Cool and Not So New Social Media Networks for Indie Authors

by | Jul 8, 2015

Do authors need to pay attention to the coolest new social media networks on the block?

Or should you wait to see whether they take off or fade away without so much as an hasta luego as so many applications do?

Well, that depends.

How much time do you have? How curious are you? What are the demographics of your readership?

Yeah, I have a lot of questions. You should too.

Before you go off chasing the newest and seemingly brightest rising planet of the social media universe, think about your readers.

But if you’re wondering what’s out there, aside from the Big Five (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest), keep reading.


Snapchat logoIf you’ve already heard of Snapchat, you probably have a teenager or social media savvy millennial in your family. This mobile image and video-sharing app, which launched back in 2011, is all the rage among teens and young millennials.

When retailers and other companies marketing to this demographic learned that their buyers were hanging out there, guess what? Yep, they jumped into this app with marketing programs to attract these young buyers to their products.

Audi, Taco Bell, Grub Hub, Audi, Mashable, McDonald’s and streetwear retailer Karmaloop are some of the brands that are investing energy into this app.

Why should authors be any different?

If you write young adult or new adult fiction, you may want to devote a sliver of your time to this network because it all the rage among your readers.

Check out these statistics from the Business Insider:

  • The majority of its users are female and between of 13 and 25.
  • Two-fifths of 18-year-olds in the U.S. use it several times a day to check in with friends and some family members.
  • It’s popular worldwide.
  • Snapchat Stories increased 100% in the last two months. Stories are now getting 1 billion views daily while 760 million disappearing photos and videos are sent daily.

The disappearing images and videos may be one reason some retailers and even authors have hesitated to join Snapchat. (Although that is probably the huge appeal to its users.)

However, you can take screenshots to preserve your posts and use them elsewhere. After all, nothing on the Internet disappears completely.

Facebook recently tried to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion, but the app refused the offer. Snapchat’s estimated worth is $16 billion, and the company plans to go public.

Not bad for an app whose content can disappear into thin air.


Tumblr logoTumblr, which launched back in 2007 (three years before Pinterest), is hardly new. In my experience, few authors use it.

Again, if you write for the young adult market, Tumblr needs to be an important part of your marketing strategy.

Guess who else you’ll find on Tumblr? IBM, Keds, Glamour Magazine, Vans shoes, Nabisco, Newsweek, Coca-Cola and many others.

You’ll also find The New Yorker, National Public Radio there and Fresh Air on Tumblr as well – so don’t think Tumblr is just for kids.

Not convinced? Here are some more facts from DMR, Digital Marketing:

  • Sixty-one percent of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 consider Tumblr their primary social media network.
  • Tumblr enjoys 120,000 signups daily and presently hosts 90 million blogs.
  • It has 199.1 million monthly global visitors.
  • The average blog post is reblogged 14 times. Think of reblogging like retweets on Twitter or shares on Facebook.
  • The average sponsored blog (paid to promote) is reblogged 10,000 times. That’s incredible.
  • Fourteen percent of people who are 18 to 19 years old use Tumblr.
  • Tumblr has 131.7 million blogs.

The most reblogged author on Tumblr is John Michael Green, a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. He’s also an avid YouTube video blogger.

If you don’t already have a Tumblr account, sign up and personalize your blog. Then get more mileage out of your blog posts by adding them to Tumblr. Follow others, and if you write YA, connect to your readers with images, GIFS (animated images, videos and memes (humorous images).

In other words, get their attention.


Instagram logoThis mobile image-sharing app has been around since 2010 – a long time. A darling among teens and young adults, 13% of all Internet users now network on Instagram.

Some literary agents recommend that authors add it to their marketing arsenal as well.

Using your iPhone or Droid, it’s easy to take images on the go and share them with your followers on this app. A cool feature is that you can simultaneously post your vacation or cooking adventures on Facebook and Twitter simultaneously right from Instagram.

And if you write young adult or new adult fiction, you’ll enjoy this fact: 41% of Instagram’s users are between the age of 16 and 24.

How can you use Instagram? Here are some ideas.

  • Conduct a book cover contest.
  • Share your blog post images in advance of publishing a new blog post.
  • Let readers into your life by taking pictures of your office.
  • Do you like to write outdoors? Show readers a picture of your deck and garden where you like to sit to write.
  • Take a picture of the cappuccino you like to sip while you write at our local café or Starbucks.
  • Share a picture of your favorite bookstore.
  • Share pictures of your favorite bookshelves.
  • Did you write a cookbook? Share a picture of an amazingly beautiful dish you created.
  • Take a selfie of yourself with other writers while attending a writer’s conference.
  • Did a writing colleague win an award? Take a picture of it to share with your following.

Regardless of the social media network you use, personalize your experience but not to the extent that others might suspect you’re a Narcissist.

Share your followers’ blog posts and images. Give others credit. Promote others. And think of ways to connect with your readers that will entertain them and bring value to their experience and lives.


CafeMom logoHeard of CafeMom? Don’t worry, this network caters to pregnant women and mothers.

How might writers use this network? Did you write a nonfiction book targeting mothers or new moms? Or a recipe book?

Or do you write romance or women’s fiction that you think moms would love?

Then this is this network for you.

This ad-supported social networking site started in 2006 (just two years after the birth of Facebook) and now has 30 million users.

According to comScore, within one year of its launch, CafeMom became the most trafficked website on the Internet for women.


Medium logoThere’s a famous writer on Medium, Graham Moore, the 2015 Oscar-winning screenwriter. One of his posts became popular after the Academy Awards and boosted the profile of this network.

Medium is a great place for writers but at this point I wonder whether it’s a place where Indie writers should invest much time simply because I don’t know how many of your readers you’ll find here.

But I could be wrong.

Medium suggests these six ways for writers to use this blogging platform:

  1. Convene a book group. (You can also do this in a Facebook group, Google+ community and on Goodreads.)
  2. Publish an excerpt of your book. (What a great way to get your readers here, hey?)
  3. Publish an op-ed column.
  4. Use Medium to get feedback from your followers.
  5. Publish an entire book. Yep, put your book out there for people to read. (Don’t use this option is you’ve signed up for Kindle Select.
  6. Engage with your audience between books. (Do this on other networks as well.)

If you want more people to read excerpts of your books, this may be a venue to drive traffic to. You can at least check it out and determine whether it’s worth your time.

On which social media are you most likely to find your readers?

social mediaFrances Caballo is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is also an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. Click here to receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers.

You can learn more about Frances and how to connect with her here.

Photo: Amazon links contain my affiliate code.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Pamela

    Wonderful advice. I’ve been sitting on the idea of adding Tumblr and Instagram to my litany of social media necessities. I guess I better bite the bullet, so to speak, and just do it.

    • Frances Caballo

      Pamela: I’m with you. I need to up my game too. Here’s some incentive for both of us: engagement on Instagram outperforms Facebook and Twitter. Inspired now? I am!

  2. C.K. MacLeod

    Great article, Frances! I especially appreciated the information on demographics. It can help us all to be more strategic with our social media choices.

    What are your thoughts about Ello?

    • Frances Caballo

      Thank you! I’ve signed up for Ello but haven’t used it. Wish I had more insight to give you. The demographics are critical. How else will we know where to market our books, right?

  3. Sherrey Meyer

    Frances and Joel, what a great comparison served up in short order of these social media options. With grandchildren in their 20s and late teens, I’m likely to hear something “hypeful” from them, but I now know that the best authority has weighed in on them all.

    • Frances Caballo

      If your grandchildren are teens, then they are likely on Snapchat and Instagram … and maybe Tumblr.

  4. Flora Morris Brown

    Hi Frances,

    Thanks for another great post helping to keep us time-strapped indie authors in the loop.

    It’s certainly impossible to be active on all of these, but having a comparison like this helps me decide where my time is best spent. I especially appreciate the tips on using Tumblr and Instagram.

    • Frances Caballo

      Flora: You don’t need to be on every social media network. Once you are clear on your reader demographic and understand which networks your readers use, those will be the only networks you’ll need to learn. The old philosophy was that you had to everywhere. That’s not the case these days. And that’s a good thing since everyone seems to be strapped for time these days.

  5. Marla Markman

    Great cheat sheet! Love the roundup and short comparisons of how these sites might work for authors.

    • Frances Caballo

      Maria: So glad to hear you downloaded the free cheat sheet. I hope it helps!

  6. Pamela

    So many websites, so little time! Great tips, though.

  7. susan troccolo

    What a great summary Frances! Thanks for doing all the legwork. Nicely written article too.

  8. Cat Michaels

    What a time-saving comparison….all laid out in one place for me to decide if I should tackle another social media platform. After reading this, I feel confident I’m on the right track. Thanks!



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