While not as lucrative as a mailing list, a strong social media following is a great way to support your books and build your author network while having fun. These days, a variety of platforms available mean you can go any direction you wish to in social media and focus on creating posts you enjoy to a culture you already love.
A large group of followers is critical, but it’s easy to get lost when you’re still setting up your account. The good news is that many strategies apply the same to different platforms, so once you master one it should be easy to branch out and get started somewhere else.
The key is to know your platform, understand the basics of social media courtesy, and work strategically to attract a crowd uniquely interested in your books.
1. Know the platform. Every social media platform has its own culture, personality, and quirks. Facebook has a style all of its own—so do Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Reddit. If you’re a member of any of these sites, you probably love it for something unique it has that other social media hubs lack. When you’re building your following, keep in mind the unique aspects of your platform and how you could spin them to your advantage.
2. Follow the trends. Social media users are infamous for having short attention spans, so you need to by dynamic and involved if you want to keep up with the pace. Watch for trends in hashtags or various challenges and play along. This will make your account more engaging, more active, and more human to your followers.
3. Create and use hashtags. Some social media sites (like Reddit) don’t use hashtags at all. Others include more hashtags than content (Instagram, anyone?). In most cases, you can set your branding above the competition by knowing which hashtags to use and even creating one of your own, encouraging everyone interested in that hashtag to check out your work. You can read more about hashtag marketing in my post here.
Social Media Courtesy
4. Follow back. The easiest way to grow your following is to follow others, but it’s also a good idea to follow back when someone follows you. Twitter frequently has following events to encourage people to follow others, such as #FollowFriday. When you follow people back, you enlarge your own circles while giving a subtle thanks to everyone who is following you.
5. Update frequently. How often you post changes from platform to platform. On Facebook, you can get by with a few posts a week, but Instagram users often post multiple times per day. Regardless your favorite hangout, you need to stay active and regular to show readers that you’re still at work. This is one reason why it’s best to stick to only one or two platforms that you actually enjoy using. Share your progress, goals, and random thoughts as they come to you.
6. Contribute and add value to conversations. You don’t want to spam people, and if you stand in a corner by yourself shouting your book out to the mobs, no one will pay any attention. One key to a healthy social media following is to add value to the discussions already in place. Congratulate other authors on their success and join related groups. A good comment or reply to a post should be at least five words and say something more detailed than “Nice cover!”--take others seriously, and it will come around back to you.
7. Share content from others. Keeping an active stream of posts up gets exhausting sometimes. Fortunately, it’s good (even recommended) that you share posts written by others. You can choose to add your own thoughts to them or just share them as is. The original posters will enjoy the publicity, and you get to enjoy having more things to post, making this a win-win.
8. Be genuine. If you’re not a natural-born marketer, don’t fake it. A critical element of social media success comes down to being genuine about your posts. Share your journey. Share your weaknesses as well as your wins, your stray thoughts and personality quirks. When it comes to talking about your books, you can get personal too. What is it about your current WIP that means the most to you? Why do you pursue it? The more personal you can make your book, the more weight it will carry to your followers.
Forming Your Strategy
9. Be visual. Social media has grown increasingly image-based over the past decade, and if you want your posts to pop, a picture is an easy way to do it. You don’t need to be a champion artist, either. Tools like BookBrush, Canva, and AllAuthor have easily customizable layouts to create your own promo images featuring your book cover
10. Be intentional about your profile. Your profile page is where people will look when they want to learn more about you or connect. Take advantage of everything offered: header images, links, pinned posts, etc. Change this information as often as you need to stay fresh and current with your projects and give a good view of where you’re currently at.
11. Run a giveaway or group promo. Fans on social media usually aren’t looking to spend money. That makes it tricky when your whole goal of getting an account is to make sales, but it does explain why so many “Please buy my book!” posts fail. However, if you promote something that will be free for readers (like a giveaway or free promo day), you’ll get many more people coming out of the woodwork and much better engagement.
12. Follow the competition. In self-publishing, your competition authors are also your peers. When you follow them, you can learn their strategies and schedules and better merge your two followings. Always be friendly and polite, and feel free to offer support and be a fan of as many writers as you want.
As always, you can sign up to comment in the section below, or click on the blue button to join my Facebook group for self-publishing fiction authors.