Many people disagree with my stance to avoid discussing politics and/or religion on social media (unless it’s a key part of your branding/book/blog).
And that’s cool. We all have to do what seems right to us, and we curate content that we find interesting. And shouldn’t social media be the one place we can really connect with like-minded folks? Didn’t Obama use Twitter and Facebook during his elections to really develop a diehard following? Don’t many of the various religious leaders and political parties use social media now?
Whatevs. Here is why I say to avoid those hot-button topics. Let’s deconstruct.*
*Examples are taken from real life as well as some clients, and in no way represent my personal ideology of worshipping fez-wearing purple aliens.
The most intense and inflammatory flame wars I’ve seen surround these two topics. The second you say something derogatory about say, our President, you out your personal beliefs as a (used for example only) diehard right-wing conservative Republican, or at least a disappointed Democrat.
Or maybe you could care less about politics but making a comment makes it seem as if you are extreme in some way even if you’re not. If your book is about politics, great. You’ve just connected with the demographic who will buy it — and alienated those who are offended by your personal politics or beliefs. I have a number of very conservative folks buy my books — and I’m certainly not their ‘normal’ demographic, am I? (A ‘left coast’ Jewish breadwinning female.)
My books have nothing to do with religion or politics — so I rarely if ever share anything political or religious on social media (or my websites). I believe we need to connect with readers at a basic human level — love, loss, relationships are my topics so that’s what I focus on. You as an author have to decide what is best for you, and your marketing and sales. I just caution you to be conscious that being a writer and having a public persona means this is your JOB. It’s never a good idea to get into discussions of ideology on social media. Avoid if you can.
If you focus on topics of interest that are somewhat related to you and your book, you will know exactly what to share on social media or as blog topics. The first activity you need to do (and I do this with clients, also), is figure out what five or so keywords (or key phrases) you are interested in, write about, are intrinsically drawn to. When we’re passionate about something, we are authentic — our interest is true. From there, you build your brand (or focus, if the B-word scares you).
I have one client who wrote a book about his experiences with the federal government. He has some very strong political opinions and is passionate about it also — and his book delves into politics. So for him, politics is a natural topic that cements his branding.
Another client writes YA/Paranormal, and is a conservative Christian. She found that by talking about her religious experiences or sharing those kinds of quotes was alienating her fan base — primarily because she’s not writing Christian Fiction. So…she stopped. She sticks to more YA and Paranormal type subjects and her following has grown exponentially. (She keeps her personal Facebook wall — where you friend people — strictly family and friends, using her page for book-related topics.)
TRIAL AND ERROR
Nothing we do in marketing is set in stone. If you pick your five words or phrases or topics and they don’t seem to resonate, change them. One client is a teacher, so he likes to connect with other teachers about educational-related topics. He also writes pretty racy erotica. The challenge, then, is: how to merge his daily interest in education with the edgier topics? We finally decided to have him use a pen name and keep that writing platform separate from his ‘real-life’ accounts. He’s a good, normal guy who writes racy stuff — however, he didn’t want anyone to think poorly of him with regard to teaching (and teachers have to be so careful these days anyway, particularly a male), so this has worked out beautifully.
In fact, just recently he decided to abandon the personal accounts (simply due to time constraints), so we shelved those accounts for now and rebranded his keywords strictly for writing and erotica.
This is just my opinion as both an author and social media consultant for hire. Above all, I believe in polite, respectful discourse.
Feel free to disagree, yell at me, or tell me I’m an idiot. I’ve heard it all. Bring it.