Is there really a benefit to using social media for every author? These days, every successful business knows about the power of social media to help spread the word about their product. It’s a marketing tool that can help you reach millions of people all over the world and, best of all, it’s free. But, we authors are different, aren’t we? How do we, as authors, use social media effectively?
Just like everything else you do as an author, the journey through social media for every author begins with knowing your reader. Who did you write the book for? In other words, who is your target audience? Knowing your audience will help you make every decision on what to post and where to post it.
(Listen to Boni and John Wagner-Stafford of Ingenium Books discuss social media for authors on The Empowered Authors Podcast, easy-listen link below.)
Choose your platform(s)
There are different social media platforms catering to different kinds of people. You can cast the net wide and be involved on all these platforms—but that will leave you with less time to write. You can hire a social media manager and be active on all these platforms—but that will leave you with less money for food. (:-0) A better strategy is to pinpoint the platforms where you’ll find your target audience.
The simplest way to do this is to Google the demographics for each social media platform. These tend to change over time and as new platforms arise. Currently, these are the main social media platforms:
Once you’ve chosen the platforms whose demographics align most with your target audience, open up an account and get started. It’s a good idea to have an author account that is separate from the personal account you use with friends and family.
Strategies in your social media approach
There are three strategies in your approach to social media for authors.
- Building awareness: As an author, you want people to know of you and your existence. When people know your name and that you’re an author, it will be easier to sell your book—or books. So, you need to post about you and your book, or even the book you’re thinking of writing. You also need to find out who the other influencers—other authors in the same genre, for instance—are in the space that you want to be in and how they are navigating social media. You can then start following them and join relevant groups. Next, you start commenting on posts so that people start recognizing your name and know that you’re an author with something worthwhile to say.
- Engagement: Engagement really refers to having a conversation. So, you’re commenting on other influencers’ posts but you also post things on your own account that will spark a conversation. And then you take part in those conversations: replying to comments or asking and answering questions.
- Grow a fan base: As you follow the strategies of building awareness and engagement, your fan base will grow organically. If you post things that will interest your target audience, more people will share your posts and more will follow your account. And, most importantly, more will buy your book.
What and when to post
Start posting sooner rather than later: don’t wait for your book to be published before you start trying to build an audience. So, you can start with posting that you’re planning on writing a book and what it will be about. In fact, putting it out there will help keep you motivated to finish the book.
….but what do I post?
For many authors, the real challenge is deciding what to post. Are readers interested in what you had for breakfast? And this is really where the answer lies: you need to post what your audience is interested in but keep it relevant to you as an author, your work, or even just reading and books in general.
Post about the process
Post throughout the process of writing and publishing the book. Post about milestones: when you’ve finished a chapter, when the manuscript has gone for editing, when you’ve received artwork that you commissioned to be used as illustrations, when your cover design is ready. One of the most important posts you’ll need to make is about the publish date and launch activities. Remember to post about your website or blog too.
Post for engagement
You can also ask questions of your followers. For instance, you can prepare two or three cover design concepts and ask their feedback. Once your book has been published, you can ask your followers to share their reviews on sites like Goodreads and especially on Amazon, where the number of reviews your book has can affect its ranking.
Post anything unusual
It’s good to post about anything interesting and unusual about your book too. Fantasy author Neil Gaiman once posted on his Facebook page that, while waiting for a flight, he stealthily signed copies of his latest book where they were being displayed in a bookstore at the airport, with a picture and details of where to find the store.
Post OPS (other people’s stuff)
Another option is to share other people’s posts or articles. However, don’t just share for the sake of sharing: curate the content and share what your target audience will find interesting as it relates to your book.
Schedule your social media activity
Probably social media’s biggest trap is how you think you’re going to spend five minutes on a platform and before you know it, you’ve wasted the whole morning debating strangers or watching videos of cats. Of course, that’s an entire morning you could have spent on doing what you’re supposed to: working on your book.
To avoid the trap, build time into your schedule for the week and be clear what you’ll be using that time for: for instance, on Monday you’ll talk about the content of the first chapter; on Tuesday you’ll talk about the work in progress; on Wednesday, you’ll engage and share and like and comment on other people’s posts. Then be really disciplined in sticking to the allotted time.
Social media for every author — to enjoy?
Well, no. Even if your ideal reader is all over that one platform that you detest…. if you just don’t enjoy what you see on that platform, it might not be worth the negative energy. You want to be sure you have at least some level of comfort on the platform. If you totally feel like a fish out of water there, you’re unlikely to be effective. Or engaged! For more on why we should do what we enjoy when marketing our books, check out this blog/podcast episode with Roseanne Cheng.)
So, is social media for every author? No. And that’s just fine.