The Why of Social Media for Writers

Social media is the new hot thing. You hear about it everywhere. But what is it and why would a writer want to use it?

What is social media?

Social media is any website or application that allows people to interact with each other. Common examples are chat rooms, forums, commenting systems, review sites, audio/video sites – any place where people can respond to each other.

You’ve probably heard of the big social media sites – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc. But there are many more. Hundreds more. Every time someone dreams up a way for people to connect online, another social media site is born.

Why do I want to use it?

The big question for writers, though, is why do you want to use ANY social media sites?

Social media is about being social – meeting new people, making acquaintances, developing relationships.

For a writer, a wider circle of friends and acquaintances means a greater opportunity to sell books.

Here’s why:

Not everyone who knows you is going to buy your book. A sad truth, but realistic. Let’s say that 10% of the people that know you will go out and buy your book. If 10 people know you, that’s 1 book sale.

Now let’s say that 1000 people know you. That 10% is going to give you 100 book sales.

Increasing the number of people you know, and who know you, via social media can give you two main benefits:

1. It enlarges the pool of people that know you and know about your new book release (because you will have told them via blog, email newsletter, or social media announcements).

2. It increases the possibility that some of those people will like what you write (because you’re hanging out with people who read your genre) and buy your book or like you well enough to buy your book just to support you. So instead of 10% of your circle buying your book, maybe 25% buy it.

A book-buying example

Let’s imagine:
You’re going to buy a book and you have two good prospects to choose from. Both sound intriguing and you can’t wait to read one.

Book A is written by a well-known author that you don’t know personally.

Book B is written by an author that you follow on Twitter and Facebook and have talked to through tweets and wall comments. You’ve followed the book’s progress as the author wrote it and talked about it on Twitter and Facebook. You’ve witnessed the author’s struggles and celebrated her triumphs as she worked on the book.

Which book are you going to buy?

In my case, if I’m equally interested in both books, I’m going to buy the book from Author B first because I feel like I have a relationship with Author B and I want to support her efforts as a writer.

Social media gives someone the opportunity to get to know you as a person. Who you are, what you’re like, and what you’re passionate about. And we’re more likely to support people that we know and like.

Your Turn

What social media sites have you used and what was your experience with them?