#Passion2Profession: Social Media or Soul Sucking Waste of Time

 

I’m writing a post this week, but not expecting anyone to read it because the world has gone mad, and honestly, what’s a blog about how to do your job a little better in the midst of that?

But, in light of everything that’s going on, the topic today was pretty much a given: Social Media. Let me start by saying I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t post. That’s been done. Everyone has a different opinion, and in this case there really are multiple sides to the issue. As writers, we have the dual demand placed on us: readers ask to know the real you, but if you offend them they won’t buy your books. That’s a tough balancing act for anyone. I say do your best with it, only you can make the decisions about what to post on your social media. But I am going to talk to you about what position social media holds in the grand scheme of your writing career.

Let me start with a bit of history: when Indie exploded around 2011 it coincided with the upswing of social media. For romance readers and writers in particular, Facebook was a hotspot of voracious readers and fresh faced authors trying out the self publishing thing. Writers would get online, talk about a book, and the next thing they knew they’d have actual sales and readers. Over the next few years, social media for authors became necessary. And in all fairness, for a while it was fun.

Fast forward to today and the world is an entirely different place. Indie publishing is an entirely different place. Social media is an entirely different place. Today, readers on social media have their newsfeeds and timelines flooded with free books, 99 cent books, advertisements for books, authors posting about their books, references to books, giveaways of books, parties for books, groups for books, pages for books…the list goes on…and on.

In the midst of all this Facebook went public, monetized, and changed the rules–many times over. Fan pages that were once a conduit to faithful readers became pay-to-play spaces where we often post into a vacuum. We all shifted to groups, but rumor has it those may soon go the way of the fan pages–visibility limited even within the group unless you pay for advertising on that page.

Meanwhile Twitter has evolved into a running ticker of promo posts and political warfare that’s so virulent you need to think twice before you even open the app. Instagram is a lovely peaceful place that appears to be utterly useless for actually gaining readers or selling books no matter how many “hints” and “tips” are shared about turning it into your newest marketing tool.

And beyond all of that is the simple fact that social media is a soul sucking waste of time. Notice I didn’t say “can be.” It is. How can I claim that? Because my name is Selena and I’m a Facebook addict. Or I have been, and I’m working really hard on recovering. Why? Two reasons, the first being that it really can destroy your peace of mind if not your actual soul. And secondly because I don’t think it does what we want it to anymore.

The days of hopping on social media, talking about your book, and having a bunch of enthusiastic readers go buy it have been over for a long time. Can you still meet new readers on FB? Of course. Will they go buy your book? Maybe. How many new readers are we talking about? A handful a month if you’re lucky. I remember a time when that would be hundreds for each new release, and for the very successful authors it was thousands. These days my most valuable FB time is spent in my reader group, and IF FB monetizes groups then that will change, and not for the better.

If you’re spending hours every day on various forms of social media because you either can’t stop yourself or you think you won’t have a career because of it, I’m giving you permission, and even encouragement to stop. It’s become crystal clear to me that other than my reader group, posting more than a few times a week on any social media is a waste of my time. And beyond that, in the current environment it’s just not putting my head, my heart, and my creativity in the right space. So my advice to the professional Indie author this week is:

  • Get Hootsuite or another social media planning app;
  • Schedule posts for your fan page–some about you and your author friends, some inspirational or funny, some about your books;
  • Plan some FB ads and if they work for you, use them. If they don’t, screw ’em and advertise somewhere else;
  • Visit your reader group once a day and develop relationships there;
  • Stop worrying about takeovers and FB events and posting in book groups that no one has the damn notifications turned on for anyway;
  • Use that extra time to grow your mailing list and develop your newsletters–see now that you’re not on FB all the time you can do these things;
  • Go back to your writing and your business, your community, your family, and your life, because social media isn’t doing it for us anymore, so why let it continue to suck your soul?

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