Social media. Love it or hate it, there’s no getting away from it. Whether you’re using it because you feel you have to or because you’re a social media addict who can’t get enough, there is a role for social media for indie authors. In today's post, author member Rachel McCollin teaches us how to avoid wasting writing time.
Social media can be a great place to engage with readers, to carry out research and to get support from other writers. But it has its pitfalls. Research has found that the average US adult user spends 58 minutes a day on Facebook, 28 minutes on WhatsApp, 53 minutes on Instagram and 3 minutes (just three!) on Twitter.
Of course this doesn’t represent every single person: we’re not all on all of those platforms. But as an author, you may have decided you need a presence across a range of social media platforms. And once you’ve done that, it’s easy to get sucked into wasting time on them.
But you’re a busy author. You’ve got words to get onto paper (or into e-ink), not to mention all the other activities involved in being an indie author. So how do you use social media in the most efficient and effective way possible, and how do you avoid it becoming a time suck? In this post, I’ll try to answer that question.
Identify Your Goal
The first step in being strategic with social media is to identify what you want to use it to achieve. You may think the answer is obvious: to sell more books, of course. But it isn’t as simple as that.
On its own, organic social media activity (as against paid ads on social media platforms like Facebook) is unlikely to lead directly to sales. So you need to be more specific, and identify exactly what you want to get out of the time you spend using social media.
Your goals could include any of the following:
- Connecting with readers and forming a relationship.
- Forming networks with other writers.
- Connecting with experts in the subjects you write about.
- Making contact with influencers.
…or anything else that applies to you. But you need to be specific. You may have different goals for different platforms (I certainly use Twitter and Facebook differently).
Your goal shouldn’t be to get a certain number of followers, as this means nothing if those followers are unengaged. Identify what you want to achieve and that will help you identify the audience you want to reach. Which leads me to…
Identify Where Your Audience Hangs Out
Once you know who it is you want to reach via social media, the next step is to identify which social media platforms those people use. And not only which platforms they use, but how they use them.
- Does your target audience have its own Facebook groups?
- Does it tweet regularly?
- Is it on WhatsApp, or LInkedIn, or Instagram?
- Does it consume social media more passively?
Take some time to find out where your target audience hangs out. Become a part of that community, but don’t be spammy. For example, if you’re a Horror author and you find a Facebook group for lovers of Horror fiction, don’t join and then immediately post links to your books. Join in the conversation, build relationships, and become part of that tribe. It’s a long game, but more effective if you play it that way. And you might enjoy it too.
What Do You Enjoy?
As well as understanding what your readers enjoy, it pays to identify what you enjoy. You became a writer because you love writing (at least I hope so!), so why should you spend your valuable time doing something you hate?
If your readers are on Twitter but you can’t stand tweeting, it’ll show. You’ll never feel comfortable and you won’t be as effective. So don’t worry about it. Just find an alternative place to connect with your audience: somewhere where both you and they enjoy spending time.
How to Avoid Wasting Writing Time
And now to one of the biggest challenges many of us face: how to avoid wasting time, and use the time we have more efficiently. Every minute you spend on social media is a minute you aren’t writing. So you need to spend it wisely.
Here are some tips for avoiding social media time-wasting:
- Don’t overload yourself with social media accounts. Just use the ones where your audience hangs out.
- Automate updates, for example by setting up your author website to automatically post links to new blog posts without you having to log in to your social media accounts.
- Schedule posts using the Facebook post scheduling option or tools such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck. This means you can block out time to write posts and avoid logging onto social media five times a day and finding yourself sucked into it.
- Identify what times of day you’ll use social media. Use a tool like Freedom to block social media sites during your writing time. I’ve found that using this has trained my brain to stop wanting to access social media at other times of day and now I don’t need to keep Freedom switched on.
- If you’re working on Facebook ads, create a bookmark in your browser to take you directly to the ads manager. That way you won’t get lustrated by your Facebook feed when you log in.
- On your phone, use the Facebook Pages Manager app to manage your Facebook page instead of the Facebook app. Try going one step further and removing the Facebook app from your phone.
Try using some of these tips to limit the time you spend n social media and use what time you do have more strategically. That way, you’ll find more time for writing and will be less easily distracted.
Social media is a great tool for authors. It’s a free and easy way to reach readers and other writers, and it keeps us connected to the wider world.
But it ’s easy to waste time on social media, and to use it in an unfocused way. If you follow the tips above, you’ll spend less time on social media but you’ll be more effective with the time you have.
How do you get the best use from social media? I’d love to know your tips. You can connect with me as RachelMcWrites on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (but not while I”m writing!).
Whether you’re using social media because you feel you have to or because you’re a social media addict who can’t get enough, social media plays a vital role for indie authors. @rachelmcwrites #selfpublishing #IARTG #ASMRG… Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU
How do you use social media? What tips do you have for avoiding wasting writing time?