Do Children’s Authors Need to Use Social Media?

Do you hate social media?

A lot of children’s authors say they do.

Personally, I resisted joining any social media platforms for years. I’m a pretty private person, and why would anyone want to know about my ordinary life? Sure, I could have talked about the time a feral cat gifted us with a litter of kittens under our porch.

Okay, admittedly they do make for a cute story (Image by Jan Mallander from Pixabay)

Or how my daughter’s “Operation Get Mom and Dad to Let Us Have a Dog” was going. (Ultimately quite successful, in case you’re wondering).

Who would want to see that besides my family and maybe the cat lady down the street?

Still, authors are being told all the time they need to be on social media.

But do you really? And if so, how do you go about doing it?

Don’t Use Your Kids as Your Model

While Facebook came around before my kids were old enough to be on the internet, many of the other platforms came of age just as my children did.

Suddenly my 11-year-old was begging my husband and I to let her have an Instagram account. When we finally gave in (she is VERY persuasive), we watched in horror as she got sucked into a world that affected her self-esteem (and not in a good way) and started taking up hours of her time.

So is it any wonder that so many of us find social media so distasteful? It literally has the power to ruin lives.

But here’s the thing: we are adults. And while plenty of adults misuse and abuse social media, WE DON’T HAVE TO.

My kids have Snapchat streaks and worry about “likes” on Instagram. They see people curating perfect images of themselves on social media that makes everyone feel inadequate.

A 16-year-old’s use of social media is not the model you should be following.

Most kids are focusing on building up the number of followers they have and getting “likes” on their posts.

It’s not just about getting lots and lots and lots of followers

Use Social Media for Good

Rather than racking up “vanity metrics” such as meaningless likes, you should focus on the positive and useful aspects of social media.

(I feel your skeptism–just hear me out!)

With social media, we have a way to potentially reach millions of people (actually, billions). You can connect with people who share your interests, you can develop friendships, and gain access to hilarious memes (definitely a benefit, right?).

People with niche and obscure interests have discovered they are not alone. For example, one Instagram account that posts pictures of airplanes has over 66,000 followers! (That is not a typo). It’s as if all the toddlers who used to love watching construction equipment graduated to Airbus and Boeing planes.

Finding people who share common interests is wonderful. It’s fun to connect.

If you approach using social media to make meaningful connections and build a community, you will find it to largely be a positive experience. Share posts that are helpful, informative, and entertaining—not only will you be sharing good cheer and happiness, you’ll connect with people who resonate with you and your work.

Don’t Use Social Media to Sell Books

The reason many people are wary of social media is because it can feel icky to engage in self-promotion and selling.

So here’s how you avoid that uncomfortable feeling that can come from trying to sell books to your followers:

Don’t try to sell.

The fact is, building up a huge social media following is actually not the key to selling more books. Book marketer Tim Grahl  did some number tracking. In one example, he calculated the number of sales that could be attributed to one client’s 160,000 Twitter followers.

The answer: 400 books.

Now 400 books is nothing to sneeze at. But from a group of 160,000, only 1 out of every 400 people purchased a book.

That’s not a great return on your time and efforts.

Focus on Building Your Community

In a different post, I laid out the importance of building an author platform. In it, I talk about how having a social media presence is an important piece of your platform.

But the focus of all the articles is about how to connect with your audience. Using your author platform to create genuine and meaningful relationships with your readers is what will ultimately help with the sale of your books.

But your best strategy is not to start bombarding your followers and friends with calls to buy your book. That is exactly the kind of behavior that leaves us feeling icky and salesy.

Instead, if you have worked hard to connect with potential readers, when you have a book, you can celebrate with your community.

And because they are part of your squad, many of them will want to buy your book. You will hardly even need to ask them.

So just as the antagonist in many books actually end up having some redeeming qualities, the same goes for social media.

Find the good in it—and nurture those parts of it. Along the way you will also be more likely to sell some books.

What do you think? Are you convinced that it’s worth your time and energy to cultivate a community through social media? Let me know in the comments!

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