Monday, September 12, 2022

Social Media Basics for Writers: Deal with Unrealistic Expectations

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

“I’m not getting any traction with social media,” is one of the complaints I hear a lot as I travel and teach writers how to connect.

There are a lot of reasons people feel this way, a few are legit, but most are just unreasonable expectations. Today I’m going to address the unrealistic exception for social media that many have. 

Unrealistic Expectations for Social Media
  • The more time I spend on Facebook and Twitter, the more friends and followers I’ll have. I’ve addressed this one several times, but I still hear it the most. Truthfully, after you’ve come up to speed on social media, spending more than thirty minutes a day on social media will trap you in the law of diminishing returns. This is a case of work smarter, not harder.
  • I’m spending time talking about my book, but my sales aren’t reflecting that. If you’re spending the most of your social media updates on yourself or your product, you’ve missed the point of social media. Social media is about building one-on-one relationships, it’s NOT an advertising platform. Building relationships will increase your reach and more people will hear about your book. THAT is where your increase in sales will come. Making your social media updates all about (or even one half about) you will drive people away and you may see a decrease.
  • Social Media is a fast way to increase my reach. Well…not so much. Like anything worthwhile it takes time—and consistency—to build a following. It took me about nine months to go from about seventy-five Twitter followers to one thousand. Then about a year to go from that to ten thousand followers.
  • I need to stay current with all the new social media platforms. Again, not really. The thinner you spread yourself, the shallower your reach. To get to the majority of your audience who’s on social media, you need to be on Twitter and Facebook. And you need to have a place where you are blogging regularly—that can be a personal blog or a group blog. If you find another platform you love (like Pinterest) find a way to work it into your thirty minutes a day.
  • I need to balance my time equally between Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. You do need to have a presence on all three, but you’ll find your own sweet spot. That’s where you need to concentrate your efforts. Do you have five thousand Facebook fans and only seven hundred Twitter followers? Then Facebook is your sweet spot. Spend the majority of your time there. Maintain an audience with the other two, but go with your passion. That strategy will always get you further. Beyond that, you’ll enjoy it more.
  • A social media platform is more important than anything to sell your book to a publisher. It is important, but without an excellent product (a well-written manuscript) it’s practically worthless. And the numbers that publishers are most interested in are you subscription numbers. That’s another reason it’s so important not to spend more than thirty minutes a day on social media.
Social media isn’t a fast pass to a super internet presence. As I’ve said before, anything worth having takes…well…work.

BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work at it. It can give you a distinct advantage when you’re looking for a publisher for your book, and when you’re trying to connect to readers for your book. 

What expectations have you found that are unrealistic when it comes to social media? Do you struggle in a specific area—if so, share your thoughts in the comments section and we'll see if we can come up with a solution.


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  1. Edie,

    Thank you for this wise advice about expectations and practices for authors. We need to take the long view rather than the short one.

    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

    1. Terry, thank you for setting such a great example! Blessings, E

  2. Thank you Edie. Your wisdom is always inspiring. :-)

    1. Melissa, I'm glad I'm able to help! Blessings, E

  3. Thank you for differentiating expectations, myths, and reality.

    1. PeggySue, sometimes those things get all jumbled together and I've found it helpful to keep them separate in my mind! LOL! Blessings, E

  4. Edie, that was a very helpful summary of what to expect from social media. Thank you!

  5. Edie rocks! Have taken lessons from her and it has made all the difference. Her book captures her great lessons too! Thank you Edie for sharing your experience and expertise!