A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Writers & Editors

by Jean Mathew

Published at 2019-03-28

From its role in political elections, influencing fashion and beauty standards, launching careers, and empowering the activists of today, social media has become a tool that is powerful, fascinating, and sometimes quite daunting. As a writer or editor, social media gives you a lot of room to experiment, connect, build, and grow. If you are working in the literary fields and are still feeling hesitant about dipping into social media, this blog will quell some fears, encourage experimentation, and help you on your journey so you arrive at the destination you set out for yourself.


Why Does Social Media Matter?

What do you, Beyonce, Tim Hortons, and Apple have in common?


You are all running a business and you are all selling a product (a cup of coffee or the latest iPhone), a service (editing or writing), or an experience (a live concert). Maybe one of the key differences, though, is how many resources you have to build your business. Before Facebook or Instagram, the best way to reach your ideal audience was through the senior editors at magazines and publishing houses, or being hired on staff as a writer or editor.


Today is a great age for freelance work and entrepreneurship! Literary professionals and freelancer editors can carve out a space for themselves to advertise and promote their work on various social media outlets. You don’t need to have marketing or PR professionals. You don’t need an executive team to curate what, when, or how you publish and market the things that you do. Social media gives you the breathing room to build your brand, content, and audience the way that you want to. And for writers, it means that self-publishing is within the realm of possibility if you dedicate some serious time to building your social media presence.


On your social media channel, you can share valuable information with past, present, and potential clients. You can review the work your competitors are doing and the success of their campaigns. You can see what’s abuzz in the literary scene by following your favourite publishers, authors, conferences, and more. With the tools social media provides, you can connect not only to your audience but also with your peers, your competitors, and other industry professionals, and take advantage of neat opportunities you may have otherwise missed!


Although there are many paths that can bring your work into the spotlight, social media holds a lot of great potential and promise if you’re willing to spend some time with it.



Which Platforms Should I Use?

Now that you’ve decided to use social media, the next question is which of the many platforms you should consider. A great thing to keep in mind is not to feel pressured to be on every platform! The key is to use the networks that speak to you and showcase your work in the best light. For example, as a writer, you can use your writing talent to really stand out in the text-friendly world of Twitter. If you have news updates on a regular basis, Facebook might be a great platform for promoting your work.


Since LinkedIn gathers many business professionals in one space who are seeking out high-quality services, you should definitely consider building up your presence here as well.


Instagram may seem at first to be an unfriendly place for the literary, but if the platform speaks to you, it is something you can experiment with! A really great example of this would be the @booksandbeans accounts where photos of books together with coffee are photographed and showcased alongside quotes or a short commentary about the book. And who knows? Someday the book could be yours!


Regardless of which platforms you decide to use, be sure to do your research to identify your ideal audience and community and make sure that those people use the platform too.  



What Should I Do Now that I Have a Social Media Account?

Now that you’ve set a goal to build your brand, connect with your ideal audience, network with industry professionals, build relationships, and do other great things, you need to use social media to reach that goal. But what exactly can you do to achieve this?


Social media today thrives on valuable content, so you will need to think of yourself as a content creator and curator. You will be building, sharing, and engaging with content. And by “content,” I mean anything that you produce, like a review, an article, a photograph, a one-sentence observation, a doodle, a video, a song—quite literally anything. If you are creating content that resonates with your audience, you will have a stronger chance of keeping them around to see what else you do.


If you successfully keep more and more people around, when it comes time to share your service, they will be so excited to be involved to read your book (because they already like what you do!) or acquire your service (because they trust the brand and the tone you have built). And the trick is that there is no right or wrong way to do social media.


Give yourself room for experimentation and growth. Keep an eye on what your audience likes, and what your peers are doing, and test out different things. And slowly but surely, you will find yourself building a community that supports and believes in the work that you do! Pretty cool, right?



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