Social media has a lot of benefits for writers. It connects us directly with our fans, help us raise awareness for our novels, and allows us to actively promote sales within the comfort of our own home. For indie writers especially, social media has opened doors that were previously a lot more challenging. Whether you traditionally publish or are self-publishing keeping your readers in the loop is vital. To do that you have to have a basic understanding of social media and how to use it. Here are 5 social media tips to help you become a more savvy author online.
1. Community Over Sales
Social media exists to interact and build community. It stands to reason that in order to use it correctly, you have to focus more on networking than on sales, in order to make sales. Crazy right? Think about it this way: Nobody likes a door-to-door salesman. They're annoying, they want your money, and they never fail to show up at a bad time. Sales-driven accounts on social media are the new door-to-door salespeople. The more spammy and aggressive you are, the more you'll turn people off to what you're trying to sell. This especially holds true within writing communities online.
Writers want to connect with other writers. They want to find commonalities on their bookshelves, to learn about your story and discover new worlds to explore, to have someone support them during their many lonely phases of book writing, and ultimately to make an emotional connection.
The key to gaining more book sales is to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time post about something other than your sales pitch. Share interesting facts and excerpts about your books, participate in author challenges and online events, reach out and connect with other writers by commenting on what they're up to, and share tidbits about yourself and your life. The other 20% is reserved for asking people to buy your book. If you're following this rule correctly, people should feel like they know you, your story, and hopefully want to support you because they like/believe in you. This is where loyal customers are formed and future book sales are created.
2. Share, Share, Share
In the virtual sphere, it's easy to mistake what works as "the all about me" approach. What I mean by this is if all you post are selfies and talk about yourself and what you're going through, this may boost your likes but it won't produce lifelong fans. Remember, likes are superficial and they don't directly equate to book sales. It means that people spent under five seconds viewing your work (and mostly correlates to whether or not your picture was visually attractive). As appealing as your photo may be, it doesn't mean your readers took the time to read your message or engage thereafter.
This is where sharing is crucial. When you post, keep in mind that it's not for you. Sure, the likes boost your ego, but you're not the one buying your books at the end of the day. This means that everything you post online is ultimately to give something valuable to your readers and potential readers. Hate to break it to you, but pictures of your face aren't valuable. The only exception to this is if you're a world-famous super model. Chances are, you are not. The purpose of sharing personal details is to make you relatable so people can put a face to your name. That's all. The rest of your content needs to be of substance and MUST provide a solution, service, or fulfill an interest/need that your readers and other writers have.
For instance, since this blog caters specifically to writers, we try to cover topics that they struggle with (like social media). To find what works for your specific niche, ask yourself what common problems they face, what types of services would be beneficial, and then do your best to provide it. Share blog posts, advice, what you’re reading, make recommendations, Tweet articles that are interesting, and positively support other people. Doing these things will make you more appealing to a more organic audience.
3. Scheduling Is Your Friend
As you progress into a social media routine, you'll find that it takes a LOT of time. This comes down to planning, posting, maintenance and upkeep, engagement/networking, and of course content creation. If you haven't already guessed, it's a full-time job. That being said, you don't need to tear your hair out trying to manage all your accounts 100% of the time.
Work smarter, not harder with the following scheduling tools. These are the ones we've tried and found to be reliable/worthwhile:
Editorial Calendar: An editorial calendar or publishing schedule is used by content specialists, bloggers, writers, print publications, and social media specialists to keep track of online content. As an author you can create your own calendar for social media posts and then batch them ahead of time with a services like Planoly and Later. Check out our favorite here.
Agenda Planner: A hardcover calendar with spaces to help you stay organized by month and week. If you like to write (assuming that's why you're a writer), then you may prefer a paper copy of a calendar versus the Google Calendar version. See our pick here.
Editorial Workbook:This is an excellent resource for anyone looking to grow an online business, author or otherwise. Books like Meera Kothand's Create provide a guide and content calendar geared towards building a creative business. Super helpful for anyone in need of more structure when planning their author business and social media schedule.
Planoly: An online scheduler that allows you to batch social media posts for Instagram and Pinterest. Batching allows you to schedule posts on social media to launch in advance. This means that you can make each of your posts for a month, plop it into this website, and then don't have to think about it again for the rest of the month as the site will automatically share your content at the specified time. Here is the official Planoly site so you can check it out for yourself.
Later: Another online social media scheduler that works for Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook. What makes this site different from Planoly is that its a one-stop shop. You have access to more accounts at once, plus you can enable them all so that when you create a scheduled post you only have to type things out once and then confirm for all sites. Head to the website here.
Asana: While technically designed as a team project manager, Asana can also be used individually to help keep track of large projects. It features a handy multiple viewer option that allows you to view your project goals in list, board, calendar, and timeline form. This can come in handy while mapping out your social media goals for the month. Here is the website if you want to sign up.
4. Socials Are A Long-Term Relationship
Because it takes a while to establish a presence online, it stands to reason that it requires upkeep to keep the momentum going once you have it. If you expect to create a social media account and become an immediate viral sensation, check yourself and your goals. The truth is way less flashy and far more daily grind. Not what you wanted to hear right? Not to burst your bubble, but true media success comes far more quietly. That's not a bad thing! It means that there's no real rush.
For authors, this means that you can post as much or as little as you like, as long as you keep your posting schedule consistent. If your readers know when you share and know what to expect from you, you will gain supporters. Now this being said, the more frequently you post the quicker you'll see improvements, but gaining traction on a slower schedule will not hinder your bookish efforts in the long-run. Be intentional and patient. Know that this is a long-term relationship, not something you can be flaky with and still see results.
5. Use What You Know
It may be be intimidating to use all of the social media sites out there and effectively manage them all at once. Don't worry! The great news is that you don't need to master all of them to be successful. If you feel most comfortable on Facebook, then stick with it. Same goes for Instagram and Twitter. By only utilizing what you know, you actually up the quality of your media overall. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. By using what you know, you can do more for your content and for your readers than you could stretching yourself thin on five or six sites you only somewhat understand.
On the flip side, you don't have to be already published or an expert in all things book writing to gain a loyal fan-base online. In fact, it's beneficial to begin your marketing and social strategies months before your book launch. Simply start with what you can do. Share some creative posts introducing your book to potential readers. Let them know about updates and exciting changes they can expect to see. Let them get to know you as a writer. That connection will help you succeed. By focusing on one or two types of social media you do well, you can guarantee your readers will receive the best version of you and your work.
Social media can seem like a mountain to climb when you're first starting out. Don't let it intimidate you. By choosing your marketing strategy smartly you can not only succeed online as an author but you can meet your book selling goals too.
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