5 Social Media Tips for Writers

Posted on Wed, Feb 25 2015 9:00 am by Vikki Reich

I’ve spoken with many writers who are reluctant to engage in social media even though they know that, at this point in time, having an online platform is essential to promoting their work. They feel it’s overwhelming—too much information, too fast and from too many sources—and a distraction that takes them from the their writing. Both of these things can be true, but if you create your platform with intention and engage only in ways with which you feel comfortable, you will be in control of your life online.

So, how do you do that?

Here are five quick tips to guide you:

Use the platforms that fit your personality. You do not have to have a Facebook page and tweet and spend hours on Pinterest and Instagram. Learn how each works and what they offer and then decide which ones sound interesting. You do not have to do everything.

Be genuine. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” This is true for social media too. Crafting an online persona is time consuming and difficult to maintain so be yourself. The world is vast and you will find and connect with people who appreciate your words and perspective and sense of humor (or lack of one).

Build relationships. In order to use social media to your advantage, you must first build relationships with others. There are thousands of people sharing their work online and if you do not create real connections with others, your work will get lost in the noise. You build relationships online the way you do in the real world. Make conversation. Offer support to others. Be generous (but judicious) in sharing the work of others. If you do this, those same people will support you when you have something to promote.

Focus on engagement, not numbers. Social media has always been a numbers game because friends, likes, and followers are easy to count and track. But, in my experience, influence defies the numbers. You build influence by consistently sharing opinions in your areas of expertise or interest and by engaging with others. Focus on the conversations. They’ll feed your soul in a way that your social media numbers never will.

Be patient. You will not immediately attract an online audience unless you have already achieved critical and popular acclaim. Are you Cheryl Strayed or Beyoncé? Me neither. So, we have to do the hard work of creating our platforms over time and that requires patience. Just as we can’t control what becomes of our manuscripts, we can’t control the speed with which our online platforms grow. We just have to do the work.

Vikki Reich is teaching "Social Media for Writers: Creating Your Platform with Intention and Integrity." She writes about the intersection of contemporary lesbian life and parenthood at her personal blog Up Popped A Fox and is the publisher of VillageQ, a site that gives voice to the experience of LGBTQ parents. She is also the co-director of Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities. In 2012, she was recognized as one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year and was a 2013 recipient of the Beyond the Pure Fellowship for writers. She has presented at blogging and social media conferences, including BlogHer, Type A Parent, Bloggy Boot Camp and SalonLGBTQ, and has been part of the social media teams for SalonLGBTQ and Mom2.0Summit. Her writing has appeared on the Huffington Post, Autostraddle, and Mamalode.