What Social Media Should Authors Use?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Every author has a different comfort level with social media. You may be a real star at creating content for your channels but get tired of the constant attention your social media presence requires of you. Or, you may have only discovered recently that social media is a part of the author experience, and you are now trying to figure out how to best use your time in what can be an overwhelming world of likes, retweets, shares, tagging, friending, following, and sharing stories. So what social media should authors use?

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Whatever your experience level, ask yourself a few questions to better plan your social media presence for your author brand.

  1. Who do I want to connect with most?
  2. Do I like to take photos (and have a good enough camera or phone for them to look decent)?
  3. How much do I want to write for my social media?
  4. How much time do I have to devote to my online presence?

These questions will help guide you toward implementing a social media marketing plan that can keep you posting and connecting with other authors and readers alike. With your answers in mind, weed carefully through the four social media platforms detailed below. They can all be great ways to reach an audience, but are they the best use of your time and energy? Sometimes focusing your efforts on less can truly lead to more if you are spread thin or simply dislike the way one of these sites functions.

Facebook for Authors (public author page, not a personal user page)

Connect with Readers and writing groups
Images Using images with Facebook posts is highly recommended, but you can always use an image from an article you may be sharing, your own photo, or your book cover as the picture that goes along with your post. 
Commitment Good for longer format posts. Aim to post 2-3 posts per week.
Audience Teenagers don’t use Facebook as much as older demographics statistically, so if you write books targeting YA or New Adult audience that may not be on Facebook as much, a “pinned post” that points fans to a platform where you are active may be a good idea. This enables you to have a profile even if your target demographic isn’t big on Facebook.
Bonus Great for authors that are also interested in advertising, because your Author Page can so easily be synced for an effective digital marketing campaign that points fans toward an online retailer.


Twitter for Authors

Connect with Readers, authors, book industry professionals, and journalists

A nice platform if you aren’t particularly visually oriented because images are not necessary (though they can enhance post performance).

Commitment Good for authors who like to share quick thoughts with high frequency, because there is virtually no limit to how many posts are appropriate for you to share daily on Twitter.
Audience Book industry members and journalists often use this platform frequently. Nonfiction writers would be particularly good fits for this social media type so they can connect with reporters who may need these authors for expert opinions.
Bonus Do you like to stay really up to date on current events and politics? The instantaneous nature of Twitter—which is often less curated than other platforms—may be appealing to you. Do you like daily challenges with your writing? Twitter’s trending hashtags are a way to join a community of thinkers and writers, and share your thoughts on what is au courante, whether that’s trending widely on Twitter or in niche groups related to your genre (e.g. a mystery writer’s group might all write about their favorite way to write a villain and use #whodunit to share this thought publicly. Clicking a popular hashtag like this can help you connect with other genre writers or readers!).


Goodreads for Authors

Connect with Readers

None necessary

Commitment Great for authors who don’t necessarily want to write auxiliary content but do want to still communicate with readers. A very low time commitment where an active profile is easily maintained. However, authors with time to blog can have a greater reach on this platform, even if they cross-post the blogs they already write for their own author website.
Audience Reading lists, book clubs, and more are used by readers that use this social media platform to make friends with other readers and give and receive reading recommendations. Goodreads is best known for its database of published books (you’ll need to set yours up on Goodreads if you have not already) that readers can add to their “shelves” and store for reading later. Librarians are particularly avid fans of this social media form.
Bonus Goodreads' giveaway program allows authors to get copies directly to interested readers, who are then prompted to review the book. This viral spread of attention to the book can majorly change the life of its publicityThe Girl on the Train is a very famous example of Goodreads working in action to make a bestsellerAre you looking to get more Amazon reviews? Many Goodreads reviewers also review on Amazon, so staying connected here may be a good strategy for that end goal.


Instagram for Authors

Connect with Readers and authors. Like on Twitter, hashtagging is a big way Instagrammers find new people to connect with and “follow.”

Image-driven, you’ll need to enjoy creating unique images (typically photos) for each post if you use Instagram.

Commitment Thought to usually have short writing content with only a line or two, some users are beginning to write more and more, so really anything goes in terms of content length on this platform. Best to limit posts to one per day.
Audience Used by virtually all types of people but an especially popular platform for Millennial female readers, #bookstagram accounts are enormous influencers right now and getting your book to the correct genre readers who have accounts on this platform can be a great way to create some visibility for your brand.
Bonus Running a giveaway from your own account and hashtagging appropriately can be an easy way to connect right away with readers in your genre.


Are there other platforms? Yes, and you may enjoy using them, but they’re likely not as strongly relevant in terms of building connections with readers and other authors. 

Whichever platform(s) you choose to get active on, remember that having fun is a key part of the experience. Really enjoying socializing through these apps is the way to not only connect authentically but also to let your “workload” feel a little lighter.


Sara Wigal

Sara Wigal is an Assistant Professor of Cinema, Television & Media and Director of Publishing at Belmont University, a unique undergraduate degree that equips students with necessary skills and knowledge to enter the book world. She serves the Next Chapter Society council which supports the programming made possible by the Nashville Public Library Foundation. She previously worked in literary PR, beginning as an assistant and working her way up to a Senior Manager role, shaping author brands and interacting with the media. Wigal has been published by The TennesseanPublishers Weekly, and Writer's Digest.