3 Basic Rules of Social Media

Dan ZarrellaDan Zarrella, author of The Science of Marketing, said in his book, “I’ve long been interested in the idea that engaging in conversation is the single most important function of social media marketing.” 

He’s right. That is why it’s so important to schedule time in the afternoon or early evening to converse with our Tweeps, friends, fans and connections. If you don’t allocate time to converse, you are simply broadcasting your messages. 

3 Basic Rules of Social Media

  1.  Be a social butterfly. Social media was never designed to be a broadcast messaging system the way radio and television shows are. Conversations are the backbone of social media and that is what distinguishes it and that is what has fueled its dominance in marketing. The beauty of social media for authors is that it allows you to converse with your readership in a manner that was never possible before Facebook was created. Indie authors have a powerful medium with which they can market their books, converse with their readers, answer questions in a matter of minutes, and further their relationships with their loyal readers, even though it’s all done virtually. Don’t attempt to be the prom queen; strive to always be authentic and to care about others.
  2. Play nicely. If you have a friend who posts cute kitten photos ad nauseam, don’t leave a sarcastic remark; ignore them and leave a comment when she later posts information that you like. There are examples everyday of people resorting to name-calling and blasphemy on Facebook and other networks. Someone once called me a phony on Twitter. I didn’t block him or reply with a nasty note. I merely moved on to the next message.
  3. Ignore some people. You aren’t going to like all the messages that you read on social media networks and you may even find some to be obscene. It’s best to not react negatively and to instead set an admirable example of appropriate behavior. Always strive to be sincere, generous and tolerant. 

Tips for Being Social


Social Media Just For Writers 185 KBWhen people first hear that they need 30 minutes a day to be effective on social media, they usually complain, “But I don’t have an extra 30 minutes in my day.” 

That isn’t entirely true. 

Yes, these days we have more items on our to-do lists than we can possibly accomplish in a day. However, we can take just 15 minutes in the morning to curate, write and schedule our posts. All that’s needed in the afternoon is another 10 – 15 minutes to check your news feeds, like your friends’ Facebook posts, leave an occasional comment, retweet and reply to your Tweeps’ messages, and review your LinkedIn and Google+ news feeds. On Twitter, use this time to follow new Tweeps, follow people back and unfollow Tweeps who aren’t following you back. Use the applications JustUnfollow, SproutSocial and Tweepi to do this. 

You can do this on a mobile device while watching a movie at home, waiting at your doctor’s office, letting the color set on your hair at your stylist’s salon, waiting for a friend to arrive at a coffee shop, or while standing in line at Costco. Whether you have an iPad, iPhone, Android or other device, you can socialize online whenever you have some idle time. If you don’t have idle time’ then it’s important to schedule some in. 

Maybe you’re type of person who needs to schedule the time into your day. A perfect time might be 4 or 4:30 pm, when your energy is waning. Take a break from your regular work, go online, and interact with your friends. 

Social media is all about nurturing relationships. Did someone retweet one of your messages? Find a tweet that they wrote that you like and return the favor. Send a note of thanks to all of your retweeters too. 

Is there an agent or editor on LinkedIn with whom you’d like to connect but can’t because they are a 3rd degree connection? Ask a friend to introduce you. Did a colleague just publish a new book? Let your friends and connections know about it. Socializing on social media involves these three steps: meet, connect, and repeat. You are constantly meeting new people, connecting with them, and then repeating the process with someone else. Be friendly, be positive, and be open to meeting new people. 

heart in a fence

A Few Dos and Don’ts


  1. Don’t engage with people who send you negative messages. Take a keep breath, move on to another task, and forget about them. 
  2. You will inevitably receive invitations to play Farmville, Scrabble and other online games. Unless you find these games relaxing, you won’t want to use these diversions because they tend to consume your time that you could instead use connecting with your Facebook friends or whiting your next book.
  3. Do you feel pressured to use every social media network available to you? Don’t fall for that trap.  If you don’t have the time top manage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and RebelMouse, determine which platforms best enable you to connect with like-minded people and best fit your marketing style and goals. In order not to become lost in the time suck, you will need to learn how to manage your time. For example, perhaps you only need to use LinkedIn for 5 minutes twice a week. That’s okay. Maybe you don’t have the time to schedule more than 4 tweets daily. Don’t worry. You don’t need to maximize your efforts on every social media network. Use the ones that most appeal to you, that are helping you to build relationships and that in turn are helping with connect with your readership and market your book.
  4. It can be difficult for new authors to think of themselves as a brand but you are and your readers are watching you. Keep your messaging consistent. If you write about traveling abroad on $30/day, give tips throughout the year. If your novel takes place in Italy, pin some of your travel photos from Rome, Venice and Milan. If you wrote a novel about a single mom, post information about single mothers, women entrepreneurs and maybe efforts to penetrate the glass ceiling. If you write a cookbook, share recipes and photographs of your latest creations.
  5. Don’t use your book jacket as your avatar (profile picture). People want to see the face behind the book so put on some blush, brush your hair and smile for the camera.


socialmediaforwritersAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media strategist, trainer,  and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

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