Authors: Kill These Bad Social Media Habits

Our topic this month is “Kill Your Darlings” so I’m here to talk about social media practices you should murder and leave in a ditch somewhere!

1) Twitter auto-DMs when someone follows you

I follow someone on Twitter because I think they’re fun/nice/entertaining/informative. Within minutes, I have a private message from them. Which seems nice, right? But wait, the message is an impersonal version of “Thank you for following me. Check out my books at [amazon link].”

Don’t do this.

Since people always argue with me about this when I teach “Social Media for Authors” classes, I’ll try to explain why. If you’re at a party and you think someone seems like an interesting person to talk to. You go up and introduce yourself. The person says, “Thanks for saying hi. Check out my office supply store on Main Street,” then turns and walks away.

At the last conference I went to, we literally had a 15-minute rant session about how much we hate auto-dms. Yes, even if it’s not a direct sales pitch.

If you want to interact with your new followers, reply to something they’ve tweeted with a relevant comment. That’s the best way to begin a real relationship.

Treat people like people, not like potential customers.

2) Feeding your Facebook posts into your Twitter posts

We all know Twitter has a 140 character limit, right? A lot of people have it set up so that whatever they post to Facebook automatically posts to twitter. There are more subtle reasons as to why this isn’t a good idea, but the big one is that your message is truncated. Most twitter users are on mobile and don’t want to click over to Facebook to finish reading your post. This is why doing it the other way around (Twitter posts to Facebook) isn’t as bad (but still not ideal).

3) Reposting the same tweet about your book, every day

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to schedule this tweet once so you never have to think about it again. But I see the same tweet from you, every day, and it’s just noise at this point.

4) Follow and unfollow and follow and unfollow and follow and unfollow for followers

Dude. I’m not going to follow you back. I follow people I find interesting, not just because they followed me.

Be fun and interesting and nice and way more people will follow you than you can get using any kind of “strategy.”

5) Copyright infringement in your advertisements

We all know that stealing someone’s writing and posting it without their permission is a no-no, right? Why don’t we apply the same knowledge to photos? If you don’t have the legal (usually, paid) right to use an image, do NOT use it in your advertisements. This goes double for celebrity photos.

Photos used in discussion/commentary are a different matter, but in promotional materials for your book? You better have the rights to use it.

These days, social media is an important part of author life. You can’t make everybody happy, but killing the habits listed above will help you scare off fewer potential readers.

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