Infographic: 5 Actionable Social Media Tips for Authors
Social media is the key to every self-publisher’s dreams when it comes to marketing. Though complex, it’s the foreground to any successful book marketing strategy… and it’s free! Being a self-published author means creating great content, but does it also mean you need to be an expert marketer? Thanks to the social web, no–though it certainly pays to be informed.
We know engaging thousands of people on social media can feel like working in a black hole, but we’ve curated a list of actionable social media tips authors can utilize to market their books and themselves on social media without wasting time, breaking the bank, or turning into an angry-aggressive marketer who’s forgotten what their real job and passion is: writing.
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Tip #1. Patience is a virtue
Building a creative and effective marketing strategy takes time and patience–and a bit of luck. But one of your strongest strategies should be not planning; since social media is about engagement and being present with your audience, trying to plan every last detail of your marketing efforts will only undermine your efforts.
The truth is, most readers aren’t going on social media to buy a book. They’re using social media to virtually engage with other readers, authors, and friends. If they see your novel and it has an eye-catching cover with an intriguing hook, they might make a mental note of it and buy it later when they’re browsing through Amazon.
The answer to “hacking” social media isn’t spamming all media accounts, direct messaging random people on Twitter, or plastering your book cover on Facebook groups with a link to purchase it. Focus on fostering genuine connections, and make sure you’re projecting an accurate image of who you are and how you want people to see you.
Tip #2. Limit your self-promotion
Your followers know who you are and like what you do, so they expect some self-promotion, but try not to make your accounts resemble an advertisement. The key is being authentic; be real with your followers and they will be sincere with you. It’s all about being sociable without being annoying, just like in real life.
When posting to your accounts–especially Twitter and Facebook–only about 10% of your posts should be book promotions, since those are beneficial to readers. Instead, try tweeting a more subtle self-promotion: “I wrote 5,000 words today! #amwriting.” The rest of your posts should be focused on your general interests. Your personality should shine. You don’t want to seem like a robot. Make sure you interact with people instead of simply shouting into the void.
Think of your interactions as a conversation, not a broadcasted speech. Give advice, answer questions, and follow people whose content you think is valuable and shareable.
Tip #3. Find your niche
Don’t sit back posting all of your content and wait for followers to come to you; go to them first. This doesn’t mean harassing your potential readers by following every single person in the hopes of clawing your way to the top of a best-seller list. Think of it as walking into a cocktail party and being the first one to say hi–don’t be afraid to break the ice.
Know your audience. Where do they hang out online? What are they interested in? Who else do they follow? Discover these demographics and use hashtags to browse your genre community. Go through competition’s followers and find your niche. (You can even use Twitter’s advanced search section!)
Author and poet Joe Dunthorne utilized his Twitter feed to promote his poetry and connect with his followers in an original and creative way. His comical personality is evident in each of his tweets, but he also spends time tweeting about articles he’s read, something he’s working on, and his own poetry.
Tip #4. Stay optimistic or stay quiet
Being a self-published author means you’re a professional; even though you may be accustomed to sharing personal opinions and experiences on your social media pages and comments, disassemble your internet armour and ignore the anti-fan comments. If you want a good counter-example, you can check this author’s reaction to a (slightly satirical) review of his book.
Critique and criticism is inevitable. You will be much more appreciated as an author if you take reader feedback with a grain of salt and move on. Harping on the review will only hinder your credibility in the future and take away from the time you could have spent improving and creating content. If the same person keeps attacking your social media accounts, it’s perfectly acceptable to block them.
Tip #5. Hashtags are your #friends
Hashtags help categorize the rush of content constantly being posted by working as searchable tags and keywords. They’re a great feature to assist you in developing your online presence and reaching out to your audience. If used correctly, hashtags can connect you with readers all over the internet. If used incorrectly, they just clutter all of your wonderful content.
Deciding which hashtags to use is one thing, but use too many, and your posts will look like spam. Search for hashtags like #amwriting, #amediting and #fridayreads to engage in community-wide topical posts, and don’t forget generic hashtags like #author, #pubtip, #writelife, #SFF, #YA, etc.
Successful social media marketing really does just take time and patience–along with dedication, consistency, and a commitment to making your interactions personal. There is a very fine line between marketing yourself and harassing your readers, so make sure you fall on the right side of the fence by being transparent, friendly and personable. Who knows? You might just find that making friends online is just as fun as meeting people face-to-face!
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How do you use social media as an author? Do you have any other tips to share with us?