I see an awful lot of posts from indie writers complaining that they simply don’t have time to market themselves and their writing on social media. An awful lot. What with the demands of a ‘real life’ and the time we need to dedicate to writing whatever it is we’re trying to publicise, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
And let’s be honest, there’s no point in spending all your time on marketing if it leaves you with nothing to market. I’m no economics expert (a lucky ‘C’ in O-Level maths in fact) but even I can see that the laws of supply-and-demand demand that there’s at least some supply.
And that’s where the kitten comes in.
The Sponge Of Time
When a kitten enters a room, 95% of the rest of the Universe ceases to exist. Grizzled adventurers will break off from arm-wrestling bears to make a fuss of the little bundle of fluff going “meep” and attempting to eat their bootlaces. Kittens are the most highly-evolved time sponges ever to have graced the planet.
Kittens share 99% of their DNA with social media.
Once you start checking your Twitter feed, your WordPress comments, your Google+ page and the sundry other elements of your author platform, hours can pass unnoticed. I have been known to sit down to send a single tweet and walk away with a full beard. Social media is addictive, virulent and incurable.
Now, I’ve read the worthy posts which maintain that one should tame the beast by spending 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening on social media. A jolly sound principle, but utterly impractical. I don’t know about you, but 15 minutes just about gives me enough time to check each account, see how many/few (*delete as applicable) comments, likes and shares I’ve garnered overnight and either: a) sit back with a warm glow and the knowledge that I’m King of the Internet or b) descend into abject despair, convinced that it’ll never work and I may as well give up and become a baker instead. Who doesn’t love cake?
Add to that the fact that you’re probably mostly networking with other writers. Writers write. There’s a clue in the name. That means, to do them justice, you need to spend time reading their posts before you comment/share/adulate. So I say again, 15 minutes? Tosh and balderdash!
The principle, however, is a sound one. You do have to limit the time you spend and commit to using it effectively. This is where routine and discipline – two of my least favourite words – come in.
Routine and Discipline
“But I became a writer because I HATE ROUTINE AND DISCIPLINE,” you should be wailing at this point. “I’m an artistic non-conformist who keeps odd hours, eats biscuits without a plate and exists outside the norms of society.”
I know, me too. But the truth is, without the discipline to control your time on social media, you won’t get to do any of that lovely writing you crave. And without some kind of routine, all those followers who hang on your every tweet won’t know when to expect you. Like a lazy Hollywood rom-com, you’ll keep on just missing each other in lifts and at the shops and stuff.
I find that a ‘3-Stints-A-Day’ plan works pretty blooming well for me. It gives me enough time throughout the day to accomplish my marketing aims and has the added benefit of catching your followers wherever in the world they may be. Much of my audience appears to be in the US for some reason (howdy y’all!) So if I post all the good stuff at 8am UK time, it’s been swallowed in a mire of general babble by the time much of my audience is tucking into their morning grits ‘n’ syrup ‘n’ eggs-sunny-side-up or something.
Please excuse the blatant stereotyping, but it’s how I like to imagine the world. Inside of my head is generally more fun than outside.
You can obviously plan your own times, based on your audience profile, but try and keep to a set schedule as far as possible. It works better for everyone that way. This is the second way in which social media is just like a kitten. If you leave it alone for too long, it will scamper off in search of someone else to play with.
The Plan For Winning At Social Media
Instead of the measly 15 minutes, set aside as much time as you can each morning, but no longer than an hour. I’d recommend between 30-45 minutes. Use this time to catch up on overnight activity:
- responding to comments on your blog
- thanking people for re-tweets (have to play nicely)
- finding some splendid material from people you follow, which you can share to start the day (spread the love Daddy-O, it will come back)
- a quick read of some of the most interesting posts from people you follow
- use one of the many scheduling tools to line up some nifty pre-planned tweets which will ping out of their own accord during the rest of the day
At the end of your allocated time, LOG OFF. Seriously. Don’t leave your accounts logged in or the kitten will be scritching and scratching at your bare ankles until you just can’t leave it alone any more. Think of it as locking the kitten in a box, but in a less cruel way.
Somewhere around lunchtime (or the 1st bottle of Malbec as I like to think of it) allow yourself another half-hour, or an hour if you can spare it.
This is a prime time to compose a new blog post. In fact, can you guess what time it is right now…? Yip.
Before you shut the kitten back in its cold, dark, lonely box again (MUST find another analogy) sprinkle the internet liberally with links to the prize-winningly audacious blog post you’ve just written. It can then sit and germinate for a while before…
A freeform evening session. 15 minutes, half an hour, whatever you feel like. This is supposed to be fun after all. No set rules, just go with the flow: reading blog posts, seeking out new bloggers, re-twittering, getting all Pinterest-happy and so forth.
In this easy-going mellow spirit, you can grab your swanky mobile device and lounge on the sofa alongside your glamorous Other Half while you do this if you so desire. Or, for those who don’t like being repeatedly poked in the ear to a soundtrack of “What are you doing? Have you fed the llamas? Do you like my new waders?” you could secrete yourself away in the study/shed/airing cupboard.
Once you get into a routine which works for you, trust me, you’ll find yourself with an awful lot more time and an awful lot less stress. Oh, and a whole bundle more fans and followers as well.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and give Twitter a saucer of milk.
“Aww, wook at its ickle sleepy face, are you a hungry Twitter?”