It’s been more than a decade since social media became an essential part of an author’s job description, and after all this time I still feel like I’m doing it wrong — except on those days when a reader reaches out and the unavoidable time-suck momentarily feels worthwhile. Is it too late to become more proficient at Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook? (And how should we define proficiency?) We know that the more you use these platforms the more the algorithms will favor your content, so is it even possible to use social media effectively without diverting much too much time away from your writing? When is attempting to cultivate a presence on a particular platform simply not a good use of your time, and when is it worth putting the effort into learning how to use it effectively? At what point can you say for sure that something isn’t working, and move on to a new strategy?
Lately I’ve been making various simple experiments hoping to answer all of these questions, and in this post I’ll be sharing some initial takeaways for Instagram (with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube experiment results to follow). Before we get started, though, let’s establish a baseline in social-media fluency. I sometimes happen upon an account that is purely self promotional — each and every tweet is an Amazon link to the author’s own books, every Instagram post a photo of their paperback in a different location— and I have to wonder how this person hasn’t noticed that literally no one is responding. Ana C. Reis, PhD’s “I Wish Writers Would Stop Doing These Things on Instagram” is a must-read even if you think you already know better:
Work hard and smart to take part and give back to the book-loving community before you even think about trying to sell your books…You’re just here to find your audience, and to deserve it.
And you’ll only find that genuine engaging audience when you allow yourself to become vulnerable. When you own your opinions…