In our previous installment on finding an audience, I talked about the importance of author websites, and I mentioned a thread on social media where Laird Barron underscored their necessity. In the comments that followed that thread, several people weighed in who seemed to believe that author websites were somehow “outdated” or “unnecessary” in this day and age. A social media presence, they argued, did the same job better, rendering an author website redundant at best and an impediment at worst. But the fact is, an author website and social media are two very different beasts, with very different strengths and weaknesses, that serve very different functions when it comes to finding an audience and keeping one.
It’s safe to say that a strong social media presence is an important element of the audience finding toolkit of most writers these days. Here at Clockpunk Studios, we believe in social media pretty strongly, and all of us have active social media presences both individually and as a company on Twitter and Facebook. We can even help our clients to strengthen and maintain their social media platforms, and to integrate them with their websites. But at the end of the day, we got our start building websites for authors and publishers, and we do that not just because it’s what we’re good at, but because we believe in the importance of it.
A social media presence, no matter how well-maintained or carefully curated, is always going to be a part of something bigger. It will be owned and controlled, ultimately, by the platform that you’re operating on—whether that’s Twitter or Facebook or what-have-you. It will be a public space, where you engage with your readers and with other writers and professionals one-on-one. That’s extremely valuable, but it’s also very different than a website. A website is something that’s yours in a way that social media never can be. It’s a place that’s there to give readers a portal into your world, into your work, and, ultimately, into you.
Social media is like a convention. Most of us have been to at least a few conventions, whether they were Worldcon or Readercon or Dragoncon or the World Fantasy Convention or something else entirely. Conventions are fun and exciting and loud and boisterous and full of things that are constantly happening and changing. They are great places to network, to make deals, to meet readers, and sometimes even to sell. But they are ultimately ephemeral, unstable, chaotic. You have a blast and stay up too late and forge important relationships or renew old ones, but before you know it the convention is over and you’re on a red eye flight back home with not enough sleep and lots of good memories.
If social media is like a convention, then your website is like your own personal store front. It’s a place where people can come to learn more about you, to buy your products, and to find out what else you’ve done. It’s a place dedicated to its job, steady where social media is in constant flux. Both may well be vital to finding and keeping your audience, but they do so in very different ways. A website isn’t a substitute for social media, but social media also isn’t a substitute for a website. Wherever you are in your quest to find your audience, Clockpunk Studios has the tools and the know-how to get you to the next level!