How to Build the Writing Platform of Your Dreams Using Social Media

how to manage social media

Wasting time with social media?

You’ve got a Twitter account. You’re on LinkedIn. You’ve strolled on by at Google+, and you might even have a well-kept Facebook Page.

But how are those working for you? Marketing and promotions are wonderful, but only if they’re actually working for you. Maybe you’ve made some good connections; a few sales here and there.

But how much time and upkeep do you find yourself spending on your channels and networks?

Or maybe you’ve chosen the route of a few authors I know who have gone and abandoned their accounts permanently, leaving their social footprint to fade away into oblivion.

And not using these new tools isn’t the answer, unfortunately. Being savvy enough to benefit from these new methods of communicating are the mark of a true “pro writer.”

Let me ask you this: what if you didn’t have to spend so much time on social networks? What if you could spend—literally—a few minutes each week only on those same networks, and the rest of your time doing what you love?

Would you do it? I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on social networks, trying to get ready for my own book launch. It’s been fun and rewarding to connect with everyone along their own paths of being (or becoming) a writer, but I’ve also wasted a lot of time:

I’ve wasted time checking email.

I’ve wasted time perusing Twitter hashtag searches.

I’ve wasted time trying to figure out how Google+ affects SEO.

And then I decided to automate everything that I could.

Automation

Yeah, you heard me correctly. Go ahead and cringe: Automate. I said it.

But I mean it. Now, I don’t need to get on Twitter every twenty minutes. I don’t need to log into Facebook, and I don’t need my email “ding.” I can still do all of those things if I’m looking for an excuse to not write, but now I have a platform that does most of it for me. My “Social Platform” does these things:

  • All of my relationships are collected, organized, and threaded into one unified inbox. It’s not Gmail, so I don’t have to see all of my emails every time I log in.
  • Every time I read a great post, a Tweet is sent out with a relevant hashtag (#WW, #AmWriting, #Writing).
  • Every time someone follows me, they get a special welcome message.
  • Whenever someone responds, comments, or even mentions something that involves me (my brand), I get a notification.
  • Whenever my Twitter account is updated with a helpful writing tip, my Facebook author page is updated as well.

These examples are, of course, specific things I put in place because of my situation–I needed a way to organize the conversations and connections that I was making, for a few reasons:

  • I’m generally unorganized. If it’s not written down somewhere, preferably electronically, it won’t get remembered or done.
  • I don’t have a lot of time to just writeWhen working on my first thriller, I found that writing could only happen very early in the morning and very late at night. I needed to keep myself from checking emails, Twitter, and Facebook every thirty seconds.
  • I like the idea of “systemizing” my processesIf there’s a system I can use to handle the mundane, repetitive tasks, I’ll use it. I can spend my own time and effort on things that will directly benefit my writing and career, and delegate the others to a system.
  • I found I could handle way more with systems in place. My production shot through the roof when I knew I didn’t have to worry about posting to Twitter every five minutes and responding to emails every two.

How do I “automate?” 

For me, automation really just means automating the tasks that aren’t directly “people-related.” This means that I don’t have a system that will automatically send a “Thanks for the Tweet!” response to people who reach out to me on Twitter, or otherwise “fake” a conversation. I don’t have an email autoresponder that says, “Hey there [NAME], I’ll be sure to respond to you very soon!”

It simply means that there are things I’d rather not burden myself with doing day in and day out, and so I’ve set up a system to do them for me:

  1. Instead of individually preparing Tweets to links that I find interesting and helpful, I’ll add it to a tool like BufferApp–a platform that allows you to set up a Tweet schedule and a “bucket” of Tweets, and will send out the next Tweet on your list at a specific time. I keep the bucket stocked up with links to stuff I like, and my Twitter profile is updated automatically.
  2. Instead of visiting Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Disqus (commenting system), I use Engag.io. Engag.io lets me see–at a glance–my conversations with other people on each of those platforms. I can even send responses to each one, and they’ll appear on their appropriate network as if I was there!
  3. Instead of adding individual Tweets and links to my Facebook page, I use a tool called If This Then That–a very trendy way of “programming” the web to do what you want. It uses “triggers” (if I mark a ReadItLater item as “read,”) and “actions” (then update my Facebook page with the item and a link to it). It’s really a cool way to automate daily tasks, and you can set it up for other things too, like sending you a text message in the morning when Yahoo! Weather says it’s going to rain tomorrow!

The key to doing all of this, however, is to cultivate engagement rather than deter it. If there’s something I implement that actually prevents me from connecting in relevant and helpful ways with people, I’ll abandon it. I want to use this technology to make more and more useful connections, not the other way around!

These are three of the ways I’ve found to use social platforms to increase my output, focus my effort on building my platform, and using social media to my potential instead of a time-suck. My social platform is growing, and it’s through the use of these tools that I can still participate in helpful discussions and provide relevance to people.

What are some ways/tools you’ve found to improve and grow your social media platform?

About the author
Nick Thacker is a writer from Texas, and he writes to help writers, bloggers, and pretty much anyone who wants to hack their life. Check him out on his website, LiveHacked.com and  grab his new book, Welcome Home: The Author’s Guide to Building A Marketing Home Base.

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19 Responses to “How to Build the Writing Platform of Your Dreams Using Social Media”

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  1. Thanks for the helpful post. Automation is a good way to get consistent and stay visible. But, as you’ve said, it social media is about being social, engaging, and interactive. It shouldn’t be static or a one way street where you’re only sending out ads for yourself.

    So to supplement my automation, I still visit my social media site “in person” in real time so that I can engage in the most current conversations.

    Twitter chats are great too.
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted..Are You Stuck? Write Anyway.My Profile

  2. On your recommendation, I signed up for Engag.io. From what I can tell so far, it only allows one to deeply interact with others who are also using it. Since none of the 2500 people that I know are on it, my “dashboard” is empty. It looks like I only have 3 ongoing conversations (when I know for sure that I have more). I would say that it has potential, but it’s not even close to being there yet. It lets you make posts to multiple social platforms- but so do a lot of other apps (like buffer). It does NOT post to G+, which would be the one thing that would have really set it apart. I’m actually not sure why you recommended this site over other similar ones. Unless, of course, a vast majority of the people you know are also using it, and therefore your dashboard and conversations would possibly be reflective of how it actually is on the real social network pages. Unless I missed something though, I really don’t think this website was worth the five minutes I spent signing up. I am not inclined to send invites to others knowing that they won’t find it useful unless they also send invites. (That’s a gateway to spam, isn’t it? Or the basis of a pyramid?)

    Buffer, however, is awesome. I’ve been using it for over a month now, and I love it! Anyone with the Chrome browser will enjoy it even more, because the extension makes sharing a webpage ridiculously easy. The analytic section lets one see how well the post went over. It’s my favorite tool of all time! I’m glad to see that you mentioned it. I might not have “real-time” conversations with those posts, but I have had conversations with replies and RTs, so I still feel that I have connected to people.

    A tool that I’ve found that has grown my social media presence with more engaged followers is Klout. It doesn’t seem likely at first, but every time I get another 10K+ to give to people, I have a chance to reward up to ten friends and/or make new ones! I’ve handed out random K+ to people with high scores and have made new friends as a result. I’m not sure that anyone on Klout is totally convinced that having a high score will actually make a difference, but I think most of those same users also see how it could and therefore are making an effort to get our scores to where we want them to be. It makes social networking a bit of a competition I suppose. Or perhaps a bit like a game that could be won, or at least scored.

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hi J!

      Actually, you “plug” your networks into Engag.io, and it operates as more of a Gmail-style dashboard. Right now I’m looking at my Twitter, Facebook, Disqus (blog), and Google+ conversations–anything I’ve
      responded to, or responses from other people, regardless if they have Engag.io or not.

      Engag.io isn’t a social network in and of itself–it relies on your plugging in of all your chosen networks for it to be used.

      I agree with you about the invite thing–I don’t like receiving them, and I don’t like sending them.

      Glad you like Buffer–it’s pretty awesome, and I recommend paying to upgrade to access more “tweets” in the queue.

      And my relationship with Klout is on/off. It’s cool, but I really can’t see the benefit (or the truthfulness) behind having a “high” Klout score, aside from receiving perks. It’s cool, for sure, but it doesn’t seem valuable in my day-to-day productivity.

      Anyway, thanks for the awesome comment–sorry you’re having trouble with Engag.io. If you need some help, or just want to compare screens (maybe they’ve updated or something and newer users don’t have the same access or something, I don’t know), shoot me an email!

      Nick
      Nick Thacker recently posted..The Secret To A Perfect Blog InterviewMy Profile

  3. Amy I. Bloom says:

    This is fantastic! It really makes the whole social media/self promotion thing much less daunting.

    Thank you!!

    Amy
    Amy I. Bloom recently posted..The Lost BoysMy Profile

  4. Thanks for explaining automation in such a positive way. I use Buffer, too. It’s helpful for those of us who work during the day. I also use it to tweet and to post FB updates in real time because often it’s quicker to post that way. I also use Todoist, an online task management app. I have so many places I want to be online, and the to-do list keeps me on track.
    Darla McDavid recently posted..Todoist: A free online to-do list for writing tasksMy Profile

  5. Kit Murdock says:

    I absolutely HATE IT when I get an automated ‘thank you for following me’ tweet.

    Please don’t do it – it doesn’t make you feel special, in fact it makes you look non-tech savy. Twitter is about social interaction and anyone who’s obviously using automation and not interacting always gets an ‘unfollow’ from me!

    Just because you have a lot of followers doesn’t always mean you’re ‘successful’ on twiiter.

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hi Kit!

      Thanks for the comment–yes, I agree. I’ve tried these DM responder tools, and it really hasn’t had much effect on my bottom line (meaning no noticeable increase in conversions). I don’t mind receiving them as much (I tend to ignore my DMs for the most part anyway), but they don’t really work for generating business.

      I agree–having a great amount of followers is nothing. But having an amount of GREAT followers is everything. That’s the point of this post–cultivate, not collect.

      Thanks again, and talk to you soon!
      Nick
      Nick Thacker recently posted..The Secret To A Perfect Blog InterviewMy Profile

  6. This is awesome! Automation is something I wasn’t well informed on, but always knew I’d get to it at some point. With so many options for it, I’m glad you’ve pointed me in the direction of some quality systems. Thanks!
    Charles Singletary recently posted..Act 5: Space VampMy Profile

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hey Charles!

      Thanks for stopping by–glad you got something out of it, and remember–it’s about adding value, not “automating” your social media life. The difference can be subtle, but it’s a wonderful thing to use leverage to grow an organic network of like-minded people!

      Take care, and good luck!
      Nick
      Nick Thacker recently posted..The Secret To A Perfect Blog InterviewMy Profile

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