Therese here. Today’s guest is Judy Dunn, whose blog —CatsEyeWriter–was recently named along with Writer Unboxed as one of the top ten blogs for writers by Write to Done. Judy is also a copyeditor, blog doctor, and connoisseur of languages and strange songs. I’m thrilled she’s with us today to discuss something I’ve heard debated more and more frequently: How much is enough already when it comes to blogs and social media? Enjoy.
Do You Really Need an Author Blog if you’re on Facebook or Twitter?
I’m a blogging and coach and content marketing specialist. Some of the people I work with are authors. The other group is comprised of small business owners. I would say that aspiring authors are really small biz people, too, but I get pushed back on that a lot.
For a good reason.
You became a writer because you are in love with, well, writing. Some writers don’t have a business bone in their body. They either ignore marketing because they are focused on their craft. Or they grudgingly hire a publicist or someone else to do it for them.
I get that. I really do. After all, you belong to the world of ideas. And if you don’t do the hard work, that is, put in the seat time, your book will never be born.
Enter the new marketing: social media
In some respects, social media tools have made promoting an author’s work easier. We don’t have to leave the house as often: go to libraries and coffee shops and community clubs, give talks. We can pop into Facebook or Twitter for a few minutes every day and our marketing takes care of itself. Right?
Well, yes, but it comes with risks.
Other social media platforms are just that. Other people’s platforms. If you make Facebook or Twitter your main author platform, you are giving up some control of your marketing message.
And that is not always a good thing.
5 reasons you shouldn’t make Facebook or Twitter your author platform
Your author platform is the stage where it all takes place. It’s where you talk about your work, and engage readers and potential readers of your books. And it’s where you build a loyal readership.
To make that work, you need a home base—a hub.
A place to put your content that is your own. A place to connect with readers and develop a subscriber’s list so you can continue to communicate with them.
Here are 5 reasons why Facebook and Twitter are not the best home base for authors.
1. You don’t have full control over the delivery of your content.
Though Facebook and Twitter don’t actually own your content, they own access to it. If you place your content on someone else’s platform, you are giving them control over who sees it and when.
In its Terms of Service, Facebook tells us that they have a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use any content we post. Add to that the fact that Facebook and Twitter have the right to (and often do) change their fine print policies and you have a potentially troublesome situation.
What’s the answer? Make sure you are not posting your full content solely on a platform like Facebook. And be sure you are not hosting your blog in someone else’s space (WordPress.com, Blogger, etc.) Because they have the power to make all your posts disappear at the flick of a switch.
2. You lose your brand identity.
You may be communicating on Facebook or Twitter but the brand is theirs, not yours. People remember the Facebook name and logo better than they retain your name as an author. Is that what you want them to remember when they read your stuff?
A blog or website is a great way to build your brand. To get your personality out there. To create a look, style and tone that is uniquely yours.
3. Your network of followers is not really yours.
This one is huge. Whether you have an account on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere else, the people you have built relationships with—and their email connections—belong to that platform, not you. If Facebook decides to close your account, or if you choose to leave, you don’t have a way to communicate with those people anymore.
One colleague of mine built a network of more than 1,000 rabid followers on a certain social media platform. He lost all those names and contacts when they accused him of violating their terms of service and closed his account.
Tough lesson to learn. Better to post excerpts of your content on these sites but direct people back to your blog or website, and build your list there, where you have more control.
4. You don’t have unlimited messaging space.
With their word count limitations, Facebook and Twitter work much better to direct readers to your full content. I use them to post short tips of the day and teasers to draw people to my content.
Where is that content? On my home base, of course.
On my blog.
5. You don’t have anywhere to send the traffic and convert readers into fans.
One of the main benefits of a social media presence is to cultivate a following for you the author and for your books. To do that, you will want to lead them back to your own space—to your blog or website—and ask them to do something.
You might want them to sign up for a webinar or online study group, subscribe to your e-newsletter, opt in for email delivery of your blog posts or something else. The point here is that to retain access to your readers, including a way to contact them (when they give you permission to do that by giving you their email addresses).
What about you? What’s your take on how to build your author platform? Do you use just Facebook or Twitter for promotion or do you have a blog or other home base, too? How is your plan working for you?