Monday, March 16, 2015

Is Social Media Really Worth the Effort?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media. Often just the mention of this subject conjures up hours of time. First there’s the time it takes to hang out online, then the time it takes to figure out what to say, who to LIKE and which updates to comment on, share and even retweet.

All for what?

The chance that someone out there in cyberspace might actually—either now or sometime in the future—buy a book.

Or the fact that some editor and/or agent is going to judge the number of friends, followers and likes I have on my social media network.

After all—I signed up to be a writer—not a sales person and/or marketer.

I’m sure you’re hoping I can either justify your opinion or make a legitimate case to change your mind and show you how easy and how much fun it is.

The hard truth is this: social media is hard work. It takes being intention and keeping your goal in mind.

I think the problem with most people is that they have the wrong goal in mind when they approach social media.

Social media isn’t advertising and, although we do have the possibility of reaching millions, it’s not mass marketing.

Social media is a way of connecting with people online—it’s this generation’s way of building meaningful relationships.

Beyond that, for writers, social media is a tool. It’s an important tool, but it’s one of many we use when we’re professional writers.

So what should our goals be when it comes to social media? 
1. We want to connect with others online in a way that has meaning. It doesn’t have to become a deep friendship, but it should be a way to enrich one another’s lives.

2. We want to add value to the lives of those we connect with. This means we don’t want to just be part of the online noise, but actually make a contribution.

3. We want to find people we can encourage and who can (and will) encourage us. These people will help share your excitement when a book comes out, and they’ll also be there when things don’t go as planned.

4. We want to be authentic online. We want people to recognize us face-to-face, not just because our image looks like us, but because our updates and online interactions sound like us.

5. We want to have a positive impact on the world—online and offline. To do that, we need to be visible and able to be found.

6. We want to always put others ahead of ourselves. We do this because it’s the right thing to do, and because it helps prove that we’re not just here to get what we can from people and move on.

None of these 6 goals is directly related to selling books—but they can all impact our book sales. If all we’re trying to do is be online to garner huge numbers and sell a product, we’d be better off spending the money on direct advertising.

So what do I share online to accomplish these 6 goals? I have four specific types of updates I share.
  • An inspiring and/or thought provoking quote or a Bible verse.
  • Something humorous (because laughter is the best medicine and we really can’t have too many funny cat videos!)
  • A question, usually thought provoking, but sometimes related to something I need an answer to.
  • A link to something I’ve found valuable or interesting somewhere on the World Wide Web.

I definitely think social media is worthy it.

By being interested in the people I encounter through social media, I’ve managed to make lots of new friends and fun connections. I've also been blessed by the way those online support me and encourage me. I know I’d have missed out on so much, if all I’d been interested in was selling books or using those online to pad the numbers part of my platform.

Now it’s your time. What valuable connections and relationships have you found through social media. Or, if you disagree, I’d love to hear why. We can all learn from each other.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. Edie,

    Thank you for sharing this perspective of Social Media. It's important for us to remember that Social Media is a tool, not God. To remember "why" we write and share is always beneficial, especially on Social Media. I've shared this article on my FB and Twitter pages in hopes it reaches even more people using Social Media as a tool.

    Lisa M Buske

    1. Lisa, thank you! I visited your site and subscribed to your blog. It's a great site and you do a good job of encouraging others. Thanks so much for stopping by! Blessings, E

  2. I love all your comments. I have met so many wonderful people on Social Media. We share ideas, prayers and laughs. I encourage them and they encourage me. I was approached about writing an article after someone read my response to a tweet. That was a added bonus After I reposted my friends blog, she was approached my a magazine. I love promoting my fellow writers. I have been invited to join a flash fiction blog. As a non-fiction writer, I am now expanding my horizons and trying flash fiction. I have encounters some negative and hostile remarks on twitter (I told a well known person that I was praying for them) but I am not discouraged. Suzanne Kuhn from Suzy Q gave me some great advice. "Chose to be present at only 2 Social Media Outlets" that way you are being effective and not spending too much time online.

    1. Cherrilynn, that's great advice from Suzanne Kuhn! Two is the minimum outlets we need to be a part of, although I don't recommend we se more than 3 regularly (it's just too much to keep up with). The reason we want to spread ourselves out a little is so that if something happens with one outlet, we still have a way to reach our audience. Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

  3. I had a thought the other day. (Oh okay, I usually have more than one thought every day.) Anyway, we all seem to spend a lot of time promoting on social media platforms, but I was wondering: How many of those people we 'touch' actually put down their communicative electronic devices to read a book--eBook or paperback?

    1. Carole, that's a good question. Why don't you ask your social media connections? You might be surprised by the answer. You could even go a step further and ask what books have impacted them. It's a great way to redirect back to reading, and have some great conversations! Blessings, E

  4. Excellent points. I'm fairly new to social media. I like facebook and I'm still figuring out twitter. I enjoy retweeting and sharing on twitter. Actually, that's how I found your post. :)

    1. Larissa, welcome! Thank you for taking time to visit and sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

  5. It is worth the effort, as long as you don't let it suck too much time or energy from your writing. I set a timer on my phone and have specific objectives before I open up Hootsuite - or else I'll lose an hour easily!
    Thanks Edie!

    1. Julia, you're a woman after my own heart. I have to be careful not to get sucked in, especially on FB. Thanks for sharing your insight! Blessings, E

  6. A moment of clarify. I get anxious when told that I must be more active in groups/blogging ... in order to build a presence. What in heck do I write about? I love the comment above about writing something that helps others - and is related to my business. Duh. This is perhaps what people in the marketing field meant but failed to say to me. OK, this I can do. Thanks!

    1. Ramona, take a look at things you like to see on social media. If that seems too remote to real life, imagine you're at a small gathering, what topics could be be chatting about that would interest you. Which group would you join? Those are the things you want to share. Thanks so much for taking the moment to share your thoughts! Blessings, E

  7. oops, I meant a Moment of Clarity.

  8. Awesome article, Edie. You always have something so profound to say and so many listen. Keep up the excellent blog! Blessings always, Dianna

  9. Edie, Girl. There is a love and hate relationship between me and this media thing. I love it because I meet some of the most amazing and caring people (I met you) and I hate it because it takes so much of my time. The more intentional I am (establishing a timeframe and keeping to it) I am rewarded. I'm being more selective: Facebook and twitter. Haven't figured out the pointers yet.