Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Why Are Social Networks Important?

Of making many books there is no end, 
and much study wearies the body 
(Ecc 12:12 NIV)

Yes, much study wearies the body (and the mind).

The same could be said of social networks and social media—there is no end to them, and just the thought is enough to make our eyes glaze over and our minds grow dim (or is that just me?)

Yesterday I gave a whistle-stop tour of 13 social popular networks which may or may not of relevance to us as authors. But wait! There's more! (I'm starting to sound like an infomercial.)

ClassMates

Reconnecting with old classmates and workmates. FriendsReunited is a UK-based alternative.

Flickr

Yahoo's photo sharing platform, which is older than Instagram and Pinterest, but has now been overshadowed by them.

Medium

Similar to Tumblr, and described by About.com as "perhaps the best social network for readers and writers". Perhaps this is one to check out.

Meetup

Organising local groups around specific interests.

Periscope

A Twitter-owned app offering live video broadcasting from your mobile device. It's gaining popularity among non-fiction writers, perhaps as a more current form of podcasting. Blab is a similar tool.

Reddit

A curation tool, where communities come together to discuss topics in subreddit threads. If I knew what any of those words meant, I’d tell you. I suspect Reddit is most useful for non-fiction writers – but it’s a curation tool, which probably means it’s something I should check out.

Tinder

A dating app. Your fictional characters might use it.

Vine

Short videos that can be embedded in Tweets (as Vine is owned by Twitter)

But . . . Why are Social Networks Important?


As I see it, there are two main functions of social networking for authors:
  • To help us connect with readers
  • To help us connect with other writers
This is why social networks are important. Writers often work in isolation, and online social networks provide us with valuable and necessary ways to connect with others. My favourite social network is Facebook, and I think of it as the kitchen or water cooler in my virtual office, the place I head for a short break to recharge before starting the next item on my to-do list.

Connecting with Readers

I believe connecting with readers is more important to an author's long-term success, because it is the readers who are going to buy your book (or books). For this reason, my suggestions around social networks are more focused on connecting with readers than with other writers--as this is the weak spot for most writers.

We need readers.

We need readers because they read our books. They talk about our books. They review our books. They buy our books. Sure, writers are also readers (or should be). But there are more readers than writers.

Connecting with Writers

Yes, connecting with writers is important, especially in the early stages of your writing. You need to learn to write, and other writers are going to be the people who help with that. Writers will be your first teachers, your first readers, your first fans. They will give you advice on what do, and what not to do. They will help you find a community, essential if your writing is ever going to be anything more than you and a computer.

But in the long term, connecting with readers is more important. Because while all writers are readers (or should be), not all readers are writers.

So what do you want or need from a social networking site:
  • The ability to connect with other users
  • A market demographic that matches your target reader

This means the social networks which are right for me might not be the same as those which are right for you. For example, I discovered as I was researching this post that there are specific social networks for specific groups (this probably shouldn't have surprised me, but it did).

For example, MyMFB has 1.5+ billion followers, and is touted as the Muslim alternative to Facebook. Twoo is a Belgian site geared to teenagers and twenty-somethings, while Renren (everyone's website) is China's largest social platform. VK.com is the Russian version. None of these are appropriate websites for me, as my target reader is a Christian with English as their first language.

But these social networks could be great options for writers targeting non-Christian readers in these countries and people groups.

So, no, you don't need to be on every social network. But you probably do need to be active on a couple of social networks. And you do need your own author website (discussed in this post), and you almost certainly need an email list (click here if you'd like to join mine!).

This is the conclusion in our series of posts on social networking (well, almost. Narelle has an upcoming post about Google+). Have we answered your questions about social media and social networking for authors? What more would you like to know? And what important information have we missed in this whistle-stop tour? Le us know in the comments!

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website (www.christianediting.co.nz), or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christianediting), Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Iola - I really appreciate your hard work with these posts. I'm interested if you know the Alexa rating of Pinterest? Which social network ranked highest?

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    Replies
    1. According to Alexa, Pinterest is #33, behind Facebook (#3), Twitter (#8), LinkedIn (#17), and Instagram (#19).

      http://www.alexa.com/topsites/global;0

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