13 Social Media Rules that Every Author Needs to Know

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media is a tool. But like any tool we need to know how to use it and not be overwhelmed by it. Here are some basic social media rules every author needs to know.

Of course I’m not insisting you always follow them. Like anything in publishing, we have to work smart and apply the rules when they make sense for our specific situation.

1. Be consistent in posting social media updates. Small regular steps get you much farther, much faster. By posting 4 to 6 social media updates at day, 3 to 4 days a week can help you build a powerful platform much faster than any other way.

2. Don’t fall into the trap of self-promotion. Follow Edie’s 5 to 1 rule and you’ll keep social media from being all about me, me, me. (For every 5 social media updates I send, I’m only allowed 1 additional update about me.)

3. Be consistent in what you share on social media. Figure out the audience you want to reach and post updates geared to them. That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally post random things, but keep them in the minority.

4. Utilize hashtags, but don’t go overboard. No more than two per update. Otherwise you look like a used car salesman.

5. Be consistent in the photos you use to identify yourself across all social media platforms. You don’t have to use the exact same picture, but make sure you’re recognizable from network to network.

6. Don’t be obsessed with the numbers. Yes, we’re trying to grow platforms, but the purpose is to reach people, and that’s what those numbers represent. Without meaningful connections, they’re pretty much worthless.

7. Limit yourself to the social media platforms that work for you. No one needs to be on every network. Find your sweet spots and hang out there.

8. Don’t put all your social media eggs in one basket. Yes, find your sweet spot, but make sure there are least 2 networks that you’re active on. That way, if one suddenly changes how people find you, you won’t have lost your entire audience.

9. Remember why you’re doing social media. We’re writers first, social media is the best way to connect with our audience, but don’t get the equation upside down. The majority of your time needs to be spent writing, not being social online.

10. Don’t give up when results aren’t immediate. It takes time to grow a platform. There aren’t any worthwhile shortcuts. Put in the time and your reach will grow. 
11. Pace yourself. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day – 4 to 5 days a week – working on social media. Otherwise your return on investment will drop and your frustration will rise.

12. Use a scheduling program. To reach the majority of your audience, you need to spread your social media updates throughout the day. The most efficient way to do this is with a scheduling program, like Hootsuite.

13. Promote others over yourself. This give you credibility. Don’t be afraid of the competition. It may seem counterintuitive, but the relationships you build with those offering similar products or services can advance both of you.

These are my rules, I’d love to know what you’d add to the list. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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