What you do need is an effective social media strategy, one that is focused on engaging your current and future followers. You’re best off having a few thousand followers, most of who are liking, sharing, and commenting on your posts. Having tens or hundreds of thousands who do fairly little to interact looks nice on the surface, but follower counts are overrated when you’re getting no real social value. After all, it’s called social media. These networks boost posts that get interaction and mostly ignore those that don’t.
Not every social media post is going to get attention. In fact, with how crowded and noisy the popular networks have become,most could go entirely ignored. This is why having a social media strategy is so important. What works for different people varies because everyone’s audience is different. This is especially true for authors, who need to know who their target readers are to be effective with marketing.
By having a social media strategy, you as an author can keep track of the topics and types of content getting the most interest. You can also streamline your efforts to keep wasting time on social media to a minimum while focusing on writing what you love most. Here are five steps to get started in building a killer social media strategy for authors.
1. Create Social Media Profiles Where YOUR Target Audience Spends The Most Time
Depending on your book’s genre or subject matter, different social networks will offer more benefits to you than others. It’s a good idea to have at least an author page or even a page dedicated to a specific book on Facebook. You should also have at least an author profile on Twitter. Facebook and Twitter aren’t just the big networks to be on for any author. They are the key platforms to target for any social media strategy.
In general, Twitter has become the favorite social media platform for authors. That’s because it’s the easiest to grow and interact with followers. Facebook is the much larger platform, but it can be tricky to build a Facebook page’s reach. You may want to create a group and invite your friends, family, and permission based email lists to build community around your page or pages.
Beyond Facebook and Twitter, check out other networks such as Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, Tumblr, and even more author oriented networks like Goodreads. Have at least a presence on as many of these social networks as possible, even if just to get your name out there. See where you are gaining followers the fastest and focus on growing those by following people back and following other potential readers. In the beginning, just getting a few hundred - or even a few thousand followers - to get started should be your only focus.
Be sure to start your social media profiles before or while you’re writing your projects. You don't want to start them just as you’re finishing or finished with your book. You want to have an audience already thinking and hopefully asking about your book well before release. Sure, you can start after you’re done writing, but it’s preferable to get buzz going as early as possible. Don’t worry if you’re late to the social media game, but starting right away is best.
2. Make Your Social Media Profiles Engaging for Current and Future Readers
Be sure that any content you post on social media is engaging, relevant, and interesting. You want the content you share to fill some need for your target audience. This is easier for nonfiction, as it’s easier to find questions your target audience wants answered. But, even for fiction, think about how your work can set itself apart to readers. What is your genre missing or could be doing better? Thinking about these things not only helps you build a plan for social media content, but can make you a more thoughtful writer, too.
Try to keep personal details off of pages meant for books. If you have a general author page, keep anything personally related positive and relevant to your work as possible. Unless you become some sort of cult social media celebrity, most people just want you to give them value. Many social media experts will tell you to refrain from sharing personal news, because it’s most likely to go off-topic and confuse your followers.
That being said, if something happens in your life that could be relatable, you may be able to spin it int useful content. Some authors have great success with just posting a picture and asking simple questions like, how’s the weather. Just keep anything off-topic to a minimum, always positive, and professional..
Ask your audience questions and get to know them. Have them be genuine icebreakers: what other books they like, what they’ve been reading, and if they are writers themselves. It’s best if you can get your audience talking with each other. The idea is to build a community. If you’re managing pages specifically for a book series or one specific book, you can make the questions targeted around that subject matter.
Is it better to have just one author page or multiple pages for your projects? It’s all up to you, because more profiles means more to maintain. But if your book is extremely topical, such as with nonfiction, it might be the right move to have a separate page for that one project.
3. Become a Content Curation Pro to Keep Your Social Media Profiles Fresh
Keeping your social media profiles updated regularly is very important. Not only is it good to show you’re active, but it’s getting harder than ever to be seen. So, you have to keep a steady stream of content flowing in order to stay in front of people. On Facebook you want to have something posted on your pages at least three to five times a week, but more if possible. On Twitter you want to post about three to five times a day. Other networks you want to stay active at least a few times a week.
How do you keep up with posting fresh content while also writing a book? There are a few ways to do it. Use Google Alerts to track keywords related to your books and relevant to your target audience. These daily alerts will give you links to recently posted or updated content you can post across your social media channels. It’s especially useful to share these stories with your less established networks to build credibility.
Google Alerts aren’t always enough, though. Sometimes you’ll get duplicate alerts or no alerts at all for days. You can also use content discovery tools, and some are even free. Many will allow you to post directly to your social media profiles from them. Some paid plans can even automate the whole process for you - posting regular updates from channels you trust and resharing content posted with relevant hashtags.
You can even schedule content ahead so that you don’t have to worry about posting everything yourself everyday. Also, be sure to add some variety, alternating between links, images, and videos. Visual content usually gets the most reshares and engagement, but sharing links is fine, too. Sharing podcasts has also become very popular as that medium grows rapidly.
4. Interaction is the Lifeblood of Any Social Media Strategy
The hope is that the content you post on social media will spark some comments and get a conversation started. After all, the easiest way to measure ROI (return on investment) for social media is quality and quantity of interaction. Whenever people do comment, be sure to respond in a way that will both thank the commenter for their post and engages further discussion. But, what if you aren’t getting any interactions outside of maybe the occasional like or reshare?
I’ve actually read social media experts say “you’re probably doing something wrong.” It’s more likely you’re doing nothing wrong. It may just mean you haven’t posted the right content to spark a conversation. But, even more likely, the right people just didn’t see it. That’s why you have to keep a steady stream going and if it’s not working, find more relevant content. Then, keep building your following.
The good advice I do agree with is reciprocating with your followers, liking, commenting, and sharing their posts. Also, find pages that get a lot of interaction on their posts already, then comment on them (with your page if you’re on Facebook). Of course, add value to the conversation and those reading those comments already.
The trick is to get some momentum going. The worst thing to do is go silent for awhile because sometimes whatever active following you’d built has moved on and forgotten about you. Social networks value their most active users and most engaged with content. So, don’t get discouraged. Just keep it going. The experts don’t usually tell people this, but most posts are going to be duds, even if the content was good.
If you’re feeling stuck, don’t hesitate to call on a social media professional. A pro will help you with the areas that you are needing the most help with, whether it’s finding more interactive content, interacting with followers, building your reach, and more. If you find social media is negatively impacting your writing, hand over some of your social media management to an experienced pro.
5. Blogging for Discovery and Part of a Social Media Strategy for Authors
Starting a blog should come naturally to authors, right? Sure, you can share writing tips and advice and behind the scenes looks at your work. Yes, a blog is a great way to keep your followers engaged and is a great home base to share content on social media. They are also a great way to organize giveaways and give more in-depth updates than on your social profiles.
But, as great as a promotional tool as they are, blogs are yet another thing to maintain. So, if you need help keeping that going, don’t panic. It’s ok to use content curation in blogging, too. Just be sure to add your own perspective to whatever you’re sharing. Another great thing to share are excerpts or sample chapters from your book, which helps give people further insight into your work.
It’s also good to think of your blog as an inbound marketing platform. While social media is meant for reader discovery, optimizing for traditional web-based search (SEO) is still important. So, when you’re crafting blog content, be sure to have done keyword research around questions people are asking that you feel you can answer. Of course, these are the same questions you can use to start discussions on social media, too.
Keep in mind that many blogging platforms, such as Wordpress and Blogger, have their own built-in social features. Not only can these platforms automatically post to your profiles whenever you, but you can often discover, follow and comment on other blogs on the same platform very easily. Don’t underestimate these features.
Sure, many bloggers use these blogging social features as sort of a “knitting circle” feature to reciprocate for likes, comments, and shares. But, if you can manage to get the boost, you’re growing your reach considerably. It can be an especially useful strategy for authors. If you find you need help crafting some articles to boost your blog’s SEO, don’t hesitate to hire an article writer.
What is the Best Overall Social Media Strategy for Authors?
Because the writing field is so vast with so many genres and subgenres, your social media strategy has to be fine-tuned to attract those who would be most interested in your work. Some books are easier to market than others. Obviously, get your current fan base involved if you have one. You’ll need as much help as you can get in starting up social media interaction soon as possible. Any traditional marketing head start you have is useful, especially if some of those people are willing to be your “cheerleaders.”
The best social media strategy for authors is one that allows you to soft sell your book while also providing lots of value to both fellow writers and readers. Some of the most effective content has to do with reading. Not only does it mean you’re helping fellow authors, but it legitimizes you as a fellow reader. After all, what’s an author without engaged readers.
Many authors have turned to spamming book links at every opportunity on social media. Sure, that strategy can sell books, but it’s both highly inefficient and annoying. You want your book link to be obvious in your profile - especially if your profile exists just for that book. But, you don’t want everything you post to be about your book. In fact, the more you share from others and the more value you add to those shares, the better.
See what authors with books similar to yours have done with their own social media presence. What has worked for them in getting interactions with their posts? More importantly, what hasn’t worked for them? What could they be doing better? Whatever you can do better than what similar authors have done, that’s what you should be doing. This research also helps you cut down on doing things that haven’t worked and saves you time.
Keep in mind that it can take months to gain a following on any social media platform. If you’ve already been on social media for years, use that to your advantage, even if you’ve never been that successful in getting interactions. Many people just give up on their social media because it “does nothing.” But, starting out, then abandoning it can be even worse, because then you risk looking like you’re no longer active as a writer.
What it takes to be successful is finding the right content that people find both valuable and shareable. Then, add your own voice and perspective to those shares. Sure, that’s easier said than done. But, with the right social media strategy in place, authors can build a following that’s engaged and a lot more ready to buy your books when they’re ready.
If you need help in keeping a consistent, strong social media presence, never be afraid to reach out and ask for advice. Fellow authors are often happy to give tips on what’s worked for them and will often give authors with smaller followings a boost. Whatever you do, just like with writing your book, stay consistent and don’t be afraid to ask a social media pro for help.
What are your greatest challenges in building your social media strategy? I’d love to help guide you in the right direction towards solving those challenges! Leave a comment so we can discuss!