What is Social Media Anyway?
Social Media. It’s a huge buzzword, but does anyone really know what it means? The “social” part is easy enough to understand, but where does the “media” come in? Is this a reference to THE Media, or does it refer to media as in images, video, audio and text?
It’s the latter, and the term simply refers to the many websites and applications that fit under this umbrella. You know them well:
Your Blog – Yes, your blog is considered Social Media because of the potential for discussion provided by the commenting system
The list goes on. There are hundreds of Social Media sites out there, but that doesn’t mean you need to be on ALL of them.
There’s a set of expectations that come with Social Media especially for those who fit under the label of “Author”. The general idea is that if you get on Social Media, you’ll increase your fame, or at least get sort of famous and sell more books.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Social Media isn’t some type of magic spell to increase your reach. Having a website is much more important. What Social Media is actually good for is acting as a funnel to your website where you build your list.
People on Social Media are there to have fun and unwind, not to buy things. Think about it. Do you hit Facebook to shop? When was the last time you searched Twitter for “buy books”? Exactly, so don’t expect others to.
Should You Even Bother?
Absolutely! Being active in Social Media is a proven method of marketing. That’s why it’s so huge. However, it requires time, effort, creativity, and the ability to think outside the box. As an author, this shouldn’t be a problem for you, right? Right!
Read on, and start your expert Social Media Marketing campaigns today! Social Media is made to be user-friendly, so don’t make it more difficult than it has to be. This is only a part of your platform, and it’s not even the most important part. Remember in our article about building your platform [link article], it’s only 10% of the pie, so don’t think of it as 90% of your potential to sell books.
Developing Your Strategy
The first thing you want to figure out is which networks you can most benefit from. A common misconception is that the more profiles you have, the more books you will sell. Just stop now. As an author, do you REALLY need an Instagram account? Not unless you’re composing picture books or have creative and relevant imagery to promote your books.
Start simple. Consider what networks you already have a presence on, if any. Facebook is usually a given, and you should definitely include it in your strategy. Odds are, you’ve already connected with your family and friends on Facebook, right? This is the foundation of your network. Your friends should know who you are, and what you do. This will give you a head start.
As an author, Twitter is going to be your second solid choice, and we’re going to concentrate on these two here. Why Twitter? Who better to illustrate the art of conveying a message in 140 characters than an author? Now grab a pen and a notepad because we’re diving in deeper.
Social Media Marketing Like a Pro
Create a Fan Page. You can do this by logging into your Facebook Profile, then click Create a Page in the left sidebar.
Name it after your brand whether that’s your name, a pen name, or something else. Follow the prompts from Facebook to set it up.
You need a profile and cover image just like with your personal Facebook. You can have this created professionally, hire a cheap service from a place like Fiverr.com, or you can make it yourself.
Tool Highlight: If you like to play around with images, try Canva.com. It’s a fantastic free tool where you can create a variety of graphics such as: Facebook Covers, blog graphics, Social Media posts, Twitter headers, and much more!
Don’t use your personal Facebook Profile as this is limited in the number of people you can connect with long term (It’s maxed out at 5000). Create a Page and invite your friends and followers from Facebook to “Like” your new Page. This way, you have made it a sort of opt-in rather than having a captive audience. The people who “like” your new Page are genuinely interested in what you are doing.
Your Page should at least include the following:
The correct category
A link to your website
An email address for your readers
An optimized About section
A profile picture and cover
Your mindset when sharing content on Facebook should be intimate commentary with illustrations! Share helpful and engaging information with your thoughts on the topic. Include an image that sums it up and invites the user to click to know more.
Create a profile if you don’t already have one. There’s no need to create an extra profile unless you just want to or your username is something less than professional. Ahem.
Stop procrastinating, just go to http://twitter.com and do it. It’s common that if you’re not already on Twitter, you may not “get it”. Think of it like this: Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. It’s like writing a tiny blog post and conveying your message in 140 characters or less…preferably less, so you have room for Retweets!
Your Twitter profile should include the following:
A profile picture and header image
A link to your website
A brief, but informative bio
Your mindset when sharing content on Twitter should be short, sweet, and shareable. Share quotes, links, questions, helpful tips, and retweet others!
What Good Social Media Posts Are Made Of
Every post you share should consist of the following:
A blurb composed by you
A large, related image
A link to something
The Blurb – This should be made up of your thoughts on whatever you are sharing. You can also ask a question here to implore a response from your audience. Don’t get long-winded. Think simple, concise and engaging.
The Image – If you’re not that savvy with images, this could get tricky. Use the tool mentioned above in the section on Facebook: Canva.com. You can create images from scratch or use their templates for an easy drag-and-drop project. You can also use the image from the article you are sharing.
Tip: When posting, don’t let Facebook, Twitter, etc. generate the image for you. This looks crappy, and is less engaging. Download the image from the article and then upload it.
Don’t use images that are less than 600×350 pixels. If the image in your article is not suitable. Find one which is Don’t be lazy!
Don’t use copyrighted images! This is stealing and could get you in a load of trouble. Use Google search filters to find images that are labeled for reuse or use the Creative Commons section of Flickr.
The Link: You don’t always need a link if you’re just sharing an image or a comment, but if you are sharing content from your blog, your latest book, or something helpful from the web, link it.
Tip: Don’t use short URLs on Facebook. Full URLs get clicked more often. However, on Twitter you’ll find this essential due to the character limit.
Bit.ly is a great shortener and you can track your clicks! Goo.gl is another.
Hashtags: Learn what they are and how to use them! This will increase the interaction you receive from potential followers.
Actively Posting to Your Profiles
Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. The key here is consistency. Don’t be afraid to have a little variety. Every post shouldn’t look the same or be the same. Share different types of content: videos, slideshows, quizzes, memes, etc.
Tips for Facebook:
Photos get an 87% interaction rate. No other post type gets above 4%.
Share content using this ratio: 80% content from others to 20% of your own content i.e. blog posts, book releases, etc.
Keep your blurb around 40 characters for optimum engagement
Engage fans with questions, “caption this” photos; be creative!
Don’t post more than twice a day
Tips for Twitter:
Keep your tweets between 70 and 100 characters
Post often…up to 14 times per day
Include a picture or video
Post 5 tweets promoting others for every 1 you post about your book, blog, etc.
Make a Twitter list of your influencers and retweet from it a couple times a day
Use Klout.com to find out who your influencers are
Thank your followers and retweeters with a mention. Make sure you include their @username
What To Do Once Your Profiles are Active
Once you have implemented your strategy and posted 5-10 times, you can check off the Social Media portion of your platform, but don’t check out. Stay active and consistent. If your followers engage you, respond! Social Media is a great way to connect with your fanbase.
It’s time to let them know you’re out there! Put links to your profiles on your website/blog. Include links in your email signature as well. In fact, put these links everywhere you deem appropriate:
Cross-link between networks – Tweet your Facebook Page and Facebook your Twitter profile
Put them in your books – Add a “Find me on the Web” page in your books and put your links there
Marketing for the Long Haul
In addition to keeping your profiles active and using them to engage your audience, there are some additional things you might want to consider in the not-too-distant future. If you are paying someone to manage your Social Media for you, you will want to measure your successes. Also, you might want to consider using advertising on Social Media to boost your following or maybe even your sales.
Then, there are the hundreds of other Social Media sites out there. You might want to expand your platform. These are all things to consider if you are disenchanted with the results you get initially from your Social Media campaigns. Social Media is an ever-changing thing, and you’ll need to stay abreast of those changes to stay relevant.
Yes, it does sound like a lot, and honestly, it is a huge endeavor. You are the only one who can make it worth it. If you put these tips into practice, you will see a return on your investment by building up your author platform.