Social Media for an Author – Avoid the Quagmire

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Bryan Holmes (@BryanHolmesSTEM) | TwitterIn this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

Social media is a great way for an author to get his or her name out there, but it is not necessarily a good sales venue. If you are teaching student authors how to use social media, it is important to make sure they use it appropriately and safely. One appropriate method is to share your blog posts so that they go out automatically on your social media accounts. WordPress has a widget for this, a free plug-in feature. Additionally, short posts or photos of your writing experience would augment social media well. I told my students that if their social media accounts are full of personal information they don’t want to share publicly, then they should open a new Facebook, Twitter, or other site just about their book experience. There is not one way to do all this. Here is what I have done, as an example:

  • I used LinkedIn (click here to see my profile) extensively for this project since it is a professional network where I can reach other teachers. I share my blog posts automatically so that my connections see them, then I also share the posts with LinkedIn “groups” I have joined, such as the National Science Teachers Association. In this way, my blog posts are visible to thousands of other teachers who can comment on them and share the information.
  • I set up a new Twitter account (@BryanHolmesSTEM) for this book. My blog posts go out automatically as Tweets. I have connected with other teachers and science educators, plus many people involved in writing on Twitter. I also linked my Twitter feed to my blog website, so the two are closely linked. I also retweet writing and publishing articles that I think my students and other teachers would find helpful.
  • I started using Google+ (click here to see my profile) a couple years ago, but really got going with my previous book. The most useful features are to build “circles” and to join “communities” that match up with the target audience. I share my blog posts with the appropriate circles and communities.
  • Facebook – I had set up an account as an author, then stopped using it recently. I did not find it gave any useful return in the time spent. You may find it useful.

The last thing about social media is TIME. It can become a black hole into which you sink all of your time, if you are not careful. Get out there, post some appropriate content, respond to comments, then exit it. Do your social media posting and checking on a schedule, say 15 minutes per day. Don’t succumb to endless checking of your sites. This is critical for busy students. By mentoring them to use social media wisely, you will help them with time management.

Next week, my post will feature some of my students’ online activity.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

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