I’m a marketing person at heart. While I have no official background in marketing, I’ve always gravitated to new marketing techniques and ideas. I love trying new things (hence this blog, my Twitter account, Instagram, and our YouTube channel). I also believe social media works as a marketing tool and encourage authors to use it as well.
Here’s one for you to tackle if you’re interested, Jessica. On the one hand, authors are being told that we need to have some kind of presence on social media, we need to engage with readers, we need to be visible and discoverable. On the other hand, we have Cal Newport (and others) who say that social media is harmful, we’re all better off without it, and that the real path to success is through focus, intention, and deep work. Is there a happy medium? If we needed to choose one path to follow, which should it be?
Not being familiar with Cal Newport, the first thing I did was watch his TedTalk on quitting social media.
I can’t argue with Cal, just like I can’t argue with Seth Godin’s advice on marketing. I use social media a lot to market BookEnds and as a way to reach authors. This blog was first started for the sole purpose of dispelling the many myths of publishing that I thought were hurting authors. I feel I’ve made a difference with the blog, Twitter and our newest foray into YouTube. Despite all of that, my activity on social media has dropped.
I have all but quit Facebook and am not on Twitter daily. I’ve also started hiding and blocking people who create anxiety or are overly negative.
I still stand by my belief that social media is an effective marketing tool for any business, and that includes your author brand. I also believe social media can be toxic and damaging. There are people who spend more time on Facebook then they do interacting with real-life friends and family. We sit on our phones instead of talking in person. Is there a balance? I believe there is, but it has to be one you find yourself.
You need to determine what platform you enjoy and want to engage in. You also need to determine, for yourself, how to engage and which platforms are damaging for you. For me, Facebook became overly difficult. I just couldn’t wish everyone a happy birthday. Twitter works, but I’m also very discerning about who and what I follow and see regularly. I think Instagram is the most fun. I love taking and posting creative pictures and seeing photos from others. Also, political and negative rants are harder to find in photos.
No matter what, social media matters and publishers will look at what you’re doing, saying and how active you are. So will agents, booksellers, and reviewers. But in the end, you need to do what works for you and find a balance and style you’re comfortable with. No one can really define that for you.