Monday, June 1, 2015

Social Media Basics for Writers—Part One, Know Where You Are & Where You’re Headed!

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Today I’m starting a new series, Social Media Basics for Writers. I’m going to lay out the steps to build your online presence into a solid platform that enhances you as an author. 

Be sure to ask questions as we go along, because I’ll partially base my content on the feedback I get from you.

When I teach social networking, I encourage people to relax and not take on too much at once.

I want to begin by talking about the most common mistake I see in social networking: the approach. Because social media can reach millions, it’s way
too easy to think of it as mass marketing. In reality it’s about one-on-one relationships.

That is the beauty and the dichotomy of the medium. It can be overwhelming—this building relationships with millions—especially when our goal is writing, not advertising. Now the good news: Social networking is not as
difficult as it seems.

Social Media is a return to small town thinking.
In many ways, it’s a return to small town thinking. In times past, people
patronized merchants because the proprietors were their neighbors or friends. In this day and time, we also find neighbors and friends on Facebook, Twitter and in blogging communities. And those communities are where we need to concentrate our efforts.

It's vitally important to realize that, despite the bad rap it's gotten, social networking and writers are a natural match. Social networking is all about connecting with people through our words—not walking into a room full of strangers, standing on a platform and speaking. We can sit at our desks, write and reach the entire world.

That said, it IS all about connecting with others. If you're NOT willing to be found by others, then the writing industry as it stands today is gonna be tough for you.

So how do you go about plotting your social media course? 
There are two things you need: 
  • You’ve got to know where you are.
  • You’ve got to know where you’re going.
You are here.
You are Here
To evaluate where you are, you need to know your numbers.
  • How many friends/followers do you have on Facebook?
  • How many followers do you have on Twitter?
  • What other social media networks are you a part of? Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Add those numbers here.
You also need to know where you rank in search engines.
  • Plug your name into Google and see where you are. Do you show up on the first page of a Google search?
  • Plug your name into other search engines (,, etc) and see where you show up there, too.
  • Now search your blog name, if it’s different from your name, and see where you show up.
  • Finally, search some of your blog topics. Don’t just search your blog post titles, but the actual topics. For instance, I wrote a post titled, Social Media Monday—How Facebook Changes for 2015 CouldAffect Authors. When plug that title into the search engine, it comes up number one in the search. But when I search Facebook Changes Affect Authors, I still come up number two.
That’s ultimately what we’re shooting for, to be found by topic, not just by someone already knowing our name.

First, we shoot for getting our names high in the search engine rankings. Then when we’re on the Internet map, we increase our visibility by getting known topically.

Plot your course.
Plot Your Course
It’s hard to get somewhere unless we know where we’re going. One of the easiest ways to get somewhere is to follow someone. So for this part, you need to think about two or three people who are where you want to be in the social media universe. Don’t just choose random, well-known people. Put some thought in this and look at people who write things similar to you. You’re going to use their path to success to guide you, so choose well.

Check their Social Media Numbers
  • Do the same things with their names, as you did with yours.
  • Look at their Facebook friends/followers.
  • Check how many followers they have on Twitter.
  • Look at the other social media networks they’re a part of. To do this, visit their websites to see what networks they find important.
Check their Search Engine Ranking
  • Plug their names into Google and look at what you find.
  • Now do the same thing with other search engines and make note of where they rank.
In the weeks to come, we’ll incorporate this information into plotting your course so don’t skimp on the time it takes to do this research. I’d love to hear what you found when you followed the suggestions above. I’d also love for you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Don’t skip the #SocialMedia basics - Evaluate Where You Are & Where You’re Headed. @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. This is so informative. I am currently doing most of this. I need to check the search engines by topic now. As a non fiction writer who do you suggest I follow? I spend most of my time on Twitter. Thank you Edie. You rock.

    1. Cherrilynn, it sounds like you're on the right track. As far as who to check, look for someone who writes what you want to write, topically. For me, as a military family writer, Ellie Kay was someone I plugged in. Blessings, E

  2. Thanks, Edie. I'm looking forward to these posts!

    1. Molly Jo, thank so much for stopping by! Blessings, E

  3. Since I am still learning to navigate these waters, this information is vital to me. You are my encyclopedia for social networking. I never thought to do the searches but when I did I found my obituary! (At least it wasn't really me). I was surprised to find I showed up on the second page with a google search and the first page when I used my blog name. I even came up under our local paper where I write a monthly article. This inspires me to know I am making progress!

    1. Barbara, that's great! You are definitely doing things correctly. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Blessings, E

  4. My name and blog name past the test. Not so sure about topic searches. But it's a start. Thanks for posting this information. I'm looking forward to more!

    1. Susan, that's a good start. We'll keep working and you'll be surprised at how quickly you begin to show up topically. Blessings, E

  5. Replies
    1. Shaneeka, so glad to help! Thanks for dropping by, Blessings, E

  6. Edie,

    This is a very timely series because I'm trying to decide how I want to position myself in social media.

    For years, my writing blog has been more about helping other writers become better writers than about my own writings. I've also been partnering with a friend and we focus on our personal indie publishing experiences and helping others navigate that course (

    But I recently launched an author blog under my name (

    The problem is that it appears there isn't much overlap between the two markets.

    Should I start a step before what you're suggesting and figure out which side of the coin I want to promote?

    Should I change the LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to reflect the name under which I offer writing instruction (since both of those accounts are established and I've been using them to focus on writers)?

    I confess that blogging is my favorite. I do Twitter "because I have to" so is it something I should even consider doing?

    In other words, HELP!!!!

    Thanks again. This series couldn't be beginning at a more opportune time!

    Best wishes,


    1. Carrie, you pose some GREAT questions! I have several thoughts as I read through you comments. But the first is that it's very difficult to pour effort into building several social media personas.

      I am curious as to why you thought you needed a separate author blog. Here's why:
      Just the fact that we're novelists isn't enough of a reason for readers to follow us, at least it isn't until we're really famous. There has to be another reason, another hook, to entice people to connect with us. That's easier for non-fiction writers.

      For fiction writers, we must write about something we’re passionate about. Perhaps it’s travel, motorcycle riding, history or even knitting, when we choose one of these topics, we don’t hide the fact that we're writers, but that isn’t our focus. Then, as the blog following grows, my name comes up more and more often. My loyal blog followers are happy to share my writing successes and my platform builds.

      But back to my question. You already have a considerable following - of writers, just like me. we're exceptions to the rule of not targeting writers as our platform. But once we've done it, it only makes sense to capitalize on that base. We can branch out and add more limbs, but there's no reason to plant a whole other tree.

      I think you're wanting a site that's completely yours maybe? If so, I'd link it heavily to the sites where you already have a strong following. This is a long answer and I really think I can help you better if you just email me -

      Maybe this has given you some food for thought! Blessings, E

    2. Edie,

      You raise some good questions, too. Maybe it would help to give you a little background.

      I started blogging about art, which is my primary business. I blogged about myself as an artist and talked about the paintings I was doing, shows I was going to, and so on.

      When I started blogging about writing, I assumed I'd do the same thing. The problem was that I wasn't writing as regularly as I was painting. Even when I was, I didn't have much to show for it. You know how long it takes to write a book and get it marketable!

      But I believed I needed a blog, so I started one.

      It gradually morphed into describing how I was writing and when some of those posts became popular, I wrote more on the same subjects.

      Then Danielle and I started Indie Plot Twist and I've been writing that kind of content (writer support) ever since.

      To be honest, I feel a little strange having an author blog because the only things I've published are art how-to books. I know. A book is a book, but what I want to be known for is writing novels and I'm not even close, yet.

      It sounds like you're telling me I don't need an author blog; that it's all right to build platform through a partnered blog. Is that correct?

      I already own the domain but I know owning a domain doesn't mean you have to use it.

      If you haven't already figured it out, I'm not sure at all what direction I want to go with the author blog. I'm much more comfortable with Indie Plot Twist and what I'm doing there, so maybe I should let the author blog go for the time being and do the you assignments for Indie Plot Twist.

      Thanks for taking the time to answer. I didn't expect such an in-depth response, but I sure do appreciate it.


      By the way, thank you so much for the comment about having a lot of followers. That's very encouraging, since it so often feels like I'm sitting here by myself, talking to the wall!

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  8. Thank you, Edie. This helps a lot. I've been turning circles in the social media world trying to figure out which way to go. I have a solid Facebook account with over 600 friends. I JUST started a Twitter account following 77 and have around 20 something followers. I have G+ but haven't spent much time there because it doesn't seem as active. Just opened an Instagram account because I am trying to reach teens. I also started a new blog, but can't seem to get people to really participate which is kind of disappointing--but the blog I feel is a God thing so I can't put it down now. Can you advise me on what I should focus on? And should I set the blog aside for now or keep trying?