There’s a lot of social media advice for authors merely a Google search away. If you’ve ever jumped into that mucky stream, you’ll likely have quickly learned that much of the advice is conflicting or overwhelming.

Let me try to clear a few things up for you with 5 social media dos and don’ts

1. Do post regularly

Algorithms favor people who post regularly and the social media platforms are more likely to show your posts to people if you’re consistent. That doesn’t mean go overboard. It can mean finding a good balance (and your social media analytics help with that).

On your personal accounts, you may notice that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter usually show you the people and pages who you interact with the most.

Have you ever had a person or brand pop in your mind and thought, I haven’t seen any posts from them in a while. I wonder what they’re up to. So you head over to see what’s up and find they’re posting regularly. What happened?

Well, the platform probably noticed that you would see their posts in your news feed, but you didn’t like, comment or share them. So over time they began to show their posts to you less.

The same goes for our author accounts. If we’re not posting to those regularly, the platforms may show them less and less to our readers.

What do you do? Scheduling content ahead of time is totally okay. Services like Hootsuite, Buffer and Tweetdeck are great.

2. Don’t automatically share content between platforms

This is one of the most common pieces of advice I see authors sharing with other authors. Zero shame and judgment if you do have your platforms synced up to automatically share to other platforms when you post to one. I get it, it’s easy, it’s time effective. You’ve got frakkin books to write. But I’m asking you to re-think that practice.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are very different platforms and accept different types of content. Each require their own strategy and even have different algorithms.

Usernames don’t transfer between platforms if you tag someone. Long posts on Facebook get cut off when shared to Twitter. Seeing a bunch of hashtags on Facebook when the post was synced from Instagram can be jarring. Instagram doesn’t allow hyperlinks in their captions, but Facebook and Twitter do. So you want to make sure you have those clickable links in the platforms that allow it. Even the image sizes vary between platforms.

Think about it this way. If I love an author, I’m likely going to follow them on all of their platforms so I don’t miss anything. If I’m on Facebook and I see all or most of their posts say they came from Instagram, why am I bothering to follow them on Facebook if it’s the exact same stuff I’m seeing on Instagram?

3. Do snag your username on all major platforms

For those of you who have an established career and brand, it’s a good idea to just snag a username on major (or promising emerging) platforms so you have it in case you ever want to use it. It makes marketing a lot simpler if you can minimize the number of different usernames you have to promote across platforms.

That doesn’t mean you have to actually use the platform. In fact, I suggest you don’t start using a platform until you have a plan for it and feel like you have enough content and time to use it long-term.

Just post on the platform(s) you don’t plan to use regularly where people can find you. Share your other social media usernames and website URL on it like it’s a wayfinder to your more active accounts.

I’m not suggesting you run out and make accounts on every social media platform that pops up because a lot will fade pretty quickly. But keep an eye out to see if your readers are talking about something or you see other authors begin to chat about a new platform.

4. Don’t think social media is all you need to do

I’m a social media evangelist, and I wholeheartedly embrace that social media is just one piece of the marketing and promotion pie.

Odds are if social media is all you do to try and sell your books, you won’t be nearly as successful as you could be. Social media is a vehicle, it’s not the end goal

Your end goal shouldn’t be to reach some arbitrary follower number. It should be to sell books. Social media is a way to do that, but not the only way. Social media is a way to direct traffic to your website, your email list sign-up, your Amazon page.

It’s important you have a broad and strategic marketing mix. A marketing mix that I strongly believe should include social media, but not end there.

5. Do treat social media as a place for your current readers (not for attracting new ones)

It’s so easy for us to get focused on using social media to find new readers and sell more books. Sure, targeting new readers is a part of it, but not the way you should approach it.

Social media is about building a community and letting your readers get to know you, and you get to know them. If you create content that’s focused on welcoming new folks, you’re not honoring and nurturing those who are already there.

Your current fans can be your strongest brand ambassadors. Word of mouth is critical in selling books because people tend to trust recommendations from people they know above strangers.

For new people, if you talk to people like they’re already in your community, it can help them feel like they’re a part of it sooner.

That’s it for the 5 do’s and dont’s! If I’ve convinced you to stop automatically sharing content from one platform to others, let me know on Instagram @CaledoniaCreative. You’ll make my day.

It’s not really every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings, it’s more like every time an author unsyncs their platforms, a unicorn gets its horn.

So, the power is in your hands to help the unicorns.