string. This is not due to a lack of quality content, it’s due to the algorithms and Facebook’s desire to have users pay for the promotion of posts. The power must now be purchased.

authors on facebook

With over 200 Likes on Facebook, my engagement is about 15 per post on average. It used to be about 75%. Is this really worth my time? No. I have decided to migrate away from Facebook for my writing business. No set deadline on this, but I will phase out of Facebook prior to year’s end.

facebook author events

I still consider myself a newbie on Twitter when it comes to the writing/publishing industry. I handled Twitter accounts for clients in other industries for a few years before I decided to make my own account. (Learn more about when I joined Twitter.) Twitter is particularly active among young adults and urban dwellers. Are you a YA author? This sounds like a good place for you. This network is great for real-time updates. At a book signing? Take a photo and tag the author and book store.

LinkedIn is popular among college graduates and executives, and active users are mainly in higher income brackets. I use LinkedIn as a ‘live’ resume. I keep it updated and it is great for connecting with clients, prospects, article sources, editors, and other journalists. If you have not already, learn about LinkedIn for Journalists.

Oh, Pinterest. Women are four times as likely to be on Pinterest than men, according to Our Social Times. Are your readers mainly women? This site might be worthwhile for you. Post pictures of houses or towns that inspired the setting in your book, photos of your favorite writing spaces, and more. Check out writer Hope Clark’s Pinterest page for inspiration. (I do not use this site and have no plans to start.)

Business Insider found the number of Instagram users has only gone up since 2010. (FYI Instagram is owned by Facebook.) They also report that, “Over 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35.” I am quite the Instagram amateur. I only became active a few months ago when I was selected as part of the Beltiegram Contest. I decided from the beginning that I do not want to use this platform for ‘work’ and to maintain it exclusively for fun. However, I do follow a few authors to see how they’re using the network. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram account has been fun to follow.

authors on instagram

As I look forward to migrating away from Facebook, I am curious: How do you use social media as a writer? What networks do you avoid and which ones do you love?