I connected with today’s guest blogger, Chris Syme, when she let me know that she linked to one of my articles in her DigitalBookWorld.com guest post about social media. Impressed with her message in that article, I invited her to write a guest post for us on social media myths. Chris is a 20-year veteran of the communications industry and principal of the award-winning CKSyme Media Group. The author of three books on social media, she is a frequent speaker on the national stage. Her third book, SMART Social Media For Authors, is now on pre-order at Amazon and will be released November 1. Follow her on Twitter and get more tips her agency’s blog for authors.
10 terrible social media myths authors should avoid
By Chris Syme
When it comes to social media, it seems like we will believe just about anything. If we see it on the Internet it must be true, right?
Much of what we’ve come to think about social media is just wrong. It’s time to tear down those tips and tricks that people keep telling us and close the door on bad social media advice.
Sometimes it’s obvious that some practices are wrong; other times not so much—especially if we see them over and over again online.
In order to produce content that people will love enough to pass on to others, we need to clear the table of bad practices so our fans can see the real value in what we post on social media.
If you see yourself in any of these 10 myths, take heart. We’ve all been there. I want to challenge you to challenge yourself. Together, we can stamp out these terrible social media myths.
1. Copying and pasting the same content word-for-word on all my social media channels will help my message reach more people.
This myth basically infers that all social media audiences are created equal.
Today, if you post the same message verbatim on every social media channel, people will think you are lazy and ignorant.
Every channel has its own demographics and channel culture. If you go to a black tie dinner wearing your yoga pants and sweatshirt, people will know you didn’t take time to understand where you were going. You’ll stand out and not in a good way.
Learn how to reframe your message in the channel culture’s frame. This fun infographic from instamom.com does a fantastic job explaining how your social media messages should differ in approach.
And don’t forget age demographics. Some channels have younger audiences and require a different approach. If the channel’s target demographic isn’t in your audience, you are really wasting your time there anyway.
There are just so many ways this is wrong.
Hashtags have strengths, but stuffing is not one. I could list a million reasons but I’ll just stick to data. In 2014, Buffer published data from an extensive study by Buddy Media to find out the exact science of how hashtags affect a social media post. They found that tweets with hashtags receive two times more engagement than those without.
But more is not better. After two hashtags, engagement levels started to drop off drastically. Bottom line: a post full of hashtags is never a message, it is a distraction.
3. I need to join every social network to reach more people.
This myth violates a couple basic principles of effective marketing:
- Your marketing has to be manageable to be effective. You need to be able to write, promote your books, and have a life. It won’t happen if you spread yourself too thin.
- You want to key in on the channels where your readers are and develop an effective audience there. You don’t want to necessarily reach more people, you want to reach the right people. Facebook is the only platform out there that has enough range in demographics and captures enough online traffic to justify saying everyone should be there. After that, it’s iffy.
For marketing purposes, it is not enough to just join a network. You have to be working at producing engaging content and building loyal relationships wherever you are.
Be smart about which networks you use. Some may return much less than the amount of effort you are putting in.
4. Buying followers and fans will help me sell more books.
- “Followers for dollars” are not qualified customers. Heck, they may not even be real people. Chances are very high they are not your targeted audience.
- Buying followers just increases your reach (number of people that might qualify to see your posts). Reach is a low-level goal. And it is a no-level goal if the followers you bought don’t care about what you have to say.
Note: There is something to be said for the credibility of having lots of followers but today everyone knows that people are buying followers and scamming for auto follows, so who are you trying to fool? Concentrate on engaging the number you have and they will grow organically.
You can run contests and giveaways to increase your qualified followers (people who want your books). I would rather have 1,000 people who like to read my kind of books than 10,000 bots and fake followers who will never buy one book.
5. Social media will not help me sell any books.
This is a particularly common misconception for authors. If done correctly, social media does help sell books.
The problem with this myth is that represents a misunderstanding of the benefits of social media marketing. Authors have two basic needs when it comes to marketing: sell more books and build a dedicated fan base. Social media is better at the second but it can certainly do the first.
6. Social media results cannot be measured.
Social media can certainly be measured, but you need something to measure first.
What is your goal? Increase followers? Build an advance reader team? Increase sales with a launch campaign? Build an email list?
Most people don’t know how to match goals to measurement. But don’t worry—this can all be learned. The backbone of good marketing is a plan. If you have a plan that includes goals, measurements, strategies, and tactics, you will know exactly what you are measuring.
If you are just playing darts with a blindfold on, even if you hit the bullseye, you won’t know how you got there.
7. Social media is only for young people.
A whopping 71 percent of American adults online use social media—53 percent of them use more than one network. As of last year, for the first time in history, the majority of online adults over age 65 now use social media. The 18-29 group has the highest percentage at 90 percent, but all age groups are on social media now. The 30-49 age group is second at 70 percent of online adults.
This myth is a lame argument anymore.
8. I am too old to learn how to use social media.
This myth is vaguely related to number seven.
Social media savvy is not the domain of the young. If you are adept enough to write books, you can certainly learn how to use social media.
The trick is finding help learning how to do it right. Find some resources you can trust. Take some free online webinars from trusted sources, follow bloggers who know what they’re talking about, and network with other authors who are in your same boat. I think the really intimidating piece here is the learning curve. But once you get around the curve, the road is pretty straight.
9. Social media is free.
Boy I wish. Most of the platforms are free to use but maintaining a consistent presence takes time and resources, and sometimes money. You know the old saying, time is money. And time will be your biggest cost.
In addition, email providers, website hosting, images, and advertisements all cost money. Although it is possible to do social media well on a shoestring, reaching a wider audience often costs money. The good news is, there are ways to control your budget and still be successful.
10. Social media is a soap box for me to sell my books.
I don’t know if anyone really says this, but they certainly act it out. If all you do on social media is tweet or post “Buy my book” then you are failing. If you sell a handful of books with this method, think of how many you could sell if you actually built a platform to sell more books and develop a dedicated fan base.
The formula for selling on social media is “you have to earn the right to sell.” You do that by producing entertaining, helpful content that shows people you care more about them than you do about selling books. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or nonfiction, this is still the formula.
What can you do to bust some of these myths in your own social media today? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
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