An Author's Introduction to Social Media and Networking

WestbowPress Resources

Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, are here to stay. The popularity of sites may come and go, but the concept of social media and using it to network and share information is definitely here to stay. How can you as an author take advantage of what social media has to offer? Where do you even begin? This article will lead you through what Facebook and Twitter are and why you must have a social media presence. Part two of this article will walk you through some beginning steps you can take to establish yourself online.

Before we talk about how to set up a social media presence, let’s define a few key terms:

Social Media: Social media is media that is designed to be rapidly disseminated mainly through Internet based applications. Social media changes broadcast media (one to many) into social dialogues (many to many) and changes content consumers into content producers. Social media completely changes how people receive information because they are no longer dependent on traditional means, but rather become dependent on their networks of people and the experiences those people have had or are having in the moment.

Social Networking: Social networking is the interaction between people using social media websites. Social networking usually happens between people who share common interests and creates an online community of people interacting together. There are literally hundreds of social networking sites, but in this article we're focusing on the two most popular: Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook: Facebook is a social networking website that allows users to register for free, create a personal profile or fan page, post information and “status” updates, find friends, “talk” to friends, join groups with common interests, share information and essentially network with others.

Twitter: Twitter is a social networking website that enables users to send and receive short, 140 character messages known as “tweets.” Users join for free, set up a profile and a Twitter username, find other people on Twitter and “follow” them in order to read their posts. Other users can also choose to follow your tweets as you post them. Similarly to Facebook, Twitter is used to share information and have conversations with others. Twitter and Facebook can also be linked so that updates you post in one will display in the other.

Why Should I Care About Social Media and Social Networking?

Now that we have a basis for understanding what social media is and does, let’s talk about why you must have a social media presence online. I know what some of you are thinking – “I don’t need a social media presence, I’ll sell my book by word of mouth. People will love it and tell their friends. I can’t handle, nor do I need all that online stuff.” Actually you do. When someone hears about your book from a friend, what is most likely the first thing he or she will do? Search for you online. They will want information about you, how to buy your book, etc. At the very, very least you must have a website. But as mentioned earlier, media is moving away from broadcasting to dialogue and interaction, something typical websites do not provide.

Readers want to interact with you. By using applications like Facebook and Twitter you gain instant access to your readers and can start building a following of people who want to hear what you have to say and vice versa.

The other huge advantage of using social media is that in most cases it's free, making it a very inexpensive way to reach your target audience. You'll have to account for the time that you invest in social media marketing, but there are little to no costs involved.

You must take advantage of every avenue available to market your work, there’s no getting around that fact. If you don’t, you will be left out of the book selling marketplace. Twitter and Facebook are just two of the social media marketing avenues that should be considered and explored. Do your homework. Search for other authors on these sites to see how they are using them to market their books. Then, when you think you have a good understanding of what social media is and why you need to be using it as an author, move on to our next article, How to Use Facebook and Twitter to Promote Your Book, to learn some basic steps to actually setting up your social media profiles.

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