Facebook, Twitter and Blogs, Oh My!
Dogs piss on every tree, hydrant and lamppost they come across, all in the name of marking their territory.
Guess what? Having an online identity is like being a dog. We’ve got to piss on the internet and mark our territory. That means staking our claim on the big social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (there are tons more out there, but honestly, these are the big three, in my opinion). It also means blogging.
Here’s the thing though — new authors, writers who aren’t published yet: while it is important to establish your online identity, it is not necessary to establish it all at once. We don’t have to rush out and make a Facebook fan page, an author Twitter account or a professional website all in one go. We need to take our time.
If you are on Facebook, it’s not necessary to rush out and fan page. You can make it, but keep it pretty hush hush until you’re published. Invite your friends and family to like your page and leave it alone until you are ready to mess with it.
When you are ready for your fan page, though, it is important to connect with the people liking your page. Make sure your blog posts sync with your fan page (Networked Blogs is good for this).
One author I admire who I think does a phenomenal job utilizing the fan page to its potential is Dakota Cassidy. Her fan page features a question for fans to answer everyday, pictures, and news on her upcoming releases. The most important thing? She’s talking to her readers on a daily basis, engaging them in conversation.
The best way to get new readers and keep them is to engage them in conversation. Facebook now has an option for you to use the site as your fanpage. You also have the option to receive emails when someone comments, if you are not on your page a lot, this can be a good thing — you keep fans by talking to them. If someone comments on a status, comment back!
However, the Facebook fan page is not for everyone right away. You have to work up to it. Twitter, though…well, everyone’s ready for Twitter.
Let’s assume we are not quite ready for the Facebook fan page. We are, however, ready for Twitter. Maybe we are already on it. If we are, it’s important to remember to tweet from your name. Like I said before, @cutenickname is not going to sell your books.
Don’t want to lose your Twitter name? Make a new account.
Not on Twitter? It’s time you get on it.
Twitter is a vast networking site. My friend Cid (and several others, I am sure) have described Twitter as, “one global conversation.” And that’s pretty much true. On Twitter you can connect with readers, authors, literary agents and publishers. You can connect with other newbie writers who are right where you are in your career.
While there are tons of “How to Use Twitter” sites on the net, Tuesday I’m going to give a crash course on the ins and outs of Twitter. I’m only going to hit the main points, but I will link to some more in depth tutorials. Honestly, though? Getting on Twitter and using it is the best way to learn it.
And while you don’t have to follow everyone who follows you (and I don’t recommend it), you should make an effort to talk to the people who talk to you. Or jump in a conversation that sounds interesting — network your butt off.
I don’t care what anyone out there says. Blogs are rapidly becoming a necessity for writers. Notice I said blogs and not website. A website is nice, but until you are ready for one, a website is not necessary.
Besides, a good website will cost you. A good blog, however, will not. You can get a blog for free at WordPress.com or Blogger.com (and nothing against Blogger, but I prefer WordPress).
If you have a blog, make sure it’s under your name and not your nickname. If you don’t have a blog, name it something like: bobsmith.wordpress.com or bobsmithwrites.wordpress.com Use your name.
Blogging is not always easy. It’s time consuming and takes a lot of work to maintain — but it’s also a fabulous platform for your online identity. Your blog is more than a status update or a tweet. It’s a place for you to write on topics you care about it and relate it to your writing.
For example, my friend Suzan writes steampunk. Yesterday, she released an amazing blog post explaining what steampunk is. She’s letting people know about the genre she likes to write. They’ll become curious and want to read more steampunk. They will ask her for recommendations on what to read. They will read her steampunk when it is available.
A good blog, however, is not born over night. It takes time. Look at my blog. A few weeks ago, the only thing I could think of to write was my daily goals. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not all that exciting and it doesn’t beg readers to talk to me. Then I realized (also last month) that I hold a degree in public relations. I can use my knowledge in PR to help writers. Thus, this blog series was born.
When I had my weekly goals posting, I had about nine readers. Now? I’m up to an average of 65 — not a lot, but still not bad! Growing a blog takes a lot of time, but it’s one of the best ways to maintain your online identity. When you are published, your blog becomes the place readers go to for snippets, giveaways and book news.
Build it now. So what if you have nothing to blog about? Blog your weekly goals until something else strikes you. We all have to start somewhere. It’s also helpful to follow other blogs to get an idea of how a good blog is run. I recommend:
- Kristen Lamb — her blog is chock full of great information from marketing yourself and your writing to helping your perfect your craft.
- Suzan Isik — Not only is her blog just gorgeous to look at, she offers some great tips on organizing your writing, like using OneNote.
- Cid Tyer — Cid’s blog also has great information. She did a great blog series on worldbuilding and she’s currently doing a series on the importance of setting writing goals.
- Lynn Viehl — Not only is Viehl an amazing author, but she has an amazing blog too. Her blog is equal parts talking about things she loves and equal parts helping writers.
If you decide not to use Twitter or Facebook — decide to use a blog. Just remember: post regularly and communicate with your readers. Even if you only have one reader…talk to them. 😉
I have my social networks and blog. Now what?
Now that you are utilizing social media, you must continue to do so.
It’s not enough to blog once a month. No, ideally, you’re blogging at least three times a week, but for starters, I would suggest weekly (at least to begin with).
Use your Twitter account — the only way to connect with your target audiences is to tweet.
And unless you are ready for it, don’t worry about the Facebook fan page. Your blog and your Twitter will help you gain fans when you are ready for it. But when you are ready — use it.
If someone comments on your blog, comment back.
You need to keep your readers engaged. Give them a reason to come back. Give them a reason to tell others about your blog/Twitter. Give them a reason to “like” your Facebook page.
When it comes to utilizing social media, what are your favorite places to go? Facebook, Twitter, blogging or something else entirely?