Social Media… and Writers

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As many may know by now, I’m working toward my MFA in Creative Writing. It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking process, especially when we start talking about social media and marketing ourselves. Some of my classmates face this with, what I call, bold excitement and success. Others, like myself, shriek and hiss like vampires toward a rising sun.

It’s long been said that many authors are introverts. I’m finding this to be true. But, unfortunately, this causes many of us to not care about social media.

What happens when we realize we must tackle this enemy of ours?

Well, to put it simply: sink or swim. One great thing about working toward my MFA is that, for assignments, I often have to go outside of my comfort zone. I won’t deny that I am in a Social Media Marketing class (and this post may or may not be inspired by an assignment that’s due). In this class, we read about a case study for Warby Parker.

Who or what is Warby Parker?

If you don’t know Warby Parker (no judgment, I didn’t either!), they’re a group of people who decided that the eyeglass world needed a revamp because it wasn’t working in a way that worked with a lot of people’s lives these days. So how did they rebuild things, you ask. Easy, the way most people in the 21st century do: moving it online. According to Google, they founded their business in 2010. At that time, online shopping wasn’t really the “in” thing, so it’s no surprise they faced some pushback and hesitation from their target audience.

Now, this is where it all relates to what I was saying: they used social media to help change a system they thought was broken.

The case study didn’t mention when they did a lot of their online campaigns. Still, it does note they used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. In addition, they created a “Home Try-On” campaign to help ease people into the idea of shopping online without the fear of getting a product they won’t actually love.

Now, why is this important?

Since part of their call to change was because eyeglass warehouses could be inconvenient, traditional marketing without an online presence would be difficult. If you’re going to sell things online but never reach out to your customers online, that’s a bit of a disconnect. Just imagine this: you’re thumbing through a magazine, and you see an advertisement to purchase glasses online, try them out, and send them back if you’re not happy. You go to the website but, well, it’s just glasses. You want more information. Why should you purchase these glasses online rather than just going to your eye doctor or an eyeglass warehouse? You search the interwebs for more information, but the only thing you have is a site that tells you to buy the glasses and try them on at home.

See the disconnect?

This is something new and different, and you want to be an educated consumer. Personally, if I’m doing something online, I don’t want to call someone on the phone to get more information. I’m on my computer, I’m on the internet, let me get information right there. Plus, what if I have questions once I get the shipment? Do I have to call again? If you’re selling something online, it just makes more sense to do everything else online as well. That’s why it’s important to have the right social media outlets that are easy to find when you’re doing business online.

Ok, so advertise online then… right? Wrong

Warby Parker used social media as a conversation. Just as you call into a call center for help and, with a good service rep, end up having a good conversation, that’s what social media should be. I found an article here that talks about the 80/20 rule. 20% of your time should be self-promotion, and 80% of it should be other things. I believe part of that 80% is the conversation. Especially for us authors, it’s important to connect with people, and that’s precisely what Warby Parker did with their social media. It wasn’t just about the eyeglasses; it was about the customer looking for a better way to get classes.

That requires conversation. That requires getting to know people.

Social media is supposed to be a fun space where people can connect and have a conversation. It can be used for marketing and even traditional marketing, but I know. Personally, I’m more likely to purchase something from someone when I feel a connection with a person. (Maybe it’s a brand loyalty type of thing, but to me, it’s a personal connection with an indie businessperson).

So, what does all this have to do with social media for writers?

I think we can all learn something from Warby Parker because the literary industry is going through some changes. We’ve shifted from solely print books to eBooks. We went from writers just writing to writers now managing their own marketing, leading to social media. And now, with the supply chain shortage, the future of print books is in question. Just as I mentioned before: it just makes sense to market on the same platform that you’re selling on. Whether you’re a self-published author, an author with a small publishing company, or a big-name author, it just makes sense to start being digitally available.

I know we’ve all heard it before: having a presence online is essential.

Maybe the idea of “marketing” yourself is uncomfortable. Personally, I hate the idea of calling blog posts and social media ‘marketing’. As much as I want people to buy my future books, I don’t want to sell my books. No one likes being sold to. Still, I feel social media marketing can be as basic as having a conversation and learning about your readers, so they get to know you.

If eBooks are the next big trend (as has been predicted for a long time), then where else will you connect to readers? In the once-in-a-blue-moon convention where you see them once and possibly never again? Not at all; they’ll want to stay connected. That’s how our world is nowadays. It’s about building connections and bridging gaps, and that’s really the basis of social media “marketing,” just like Warby Parker did.

And for all my fellow writers that hate social media and dread the thought, here’s another little nugget I found that will hopefully help: https://www.janefriedman.com/overcoming-fear-of-twitter/

And with that, I’m signing off for now.

4 thoughts on “Social Media… and Writers

  1. Yeah, I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately. Being a writer isn’t enough anymore. Sometimes it’s how many people want to consume your content as well, and don’t even get me started on book marketing, because that’s just a whole other crazy ballgame. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Like

    1. Hello,

      I totally agree! When I was graduating high school, it seemed so easy. Now, I feel like there’s so much more to being an author and having to market. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

      Like

  2. So well said. Like you, I’m an author, but I’m one of those weird ones who gets excited about marketing. I think your point about Warby Parker using social media to have a conversation with consumers, not just promote their products, is vital. Connecting with an audience is the best way to sell said products. I self-publish, so my marketing is all on me, and one of the things I like to do is ask questions in my posts. I try to relate it back to my books and writing, but I ask followers something to get them to interact. People on social media like to talk about themselves, and this provides a way for them to do that while still mentioning my work.

    I look forward to reading more posts!

    Like

  3. Hi Tracie,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post! You made some very awesome points and I think the part I most liked was how you were able to connect your own experiences to Warby Parker’s conversational approach to social media! I feel when companies do that they come off as more humanized. Creatives On Call (2021) build on this notion and mentions that humanizing a brand is the new way to market because consumers have higher expectations for a brand’s intentions. It’s proving to be more effective in gaining customer loyalty. Thanks for the post it was a great read!

    Like

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