Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Pinterest vs. Instagram: What’s Right for Authors?

Best social media for authors

There is a grand battle royale going down between social media networks, and writers and bloggers are caught in the middle of it. The boundaries are constantly shifting, the pros and cons of each platform are always changing, and no one ever seems to be able to decide where in the heck they should be.

So, which social media networks should you be on? Where can you get the best bang for your social media buck?  I get this question all the time, and like the Twitter-specific question from last week, the answer is complicated. Because really, choosing a network depends on what kind of writer or blogger you are and what areas of your author platform you need to bolster.

The one thing that applies to everyone? You can’t (and shouldn’t) build your numbers on all of them. You will drive yourself straight loony-tunes if you try to keep up with all of them, and your social media campaign will be less effective if it’s not focused. It’s worth it to find your social media soulmate–that one platform that will not only grow your platform but also be actually enjoyable!

Ready to choose? Here are the candidates:

  • Facebook: The big kahuna. I’m still of the belief that every single writer should have a professional Facebook page, and this is for one simple reason: sheer numbers. Facebook has 1.35 billion monthly active users. The other networks lag far behind—Instagram has an estimated 300 million users, Twitter has an estimated 288 million users, and Pinterest has about 70 million users. Facebook is still where everyone and their grandma is, and even though it’s been changing its algorithm to limit the reach of posts (more on the changes to Facebook’s algorithm and what it means for authors here), it’s still the best place to reach the most people. Facebook also allows you to integrate all mediums–text with no character limits, images, videos, GIFS, etc–so it can work for you no matter what your strengths are. I consider a professional Facebook page to be one of the foundational elements of building a platform.

  • Instagram: As you can see from the numbers above, Instagram has had explosive growth over the last few years. Instagram’s a fascinating platform in that it’s like a micro-blogging platform and a social media platform in one. Because there’s no character limit to Instagram captions, you can write as much as you want, and those words are what build engagement with your followers. You can tell stories, share snippets of your day, talk about upcoming launches—essentially, do and say everything you would in a short blog post, with a (hopefully beautiful!) photo alongside it. In the publishing world, we’ve seen very solid conversion of Instagram followers to book buyers (more on how to build a platform that converts here and more on how to convert blog readers into book buyers here), which means that the platform is helping people really create a deep sense of engagement with their followers. I personally also love it, since it feels less crowded and more personal than Facebook or a website, and my favorite bloggers often use it to share more behind-the-scenes peeks into their lives, which they might not share on their main blogs/vlogs/podcasts. However! There’s a big catch to Instagram. Since you can’t include links in your posts, followers have to click several times over to your main profile page to follow any links you want them to follow. This means that Instagram isn’t the best for driving traffic directly to your website. But I still highly recommend it for anyone who already has solid traffic and now wants to increase engagement with their existing readers.
  • Pinterest: Now, if you’re looking for traffic, Pinterest is the place to be. This is especially true for writers in the areas where Pinterest excels: food, drink, crafts, home, fashion, style, beauty, etc., but it can also apply to other writers, since inspirational writing quotes, book recommendations, and the like are also popular on Pinterest. For practical nonfiction writers/bloggers looking to increase their traffic, Pinterest should be your primary focus. By using a scheduling tool, you can set your pins to post every few hours, which will help keep your pins always near the top of your followers’ feed, where they’re more likely to be seen and repinned. (This also protects your time,  so you won’t get sucked into the vortex of prettiness for hours on end!) However, it’s important to keep in mind that while Pinterest can drive great traffic to your site, it’s up to you to keep those visitors coming back. Prompting visitors to sign up for your email list as soon as they land on your page is one way to keep them around. Of course, not all of that traffic will stick around, no matter how much you try. And that’s okay—maybe that one visitor was just looking up a carrot cake recipe for her grandmother who doesn’t use the Internet, and she’d never become a regular reader of your baking blog anyway. But the people who do love baking blogs will be happy they found you! You can also read more on the rise of Pinterest here.
  • Twitter: If you’re a fiction writer or a narrative nonfiction writer, you should be on Twitter. If you write image-driven nonfiction (cookbooks, design, home, etc.), it might not be the best place for you. Last week I went into a more in-depth discussion of why Twitter might not be right for you as an author, so I won’t repeat myself here.

The important thing to keep in mind is that, just like with exercise, you’ll get better results if you can actually enjoy the process. I’d also love to hear from other bloggers and writers on this! What social media platforms are working for you, and what’s felt like a waste of time?

5 thoughts on “Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Pinterest vs. Instagram: What’s Right for Authors?

  1. I agree with this! When I first started with Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and created a professional Facebook, I got a significant amount of views when people on Facebook felt like being supportive. Unfortunately when that wears off, the views drop. Too bad there isn’t a way to promote without spending money.

    1. So sorry for the delayed reply–this slipped past me! But that’s so true. Facebook can be great…until it’s not. Michael Hyatt is actually doing a cracking-the-Facebook-code webinar this week that looks really interesting. It should be over in his most recent posts, in case you’re interested!

      And thanks for stopping by and contributing!

  2. For science and math writers, Google+, (not mentioned here), is a nice little community. It shares all the same technical parameters you mentioned above for Facebook; meanwhile, the community is more wide-open and less ‘I don’t know who you are’. In math and science at least, Google+ users are more into seeking good/entertaining information than building/maintaining relationships.

    1. That’s really interesting–Google+ hasn’t been on our radar much in the publishing world, but I have started to see really great numbers building there for many of my authors. Do you find that it’s good for referring traffic to your main site, or do you use it more as an information hub itself?

  3. Greetings! My name is Felecia Killings. I found your blog through Pinterest, and I’m so glad I did. I own and operate an educational program for writers called the Empowered Writerpreneurs Network; and I’ve been searching for another blogger that discussed pertinent topics for fiction and non-fiction writers. I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that I will certainly be referencing and following your blog for my followers. I’m quite selective in the content I share with them because they trust me to provide relevant and useful information. So, again, I’m glad I found you! If you like, you can visit the network at empoweredwriterpreneurs.mightybell.com. Thanks for you content!

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