The year was 2012, and I was en route to Vietnam with my family when I opened a Facebook account to share holiday photos. I hardly posted any.
Transferring photos to a computer and then to Facebook was too tedious. My Facebook account stayed dormant for six years.
2012 was the golden year when it was possible to build a large fan base on Facebook organically. Many savvy entrepreneurs took advantage of it and grew a big following, taking advantage of the Facebook algorithm.
I came back to Facebook when I started a blog in 2018 and linked it to my Facebook account. My articles automatically got posted on Facebook. But I still never went on it to check if anyone was commenting on them.
Suddenly my follower number started growing quickly, and I realized I have a powerful tool in hand which I don’t even know how to use properly.
What kind of social media user are you?
Today everybody has a social media account but did you know there are three types of social media users.
- Social Enthusiast: This is someone who loves every platform and preaches why it’s necessary for online growth.
- Social Freebird: This is someone who shows very sporadic interest in social media and jumps from platform to platform, lacking consistency in content.
- Social Slacker: This is a person who knows that social media is important but lacks the interest or knowledge to commit to using it.
I was no doubt a social slacker until the start of this year when I became someone close to Social Enthusiast.
The 100 days of practice challenge originated in the visual arts community and was made popular by the #100daysofpractice.
The idea is that every day for 100 days, artists would post a photo on Instagram of something they were working on. It didn’t have to be a polished or finished product. The idea behind the challenge was two folds — when you track your progress and watch your work progress, it motivates you to put in more work.
I applied it to get better at posting content on social media. For someone who was not active just two months ago, my fanbase grew to 250+ on Facebook, 500+ on LinkedIn, and 99 on Instagram. Tiny numbers by any account, but they mean a lot when put into context.
This is what I discovered after 61 days of posting.
You can’t afford to ignore social media.
Social media may not help you sell books directly, but it can help you build your author brand.
Here are five reasons you can’t ignore social media.
Ask any entrepreneur who is just starting, and they will tell you how difficult it is to grow a customer base. It is even more difficult for writers who are mostly introverts and do not have much marketing exposure. Advertising works, but it requires marketing budgets. Authors don’t have that luxury, especially when they are just starting. Social media provides a way to grow a following organically.
Social media makes it possible for authors to directly communicate with fellow-writers, the publishing community, and their readers in real-time. Many authors communicate regularly with their audience on social media. They answer questions, teach their craft, share their creative process and take feedback directly from their readers. You can’t do that anywhere else.
Social media opens the international market to the writers who previously could hope to see their books published in a handful of countries. The book signing, mostly, used to be limited to the author’s home country (unless you are a mega-author). With social media, your reader base is all over the world, which is phenomenal and hard to overlook.
Today, even well-known authors are expected to be reachable on social media. J K Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Gilbert all have social media accounts either on one platform or another. They use the platforms to build their brand, to keep communicating with their readers.
J K Rowling is the queen of Twitter; she uses the platform to send out the wittiest tweets that keep her fans entertained and engaged. Neil Gaiman’s Facebook page gets an insane amount of comments and shares. James Patterson is active on Goodreads. He not only goes in there and lists what books he’s reading, but actually makes it a point to pick up self-published books and read them and leave comments. Elizabeth Gilbert does live videos on Instagram and has over a million followers on the platform.
We all know that social media is important. The question is, what are you going to do with that information to build your author brand.
In my newsletter, A Whimsical Writer, I teach how to build your author brand step by step and have fun while doing it.
This week’s focus is on what social media platform is better for writers. Subscribe and have it delivered to your inbox.