Oh, how the digital world is changing!

This week, Fortune magazine reported that Facebook book referrals have surpassed Google as a traffic source for news.

As a former news person this was interesting but not as interesting to me as a blogger and writer.

I have debated with friends who are marketers and social media managers about whether this is something that we should pay attention to. Do we drop SEO? Do we pay for getting our posts into more timelines? How does this impact the writer?

I think time will tell how this will impact news websites, which is what the article is mainly about. However, this will impact writers and bloggers who depend on their platform and/or communities to establish themselves.

I have a blog post coming soon about what exactly is an author platform. For now though, know that a writer’s website/blog is the anchor to their platform. And platform is important because that’s how you grow customer base, i.e. potential readers. 

Oh, I can see some confused faces already. Okay, let’s get a base of knowledge going. Let’s say you want to be traditionally published, whether it’s one of the big publishers or one of the smaller presses. And say you go through an lit agent, which some of you dream of doing.

Most of those folks, the ones making the decision on you and your novel, are not only looking at your book, they are looking at it as a widget. Their focus? Can they sell this? What makes it easier to sell is if the writer/blogger has already established their own community/audience/customer base, etc.

Here’s a lovely post that explains that. 

Among the traits that these decision makers will use to determine whether or not they will take you on is 1) pageviews 2) email list 3) outside promotion 4.) and social media following (which is a bit controversial but that’s another blog post.)

Half of those characteristics (which is really establishing how much impact your platform has) are directly impacted by Facebook’s traffic referrals vs Google SEO referrals.

But I’m not sure that means we need to abandon SEO completely. However, I do think writers can no longer ignore social media, Facebook in particular, as part of their platform. 

That means a couple of things for writers and bloggers who haven’t thought about social as a traffic referrer.

You have to have a Facebook account.

I suggest a profile vs a page for the simple reason that you can follow people with a profile but not so much with a page. However, if you’re into analytics, a page is better. Here’s mine if you need someone to follow. 

You have to interact.

It’s not just putting your posts on social, you’re going to have to spend some time developing relationships. Yes, writers, you have to talk to people. And not just people who comment on your posts. You’ll have to join groups and other pages. You’ll have to comment. You’ll have to ask questions.

But you also have to have a voice.

 Your post headlines need to be SEO and Facebook friendly.

Yes, you have to do the SEO thing but you also have to do the eye catching headline thing. Buzzfeed-ish. Thankfully, there’s not much difference between them both. If the SEO is doing well, it should work for Facebook. For example, the headline 5 ways to find out the meaning of life works for both SEO and Facebook.  However, you can have two different headlines, one for your blog and another for Facebook, if you need to. For example, you can have 5 ways to find out the meaning of life on the site. on Facebook, however, you can have how to find out the meaning of life on Facebook as the headline.

The difference? One headline will get you pageviews, the other will get you pageviews and engagement (share, like, comment). From Facebook, you want both. More on that later.

But, as always, you need great content. Always.

When folks say content is king, that’s true, however, it’s the not amount of content but the quality of content. Have good content that helps people, answers questions, gives them insights for what they need.

This is a pretty big topic and I plan on writing a couple of posts to help writers out who need help with their social media and platforms. Until then, feel free to ask a question or check out the social media/marketing section of the Writer’s Toolbox. 

ReadingIcess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minerva Rising and Soul’s Road. Her first book, the beginning of the Jennie Manning series, will come out next year.  In addition to writing, Icess teaches fiction writing and English composition classes. Want more on what it takes to be a writer? Sign up  or contact her and ask a question.