How Social Media Has Evolved—And Why It Matters To Writers

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Unless you’ve been living in a rural cabin, pounding away on a manual typewriter, you know that technology and social media have been rapidly evolving over the past five years.  Facebook alone has changed dozens of times since it graduated from Harvard and launched itself into the greater public in 2006. In fact, all the major social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, and more—have regularly reinvented themselves.

Since social media is an essential part of any savvy writer’s author platform, it’s important to stay ahead of trends. If you’re still trying to “poke” friends on Facebook, or you don’t know what that weird ghost icon is all about, you might have a harder time keeping your audience engaged. But don’t worry! You can quickly get up to speed on the latest social media developments:

Social Media Trends That Writers Need To Know

There is a growing emphasis on imagery over text.

Even though it might rub writers the wrong way, when it comes to social media, that old adage is true: A picture IS worth a thousand words. With the advent of Snapchat (hello, ghost icon!) and Vine—and with other more established platforms like Tumblr and YouTube still steadily growing in popularity—images have become an important part of your status update.

The evidence is right there in your Facebook feed: Notice how many more images you see versus posts with only text.  A written post of “I just got engaged!” doesn’t have the same impact as a photo of your hand wearing a flashy new piece of jewelry. In the same way, a post featuring your book cover art will grab the attention of more of your followers than a simple sentence stating: “My book was just published.” And Tweets that feature images get 313% more engagement!

K.I.S.S.: Keep It Short and Simple.

The shorter your content, the more engagement your post will receive. A study by NPR found that the sweet spot is forty characters or less! News articles have now been replaced by the “listicle.” Snapchat is just a photo and a line of text, while Vine presents only a six-second video.

And of course, don’t forget the ever-present meme. Let’s face facts: A well-written long post about a political figure will get less interaction on social media than a meme that features a short sentence on a cropped photo of the person in mid-sneeze. The lesson for writers? Keep your posts short and simple. A brief, bulleted list of your upcoming events with a photo from your latest book signing will resonate better with your readers than paragraphs of detailed information.

Change is inevitable.

The never-ending evolution of social media may make your head spin—and wouldn’t you rather be writing than posting, tweeting, or pinning? But guess what: All of these up-to-the-minute changes offer innovative, exciting ways to interact with your existing fans and reach potential new readers. (Find out which social media platform is right for you.)

Before social media, the only way you would have any contact with your audience was through snail mail or when you met them in person at a book signing. Now, you can instantly get the word out when your latest piece is published, and even provide a handy link to the online journal. You can share information and get immediate reactions and feedback from your followers. Instead of spending money on expensive advertising, you can generate buzz for your latest writing project across multiple social media platforms without spending a penny.

Social media makes it easier than ever to take the pulse of your readers, get them interested in your work, and keep them coming back for more. And sure—you can post the occasional photo of a cat in a pizza box or celebrate National Coffee Day with a picture of your latest overpriced cappuccino (placed strategically next to your book or the journal featuring your writing, of course!).

If the idea of maintaining your social media seems like a lot of work, check out our Virtual Assistant packages. We’ll do all the posting so you can spend your time writing!

Question: How has social media changed the way you communicate with your readers?

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