3 social media mistakes authors must stop making now

One of the downsides of social media is also one of its upsides: It’s so easy to use.

Anybody can create a Twitter account and start using it immediately. It doesn’t take long to set up a Facebook personal or fan page. LinkedIn? Same thing. Blogging. Yup. You can be rolling along quite quickly.

So how can that be a bad thing?

If you’re using these tools for book promotion and don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of:

  • Underutilizing them (often because you’re afraid of making the same mistakes you see others make).
  • Using them inappropriately for promotion, which makes all that time you spend on your social networks a total waste.

Mistakes to avoid

I see more of the latter, so I’d like to take just a few minutes here to flag those tactics I’m seeing that are counter-productive. Please, please, stop doing the following:

  1. Posting promotional messages on personal Facebook walls. Case in point: An author I don’t know “in real life” friended me on Facebook a few weeks ago. Since then, she regularly posts links to her book’s blog on my wall — just the link, nothing else. I don’t buy or read books on her topic so, frankly, I’m not in her target audience but more importantly, I don’t like her using my personal Facebook wall as a billboard for her book. Even the authors I know and openly support don’t do this, so why would a stranger? Because she doesn’t know better. You’re smarter than that.
  2. Tweeting “buy my book,” “buy my book,” “buy my book” repeatedly. Don’t be like the poet whose entire Twitter feed was copies of the same message asking people to check out her new book on Amazon. It’s so wrong that it’s sad. It’s OK to tweet “my health book that will save your life is now available here,” or “read a sample chapter of my espionage thriller here,” now and then, but follow the 80:20 rule: 80 percent of your messages should be interesting, entertaining, or helpful and just 20 percent should be promotional.
  3. Adding people to your e-mail list without their permission. This is against the law so stop it now before somebody blows you in. You must get a person’s permission to add them to your mailing list. It’s called “opt-in” marketing. Anything that isn’t opt-in is considered spam. Your e-mail distribution provider (MailChimp, AWeber, ConstantContact, iContact, etc.) will have information about this on its site, so please take the time to find and read it. I don’t want you to be dealing with bigger problems later.

For more social media tips, check out “How to get unfriended on Facebook.”

Sometimes, we need someone to hold up a mirror for us, so . . . what types of social media mistakes have you seen authors make?


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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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10 Responses to 3 social media mistakes authors must stop making now
  1. Belinda
    October 25, 2012 | 6:16 pm

    Thank you, Sandra. As usual, you provide such useful information; I always learn something new from your posts.

    Belinda.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 25, 2012 | 9:11 pm

      Thank you, Belinda! I’m so glad it’s helpful — and you’re nice to let me know that.

      : )

      Sandy

  2. Kathy Condon
    October 26, 2012 | 4:15 pm

    It is amazing to me people still have not learned that you cannot put people on your mailing list unless they agree to be added.

    An approach. When I am speaking/training I have a drawing for my book and inform the group that if their card is put into the drawing, I will be adding it to my mailing list….no problem then–I have gotten their permission.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 28, 2012 | 8:09 pm

      Kathy, I was amazed when a moderator of a well-respected online writer’s community automatically added me to her list when I joined the (paid) forum. She was certainly leveraging her leadership position — but not doing it in a very smart way.

      Do you also have a sign-up form on your website?

      Sandy

  3. Hi Sandra. I appreciate your observations. I don’t know much about using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to my advantage. At this point I can’t find time to delve deeper. I don’t want to be quilty of ignoring protocol. I apprectiate any tips I can pick up easily.

    I just found out you are friends with one of my writer friends, AAN.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 28, 2012 | 8:10 pm

      Hope, all you need is good old Upstate New York common sense and you’ll do fine with social media!

      Sandy

  4. Mary Jane Hurley Brant
    November 3, 2012 | 8:43 pm

    Very important point about Face Book. I consider someone’s FB wall a boundary issue. It’s lovely to be warm but it’s quite another to assume a relationship that isn’t even there.

    Even if one knows one very well I don’t think people pop-in on a casual basis anymore and say, “Hi, I was in the neighborhood.”

    Thanks for an interesting post.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      November 3, 2012 | 9:10 pm

      You’re welcome, Mary Jane. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

      Sandy

  5. Mary Jane Hurley Brant
    November 3, 2012 | 10:30 pm

    I’ve read your stuff b/f, Sandy. You keep going and helping us with your great advice.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      November 16, 2012 | 3:47 pm

      Thank you, Mary Jane! I’m so glad it’s helpful!

      Sandy

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