Social Media Tip for Authors #5: The 5-5-5 Rule

brought to you by the number 5

brought to you by the number 5

Welcome to my Social Media for Author Tip Series, where I offer you tips to put into practice so that you can:

  • Connect with your readers and get to know them
  • Let them get to know you
  • Build your network
  • Contribute to your tribe!
  • Be of service
  • Create your author platform

So you can sell more books!

Social media is: blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, other specialized online networks like yahoo groups, forums, YouTube, etc.

Today’s Tip #5: The 5-5-5 Rule

Often my workshop attendees, clients and students ask me, “How much time should I spend on social networking?”

“How’s five minutes a day?” I ask.

“That’s all?”

I get the feeling they were hoping I’d say hours! Then they could say, “Oh, I don’t have time for that!”

Sorry, you’re not getting off that easy. 🙂

After setting up your profiles on Twitter and Facebook, you only really need to spend five minutes a day to start to build your presence and grow your tribe.

That’s the first five — 5 –.

“But what do I do there?” I’m asked.

Friend or follow five interesting people, people you’d like to connect with. Readers who love what you’re writing!

That’s the second five — 5 — .

“Then what? Aren’t I supposed to post something?”

Yep! That’s the idea!

That’s where the last five — 5 — comes in, a bit arbitrarily. You’ll see why in moment.

I used to say, “Write 5 things…” But now I break into threes*. Hope you don’t mind that I vary from our theme of fives!

So, when it comes to posting on the social networks I look at it this way:

  1. Spend a few minutes praising others, congratulating them, cheering them on; a third of your posts or tweets.
  2. Spend a few minutes sharing a resource to your community, your tribe, truly offering something useful. That could be a post you wrote, a post another person wrote, a cool service or site, an event, or relevant news item. That’s another third of your posts or tweets.
  3. Lastly, spend a moment requesting: sign up for my newsletter; check out my new book; share a good review, implicitly or explicitly asking for congratulations; share a milestone in your writing progress. That’s the final third of your posting or tweeting time.

(*Of all places the inspiration for this threes breakdown is the Siddur, the Jewish prayer book. In one of the prefaces, if i understood correctly, a rabbi is explaining to spend your prayer time in this way: 1/3 of the time in thanks or gratitude; 1/3 in offering; 1/3 in requesting. Yes, I was reading this instead of following along in the service. And I’m so glad I did!)

Okay to recap! And clarify a few points…

  • Spend 5 minutes on any one social media site per day. (Or 3 days a week. Probably not less, if you’re serious about building a presence.)
  • During that time, friend or connect with 5 people. (This number is arbitrary; if you friended just 1 person each time, that’s great too!)
  • And during that time praise, share and request, in equal thirds, more of less.

Let me know if you have any questions about this!

And if you’re curious to learn, check out my new course Social Media for Fiction Authors starting April 11th!


I’m doing a countdown for my 10 Social Media Tips for Authors. Previous posts in the series:

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  • Robin Moore says:

    Loved this message, Beth! How useful, thanks!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Glad you loved this message, Robin! ~Brought to you by the letter 5!

  • Baylan says:

    This is great, Beth! You make it so easy! Thanks!

  • Ien Nivens says:

    Love how much you contribute to your tribe, Beth! Always thanks!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Baylan: I love making it easy! That’s what’s fun!

    Ien: You’re so welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

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