It’s tough to tell which social media websites are most effective for writers in regards to promotion of their work. Sure, there are tools that allow you to track traffic, feedback and referrals, but that isn’t always telling as to the quality of the people you’re getting. If your site is being visited mostly by Armenian spammers and only a handful of interested writers/readers, it might not be working all that well.
You have to remember, numbers don’t mean everything with promotion on the internet. Maybe it does with advertising, but not promotion. You want to make sure that you are putting more time into keeping up with your community than expanding it. It’s better to have 100 dedicated followers than 1,000 people who could care less what you have to say. And just as a quick note, I’m discounting personal websites/blogs from this feature. Let’s just assume they’re a given.
Facebook: Facebook is a great tool for writers. It has the capability of being the most effective social medium for writers to promote their material and connect with their readers, if not just for the amount of people they will have access to. You can also pay to put up ads for your books, which can also draw attention to your work. But because there is such great possibilities with facebook, it is probably the most dangerous social medium. While you have the possibility of creating an entirely new base of fans, you also run the risk of alienating your fans altogether. The most common way of doing this is turning facebook into a spam feed for your updates. You will quickly run into problems if people perceive your updates as overwhelming or solely focused on self-promotion. This can be a problem in any medium, but especially on facebook.
Verdict: Facebook is worthwhile, but just be very careful how you handle your online persona. You can just as easily alienate your readers as attract them. Tread lightly.
Twitter: Twitter is facebook for those of short attention spans (which is arguably everyone these days). It is a great way to promote your book and keep people in the loop if you have a dedicated following. Depending on what sort of updates you post, it can also work towards personalizing you a bit more. Twitter is a lot safer than facebook in a way, because it is not really as intrusive. You can rifle off five or six posts in a row and no one will bat an eye/unfollow you. Twitter really caters itself to letting you throw up a glut of content all at once without really annoying those following you.
Verdict: Twitter is the safest of the social media sites. Give it a shot. Just be careful. Whereas facebook is a known time eater, twitter can be a deceptive time eater. Monitor your time spent on twitter and don’t let it keep you from working on your manuscript.
Linkedin: Linkedin is the most professional of the online portfolios. It is more useful if you are looking to find some freelance work doing copyrighting, ghostwriting, editing or proofing. It may not be the most useful tool for authors to connect to fans, but it can’t hurt to have a profile. Also, it doesn’t require much maintenance/upkeep and it won’t really suck too much time from your day.
Verdict: Sure, why not? Give it a try. Maybe one of the Jersey Shore cast members will contact you to ghostwrite their autobiography. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though.
Book Blogs: There are a lot of abandoned profiles and interaction that borders on spam with book blogs, but at the same time, there are still some very dedicated and helpful communities operating within the site.
Verdict: I would only tackle this one if you really want to take that extra step in promoting your work/site. It’s not a gold mine of opportunities, but there are always diamond in the rough.
Myspace: Myspace is a graveyard. It’s really only useful if you are a 14-year-old girl or have a My Chemical Romance cover band to promote.
Verdict: Skip this one.
What about you? Which social media sites do you use and how effective are they? Are there any that I missed with this list? Do you find yourself spending more time promoting your books than actually writing them? If you are a self-published author, do you feel an obligation to spend more time on these sites?