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Brace yourselves--there are enough social media platforms out there to eat up your entire day if you let them. But we aren't going to let them! I'm going to share my experiences with each one, and then talk about how to use them without getting overwhelmed. And for the record, we're not going to be looking at every form of social media. There are way too many (and if you don't believe me, check out this list on Wikipedia) for me to try each one.
You've most likely heard of this one. And if you aren't very active in the social media world, then you might have gone running and screaming from the fast moving feed and 140 character limit. I sure did. I would only get on Twitter when I had something short to say, like announcing something to do with my books or a link to a blog post or something.
I've recently changed my tune with Twitter, and I'm glad I did. This is a great place to hang out with other writers. Oh, and celebs are funny. It's a great place to get involved in writing sprints and literature chats. I've been involved with #NALitChat on Thursday nights for a while now, and it's been a great resource and a great way to build connections. The 140 character limit can be a pain, but once you get the hang on Twitter speak, it isn't that bad.
Google Plus started off pretty weak, and most people didn't see much of a point to it (myself included).
|Not exactly accurate anymore, but still funny.|
Image from tech.digesttouch
But it is quickly growing into one of the better social media platforms, especially with the new addition of Communities. Communities allow you to join up with other groups of people who have common interests, like fans of a particular television show or book clubs.
There are also some major perks to posting on Google+ that have to do with search engines, but I'm not entirely sure I understand it all. I do know that if you have me in your circles and search for something I've recently posted about (like Boy Meets World) in Google, my post will show up in your search results. That's pretty cool!
My experience on Tumblr is very limited, but can be summed up to this:
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Fangirls! Fangirls everywhere! Which means I fit in all too well. It's not a site I visit often, and not just because I can seriously waste a lot of time there. And I'm not even a Supernatural fan (but pretty sure everyone who is a fan of the show hangs out there). There are memes, gifs, videos...You can create a page about your books and post stuff there, or just join with other fans to post fun stuff about your favorite fandoms. It's fun!
Talk about a place where you can get lost for hours...Pinterest is definitely a site you have to be careful with. If you like DIY stuff, baking, fashion, or ANYTHING at all, you can spend lots of time on Pinterest. It's not exactly a place I've found to be very social, but it is a great place to find things you are interested in and...pin them. It's also a useful tool for authors to create boards about their books. I've got one for character inspirations ("casting" actors), scene inspirations, and even a board that was "created" by the main character Madeline in my book Altar of Reality. This is a great way for readers to further connect with your books.
YouTube didn't used to be a form of social media in my book, but with all the vlogging going on, it has to be included. I might even give vlogging a shot myself at some point. YouTube has beyond making fan music videos (guilty) to reviewing books, movies, and TV show episodes. Like this brilliant fan reaction moment to a certain Oliver and Felicity moment from the season 2 finale:
People can comment on YouTube videos, which creates the social part of social media. And as you can tell from the options I mentioned above, you can do creative things with your channel beyond vlogs. I created a playlist for each of my book series with music videos from the soundtracks, and I also have my book trailer up on there.
If you are an author, you need to at least establish a presence on Goodreads. You can get involved with the groups there, which can get your book more visibility and more reviews. The groups are essentially book clubs in the form of message boards. There are Read It and Review It programs in a lot of them, where authors offer up free copies of their books for members to review. Similarly, book groups choose books to read and review each month as a group, which opens up a lot of discussions. I've seen Q&A's from authors too, though I've never done one. I've offered up Heirs of War for Read It & Review It programs with mixed experience, but I think they are worth a try.
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I know Goodreads has a bit of a reputation for being the place where bullies or flamers hang out, but I think you risk that with any form of social media. And as long as you have a strict "Don't feed the trolls" policy, you'll probably be okay. I've had random one star or three star ratings for a book that hasn't even come out yet, but I just ignore it.
I've already discussed my Wattpad experience, so I won't go into heavy detail with it here. But I can tell you that I think this is the absolute best social media platform for authors to connect with readers. You post chapters from your books and readers, well, read them, of course. But there's more to it than that. They can post comments, giving you their thoughts on what you wrote or even specific lines that they can highlight. If they follow you, you can post updates to your profile letting them know what is going on. I use mine to let my followers know about things like Facebook parties and giveaways. Oh, and you can also link your profile to your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that whatever updates you post on Wattpad are posted on there as well.
Instagram and LinkedIn are two other popular social media sites, but I'm not involved with either one. As I understand it, LinkedIn is more of a business connections sort of place. Instagram is all about pictures (I think) but I've heard you can post things like memes there too instead of just tons of selfies and pictures of your food. People can like and comment on your photos, which makes it a bit more than just pictures. And again, you can link your Instagram to Twitter (possibly Facebook? I dunno). Now that I am doing things like book signings (EGAD), I think I'll hop on Instagram as well.
How To Balance Them All
You might think that as a writer, you need to use every form of social media to promote your books and build your author platform.
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But you really don't. My solution is simple, really. Pick the ones that work for you. I don't get on Tumblr or Goodreads a lot. I'm trying to spend more time on Google+ but it's not an every day thing. I use Pinterest and YouTube when I have a purpose. And I balance that out by spending way too much time on Twitter and Facebook.
The biggest thing to keep in mind with social media is not to let it get out of hand. Don't spam, and remember that the kind of posts you make are important. Content is key. Your followers don't need to know every time you go to the gym or what your every meal is, but they should probably know a bit more about you than "I has book." If you are writing more words for social media than your books, you should probably rectify that.
With the possible exception of blogging, which is what we will talk about next Monday!