This post was updated 3/28/2021
As many of you know, I am kinda the queen of trying to maximize everything so this title was just perfect for me. But seriously, social media is such an important part of any marketing strategy. It is especially important when publishers/ bookstores/ event coordinators often use those numbers to decide whether or not to publish/ allow a signing/ invite you to a convention. A solid social media plan is absolutely essential to your marketing strategy. Plus, it can be built absolutely free and scale with you as your business grows. It’s kinda perfect. A solid social media plan requires three key elements:
1. Know Which Platforms to Focus On
No one can really tell you how to make this decision. It is constantly changing and in flux. But do a little bit of research and then pick the platform that works best for you and that you enjoy the most. I say this because someone asked me the other day if they had to be on Instagram because they suck at taking pictures. IGs main book audience is early to mid twenties. If you’re writing to that market a lot of professionals will tell you that you HAVE to be there. But if you don’t take beautiful pictures and you don’t find joy in pictures, then you really, really don’t need to be on that platform. You can also reach YA readers on Bookbub, Goodreads, and Tumblr. They also still make up the vast majority of the Booktube scene. That gives you blogging/ writing spaces if that’s your thing and video if you prefer that. You don’t HAVE to do IG, but you do have to enjoy what you’re doing. Because if you don’t enjoy it, that will bleed through to your interactions with potential readers and they won’t be interested. However, if you write YA and you want to reach them on Facebook because you like Facebook, that will be an effort in futility. Most FB users are 35-70. Very few are in the younger range and most of those only use it to keep up with family. It is a great resource for author communities and networking so you can use it for work in that respect, but not to reach Young adult readers.
2. Know How to Engage
There is nothing more obnoxious than finding someone is auto-posting their IG images to Twitter, 30 # and all. UGH. How you interact on Twitter is very different than how you interact on Facebook, and IG is different as well. Each platform has its sweet spot and some overlap. It’s ok to share cornerstone content across all platforms but don’t auto-share. Do it with posts unique to each platform. Also, how you interact with the users is different from platform to platform. Take your time to learn the platforms you are choosing. It is better to be solid and strong on 1 or 2 platforms than to half-ass 10 platforms. I speak from experience. A key to knowing how to engage is also built into knowing your brand and the side of you that you want to present to the world. Here is a great video panel on Go Indie Now where we briefly discuss just that.
3. Know How to Grow
Again, this is very specific for each channel so it would take a lot of time to tell you how to do that on each. You need to learn the rules of each platform. But here are some general tips. Do not always follow back. Be deliberate in your audience. For example, I do not follow anyone on Twitter who does not have something in their profile about being a reader. Even if you’re an author, I won’t follow you unless you’re a reader too. Early on, I followed marketing professionals (because I obviously love it too much!) bookshops, actors (because they’re storytellers too) politicians I agreed with, etc. but it led to unnecessary conflicts for my brand.
Be deliberate in what you share/ RT/ comment and engage with. Make sure that it fits the persona you are crafting and will appeal to most of your readers. My brand is happy geeky book gal and marketing maven. I don’t engage or comment on anything that isn’t 1. geeky. 2. about books 3. women’s issues (thanks to Hell School series, I get a little bit of political talk 😉 ) or 4. about marketing specifically or indie publishing generally. That geeky topic allows me to share about movies and games I’m geeking out about and connect with those fans, Hell School political aspect lets me talk about social change for women, but I avoid addressing politics, I avoid bashing anything (because that’s not very positive or happy) and I avoid telling people what to do and instead educate them on lots of different ways to do what they want to do. For a personal account following your varied interests and speaking out about topics that matter to you is totally fine. but for a professional author’s account? Not so much.
Unless you’re JK Rowling. Then you can follow, RT, and say whatever you want because the loss or gaining of 50K followers is a drop in the bucket. Now, if you write political thrillers or scifi with a political bent, then talking politics is allowed though as we’ve all experienced can create a bit of pain. So be deliberate in who you follow, and who you interact with to encourage them to follow you back.
Bonus: Set Goals and Measure Results
Set goals for following and engagement to keep you motivated throughout the year. You saw that I’ve done this for myself in my Annual 90 day Year New Year’s resolution announcement and we are working through those in the Resolutions Community (Feel free to join us!) . I recommend spending about 15 minutes a day minimum per platform. That means that if you are on Facebook, Twitter, and IG then you need to be spending 45 minutes a day on social media. If you are working a full-time job, that isn’t possible if you want writing time, right? So plan carefully. You will want to spread your time out throughout the day so that your engagement is balanced.
An example would be, spend 5 minutes on twitter while waiting in the coffee line. Share 1 post, comment on 2. Spend the 10 minutes in the pick up line on Facebook and IG liking and commenting. Spend 20 minutes that evening scheduling the next day’s posts, and 10 minutes cycling through each platform again. A key to setting limits is by setting timers. A key to preventing yourself from wasting time is to be deliberate in what you respond to. If your books aren’t about politics then commenting on a fellow authors political post is not fostering healthy engagement and is not a clever cheat to get around not posting about politics on your own page. (Per the branding discussion.)
Don’t try to convince yourself that you were working that whole time. Lying to yourself about your problem is the first sign of an addict. I know. More importantly, if you do a google search, you would be surprised how much of that stuff comes up in the search because your account or your “friends’ ‘ account may be public. That is not a solid search engine optimization strategy either.
Another timesaver is to batch some activities. For example, I spend two hours on Saturday morning before the rest of my house is alive working on content and scheduling posts for the following week. Some channels don’t require daily engagement. For example, I do Friday engagement on Goodreads and Bookbub. Saturday during my content creation, I am also listening to Booktube and engaging and growing that audience. I hit up IG 3 days a week, Facebook 2. Twitter I try to do daily.
Yes, social media is a very fickle and complicated beast but tackle these fantastic tips and you will see your platform growing exponentially. Feel like you need a bit more help with social media? I have a course for that, Social Media 101. I am also developing courses for specific platforms. Which platform would you like to see first? Let me know in the comments below.