What's Wrong (and Right) About Social Media as a Marketing Tool Part Two


So you want to make your writing commercially successful. So you spend hours plugging away on social media, because apparently ‘that’s the way it’s done’.

Update: there are many ways to market your writing. Social media — at least the way you’ve probably been using it — is not even the most important one.

As a writer, your time and money are finite resources — perhaps they seem even more finite than in other careers. Given that your ‘commercial capital’ right now resides mainly in your head, you should be spending the vast bulk of your time converting that into the currency of words on the page.

The rest of your time? Evaluate carefully. Find out where your efforts will have the greatest return, and focus them there.

For most writers, it’s not social media. Social media can be an effective method of marketing, but most writers are using it incorrectly, which not only makes it a waste of time, but can actually be counter-productive. As a writer, you should try to use social media only after you have a few other things sorted out, like your voice and message as covered in earlier articles.

What wastes your time as a writer on social media exactly? Posting about things, or responding to things unrelated to your forward progress as a writer. Your social media profile is there for several key reasons (or should be):

• to strengthen your reputation as a writer

• to communicate and connect with fans and potential followers

• to showcase your values.

It is not a place to post about what you had for dinner or how you were delayed getting to the shops yesterday. Most of the time when you post about things unrelated to your work as a writer, you weaken your voice. To reach your target market, your output needs to be extremely highly targeted; off topic posts are both ineffective and counter-productive.

‘But…but…but does that mean I can’t ever just be myself on social media?’ says a voice at the back. You can do what you like with social media — that’s why it’s called ‘social’. It’s meant to encourage communication between human beings. But if you want to use social media to make forward progress as a writer, every minute you spend using it needs to be focused on that goal in some way.