12 Social Media Essentials For Writers

by Don Lafferty on April 8, 2009

Creating a Social Media Footprint is a no-brainer for a writer establishing platform — fiction and non-fiction. Set aside three or four hours of your self-marketing time to knock out the following list of basics, and you’ll be well on your way to having your name and your work more search-able and share-able.

1. Blog – set up time: 30 minutes – It’s perfectly acceptable to use your Blog as your home  page, and free platforms like WordPress and Blogger have eliminated the entry barriers of cost and technology. I recommend installing free WordPress software on your personal website. If you don’t have a hosted website, it’s free and easy to set up a blog at WordPress.com. Choose from one of the many free templates, and you’re good to go. WordPress has a  ton of free resources and tutorials available to help you further customize your new home spot. Create a Blogger account, since you’ll need it to comment on other’s Blogger blogs; just set up your profile to direct visitors back to your WordPress blog.

2. Twitter – setup time: 5 minutes – Your Twitter account will enable you to create a custom stream of information from trusted, like-minded sources. Choose a name that makes sense, upload a profile image that aligns with your personal branding, and start following other Twitter users based on your interests and objectives. There’s lots of advice out there on the best uses of Twitter, but you gotta be there to participate so take five minutes and jump in.

3. Facebook – setup time: 30 minutes – Facebook has 180 million registered users and tens of millions of unique visitors daily. Facebook designers have set up their tools to make sharing websites, photos, videos and other media super easy, so you want to be there, sharing and talking about your work so others can do the same.

4. MySpace – setup time: 30 minutes – Depending on your target demographic, MySpace might be a community where you want a presence. Infinitely more customizable than Facebook, the MySpace platform can be designed to present as clean or as visually impactful an image as you need.

5. LinkedIn – setup time: 60 minutes – This is your professional resume on steroids, not the traditional, one-page version we’ve all been taught to create. Take the time to appropriately represent your professional credentials here. Each work experience section allows you 1000 words to describe your position, so use them. Also include links to your blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

6. Plaxo – setup time: 15 minutes – A contact database management tool, Plaxo is a great way to keep your contact database current and to communicate changes in your own contact information to everybody you know. Includes links out to all your other spots on the Internet just like LinkedIn.

7, 8, 9. LibraryThing, Shelfari and Goodreads – setup time: 10 minutes/each – these communities are focused on books and book lovers. It’s a chance to share your personal tastes with others in the form of libraries that you customize, write reviews, share your own work, and connect with other writers.

10. Image Hosting – setup time: 5 minutes – Flickr and Photobucket provide free image hosting services, enabling you to upload your images to the Internet, rendering them easier to share and upload to your various properties such as your blog, and other social networking communities.

11. Image Editor – free download – You’ll frequently need to resize images in order to have them fit elegantly, depending on the spot you choose to use them. An image uploaded to a Facebook photo album, for example, is best resized to 380 pixels high for easiest viewing, including one full line of caption. You blog will have a set width of useable space, as will the right (600 px) and left (220 px) columns of a MySpace profile.

12. HTML Editor – free download – Creating visually interesting MySpace comments, bulletins and messages can easily be accomplished with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor like Kompozer. With a little trial and error it’s easy to create your own hyperlinked images for use in your blog, as well as other social networking environments.

These simple steps are enough to significantly raise the visibility of you and your work out there on the Internet. Based on your skill level, time, and budget, you can further customize your blog, Twitter and MySpace to reflect a uniform branding scheme, as well as provide a wide variety of functionality and interactivity.

As you become more familiar with the tactics that are most effective for you, engaging communities like Digg, StumbleUpon, YouTube and others can help to drive your site and work even higher in search engine results.

What social media tools, sites and tactics do you find most effective in supporting your writing platform?

– dl

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