Five Keys to Developing a Solid Social Media Strategy
Andrea Dunlop is a Reedsy social media and marketing consultant with over ten years in the publishing business and the author of the novel Losing the Light. In this post, she reveals what it takes to create a great social media strategy and begin to use social media like a pro.
When I see authors using social media—whether I’m on the clock with a client or just perusing—I often see them using social media in a very ad hoc way. This leads to the ever-popular refrain “social media doesn’t sell books”—which it doesn’t unless you use it correctly. As an author, your aim on social media is to interact with influencers and to expand your reach to as many potential readers as possible.
Here are five keys to building your social media strategy so that you can make the best of the time and energy you spend marketing your work:
1. Know Your Audience
Without actually understanding the market for your work, you’ll never know how to reach or interact with your audience. Up until the point that your book goes on sale, the audience for your book is mostly an educated guess that is the combined efforts of you and your publishing team. You likely made all kinds of decisions around your hypothetical audience, from the authors you reached out to for blurbs to the cover design and copy to the marketing and publicity strategy itself.
What’s so incredible about social media—for better or worse—is the capacity to glean instant feedback from readers and adjust accordingly. Paying attention to which readers are picking up your book and what they’re saying about it can allow you to pivot or expand on the original plan. Lots of pictures of your book at the beach? Play it up as a travel read! Hearing from lots of young fans even for an adult title? Maybe your audience has more of a YA crossover than you realized.
2. Choose your platforms
The sheer number of social media platforms available to you as an author can feel overwhelming. Experiment a little and decide which work best for you, then ignore the rest. A good rule of thumb, if you’re starting out, is to focus on no more than three. There are reading audiences on all the major platforms, so focusing on the ones you like best will give you the best chance of success. Consistency is key: one platform used diligently is better than ten with tumbleweeds blowing through them.
3. Build Community
You shouldn’t just talk about yourself on social media, but also use it to interact with other writers and book influencers. Identify these people as you begin building your strategy. Who are authors who share your audience and are also active on the platforms? Likewise, who are readers paying attention to on that platform? Do a little research and make a list of people you’d like to build connections with; follow them and share and comment on their posts.
Pro-tip: rather than searching out people with an Oprah-size following, focus on those from whom you're more likely to get a reply. There are folks with thousands of followers who are influential but still accessible.
4. Set Goals for your Social Media Strategy
I often see authors using social media without any real idea of what they’re on there to do, other than a vague notion that this may somehow magically increase sales. Identify your KPIs (key performance indicators) for each platform and work towards them. KPIs vary a little bit from platform to platform but in general, you’re looking for measurements such as the number of followers, likes, shares, and comments. Choose benchmarks and work towards them.
5. Measure Your Progress
I always encourage authors not to get too caught up in the numbers on social media. Much of the magic comes from the serendipity of being able to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet or connect. That said, there’s no point in spending a lot of time and energy (and possibly money) on something if you’re not going to measure the results.
I have a social media dashboard where I track everything from Twitter followers to Amazon rank on a weekly basis. The point of this is not to obsess over the data but to recognize what’s working and what isn’t so that I can feel free to abandon the ineffective strategies and double down on what worked best.
For more tips on using social media as an author, check out this charming infographic!
Is there a social media strategy or platform that has worked wonders for your books? We'd love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below.