These days, writers are often inundated with an overabundance of advice about using social media for the online writer platform. In the age of the Internet, instantaneous communication, and global networking, social media can be a make or break point for any aspiring writer. Building a strong, online presence is crucial to not only being noticed as a writer, but is often taken into consideration when approaching publishers and editors. A quick search online will bring up thousands of pages, blog posts, and more, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the quaqmire of information. It can be particularly daunting to those who are not familiar with social media, or those who do not use it regularly in their personal lives, much less their professional ones.
The struggle to properly utilize social media is new to us here at the Crime: Executed blog, as well. As such, we thought we would distill some of what we have learned and experienced in order to help others like us in starting down the path to social media mastery (an ambitious goal, but as Bruce Lee said, “In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”)
So, here are five of the most important lessons we’ve learned so far.
1.) Just start. The whole process of starting your online presence can be daunting and overwhelming,. At the beginning, we tried reading everything we could get our hands on about using all the different social media outlets for writers. While these did give us a strong foundation to work from, ultimately it was easiest and best to just start. After getting the blog up and running, we picked one platform to start focusing on (in this case, Twitter) and just ran with it. We’re still learning, and it’s definitely a process, but in order to develop a strong presence, you have to start somewhere. Start small, start simple, but start. The rest will start to fall in place.
2.) Plan your posts. While it’s important to just start posting, you also need to have an idea of what you want to post and how you will go about it. In our experience, a general outline and plan is best. Early 20th century German general Helmuth von Moltke the Elder famously said “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.” Often simplified to “no plan survives first contact with the enemy,” or less eloquently by boxing great Mike Tyson “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Plans are great, but it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of planning and get away from the essence of the work itself. Make a general plain. Pick a general number of posts per week, what platforms to publish them on, and a few different kinds of posts to use. Then adjust as you go. Keep it simple. Simple is the key to sustainability.
3.) Always be on the prowl for new content. Just because you’re writing a true crime piece or hosting a true crime blog doesn’t mean every single thing you do has to be about true crime. If you look at our twitter, we like to use quotes from great figures from history, works by authors in other genres, and general posts about every day life. Try to keep it varied and interesting. Using different content can help bring new readers who might not have found you otherwise. Again, don’t get bogged down in the details and lose sight of your focus, but don’t be afraid to branch out. Write down interesting quotes or facts. Copy interesting or unique articles. Talk about that new book you just read that has nothing to do with your creative focus. Put a unique spin on your niche to keep people coming back. Your readers should always come away from your social media feeling as if they’ve connected with you in a new way or learned something new.
4.) Connect. It’s called social media for a reason. Many writers are introverts, and opening up this way can be anathema to us, but it’s important to network and build your readership. If you review a book, give a shout out to the authors. This can help expose you to new markets and new readers from more established writers. Don’t be a obnoxious or overly self-marketing. Just remember to try and link up with like minded individuals who have something to offer, and show them that you have something to offer in return.
5.) Be patient, and be consistent. Cliche as it may be, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Building a network takes time, patience, and dedication. It takes hard work and perseverence. I’m lucky – I have a partner who is willing to work on a lot of the social media stuff while I work on the book. This works for us. If you need help, ask someone who’s good at social media to help you get started or to go over your platforms from time to time and give you advice. As we mentioned earlier, simplicity is often the key to sustainability, and sustainability is a must. Remember, social media is just a component of your craft. Don’t get mired down in the extraneous, but don’t neglect it either.
Ultimately, our best advice is to just get out there and start doing! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t let intimidation keep you from building your networks.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee