As a new writer, I remember not having a clue about social media or how to use it for my writing. I wondered, is social media good or bad for writers? Does social media work for writers? It’s time to get to the bottom of these questions. It’s time to find the final answer.
It can be overwhelming and stressful to think of all the possible ways to build your audience and promote your books.
There are a million social media sites to choose from. You might be asking yourself, what’s the best social media site for a writer? And, should writers even have social media? Does an author need a social media presence to be successful? Let’s find out.
Social media works for both traditionally published authors and self-published authors. While certain social media sites work better for most authors, other factors like strategy, use of automated techniques, and personal motivation will make the biggest difference in your success or failure with social media.
In this video, I share a message of hope and strategy for authors, artists and entrepreneurs who struggle with social media. I think you’ll enjoy it.
What Can Social Media Do for Writers?
Okay, so if all writers need to consider a social presence, what has social media done for writers lately? That’s a fair question with a frustratingly dubious answer. It depends.
All social media, to some extent, is effective at brand awareness. If like an advertising startup, your main goal with social media is to put the word out there about you and your books, any social media platform will do.
Any social media platform you choose, whether it be Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or YouTube, will put your message in front of potentially hundreds or thousands – and sometimes hundreds of thousands or millions – of people.
So, if you’re on a mission to make the world know about you and your books, social media is a very efficient and effective tool.
Other potential benefits of social media:
- Grow an audience
- Help build an email list
- Bring traffic to your website or blog
- Connect you with other writers
- Connect you with literary agents and publishers
- Sell books
What Social Media Can’t Do for Writers
Social media won’t make you millions of dollars without effort or help you sell hundreds of thousands of your books with simple tweets, posts, or funny videos.
In other words, social media isn’t a magic elixir or a miracle that will solve all of your writing, book marketing, and book sales problems. Nothing’s going to be able to do that and anyone telling you otherwise is probably scamming you.
Now there are some ways to make money online that are simple and easy, but social media requires the right strategy on the right platform.
In this post, I want to share with you the strategies that work, the best social media platforms for writers, and how to use those platforms to maximize your writing audience and book marketing potential.
The first thing we’ll do is look at the pros and cons of different popular social media platforms so that you can get a sense of what you can accomplish as a writer with social media.
I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I made by spending hundreds of hours trying to master different social media platforms when I didn’t have a clue what worked. Having the wrong strategy can lead to lots of wasted time and effort.
I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made and that lots of other writers make when they first start on social media.
Each social media platform has its pros and cons for writers. Let’s go through each of the current major platforms and look at its strengths and weaknesses for authors.
If you’re into actionable lists like I am (nerd fist bump), then check out these beautiful specimens right here in this section.
Pros and Cons of Social Media Platforms for Writers
Facebook May no longer sit at the cool table but it does sit at every other table. There are an estimated 500 million Facebook users worldwide and growing. That means when you use Facebook as a social media platform, you’re putting yourself and your books in front of a massive audience of potential readers and buyers.
You also have Facebook ads where you can sell your books, Facebook pages, and groups where you can build and nurture an audience of rabid fans for your work.
Unless you’re paying for ads, your book marketing posts will largely go unliked, unshared, and unengaged with on the platform. Most people are on Facebook to connect with friends and family, not to buy books.
That’s not to say Facebook can’t be effective, but you need the right strategy to make it work. Ads and building Facebook groups over time seem to be the most effective methods for getting results for writers.
Twitter also has an enormous audience of users. Hashtags and Twitter writing communities make it a great place to network and support other writers. There are also literary agents online that you can connect with and even Twitter pitch events where you can possibly land an agent.
All you have to do is search #free book or #99 cents, and you’ll be able to scroll through an endless timeline of authors promoting their free or cheap books. A high percentage of those posts will go unliked and ignored.
That’s because, like Facebook and most other social media platforms, people don’t use Twitter to buy things. Sure, there are exceptions, but the majority of people use Twitter as a social platform, not an e-commerce platform.
The other thing that makes Twitter problematic is that there are 400,000 tweets per minute. Any message you send about your books will be immediately overwhelmed by all the other messages.
Every once in awhile, you can get one of your tweets to go viral. If you build a big enough audience over time, or already have a large audience, Twitter can be effective.
Again, there are strategies that you can use to make Twitter more effective, but there are certainly some downsides for marketing purposes.
Instagram is a perfect outlet for book cover images and other author graphics. It can be a great place to build a following that you monetize by marketing your books and services. Owned by Facebook, Instagram is definitely a major player.
Instagram is mostly an image sharing site. Even though you can add text underneath your posts along with hashtags to organize and multiply your views, like Facebook and Twitter, most people don’t go to Instagram to buy things (it’s not a buyer intent site).
Since it’s mostly an image site for casual interaction, there are some hurdles to overcome when trying to market your books.
Like Instagram, Pinterest is an image sharing platform. It has a sophisticated search engine that can be very helpful when promoting your books. Pinterest has lots of users, a high percentage of them females, who just happened to be the highest percentage of readers by gender. Pins that you post on Pinterest remain there for a very long time, especially if they rank high in the searches.
Unlike other social media sites, there’s not a whole lot of social going on with Pinterest. It’s much more about ideas and interests than communicating with other people. It’s not a great place to build an audience on the site and platform itself.
You may be wondering why YouTube is even on this list. You might be thinking that YouTube is the video equivalent of Instagram. And you’d be partly right about that. While there’s a more social function on YouTube than there is on, say Instagram or Pinterest, there’s less social connection and communication than on Twitter or Facebook. That’s not always the case, but it’s generally true.
YouTube is owned by Google and that means it’s more likely to show up in search engine results. You want your writing and your books to be easily findable by potential fans and readers. YouTube is a massive website with lots of viewers. Video is a great way to connect with readers and fans. You can show a personal side of yourself and build emotional connection, credibility, and trust that can be game-changers when building an audience.
Making and editing videos takes a lot of time and effort. That’s time that you could be writing or spending on other book marketing pursuits. It takes a while to build an audience on YouTube. Until then, it can be disappointing to post videos that get a very low number of views and engagements.
The biggest pro about TikTok is that with 500 million active users, it is colossally popular right now. It probably won’t always be as popular, but you can ride the trend by setting up a profile on TikTok and promoting your writing and your work.
The other great thing about TikTok is that it is a visual medium with videos like YouTube. This allows you to connect with your audience, build an audience, and promote your work through video, one of the best mediums for selling almost anything.
Another nice feature of TikTok is that the videos are very short. Sure, you can make short videos on YouTube, but typically videos on YouTube need to be a big longer (7 to 15 minutes) to be successful, and 10+ minutes to monetize videos with ads.
The videos on TikTok can be much shorter and still reach a massive audience on the platform. Plus TikTok provides built-in video editing features that make creating simple, stunning videos a snap.
Like the other platforms in this list, marketing on TikTok involves time making the videos, time editing the videos, and time staying engaged with the community. There is a learning curve, depending on your understanding and familiarity with technology.
TikTok is still viewed as a social media platform for a younger generation. So, if your target population for your books and services matches this demographic, TikTok may be the right place for you. If not, TikTok may not be the best fit.
GoodReads is a social media platform for readers and writers. So the target audience is exactly on point. There are ways to create content and participate in groups and communities within GoodReads.
Good reads can also be a goldmine for getting book reviews. If you have been an author for more than 5 minutes, you know how challenging it can be to get good and honest reviews. These are all wonderful reasons to have a social media presence on GoodReads.
The cons of Bing on GoodReads are that it’s not easy to make sales. You’ll have to put in a lot of effort building trust and relationship with readers to leverage the platform for book marketing.
Also, there’s lots of competition from other writers who are also trying to sell their books. Another downside is that, if you set up your GoodReads account incorrectly, you can hurt your Amazon reviews.
What About Other Social Media Platforms?
Okay, but what about other social media platforms?
- Awesome.one is a social media site to encourage kindness and generosity
- Vero bills itself as a replacement for Facebook
- Doggy Talky is a social app for dog lovers.
- LinkedIn social media for business and networking.
- MySpace is the original Facebook 🙂
Yeah, Myspace still exists LOL. Can you believe it?
Some of these other platforms may make sense depending on what kind of books you write. For example, if you write a blog and books about dogs, then Doggy Talky may be a good fit for you.
There are many other social media platforms out there with their own set of pros and cons for writers. Any social media platform can be a strength or a weakness for an author based on the strategy, focus, and amount of time and energy invested.
Before you join or invest time and energy into any platform, it’s probably important to ask yourself…
Do Writers Even Need Social Media?
Need is a strong word. The answer is “no”, authors don’t need social media. Although it can be helpful if you have the right strategy in place. Authors can be completely successful without any social media because the most important element to a writer’s success is the value or entertainment of their work.
Yes, it’s true, that unless people know of your work, you could be a poor genius. There’s something to be said about the power of promotion.
The most successful authors balance quality content value with strategic promotion.
Why Writers Should Quit Social Media
Social media is like a quicksand of pleasure. It can suck you in and make you feel incredible even as you’re drowning underneath the weight of it. Other times it seems like the more you do, the fewer results you get.
That’s the danger of social media. It will accept as much effort and time as you want to put into it. Social media invites you to believe in the illusion of outcomes (vanity metrics), i.e. likes and retweets and emojis.
The important thing to keep in mind is what really matters. Are you building an audience that you can monetize and making sales, or not?
if you’re not doing one or the other, I have bad news for you: you’re probably sinking in the quicksand. It might feel really good but your efforts are probably better applied elsewhere.
The Two Best Social Media Platforms for Writers
From personal experience and research into expert advice, the two best social media platforms for writers tend to be Pinterest and YouTube.
Why are Pinterest and YouTube more effective for writers?
Here are the main reasons I recommend you look into Pinterest and YouTube as social media platforms for your writing career.
- Both platforms are built on search engine ranking so that means you can use keywords to get ranked higher and seen by more people
- Both platforms are based on interests so targeting a niche audience is super simple
- Both platforms offer longevity for your message. As long as your video or pin on Pinterest ranks high in the search results for keywords or terms, an audience of interested potential customers we’ll see your books in your messages week after week, month after month, year after year.
YouTube and Pinterest make it easy to monetize with ads, drive traffic, and build an audience.
What’s The Best Social Media Platform For Writers?
If I had to pick one social media platform, I would go with Pinterest.
Although you can get higher engagement with YouTube, Pinterest is lower on the scale of effort. You create a really good pin, use effective keywords and you can rank high in the search engine of Pinterest and drive lots of traffic to a website, a landing page, or even just your book page on Amazon or another book promotion website.
My very close second choice is YouTube. YouTube would be my first choice if it took less effort to make and edit videos. But I do think the effort is well worth it for the amount of engagement, longevity, and ability to monetize YouTube itself.
You can also drive traffic to an email list or any other website where you can potentially convert someone to a customer.
Read my post Why Writers Should Have YouTube Channels.
Automated Tools for Social Media Marketing
If you choose to engage in social media marketing for your writing, these automated tools will 10X your results:
- Tailwind (High caliber Pinterest marketing software used by the pros. I’m not an affiliate, but wish I was)
- IFFIT (Automate almost anything. It’s super cool).
- Auto-posting through WordPress (You can set up your WordPress blog to automatically post new content to social media sites. You can do this through WordPress, with plugins, and through other external software.)
- Book launch team (Create a book launch team that supports and promotes your work on social media for you. Facebook groups are a great way to get this started)
- ClickFunnels (Use this software to automate your social media to grow your email list and conversions)
- Fiverr (Pay for social media experts to manage your social media marketing for you. Very cheap.)
- TubeBuddy (Rank your YouTube channel and videos higher in YouTube search so that you get more views, more subscribers and reach more people with your social media marketing)
- Canva (Instantly create stunning graphics for your social media marketing – for free!)
How to Promote Your Writing Without Social Media
Of course, you might want to ditch social media altogether. In that case, use the following tools:
- Website (Create a website with Bluehost and WordPress.org)
- Read How to start a Blog for Free and Make Money
- Automate your email list – Click Funnels
- Write insanely helpful content of 2000 words or more per post on topics with low competition, and high volume keywords. (Basically, write about what other people are searching for online). You can use paid keyword tools, hire someone on Fiverr or Upwork to find keywords for you, or find them through Google search using the alphabet method.
This, as you might guess, is not a comprehensive list. But it should be more than enough to get you started. Enjoy!
Is social media good or bad for writers? It depends on your goals, experience, interest, and use of automated tools. I think every writer should have a social media presence, but what kind and how is ultimately up to you.