Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 25, 2019

WITS Throwdown: Social Media to the 5th Power

by Laura Drake

No, that isn't me, but it could be!

I'm the last to chime in on the throwdown. In case you missed the others, here's Fae's, Julie's, and Jenny's We didn't mean to do them in order from 'hate it' to all yay, but that's how it worked out.

All of us here at WITS knew when we came up with this throwdown, that I'd be on the, 'Oh, hell yes', end of the spectrum. I love me some social media. Why?

First, it fits my Golden Retriever personality. I love people. (I do try not to shed or drool on them.) I'm a crazy-extrovert.

Second, I moved to West Texas 5 years ago, leaving my friends and strong writing community behind. I am a motorcycle riding, Yankee city-girl in the middle of the country. I open my mouth and they know I'm not from around here, and from their expressions, they're not sure what to do with me. I'm working to build the tiny writing community here, but I don't have any close friendships. So when I’m not writing or working out, I’m pretty much online. And thanks to that, I have a strong platform.

I’ve been reading everyone else’s posts and comments on the throwdown and come to realize there’s some misunderstandings out there about social media:

  1. No one cares what you’re eating—not even your mother.
  2. Likes, hearts and emojis and # of followers aren’t like gift stamps; you can’t trade in 100,000 of them for a blender.
  3. If you’re only on social media to sell your book, you’re doing it wrong.
  4. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, a radical, funny, or anything else that you’re not.

What social media IS about, is connecting. And as an author, if you’re not looking to network, connect, or have people get to know of you and your writing, why publish? You could write, stick it in a drawer, repeat.

When I first moved here, I heard about a writer’s group that met at the local library. There, I met a really old guy who’d written a book of short stories—remembrances from his childhood. After the meeting, he glanced around to be sure no one else was listening, leaned in and gave me his nugget of wisdom about marketing. He told me to go to a local printer and have them bind my book (with a colored paper cover, so it stands out). Then take it to locally owned grocery stores (the chains won’t let you, imagine that) and ask if they’ll sell them for you. He said he sold a TON of copies that way (I didn’t ask how much each copy weighed).

Yeah, thanks, dude.

I'm in a fairly small town. There aren't a bunch of readers here. There are quad-zillions of people online, many of them readers. THAT’s the audience I’m going for. Social media is just the vehicle I use to get to my audience.

I tried a bunch of Social Media (I still don’t get Instagram, because of #2, above), but I found my favorite—

I write Romance and Women's Fiction. Facebook is where my readers are.

I don’t go there to sell. It’s where I go to be found. No politics, downers, or meanness—my profile is an oasis of all that is coffee, beauty, wisdom, funny or weird. People who like that are likely to like my writing—humorous, emotionally charged, but always an HEA. I post questions now and again, so I can get to know my followers. Things like: What was your best memory of last year? Name one thing we don’t know about you. Stuff like that.

And you know what? People who friend me tell their friends to friend me (wait—you and I ARE Friends, right?). So when I have a release, or something exciting in my writing life, I post it. Honestly, my writing posts are probably 1/50th of my postings. The rest of the time, I’m just having fun.

Okay, you may not be an extrovert. You may not want people to know ‘you’. No problem. You create characters for a living, right? Create your online persona! I’m not saying to lie to people, but all your characters carry a piece of you, right? Just show that piece, honestly and forthrightly (holy poop, two adverbs in a row—someone slap me!).

People are all the same, underneath. We seek to be seen, to connect and be understood. If you connect with them on those universal levels, they will respond to you. One of the coolest things for me is watching my followers get to know and connect with each other.

What is the ROI on all this? I can’t quantify it. But I have more followers now, AND more sales. Coincidence? I hope not.

Spreading the love, one post at a time. It’s what Golden Retrievers do!

What do you think? Have I talked you into putting your toe in the social media pool yet?

Laura's December release, The Last True Cowboy, was chosen by Amazon's Editorial Board as one of the Best Books of the Month!  

32 comments on “WITS Throwdown: Social Media to the 5th Power”

    1. Sigh. Why can't we have a Daily Advent Calendar all year? But I AM posting a calendar page the first of every month...

      For those who weren't there, I posted a famous, good looking actor every day, and my friends got to 'open' it!

  1. Laura, we did meet in person at RWA in San Antonio but I've gotten to know you through Facebook. Too bad we live in opposite sides of Texas!

    1. And most people don't understand JUST how far apart we are (miles-wise). Hope to get to see you in person again, Lynda! Thanks for hanging with me.

  2. It drives me crazy that I can't think of things to post every day on my social media. Sometimes four or five days will go by without a new post from me to my fans on Facebook. I stare at the empty box for twenty minutes in the morning trying to think of something to say, then end up giving up many times. So frustrating.

    1. Rich,
      For me, it's like writing. How many zillions of little thoughts go through your brain a day? Capture a few, and post them on your fave social media site. Questions like: What is your biggest punctuation peeve? What smell reminds you of your childhood? Find photos of what you like - I recently started posting photos of the cabin of my dreams...and people want to come visit (it doesn't really exist). See what I mean? Things you like, and make you a unique and interesting individual will shine through!

      Pinterest is my best place for inspiration. I've been deeply (4 levels deep) in snarky stuff lately. What fun!

    2. Rich, tune back in on the 30th for our wrap up of this - there are a few tricks that tell you how to figure out what to post. It would totally help to have more direction on this, right?

  3. Hi Laura - great advice. I think too many people blast out the "buy my book" posts too often. It's annoying. I see it on Twitter too. As a debut author I have to remind myself that when I do post my book I need to persuade people that this might be a good read for them. Rather than just saying - here it is - it's great - you should read it. Being creative with the book posts is just as hard as writing the damn book. And learning patience, curbing the excitement of having my very first book out there.

    Like you, I relocated. I moved from California to Mississippi. When I open my mouth people immediately know I'm not from around here. Here in the South everyone wants to know who your people are. I don't have any people here. I also lost my "tribe," and am having trouble finding a new one here. I'm trying. But I'm still connected to my California tribe via social media. It's a great way to get to know people and stay in touch with the ones we can't physically hug every day.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Your California tribe misses you! Now you go to Disney World because it's closer, instead of Disneyland, where I can see you..... I'm coming to your inn some day - it is on my list. 🙂

  4. I could use some of that Golden Retriever! (If this is based on the four-animal personality test, I'm a Beaver/Lion, FYI.) I struggle with consistency in posting and content. But I appreciate your tips on how you engage to help me figure out how to better engage myself. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the insight and encouragement. You’ve convinced me to be more social and have fun with this social media thing.

  6. Hi Laura! I've taken a class or two from you...waving from up in Canada! I'm a Lion on that test and my husband is a Golden Retriever and we've owned Goldens as long as we've been married, but I digress. LOVE this post! We're in the military and because he joined up "late" in life, we're a generation removed from the rest of the people he's working with. Our kids are grown and we don't "fit" with the baby/toddler/kindergarten crowd. My "tribe" in online too because we've moved so often. And I agree that it's hard to come up with creative posts about your new book when you're trying *not* to sell it. I've been thinking that I should make an e-booklet up about the things I've tried and use it as a newsletter magnet for sign-ups. Anyhoo - I love social media too although I've never gotten the hang of Instagram or WhatsApp. I feel better on Facebook and Twitter.

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