After many years, I’m content to walk away from exchanges that I think are going to be negative, but it took me many years to get there. Out of that experience, I want to pass along three principles for author social media. They are the result of a lot of hard-won lessons. Let me tell you how we got to here.
I found myself exhausted after a late-evening sesh with Twitter the other night. Many people have strong opinions on the publishing biz, and sometimes those conversations find their way to Twitter where simple opinions become exhaustive examination. Seeing the approaching storm, I closed the laptop for the night and turned my attention to video games.
So what are the takeaways from a wild ride across social media? Here are three big strategies that it took me a long time to figure out. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and take these in. Remember, these are strategies so give them some time to sink in.
Don’t Say Anything Unless You’re Sure You Can Say the Right Thing
In a world of hot-takes, quick reactions, and viral social media, it’s tempting to open your mouth to say something. Kim Kardashian gets away with it, right? Uh, yeah, but no. You have to remember: anything you say online can literally become ammunition to be used against you at a later date. Kim’s got a million-dollar PR team ready to smooth over any social media faux pas, do you?
The simple way around this nightmare scenario is to remember those old-fashioned adages: “Keep your words soft and sweet, you never know which ones you’ll have to eat.” You’ll never have to apologize for something you didn’t say.
But this is the 21st Century, right? We’re social media people, right? We have to say SOMETHING, don’t we? Of course. And therein lies the strategy I mentioned above: Don’t say anything unless you’re sure you can say the right thing. Respond, don’t react. See your words as a sword, swing only when you are sure of a hit. If someone should stick the proverbial microphone in your face, there’s nothing wrong with saying: “I’m not sure I know enough to give a complete response.”
No one will remember when you said nothing, but EVERYONE will remember when you said the wrong thing.
Your Book’s Social Media Is Not YOUR Social Media
My social media might be full of stuff about football, cars, and personal opinion, but my book does not. Why? Simple – my book’s social media is it’s own voice.
Sure, there will be some blurring back and forth but keep things neutral, even. Think of your book as a Miss America contestant. The only thing polarized about them are their sunglasses. If they have a personality trait, it’s ‘nice.’ They remain poised, focused no matter who or what is around them. Their job is to make you like them, their job is to make as many friends as possible. That’s your book. That’s also your book’s social media.
What’s that mean? Think of your book’s social media as a person unto itself and keep YOUR self out of the mix. Think of your book as a person, what would it say? What kind of people does it want to be around? What kind of people does it want to be friends with? Your book’s social media is there to make friends, and to be a friend.
This strategy follows the previous for a reason. No book ever argued its way into the hand of a reader. No book ever argued its way onto the Best Seller list. If you have personal opinions, viewpoints, or feelings then for God’s sake, speak of them elsewhere. Call a radio talk show, write a letter to your editor, or post something to Nextdoor. No arguing with your book’s social media platform, period.
If you need a reason, look at it this way: Your book is a flower in a sea of bouquets; will having thorns increase its chance of being picked? Neither of us are in the ‘shock jock’ arena of storytelling. Guys like Bill O’Reilly or Howard Stern sell books by arguing, but we aren’t those guys. We’re us, regular people. We want to be nice, so people trust us enough to give our stories a chance. Arguing don’t enter into it.
Wrapping It Up
These three strategies aren’t rules, they’re principles. I can’t tell you exactly how to do it because no one really can. Or they can, but they cost money. Social media management is very much a ‘learn as you go’ business and for tiny little people like us, we need all the help we can get. I hope you found these three principles useful.
Here are some additional articles on authors and social media that you might find helpful.
- The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Writers 2020
- Social Media Tips For Authors
- 10 Social Media Strategies Successful Authors Use to Sell More Books
I’m back to cranking on Mesh, hope you and yours are having a great Wednesday.