3 things you need to stop doing on social media

Although I don’t recommend it, many authors build their book marketing plans entirely around social media.

Because they’re so reliant on social networks, it’s extra important that they use them effectively. And yet, so many don’t.

Whether you use social media exclusively or incorporate other strategies into your book marketing calendar, be aware of these three “don’t do” tactics.

1. Posting the same content, word-for-word, across all platforms.

Do you post the exact same language and image on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.? Social scheduling tools make it easy to do that, but it doesn’t mean you should.

Let’s use sharing from Instagram to Facebook as an example. Many people do this because Instagram’s owner, Facebook, makes it easy to do so . Here are a few reasons why you want to be careful with this:

  • If you have the same connections on both platforms, they’re seeing the same content twice. Is that your goal? Or would you rather use the overlapping audiences to share two messages instead of one?
  • The tagging – when you include the Instagram name of people or brands or businesses or locations – looks different on Facebook. That renders it useless and out of context when the post is shared to Facebook.
  • When you’ve included tagging, it’s obvious that you’ve posted on Instagram first. That suggests to Facebook connections that they aren’t your most important audience. Like, maybe, they’re an after-thought. Again, is that your goal?
  • If your Facebook post privacy setting is set to “friends only,” only people you’re already connected to will find your Instagram-to-Facebook posts by searching for the hashtags used in the original Instagram post. That means that unless you use the “public” setting on Facebook, Instagram hashtagging won’t lead anyone new to you. (And when’s the last time you searched for hashtags on Facebook, anyway?)


The tagging problems show up when you post text with Twitter tags to LinkedIn, too.

Instagram image issues

Sharing images across platforms with social scheduling tools can also lead to wonky Instagram shares. Most social networks don’t require images to be a certain shape, so they look the same on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Not so with Instagram. If the image you upload there isn’t square, the software turns it into a square for you (unless you make a manual tweak, but we’re not talking about that here). Here’s what it looks like when using a scheduling tool to post a rectangular image to Instagram at the same time you share it on other networks:

stop doing on social media 2
This is an actual example from Instagram.

Not pretty, is it?

Personality plus

In addition, each social network has its own personality and purpose. That means you should tailor images and text for each.

Each social network has its own personality and purpose. That means you should tailor images and text for each.Click to tweet

Think of it this way: Imagine you have four children. Are their personalities all the same? Does what motivates one motivate all? Do you treat all of them the same, or do you relate to each as an individual?

It works that way with social networks, too.

2. Blogging on Facebook and Instagram to establish thought leadership.

Facebook and Instagram aren’t long-form content platforms. That means that users aren’t expecting (or hoping for) 600-word essays.

But it’s not just that. If you’re looking to establish yourself as an expert or gain a following for your opinions, you’re more likely to achieve that goal with a blog. Here’s why:

  • It’s easier to share a link to that “here’s what I think about that” essay on your blog than it is to share it on other social networks when you’re blogging on Facebook or Instagram. The harder you make it for people to share your content on other social networks, the less likely they are to do it.
  • Blogging on your website lets you easily build an opt-in email list by capturing email addresses as people read your articles. With social networks, you have to place a link to your website page with the opt-in form in a post or your profile bio to collect email addresses. Because it adds an extra step or two, fans are less likely to take action.
  • If Facebook or Instagram disappears tomorrow, your content and connections will disappear with it. If you write to display leadership or expertise, own your content and your fans’ information by keeping it under your own roof.

There are exceptions to this, of course. My favorite is Humans of NY on Instagram. If you have a unique concept that you can sustain and that will attract an audience, then go for it. But most of us will do best by leveraging a blog’s flexibility and functions.

Blogging on LinkedIn

LinkedIn, on the other hand encourages you to blog there. It’s a smart strategy for authors targeting the LinkedIn business crowd.

I generally recommend keeping all original content on your website blog and re-purposing those articles into new-ish pieces for LinkedIn.

3. Ignoring social media’s potential for community building.

There’s a reason why these platforms are called “social” media and “social” networks. It’s because they’re supposed to be . . . social.

It’s so easy to drop in and post something, then disappear. I’m guilty of that myself now and then because of time limitations.

But posting and running keeps you from making important connections and building a network, which is what social media is all about.

Posting and running keeps you from making important connections and building a network, which is what social media is all about.Click to tweet

Rather than have a shallow presence over many networks, pick just one or two and dig in. Here are just a few things to consider if you’d like to build a rewarding online community:

  • Ask questions in your posts.
  • Respond to comments on your posts – and use the commenter’s name when you do so they feel seen.
  • Support other authors by sharing and commenting on their content. Lift them up.
  • When you get a new follower, ask them a few questions that help you get to know them better.
  • Comment on your connections’ posts. Get a conversation going.

You’ll find that when you focus less on what you want to communicate and more on what you can learn from others, you’ll not only get more out of that platform, you’ll enjoy your time there more, too.

How do you use social media in ways that work? Please share your tips in a comment.

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  1. Thank you, Sandra for an informative reminder of what not to do on social media. Your postings and emails on book publishing and marketing are extremely helpful to me now that I am completing two independent manuscripts and readying them for publication. Would you consider, in a future blog, addressing whether it is advisable to publish both simultaneously or stagger them a few months apart?

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