It seems many authors are putting all of their book marketing efforts into social media. This is often shortsighted and not cost-effective. Though I’m not dismissing social media, it’s critical to proceed only in a practical, informed, and responsible way—and not just because everyone else is doing it or in reaction to the latest trend.
First, it’s called social media, not social marketing. The distinction is key. Use social media for social stuff, not for marketing. It seems common sense. While social media can feed into book marketing, it is not a marketing machine.
Next, what are your objectives? Facebook fanatics brag about the number of friends they have. Twitter is about follows and LinkedIn looks at connections. Then there’s Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads—which is a great place for writers. What is your goal for each platform? Is it sheer numbers or significant interaction? Quantity or quality?
Third, we must treat social media like every other consideration, looking at the return on investment (RIO). What is the cost? What is the return? Unless we have unlimited time, whatever we spend on social media detracts from something else. We must invest our time on what offers the best return.
Last, some people claim there is no direct cost for social media, but the time spent on social media is a time not spent somewhere else. Pursuing social media has an opportunity cost. We shouldn’t ignore this, even though most people do. What we give up for social media could be damaging to our long-term viability as a writer.
Although it may be uncool to not make social media a priority, it may also be the best decision we can make.