Monday, June 8, 2015

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part II—When Should a Writer Start Building a Social Media Network?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Over and over, I’ve been asked when a writer should get active on social media. And the answer surprises many. 

The truth is, you need to have a solid social media platform BEFORE you ever get published. 

If you wait until you get a contract, you're already way behind. 

But what's involved in building a social media network? Today I'll lay it all out and give you the basics.

Platform Building Basics
To have a strong online platform, we have to first have a solid foundation. I teach (and used this to grow my own platform) that to have an effective social media presence on the Internet you need to do three things: Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging. The reason you must use Facebook and Twitter is because, no matter what or who you’re promoting, you’ll find almost 100% of your audience on these two networks. There may come a time, especially with Pinterest and Google+, that this changes. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You also need to be blogging someplace regularly. Notice I did NOT say you have to have a blog. I said you have to blogging somewhere, regularly. It could be a group blog or professional blog where you have a regular column. The idea is to have somewhere to send your audience so they can interact with you on a deeper level than social media. Think of it as a place to sit down and have coffee, to get to know each other better.

Another thing that I see again and again is that writers don’t know how to make their separate social media networks work together. Today I’m going to give you some tips for that.

Keep Your Social Media Identity Consistent
As writers in today’s digital world, we all know the importance of having an online presence. The savvy writer works hard to leverage social media to do everything from building a platform to interacting with readers.

Even armed with the knowledge of how important engaging online is, many authors have missed one vital component. 


So today I’m sharing 5 simple things you can to do keep your social media identity consistent.

Does it really matter that I seem like one person on Facebook and another on Twitter? To a certain degree, it definitely does. While interaction styles do vary from network to network, our audience will still expect us to be recognizable. Think about it from this perspective. Do you really trust someone who is drastically different from situation to situation? I don’t. The same thing holds true with your social media personality. It needs to ring true, no matter where you audience finds you.

So now we know that we need to have a certain level of consistency, what exactly does that entail. Here’s my list of 5 things that will help you build the trust of your audience, while still interacting normally on a given network.

1. Keep your profile photo consistent (and a picture of you – NOTHING else). I’m always amazed at writers who want to build an online presence, but don’t have a picture of themselves on their social media sites. People don’t engage with cartoons and other pictures. They are looking for someone to trust. And even though I love kids, it’s you I’m interested in, not your kids or your grandkids.

As far as the picture you use of yourself on social media, it doesn’t have to be the exact same picture, but it better be pretty close. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to find someone on Twitter by looking at their Facebook photo as a reference and missing them entirely. I have several different photos I use for profile pictures. They were all taken around the same time and are a large enough shot of my face, that people can tell who I am.

2. Write your updates like you talk. If you’re trying to be something you’re not, or present yourself in a way that’s not natural, it will show.

3. Be consistent with how often you post updates. Today’s audience has a short attention span and even shorter memory. To build a consistent picture of yourself online, you have to be online often enough for people to remember you. What does consistent look like? It varies from person to person, but I would say, at least a couple of updates a day, per network, four or five times a week. This is different from growing your platform, this is just to remain in the short term memory of your audience.

4. Don’t change the basis of your message from network to network. For example, if your online identity is built on being a YA author on Twitter, don’t make narrative nonfiction the basis of your posts on Facebook. Let the independent networks work together to paint a more complete picture of who you are. Don’t be an alligator on one and a fuzzy bunny on another.

5. Keep your online information current. If you update your Facebook bio because you’ve signed a new contract, don’t neglect your Twitter or LinkedIn bio. And don’t neglect the bio section of any social media network. This is valuable real estate and should not be wasted.

Now it's time for me to stop talking and begin answering your questions. What have you found is working for you and what are the areas where you struggle? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

When should a writer start building a #SocialMedia network? - answers from expert @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Waiting until you have a contract to build a #SocialMedia network is too late - via @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. THANK YOU EDIE I am doing all of the above and it works. I seriously began using twitter at the end of last year and almost doubled my followers by applying this advice. I tweet about 8-10x throughout the day. I also retweet and comment on others tweets. I joined a prayer network there. It takes little time. I tweet my blog with a picture attached, a bible verse or a hello to people I know on twitter. Online Magazines have asked to use my blog posts because they saw them on twitter. I have made some great connections there.

    1. Cherrilynn, all great stuff! Keep up the good work, Blessings, E

  2. This is valuable information! I am right in the midst of creating a better on-line presence and building my platform. Since I am expanding but have little funds, what do you think about free sites such as blogspot for a blog (which I currently use) and Wix for a web page (which I am thinking about using) verses the sites that you pay for such as Wordpress? This blog is perfect timing for me. I am taking a class at our community college on Th to help me set up a FB page for authors that ties into my upcoming web site.

    1. Erin, this site is built on blogspot and I think it's a GREAT option for writers. I'd hold off on building a website, the important part of a website is the blog. Concentrate on building that and developing a following, then ad a website later. Here's a post I wrote about who needs a website: and this one:

      I hope that helps. Feel free to email me with further questions: Blessings, E

    2. Thank you for always helping those who are learning!!

  3. Edie,

    You've answered my questions from last week. I NEED to change my user ID on both Twitter and LinkedIn to reflect my participation as a regular contributor/founding partner at Indie Plot Twist.

    I know I can change my user handle on Twitter without risk of losing followers. I can also change my bio at any time and for any reason, so that's now on my list.

    But LinkedIn is a little more difficult to decipher. Am I going to lose audience by changing my profile name after all this time (I've been a member for several years, now).

    Finally, is Facebook REALLY necessary? Previous experience with that has been so negative, I swore never to go back.

    Thanks again for the tips and the encouragement.

    Best wishes,


  4. Thanks, Edie. I have a few regular readers according to Google Analytics, but no one comments or opts in to receive my blogs. I always ask for comments. I have a good following begun on Twitter but my Facebook page does nothing. I've had a regular Facebook page for years. Have always considered it for friends and have not concerned myself with numbers. Should I give up the book page and start building the personal page?

    1. Pat, I do recommend using what works with FB. For me, it's using my profile instead of my professional page. I've had a lot of success using my profile to interact with readers. Blessings, E