Twitter or Facebook? Google Plus or Instagram? Whether you’re an author with a book to promote or just want to learn more about social media for authors, our social media manager Maya Roberts answers some top questions.
Social media is fast becoming everyone’s favourite marketing tool, and a whopping 1.5 billion of us have already joined Facebook and Twitter alone. But what are the rules for using social media and how can you do so effectively? See below for some great hints and tips from Maya to help you get started.
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The best tips I have for social media are the ones that sound obvious but are tricky to place. Authors are often concerned with how to build followers, what kind of posts they should share and how they would promote their book using social media. Here are my answers to the most frequently asked questions from authors.
What social media should I sign up for?
Facebook has a wider audience base but it’s harder to reach out to fans that haven’t deliberately found and liked your page (without paying for a Facebook advertisement). However, it is great for the time poor, who only have time to post and monitor one or two posts a day.
Twitter is a great way to get involved in conversations by topic rather than by user. You can follow people you’re interested in and the format encourages users to get into conversations unsolicited. Simply search for the topic, or respond to a statement. Twitter encourages open conversation – you don’t need to be following someone to respond about it.
If you love taking pictures, Instagram is a great way of sharing them with your followers.
Google+ is a fast growing network that has lots of different facilities that Facebook and Twitter don’t. A Google ‘hangout’ is a way of creating group conversations, for instance a book reading, using video and audio. You can create different circles to categorize your friends and curate what you post to them. Share posts with just your ‘family’ or some with just ‘bookshops’. It’s also owned by Google, which means sharing content on there from your website is likely to boost your website visibility on Google search too.
Networks like GoodReads and Riffle will allow you to review books and create lists of your favourites, giving an insight into your literary tastes as well as creating content you can share on other social networks.
How often do you think I should update my feed and when?
It depends on which platform you choose, and there are no hard-and-fast rules. If you’re posting frequently, but people aren’t responding, try posting less frequently, but at a key time (like 10am). As a rule, Facebook needs less updating than Twitter, which benefits from being updated frequently.
What kind of things should I share?
Social media works best when it’s a curation of your interests and the news surrounding them. People are wary of users that continually push an agenda, whether you’re a politician or an author with a book to market. People who follow you are probably interested in the same things you are, or are interested in gaining more personal knowledge about you or your career. Consider posting about what you’re reading, or where you’re writing your next book and how it’s getting along. Writing tips or asking followers for advice are also great posts to share. Don’t be afraid to be witty or to comment on current affairs that the rest of the network is talking about.
You should also be aware that the most successful posts are what we call ‘rich’ content, or content which contains video or pictures, so try and illustrate your posts as much as possible.
How do I get more followers?
The best way to build followers organically is by posting interesting content on a regular basis. There are other ways, like promoting your account on Twitter or Facebook, but these require marketing spend. Include your social media accounts on your website or book page.
The number one mistake I see when new authors set up a social media platform is that they are pushing content rather than forming a two-way conversation. This is a way that your fans or potential fans can get a chance to interact with you. Don’t just post lots of content; respond to the comments about it. The more conversations you are involved in, the more visible you are online.
How can I promote my book?
Remember, you’re creating a two way relationship with a community, not advertising to them. However, posts about what you’re working on and how it’s getting along are a great way of building anticipation about a book. Sharing the artwork and changing your background or profile picture to a picture of your book or next event is also a great method of gentle promotion. Try to work to an 80/20 ratio: 80% interesting content and just 20% marketing – and even then, only when you really need it. If you need a hard push, that’s what your publisher is there for.
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You can see more tips and tricks for social media on this Social Media for Beginners presentation. You can follow Maya on Twitter, @TweetMeYeah