I was having a conversation with a friend recently about social media management and whether or not authors (specifically indie authors) should use a social media manager to conduct their online social and business engagements. Social media management, which is still a relatively new job description, is increasingly gaining traction in the legitimate business world where an online presence is paramount—Coca-Cola, New Balance, MLB, NFL—every major business out there needs to (and is) survive via the likes of social networking. These companies hire a team of social media managers who develop and implement marketing strategies, while constantly engaging with their followers—basically their fans and customers. Go to any major companies social media page—primarily Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter and you’ll witness first-hand the sort of social engagement that takes place between company and customer. Restaurants such as Chipotle, Chilis, Subway, Olive Garden—they all constantly engage with their followers via photos, coupons, call for suggestions, etc…
Major sports leagues such as the NHL, MLB and NFL constantly keep fans updated with game times, scores, photos and any other pertinent information. The same is said for clothing lines and foot ware companies—they are always posting photos or new items from their line, discount opportunities and are on-hand to answer questions from their followers. Companies this large hire a large team of social media managers because, well…they just have to. It’s too big of a job and too time consuming for just one person to handle.
Which brings me to authors. It gives me a chuckle when I talk to a writer (and I’ve met more than a few) who tells me that they use a social media manager to handle all their social media postings, because they simply are too busy to do it themselves. I think I’ll just cut to the chase here and make mention of the fact that authors such as Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King aren’t too “busy” to post their own social media content.
As authors, the most powerful tool you have to promote yourself and your work is your own voice. It’s a rather pompous notion that one is far too “busy” (that’s code for important) to engage on a personal level with fans (and would be-could be fans) for as little as 10-15 minutes a day. Sure, a social media manager can get the job done, to an extent—retweeting/sharing other people’s posts, posting links to your book’s point of sale site and gradually (and hopefully) building a fanbase for you, but these are all actions that you can handle yourself, without having to pay someone money to do it for you. Authors (as well as musicians and other medium artists) create intimate works that are shared with their readers and you and only you know who your target audience is, who it is that you want to reach out to and engage with. You create a bond with your readership and in the process, you entice potential new fans by sharing things (personal thoughts, related articles, photos) that come from you; not a social media manager. Especially social media managers who have multiple clients and tend to use the same marketing strategy for all their handled accounts (retweeting/sharing/re posting the same articles, following the same people, etc..) Self-promotion is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and it shouldn’t be run like a mill or a cottage industry. Take charge of your own online presence; create your own identity throughout social media and use your own voice, not the voice of a social media manager who isn’t emotionally invested in your passion or creativity. Unless it’s a close family member who you trust handling your social media presence (and that’s not even a sure fire guarantee), do it yourself, get better at it and create a genuine fanbase for yourself.