So, is Twitter dead? Just try Googling it—the headlines aren’t pretty.
For writers, the agonizing decline of our digital public square hits hard. The #PitMad pitch competitions were excellent for getting agent attention. You could have real conversations with publishers and famous authors. It was a place to create genuine #writingcommunity, breaking down the high walls of the literary community.
I won’t bemoan the loss of Twitter further, though Erin Somers writes a fitting eulogy in the Atlantic article, What Will Writers Do Without Twitter? True, Twitter is still up… But it’s lost credibility and functionality, with most users jumping ship. As my social media managing husband says, “Twitter is slowly taking away all the things that made it not a hellscape dumpster fire of trolls.”
Such is the way of the internet. And while Twitter hasn’t gone the way of Myspace quite yet, don’t put all your eggs in that Musk-y basket. Just last week, I was still crossposting to Twitter… until the platform made it impossible to use third-party schedulers. I’d say while Twitter isn’t quite dead yet, it’s over.
What can you do to continue building your platform in the social media post-apocalypse? Read on for ideas:
I recommend Instagram to writers over Facebook or TikTok for multiple reasons:
- Powerful hashtags can boost your reach on Insta, whereas hashtags are much less effective on Facebook.
- A personal Insta account can garner good results. Unlike Facebook, which is limited to 5,000 friends, Instagram does not restrict your follower amount, though you are capped at 7,500 for following others. (For business accounts on either platform, you need to pay to play to get favored by the algorithms. Otherwise, stick with a personal account.)
- Instagram has less malfunctioning software than Facebook and fewer safety concerns than TikTok.
- A thriving #bookstagram community
- Tons of very interactive authors
- Many opportunities to join #followtrains
- It’s much slower to grow your audience on Instagram than it was on Twitter. However, slow but steady can win the race!
- Instagram is notorious for spoofed and hacked accounts. Set up two-step verification to keep your account safe—a good idea across all social media platforms!
I plan to do a full column on growing your writing platform on Instagram. Until then, here are more options:
YouTube is the second-most popular social media platform behind Facebook, and according to some reports, it is starting to outpace Facebook with younger audiences.
Why not create a YouTube channel? You could host a video blog or podcast, post clips from events like readings and conferences, or even record helpful how-to videos for writers. You can make your content do double duty by embedding videos in your blog (more on that below!).
If your audience skews older, or if you host events, it might make sense to make a personal Facebook account for your author platform. A business page is probably only worth the investment if you have the money to run paid ads. Remember, you can always switch to a business page later once you get your momentum going.
As for TikTok, I’m torn. The U.S. government is investigating the company over security threat possibilities. On the other hand, publishing expert Jane Friedman recently posted on Instagram that romance is the leading growing genre of 2022, thanks largely to TikTok.
My advice: If your audience skews younger or has a big presence on TikTok, do more research on this platform to see if it is right for you.
Start a Blog or a Newsletter
Ideally, your social media channels should feed into your central marketing platform, which for writers is usually a blog, often with a website attached to it. What better way to contribute to the writing community, build your portfolio, and showcase your wordsmithing than blogging? Here are some great options:
I prefer WordPress, where you can start a free blog at wordpress.com. What’s lovely about the WordPress community is that your posts automatically get shared with a wide audience.
With minimum effort, blogging about two to four times a year for the past ten years, I’ve gained 6,400+ followers and counting. Most importantly, you own your content and have a lot of control. WordPress does offer paid ad-ons, but I’ve used the 100% free version for years and loved it. For more, check out HubSpot’s article, “How to Use WordPress: Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Website.”
Joining and publishing articles on Medium is free, easy to set up, and gives you access to a great reader network. You can even get paid for writing on Medium, though my friends say it takes hard work to really make money.
The biggest con with this platform is that you don’t own your content; they do. Even if it seems unlikely, they could delete your content without warning.
My take: Medium could be a good place to crosspost your blog to from another platform to reach an even wider audience. There is even a Medium plugin for WordPress to do just that! For more, check out Hubspot’s article, “How to Use Medium: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing, Publishing & Promoting on the Platform.”
Imagine if WordPress and MailChimp had a baby, and you would get Substack. It’s an email newsletter platform with a blog-style format easily accessed on the web and their app. Substack is super user-friendly, easy to use and sign up for, and a great option if you’re new to email marketing.
On Substack, you own your content. It even has a leg up on WordPress because you also have control of your email subscriber list. Additionally, your content reaches the wider Substack community, helping you grow your audience. The platform is free, and you can even create a paid subscriber level for your content (then you’d pay Substack 10%).
The only problem? Elon Musk tweeted recently that he’s thinking about buying the platform 😭.
For more, check out the great Hootsuite guide, What Is Substack and How Does It Work?
If you’re interested in a newsletter service and want a full comparison of email marketing tools, check out the comprehensive article from Inbox Collective, AWeber, Beehiiv, ConvertKit, Ghost, Mailchimp, or Substack: Which Is The Right ESP For Your Indie Newsletter?
The Bottom Line: Diversity and Own Your Marketing Content
The internet is an ever-changing tool. That’s why it’s important to diversify your writing platform so that you still have other options if one goes down. Pick at least two or three platforms you can build, choosing the ones that resonate with you the most and where you can be consistent.
Starting slow is better than not starting at all. Even a few blog posts a year will snowball into a solid following years down the line if you diversify your platforms and keep putting out good content at a pace that’s right for you!
Rachel Teferet (lettersandfeathers.wordpress.com) is a marketing copywriter and content manager, novelist, and poet. Their work has been published by Subprimal Poetry Art, Zoetic Press’ NonBinary Review, and more.
You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter (if it isn’t completely dead yet), and Instagram.