While some may prefer the hard copy to e-books, authors can no longer ignore the prevalence of social media use within the publishing industry and community at large. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter stand out as the giants among social mediums, used by a variety of folks across all age groups. Free to use and easy to set up, these platforms provide authors with an entirely new network left previously untapped. If tweets, posts and hashtags seem overwhelming and foreign to you, the 21 tips below should help to make social media more manageable as an overall asset to your brand.
1. Know the Platform
Each social network is unique and it’s important to know what your followers will expect on each platform before you start posting content. Twitter caps tweets at 140 characters. Not words. Characters. Luckily, you’re an author; a master at crafting words, you are already at an advantage! Twitter is great for engaging with fans and fellow writers and also provides an easy way to share links and photos you find particularly engaging. Facebook is a bit more complex — you can have an individual, private page and/or a fan page. If you wish to share longer posts, photos and videos, Facebook can be a great outlet to do that. Though Instagram is strictly a platform for posting photos and short videos, it can be a great tool for authors to use. You can post photos of words to tease upcoming articles and books, or you can post photos of your life behind the book jacket. Don’t feel the need to sign up for every single social media app you can find; stick with what is right for your target audience and know that you can always expand later.
2. Be Patient
So you made a Twitter account this morning and you only have five followers to show for it by the end of the day? Join the club. Patience is a virtue not to be dismissed in the digital world. Building an audience on any platform is going to take time so don’t get discouraged. Follow through and don’t give up. Just remember: if you tweet it, they will come.
Still don’t understand the need for hashtags? From Twitter to Instagram, and now even Facebook, hashtags are an important tool in categorizing content by keywords. Putting the pound sign next to a word automatically turns it into a clickable link which allows users to track conversations using that particular word or phrase. For example, if you just published a book, you can search the title with a pound sign in front of it (no space, think: #mynewbook) to see if others are talking about it. From there you can engage with fans and fellow authors, growing your network further.
4. Consistency is Key
This is a huge one. It’s not only important to keep things consistent for your own sanity, but it will greatly help your followers too. If you’re going to join Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook, make sure you use the same name for each (preferably your first and last name). Why is this so important? If you have someone who comes across your Twitter page, @jackieraps, he or she may want to do a search to see if you hold accounts across other social mediums as well. If you have a different name for each account, it can get confusing for those who want to connect with you. It’s also a good idea to consistently use the same profile picture for each account.
Did you know that there are over 2.2 billion active social media users today? You literally have billions of people to engage with, so start conversations with your fans and fellow authors! Tag them in posts, retweet them and have fun. You’ll learn more about people’s interests and can tailor your content accordingly.
6. Think Before You Post
Are you really angry right now? Sad? Tipsy off of free champagne from that up-and-coming author’s book signing? Sure, posts can be deleted — but if someone catches it before you get the chance to delete that offensive comment or photo, one mistake could live on forever. People trust you to provide thought-provoking content which, yes of course, can be funny or silly at times. And there will always be internet trolls and ‘haters.’ Don’t engage them for you’ll just be throwing them the spotlight they so desire.
7. Make A Unique Profile
Whether it’s a funny tagline or silly picture, make your profile stand out among the rest. Think: who would you want to follow? Would you like your own page? Don’t fall in with all the white noise. Be a voice that folks want to hear from and break the mold; don’t be a cookie-cutter (as wonderful as cookies are…eat them, don’t tweet them).
8. Follow Other Authors
If you want to sign up for a social media account but have no idea what to post, look to those you admire for a start. Don’t be afraid to engage with them; you may even gain a new mentor from it.
9. Share Information
Use your social media klout (aka your social influence) to inform your followers. Is there a book you’ve recently read that you want others to know about? An article that correlates with the genre you most often write about? A neat statistic or thought totally unrelated to the publishing world? Share it! Just because you’re an author, don’t think it necessary to only share book-related musings fit for fellow word-nerds. Hear a song you really liked lately? Come across a photo that’s too beautiful not to share? Let your followers know about your other interests; these may be things that actually inspire your writings!
10. Be Clever
As an author, you’re already ahead of the game. Switch up the syntax, use alliteration, SHOUT OCCASIONALLY and get folks attention! Have fun with social media; don’t think of it as a chore because then, I’m sure, you’ll be a bore. Also, if you want more clicks on a link, don’t just share the link itself! Pull a quote from the article or summarize in a few words what people can expect to find once they click. It may seem obvious, but it’s a clever way to further engage more people.
11. Inspire Curiosity
Be a tease! Give your followers a sneak peek about upcoming projects and behind-the-scenes access. Whether it’s a short video clip, cleverly-angled photograph of your latest book cover or just a few lines from a new piece, give the people something to talk about! #DidYouHearWhatIHeard
12. Keep It Simple
Pro-tip: #Don’t #hashtag #every #single #word #in #a #post. Are you annoyed yet? It’s amazing what folks try to squeeze into 140 characters, with links, hashtags, quotes and the like. Don’t go crazy. If you want to post something with a higher word count, head over to Facebook but don’t make a habit out of it. As beautiful as your writing may be, people use social mediums for quick snippets, not novellas.
13. Make a Schedule
This is an important tip if you are active on several different social media platforms. You don’t want social media to take over your life — remember, you have that book to write! Limit yourself to a small chunk of time each day or week that is dedicated to maintaining your accounts. Keep the balance, don’t tip the social media scale.
14. Quality Over Quantity
Don’t bombard your followers; folks will not be impressed by the number of posts you have if they are all rubbish. This goes for photos and video content too — people are more inclined to follow those who post higher quality images than those who constantly post grainy, shaky videos. If you wouldn’t print the photo or watch the video, don’t bother posting it.
15. Use time-saving apps
There is a plethora of social media applications meant to save you time and energy, especially if you often access networks from mobile devices or tablets. Hootsuite is a popular one as it allows the user to connect with over 35 social networks and publish content straight from one central dashboard. If you tend to forget to keep up with posts, you can use Buffer which is an app that let’s you schedule social media posts ahead of time. TweetDeck is another cool app that displays a series of customisable columns, which can be set up to display your Twitter timeline, mentions, direct messages, lists, trends, favorites, search results, and hashtags all on one screen.
16. Be Positive
Nobody wants to follow a Debbie Downer. Maintain a positive outlook with your posts and inspire others. And certainly don’t nag people to buy your book or read your content. This approach will have you losing friends and followers in no time.
17. Create a Campaign
A great way to drive interest in your work is to create a social media campaign around a new project or book series. Ask readers and fellow writers to use a specific hashtag in accordance with the campaign. If you use several social mediums, carry the campaign across each platform to make sure everyone is involved.
18. Be Evergreen
Did you post something last week that didn’t quite gain the traction you’d hoped? Perhaps you posted it at an odd hour, during a lull in social media traffic. Go ahead and post that content again! As long as you’re not posting the same exact thing one right after the other, it’s perfectly OK to re-post an older post.
19. Post Videos
While many authors are more comfortable with the written word, posting videos can be a fun way to give followers a true peek into your life and to see what you’re working on. Keep it short (preferably under two minutes), light-hearted and, please, don’t shake the lens.
20. Don’t Spam
I have definitely ‘unfollowed’ folks who post and post and post with no sign of stopping. It’s overwhelming and, frankly, just not cool. Be courteous to your ‘likers’ and followers and know when to step away from the keyboard.
21. Be Genuine
Look to others for inspiration, but don’t be a copycat. People are clicking on your social media sites to learn more about you as a person, not just as an author. You may like to write fiction, but your life is 100 percent real. If you’re a bit of a crazy cat lady (or guy) with an affinity for baking bundt cakes, don’t hide it! Quirky is cool.
Image credit: Pixabay
An avid dog-lover, coffee-drinker and self-proclaimed “professional wanderer,” Jackie has a B.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University. She hopes to inspire others through her writing and, ultimately, make this world a better place through positive social change.