As authors we've all been told, dozens upon dozens of times, to use social media to promote our books. Good advice. Social media is an essential marketing tool. However, just like anything else, it can also be overrated, if not overused.
Some authors go on social media and post nothing but, “Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!" To which I say, enough already! We all want people to buy our books, but social media was never intended to be a vehicle for free advertising.
So, how does an author use social media? Well, this author likes to use it to drive traffic to her blogs, but I post about other things too. You know. The weather. Pictures of my dog. That sort of thing. I actually have a life outside of writing, but I digress.
Why I Think the Blog is Still King
No Trolls Allowed. There's been plenty of talk about trolls who apparently have nothing better to do with their time than to destroy an author's career. They've done some serious damage to Goodreads, and they can be a problem on other social media sites as well. However, with a blog, particularly when it's your blog, you can eliminate trolls completely. All you have to do is set up your comments so they cannot be posted without your prior approval, and bye-bye trolls. You've just created a place where people can feel safe engaging with you, and with each other.
You Can Engage One on One with Your Readers. A blog allows you to connect with your readers on a more personal level. You can share ideas, have contests and promotions, and build your following. And yes, a blog is a form of social media, as long as you allow comments. I can also do a lot more with a blog. Both Blogger and WordPress allow multiple pages, so one of my other blogs, Marina Martindale's Musings, uses those other pages for sample chapters. That's a whole lot more than I'm able to do with my Facebook fan page.
Not Everyone Uses Facebook and Twitter. Many people have either shut down their Facebook and Twitter accounts due to privacy concerns and other issues, or have never signed up for them in the first place. However, anyone with an Internet connection can read your blog, and you have the option of allowing anyone to post a comment. This makes you more accessible to your readers, especially if you include your blog address in your books.
So how do I use social media? Well, aside from the fact that I'm probably spending way too much time just hanging out on Facebook, (a topic for another blog post on another day), I can post links to my blogs there, as I also do on Twitter and other social media. My personal observation has been that Twitter seems to be the most effective for driving readers to my blogs.
So there you have it. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media, when used properly, can certainly help you publicize your books, but, in my opinion, there simply is no substitute for a blog.