Do you know how many social media platforms exist?
Probably more than you realize.
An article by Influencer Marketing Hub, a marketing and advertising resource company, listed over 50 different platforms.
The thing is, the point of the article was to provide information about which platforms could be useful for marketing a brand—not an exhaustive list of social media platforms.
In other words, keeping up with social media is simply overwhelming.
Which is a big reason why many children’s authors tend to shy away from actively using it to build influence for their books and their brand.
But nowadays (and right now it’s 2020), the prevailing opinion about social media is that you need to be active in it in some way.
Obviously, you can’t be on 50 different platforms. That’s a sure-fire way to send you into an internet coma.
As a children’s writer, where should you focus your attention? Especially if you are just starting out?
Start With Just One
Eventually, you will probably need to have a presence on more than one platform. Ideally, you should work up to being active on the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
But where do you start?
Because the best way to get comfortable with anything new is to focus on one thing at a time, the best strategy is to pick one and let the others wait.
Each different platform has its own personality. They have their own quirks that may make one more appealing to you than another.
Also, deciding where to focus your time and energy should depend on what your goals are.
Decide What Your Goals Are
Before you plunge ahead and start posting photos of your dog reading your book on Instagram, or sharing memes on Twitter, you need to figure out what you want to accomplish first.
Here’s a pro tip: your goal is not to sell books.
I mean, yes, you do want to try to get your book into the hands of as many people as possible. But don’t start tweeting and posting messages asking people to buy your books.
As I discussed in my post Do Children’s Authors Need to Use Social Media? the point of being an active social media user is not all about self-promotion and selling.
So what is the point?
You could focus on trying to reach potential readers. (In the case of any genres besides YA, this really means potential buyers, such as parents, teachers, and librarians).
Maybe you want to reach out to agents and editors, and tap into the latest news and trends in publishing.
Or you could be interested in meeting other writers, especially in your genre of choice. (Of course, you may write for different genres, which just means you will throw your net a little wider).
Knowing your goal is important because it affects how you proceed with your behavior on social media.
Commit to a Regular Schedule
Whenever you are trying to grow your audience, it is super important to stick to a regular schedule. Just as you should be emailing your subscriber list once a week (or at least every couple of weeks), you need to do the same with social media.
(If my last comment about a subscriber list has you scratching your head in confusion, check out my post on Why Children’s Authors Need an Email List).
But unlike emails, you probably need to be doing something more often than once a week. In fact, the best strategy is to be active every day.
(Did your heart just sink a little bit there?)
This is probably one of the reasons why so many people hate having to use social media. It can be a huge time suck! How many times have you decided to quickly browse Twitter and suddenly found yourself caught up in a stream of tweets about some dust up between Chrissy Teigen and, well, whoever the latest person she is involved in a Twitter storm with.
You try to be strong. You even set a timer for Pete’s sake.
But the next thing you know about 15 hours have gone by and you haven’t even finishing posting yet.
So yes, wading into social media does require some discipline.
Try to have a strategy or plan. Designate 10 minutes each day to do one thing on social media. You can actually do quite a bit with 10 minutes, and if you stick to your schedule, you won’t get sucked down a rabbit hole.
Don’t just post your own stuff. One way to build up goodwill and connections is to share other people’s stuff.
Whenever you run across something that you think would be useful to your audience, share it with them. This is a way to support others you are connected with, and provide value to your own audience.
Remember you want to be adding value. That means going into social media with an eye toward looking for ways you can help others in some way.
When you keep being that person who is spreading goodwill, providing helpful information, and just being an overall positive member of society, not only are you being an excellent human being, you are building up a community.
Taking the Plunge Into a Social Media Strategy
While I did start this post by scaring you with the news that there are over 50 social media platforms, clearly not all of them are relevant to you.
The ones to consider exploring are all platforms you have heard about. Chances are you are at least somewhat active in one or two of them.
For children’s authors, here’s what I have determined are the best platforms to use on a regular basis.
But remember—just start with ONE.
Next I’m going to dig deeper into each of these platforms and explore how best to get started using them.