In an Era of Social Media, Do I Still Need a Website? By Karen McCullough

Karen_McCullough_2015_200Increasingly over the last year, I’ve seen authors and businesses abandoning their websites and using Facebook or Tumblr or other similar social media sites exclusively instead.

 

I get the reasons – it’s cheap and easy and provides a good way to keep in touch with your core market to keep them up to date with what’s going on in your piece of the world.
But I think it’s a bad idea for anyone who’s trying to sell a product – like books, for instance. I could be accused of self-interest here, since I run a website business, but in fact, I’m at retirement age and I’m phasing out of that business, so I no longer have a horse in the race.  I have other reasons for thinking it’s a bad idea, particularly for authors.

 

Boiled down, a website is an advertisement for an author – an extensive and, if done well, an appealing one. An effective website reflects the author’s brand in every bit of it – color scheme, information breakdown, graphics, and content. Plus it provides information tailored to the needs and interests of visitors wanting to know about you and your books.

 

Facebook and other social media sites have built-in limitations that make them less effective in that role. You can add a nice graphic header to a Facebook page, with a little work, but let’s face it – the biggest percentage of the branding is pure Facebook. And the content most visible is the most recent few posts and comments. Everything else is difficult to find.

 

A well-done website is a hub for all of the author’s marketing efforts, brought together in a way that gives visitors a full picture of the author and what he or she writes and has available to the public. It sells you and your books. Visitors can (or should be able to) find a list of all your books in order, related material to the books, a bio of the author, a listing of your appearances or events, and how to contact you.

 

There are ways to display lists of your books in series order on Facebook, but they’re awkward and viewers won’t always realize what they are. You can include buy links in your posts – sort of.  Easy enough if it’s on Amazon only, but including a set of links to other publishers/sites is awkward at best. And including a link with your post, any link, almost guarantees it’s less likely to be seen by a large number of people. In fact, Facebook has gotten much pickier about who gets to see your posts, period.

 

Part of the appeal of Facebook and similar sites is that it’s so easy to keep the content dynamic and fresh and to interact with visitors and friends easily. It helps keep people coming back. That’s a major virtue and it’s a bit part of the appeal, which is why Facebook is part of so many authors’ marketing strategy.

 

But it shouldn’t be your entire marketing strategy. A website that can display all your books at the click of an easily identifiable button is an essential for authors who want to improve sales. A site that makes it easy for visitors to find out what books are coming out in the future and when the next book in that series they love will be available can’t help but increase your exposure (and pre-orders!).

 

Your website should be a hub for all you marketing efforts. An integrated blog can provide dynamically updated content and a way to discuss things. A Twitter widget can display your latest posts. Links to everywhere you have a presence can keep visitors moving through all the places you hang out. But you can maintain more relationship by using your website as a central switching station for all your activity as well as a repository for the essential information you want people to know about you.

 

 

Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a AGFM_200finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, four grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

 

Website: http://www.kmccullough.com

Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenMcCulloughAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kgmccullough

 

Blurb for A Gift for Murder: The Gifts and Home Decoration trade show provides Heather McNeill with the longest week of her hectic life. As assistant to the director of Washington, D.C.’s, Market and Commerce center, she’s point person for complaining exhibitors, missing shipments and miscellaneous disasters. It’s a job she takes in stride—until murder crashes the event.

 

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One thought on “In an Era of Social Media, Do I Still Need a Website? By Karen McCullough

  1. radine says:

    Gosh, I love my web site and what it does for me as an author. Besides…with all the ins and outs that occur on most social media, I can trust it to be one-click-away available at all times. (Don’t know, but I doubt you can put a fully “clickable” media page with cover art, author photo, and various helps for reporters that’s easily available on Facebook! The important thing is to get web site info “out there.” So, why not mention it frequently when you post on Twitter, Facebook, etc.?

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