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How Important Is Social Media?

I’ve just spent half a day upgrading and connecting and reconnecting and tweaking the various social media sites I belong to. I’ve been on Facebook and Twitter since forever: 2005 and 2006, I believe. I’m a very gung-ho Early Adopter, but my attempts to integrate social media in any significant way into my online moneymaking ventures have been desultory, at best. That probably shows in my bank balance, but really I’m mostly about the Social in social media. As a writer, my days are spent focused on this screen. If I want companionship, to hear another voice, to debate the day’s events or just to vent on the day itself, I turn to social media: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Quora, and so on. At one time, I had a solid ranking as an Influencer. Now, not so much.

This morning I decided to explore just why despite the stats being relatively okay on this site, on my eBay selling account, on my ArtFire.com shop, and on my Facebook pages, there were no what they call conversions coming in. In other words, no one is buying anything I’m selling.

Even going in I know that my use of social media could be optimized if I had a clearer understanding of what my goals are, what each of my selling venues is looking for, and how the different social media platforms work for or against my goals.

I could spend a lot of time here elaborating on my findings regarding ArtFire.com and eBay.com. However, this is a site about writing and writers, so let’s just jump ahead and rename this post,

How Important Is Social Media for Writers?

The one-word smart alecky answer is : very. But what exactly does that mean?

Despite my stated fondness for using social media to socialize, I have spent a lot of time over the years learning all I could about the use of social media for marketing. The subject fascinates me: it appeals to my tech nerd and my psych nerd selves, and I’ve pursued it via conferences and seminars and books over the past decade or so that the topic has been evolving.

So when I answer the questions “exactly what does social media for writers mean? And how much is it going to cost me?” I’m speaking from a point of relative expertise.

Exactly what does social media for writers mean?

It means using the various platforms of social media to build a community of readers who will not only buy your work, but will encourage others to buy it as well.

In the old days, say when my book was published back in the mid-70s, I was pretty much at the mercy of the publishers, Doubleday, for whatever advertising and promotion they decided to give it. Mine was a mid-list book, which meant that they never expected it to have any rousing success, and they certainly weren’t going to spend any money to publicize it. Their in-house publicity department booked some radio interviews for me, but that was it. The most I could do to help with sales was to have postcards made of my book’s jacket and send them to everyone I knew.

Today, that would be a different story. For one, the publicity departments of the publishing houses are encouraging/demanding/insisting that authors take an active role in their online social media lives. For those who are self-publishing or using one of the small presses, social media marketing is a must. No questions. Without a doubt.

So, there you are, in the final stages of your writing project. Now what? And–also:

How much is this going to cost me?

A one-line smart alecky answer: you get what you pay for.

There are any number of social media marketing experts out there trawling for business. I saw a sponsored post on Facebook the other day pitching a seminar to tell writers Everything You have to Know To Market Your ____fill in the blank____.

I don’t know about you, but when I see a promotion promising Everything, I immediately think, hyped-up marketing. That kind of overgeneralizing in the aid of a snazzy headline is a hackneyed ploy impossible to deliver on. There are basics of marketing, yes, but social media marketing for the written word is not the same not the same for all writing and all writers. Marketing fiction can be a world away from marketing a self-help book. Marketing a mystery calls for a different skill set than marketing a romance.

And then there’s the issue of how you best learn. Have you taken webinars and found them satisfying? Or do you do better in a small group? Or, one on one. Me, I’m a one on one kind of girl. In groups, no matter the size, I end up perceiving the event as a dialogue between me and the speaker. It’s not something I set out to do; if anything, I try to blend in with the others. However, there is something about my instincts and style as a communicator that fosters this kind of tunnel vision.

That being the case, if I’m going to hire someone to help me market my writing, I’ll go with an expert who I’m paying to focus on me, my project, and the specific ways in which I need to perform my personal social media dance in order to further my particular goals.

And you? As you think about what you need to help you market your work on social media, what’s important to you? And what do you actually want to know? I’ll be talking about this over the weeks, so this is your chance to get a complimentary one on one with me.

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