Social media. It's the dirty word of the promotion business...
Developing your social brand (that’s right, you are now a brand) is tough at first. That’s because the trick to building up your online presence is to make it a habit. But once you have everything in place, online maintenance doesn’t need to take you more than fifteen to twenty minutes every day. Here’s what you need to know:
You need a Facebook page ASAP:
Facebook is the #1 social media site and you cannot – repeat after me: cannot – live without it if you want to promote your book online. Chances are you probably already have a profile, but you might decide to make a separate page just for your brand as an author. You decide what works best for you. Business pages are easy to use and gain insight from, but personal pages are more visible and personable.
Once you have either a profile or a page, you’ll need to put up clear, professional-looking images as your profile and cover pictures. The profile picture should be a photo of you – just you – preferably your face and shoulders. The cover photo should be of your book looking fabulous somewhere. Instagram is a good place to find inspiration for book photos, or articles like this one. Show some personality!
What you should be posting on Facebook:
The things you’ll want to share with your audience will depend on your brand. Look up other authors on Facebook with similar audiences. What are they sharing?
One thing you’ll definitely want to do is share updates regarding your books. Have you sold 100 copies? 1000? Share it! Is the book being translated to Spanish? Followers will want to know! Same goes with any awards you win related to your work, or sneak peeks at new projects. Be excited and your followers will be too!
Likewise, never – never! – use Facebook as a platform to complain about your book not being as successful as you want it to be! Or to complain about editors, book designers, fans, your spouse, or the barista who mixed up your soy latte this morning. Unless your book is about why baristas are the worst, save those comments for your personal pages.
But whatever you’re posting, just remember that Facebook’s algorithms generally favour visual content. So, sorry writers, but long-winded text-only posts aren’t going to be seen as much as you want them to. Videos, images, and sharing links to other websites will get you the most out of Facebook.
Good rule of thumb:
Unless it’s funny, informative, inspiring, or community-building, it probably won’t engage your audience.
Also keep in mind that when you share a link, you need to say why. Tell people why they should read it. Don’t just say, “_____ wrote this article and I liked it.” Tell everyone why it matters to you. Be enthusiastic about your choices.
And remember that your audience – like you – spend a good portion of their day dodging spam and ignoring marketing. What makes you and your book(s) worth their time? Make the content you post relevant and always thank them for taking the time to interact with your brand online.
You need to post often and at the right times:
Is social media the last thing you do before bed every night? First thing in the morning? During your commute? Developing a daily routine for keeping up your professional pages is great for maintaining a regular presence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your routine coincides with the best times to reach your audience. The good news is that Facebook will let you schedule posts to send out later, so use that tool to optimize your engagement stats.
Lots of research has been done about the best times to post on different social sites, but an even simpler way to approach it would be to just keep it 1) frequent, 2) varied, and 3) accessible. (That last one is for all you night owls out there. Stop posting between 9 pm and 6 am. Stop it.)
Other social outlets are encouraged but not mandatory:
What works for you and your audience will take some research. Look at demographics for different social sites and check out what other authors are doing.
And, no matter what social sites you choose, make sure you are doing slightly different things on each of your online profiles, using each for its particular strengths.
I personally think that Twitter is over-saturated and out-dated. Others find it downright abusive. If you do use it I would recommend focusing on using it more for conversations with readers or with other authors than as a stage for tiny diary entries.
Instagram on the other hand has a huge community of authors and readers, especially for the YA genre. Inspiring quotes, your writing desk, books, you reading another book, you with your book in your hand, your local coffee shop where you write – all of these are good images to
post. The trick to Instagram is twofold: 1) hashtag the hell out of everything, and 2) always use filters on your photographs to make them gorgeous.
Google+ improves your SEO but basically does nothing else of value. Treat it similarly to Facebook except don’t expect anyone to follow your page or like your posts, and enjoy the freedom of longer sized images that Facebook doesn’t format.
And finally, add social icons to your website, to every blog post, and to your email signature. Include links to your website and your other profiles in your bio of each one. And make sure the links work! These will allow your audience to easily navigate through the different aspects of your online presence laterally with ease!
Don’t obviously seek sales from your posts.
Not only does Facebook make promotion posts less visible in their algorithms, it’s also just off-putting for your followers. What you want to do is generate interest, and that’s a hugely valuable aspect of your marketing overall. Don’t panic when you haven’t sold 100 copies in your first hour online. It will take time and diligence to gain momentum.
Whatever you do, don't give up. There are readers out there that want to read your novel, you've just got to let them know it's been written!