The official subtitle of this post is: Facebook is for old people and other bologna. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Authors are a busy bunch and it can be difficult to sort through the B.S. out there. I’m happy to help. I have industrial-strength B.S. cutters.
1. Facebook is for old people.
I’m sure we’ve all heard it. Facebook is dead. It’s for old people. No one uses Twitter anymore. Snapchat is for dick pics.
Social media is so much more complex than those simplistic statements.
Since I work in higher education, I hear the Facebook is for old people a lot. But, if you took a peek at our analytics on Facebook, you’d see that our most popular age group is 18-22 year olds.
People who want to connect with you will find you.
And even if people may not be super active on some platforms, a lot of people still stay somewhat active on a variety of platforms so they can keep up with what’s going on. FOMO is real, y’all.
What’s more important than listening to these generalizations is to figure out where your ideal audience is hanging out. Do you write YA? Do some research to see where your teens and parents are. Do you write middle grade fantasy? Where are the librarians hanging out these days? Do you write romance about unicorn-obsessed podcasters who fall for Scottish guys? Well, slide into my DMs because we need to talk.
2. You have to be active on every platform
You may be thinking, now wait, didn’t you just say in the last blog post that we should be on every major platform?
Yes. Great information retention. Gold star! But, specifically, I said you should snag your username on every major platform. I don’t recommend you actively use every major platform. Shiny object syndrome is alive and well on social media.
You need to think strategically about the platforms that work best for you. What are your goals as an author? How does social media support those goals?
3. There are specific times of the day you should post
You likely have readers from all over the world who are online at various times of the day. There is not specific right time to reach everyone, but it’s important to look at your analytics and find the days/times where you get the most engagement.
The algorithms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter seem to show posts that get engagement right away to more people. Have you noticed that with Twitter? If you tweet something and it doesn’t get much response in the first hour or so, it can sort of fizzle. But if you get some activity right away, it seems like there’s a more steady stream for a while as Twitter keeps putting it in front of more eyeballs.
4. There’s a specific frequency of how often you should post on each social media platform.
A lot of people think there is a certain number of times each day or week you should post on each platform. At one time, sure, there may have been some standard numbers, but now that these platforms are multi-layered with stories and news feeds and live video those rules are out the window.
Each platform is a bit different with the range of how often you should post. It’s okay to post way more often on Twitter than you would on Instagram. But when deciding that, you have to think about the nature of the platforms. Twitter is more fast-paced than Instagram is.
If you’re a number cruncher, check your analytics. Look at weeks where you posted more often or less often and see how it impacted your engagement.
It’s a balance between too much and not enough, and it’s different for everyone. You have access to data to help you make that decision.
5. You have to post everything in the moment.
You’re only doing social media correctly if you’re being spontaneous and posting in the moment about all the rad stuff happening in your life. Right? Wrong.
Sure, that’s a massive benefit to social media and a major reason of why it became so popular in the first place, but that’s no longer feasible or practical for most of us.
We’re busy. We’re writing and editing and marketing and responding to readers and building relationships with librarians and commiserating with critique partners. We need to schedule posts to make sure we have regular content and THAT IS OKAY. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that.
Just find a balance of scheduled stuff so you don’t go too long without posting, and being spontaneous so people feel like they’re seeing what’s going on in your life.
Like everything else, balance is key.
It’s also a good idea to plan out your content in advance. I know there’s a lot of authors out there who are obsessed with planners (be it paper or digital). Use those tools to start mapping out social media content ideas. That doesn’t mean you have to schedule it in advance, but it helps to at least know what you need to post if it’s on the fly. If you want help with content planning, check out my 3 Steps to a Social Media Content Plan workbook.
6. You have to be constantly available.
With social media being a 24/7 medium, it’s easy to think we have to be responding and available all the time. I’m guilty of this. I’ll tweet at an airline’s customer service account and keep refreshing over and over hoping for a response.
What’s the difference between my example and you as an author? Airlines tend to employee customer service teams to monitor social media and respond quickly. Authors often work alone and have to balance social media with everything else.
It is perfectly acceptable to hop on your notifications once a day and respond to things. Can’t do it that frequently? Consider adding to your bio or about section details about the frequency you’ll respond so people know what to expect. You’re in control and you can set those expectations.
Sure, you’ll get cranky people who may say, “I’ve tweeted you four times. Why aren’t you responding?” Remember you can’t—and shouldn’t—expect to please everyone. Some people will never be satisfied
As an author, you are a brand and to some, a celebrity. Some people have unreasonable expectations of brands and celebrities. As long as you’re responding in a timely manner or making your availability known, you’re doing the best you can.
7. All of my posts should be about selling my books.
People will get bored (and possibly annoyed) if all you do is try sell them your books. It’s important to give people a reason to stick around so you can build a relationship with them.
If most of your posts are about your book, what value will I get after I’ve bought your book? I want other posts about your life so I feel like I am connecting with you on a human level.
There’s also a fancy 80/20 rule that says 80% of the time your content should be non-promotional and 20% of the time it should sell. That’s a great rule of thumb for authors to follow.
8. None of my posts should be about selling my books.
So many of us are nervous to make the hard sell on our social media (or anywhere for that matter). I totally understand. I struggle with it too.
But you know what? People want to know what books you have, when they come out and where to buy them. People want to support you. All you have to do is tell them.
And if you follow the 80/20 rule, you won’t be overselling them. It will be a good balance.
9. Build it and they will come.
It takes intentional work to build an audience on whatever social media platforms you choose. It’s especially difficult when you’re first starting out and/or unpublished because you don’t have an audience seeking you out.
Over time it gets easier because you can use existing platforms, your website, email list, etc. to point people to your new accounts. And once you build name recognition, people may seek you out.
But in early stages, or with new pen names, it will take time. Don’t give up.
10. By posting something on social media, all of your followers will see it.
I’m going to hit you with a difficult stat. A lot of brand accounts—and yes, you are a brand—are lucky if their posts get seen by above 5% of their followers. Five percent. Particularly if you’re relying on organic reach, in other words, not advertising or promoting your posts.
That’s why just one post about a topic isn’t a good idea. Especially if it’s something big like a new release. You should post about it multiple times to try and reach more of your followers.
That’s also why it’s important that each social media platform is just one part of your overall marketing mix.
You’ve made it through 10 social media myths! I hope this has helped alleviate some of the stress you may feel around social media.