Social Media Fails

Cynthia Shannon, BK's Publicity Manager, lists five things authors shouldn't do when it comes to using social media:

Social media, when used correctly to promote your book, can help you build a platform and establish authority. When used incorrectly, it can severely backfire and make you look incompetent. Here are a few things not to do when using social media to generate awareness of your book:

1. Talk about your book. I know this may be confusing, but the best way to alienate your online audience is to talk about your book, and only your book, incessantly. It’s fine to weave the book into the conversation when you can do so seamlessly, but don’t force it. Don’t make every status update on Facebook be about your book either.

Instead: Find #topics on Twitter to which you can contribute useful information, and share interesting articles around that topic. Keep a mention of your book only in your Twitter bio. Limit FB posts about your book to the highlights only, like when you win the Pulitzer.

2. Set up automatic replies. Some people may argue for it, but automatic replies are the worst thing you can do with your social media account. They’re impersonal, and can make it obvious that you’re a robot. Just don’t even go there.

Instead: Make sure you’re getting real time notifications with every mention of your name on Twitter, reply to those messages asap. Don’t forget to also check out your followers list and politely follow back.

3. Put up a Facebook account for your book. This might come as another surprise. Facebook is an easy way to create a web presence, right? Wrong! Setting up a whole separate account for your book is going to take a lot of time, you have to gain fans from scratch, and inevitably the page is going to go stale.

Instead: Learn how to use your privacy settings on your personal profile, and work with Notes and Questions pertaining to your book. That way, when you write your second book, you can use the same platform and already have a built in audience. Note: Set up lists and use them well, otherwise you’re not following point 1 very well.

4. Plug your book on other people’s blogs. Going to someone else’s blog and posting a comment about your book that is not even remotely related to the topic of that person’s blog is just too obvious. It’s the equivalent of interrupting someone’s presentation with a random story about your cat.

Instead: Find a handful of bloggers whose writing you enjoy and start commenting regularly about their posts. Post a link to your website or mention your book only if the information you provide will enhance another readers’ knowledge about that subject.

5. Give up after six weeks of doing social media. Social media is a lot of work. Many people start off with a lot of drive and gusto but then decide after a few weeks that their foray into social media was a failed experiment. It’s hard to understand that everyone starts off with zero followers and no fans, but the more you use it, the faster you’ll get a fan base.

Instead: Get into the habit of doing social media every day for ten minutes. Actually use it, don’t just lurk in the background. Instead, send a tweet with a link, upload a picture, send a friend request to Jeevan (if you absolutely can’t come up with anything else). Focus on one platform, learn it well, then move on to the next. Social media is ever evolving, and you’ll learn as you go.


  1. Thanks Cynthia, very helpful.

    Best, George

  2. Thank you so much for your insights Cynthia. Counter intuitive for sure. Very useful.

  3. Cynthia, that was great, thank you. I will remember those tips. Yada yada yada. BTW: Did I mention MY NEW BOOK is about to come out?

    Heh heh.