As authors, the importance of being active on social media platforms is often rammed down our throats. It seems sometimes that unless you are active on twenty different platforms and spend half your day posting to them then you aren’t doing enough.
But how much social media is enough?
How many platforms should an author be active on?
And what platforms work the best for authors?
These are questions we shall tackle in this article. Hopefully by the end of it you will have a better idea of how to approach social media so you get the best experience possible from it.
Why Do Authors Need Social Media?
The same reason anyone with a product or business needs it. To market and promote and to try and get new customers.
But does this work and is it worth your time?
I have mixed feelings about that.
Social media alone will not help you sell many books. That’s been my experience and the experience of many other authors I know.
Promoting your books on social media may lead to a few sales, but in the main, social media doesn’t help sell that many books.
This may not hold true for all authors of course. If you are a well established author with a large following, social media may help you sell more than a few copies of a just released book. Your fans all know you, have read your other books and will likely buy your new one.
In saying that, if they are true fans, they would have bought your book anyway, with or without social media promotion.
So again, why bother with it?
From my own experience, and the experience of many other authors, bloggers etc. social media is most effective for networking—for making connections with people—and not necessarily direct selling to them.
By building your author platform through social media you are establishing your credibility as an author and building your brand.
Through social media you can meet other like-minded people, other authors or people who would eventually be interested in reading your book, even people who can review your books for you, such as book bloggers.
Social media is an excellent way of getting in touch with these people and building up friendships.
It’s best not to approach social media with the idea that you are going to sell loads of books, for you will be sorely disappointed when you don’t.
There are other ways to sell books, like advertising, getting reviewed on certain sites, running promos etc.
Social media should only be used to establish your brand, to establish you as a real person and to build awareness around what it is you do. That’s it. Leave the sales out of the equation.
There is nothing worse than an author who uses social media to constantly push their books on people. It smacks of self promotion and even desperation and simply doesn’t work. In fact its counter productive because it will turn people away.
So before you bombard your followers with posts about your books, think twice and remember the real reasons you are on the platform.
How Much And How Often?
When it comes to social media it is best to concentrate on just a select few platforms. I’ll give my own best picks in a moment, but first, how often should be posting on these networks in order to get the most out of them?
The answer to that is as often as possible.
What I find with social media is that the more you post the more engagement you tend to get. Posting every couple of days isn’t enough. To get the most benefit from social media you have to post every day, perhaps several times a day.
But what you post is just as important. Posting silly nonsense that no one cares about will not get you anywhere.
To build a good following you have to post quality content in the form of blog posts, interesting articles, awesome images and of course relevant posts from other users.
Only a small percentage of your posts should be self-promotional in nature, otherwise you come across as spammy.
Building The Right Following
It is also important that you build the right following. There isn’t much point in having a following that doesn’t have much interest in you or your brand.
Authors tend to follow other authors on social media, which is where many go wrong. Nothing wrong with following and engaging other authors, in fact you should for purposes of exposure and networking.
But follow others as well.
As an author you need to find the people who would be most interested in you and your books, so you need to seek out avid readers and fans of the genre you write in.
Do a search and look for people who have expressed an interest in whatever genre you write in and then follow these people. Engage with them as well, get to know them as much as possible. Gain their trust and they will likely buy your future books.
My Top Three Social Media Sites For Authors
Other authors may have their own favorite platforms but these three are the ones I’ve had the most success with as an author in terms of building a network and increasing brand awareness:
We all know Twitter. It is one of the biggest social media platforms on the web and for good reason.
Twitter is a fabulous platform for networking and gaining a following of people who like and support what you do.
It is not really a place to garner sales. In fact, if an author tweets constantly about their books (practically screaming, “BUY MY BOOK!” over and over) then I won’t follow them. How is that interesting for other people? It isn’t, it’s just spammy and tedious and again, smacks of desperation.
Approach Twitter like it’s a community of likeminded people, which is exactly what it is. Join in, have conversations, see what other people are doing, what other authors are doing.
Find your tribe, the people who are interested in your genre and engage with them as much as possible.
Of course you can still promote your books, but do so sparingly. The best way to do this is to retweet other authors and they will usually retweet you back, so you help promote each other’s books.
Here’s a great tip to make it easier for other authors to retweet you:
Create a tweet that promotes one of your books, preferably with an image attached and then pin the tweet to the top of your feed. You can do this by clicking on the three dots just by the favorites button on your feed page. Click and you should see an option to pin a certain tweet. Doing this will help other authors find your book tweet to promote. Also, when people check out your profile, the first thing they see will be your book tweet, which again will help build awareness.
Goodreads is a social media platform based around books and those who love to read. It’s the ideal platform for an author because it has the potential to spread a great deal of awareness about your books and you as an author.
Again though, this isn’t a platform to sell books directly, and indeed spammers will be pushed out. Like any other platform genuine engagement is required to get the most from it.
As an author you should sign up for Goodreads and add yourself as an author to the site, then add all your books as well.
After that, try to get involved in the massive book loving community there. There are many, many groups where you can have conversations with other book lovers about whatever you want. Find a group that represents your genre and get involved.
Do not directly promote yourself, but get to know people first and let things happen naturally, which it will if you genuinely engage yourself on the site.
Goodreads also offers authors the opportunity to promote their books through giveaways and advertising, both of which you should take advantage of because they help you get reviews on your books and also spread the word about your books.
Many bestselling authors use Goodreads to their advantage when it comes to promoting their books. Most of the big authors have a following there, which helps them shift more copies with every new release.
Goodreads takes time, so you must be prepared for that. You won’t build a following overnight but you should be able to build awareness around your book quite quickly just by listing it and using the giveaway tool.
For a more comprehensive guide to Goodreads for authors, check out this book.
“Tsu!” I hear you cry. “What the hell is Tsu? A Chinese philosopher?”
Not quite. Tsu is a brand new social media platform that I’ve been using for the last few weeks and I have to say it is pretty cool.
You notice I didn’t mention Facebook in this article. That’s because Facebook frankly sucks these days, largely down to their greed. Post reach and engagement has suffered badly because you now have to pay Facebook if you want to reach even a fraction of your followers. Fine if you’re a big business, but not fine if you’re a struggling indie author.
Tsu solves this problem by being essentially Facebook lite. The platform is almost identical to Facebook but it allows you to reach every single one of your followers and friends with every post.
Read that again: All of your posts will appear in all of your followers newsfeeds!
That’s great news for engagement, don’t you think?
And another great side benefit of Tsu is that they pay you to post and interact with others on the site. That’s right, you can earn money just by doing what you normally do, by posting status updates and sharing other peoples content on the site.
Admittedly, you won’t earn a great deal unless you are super active on the site, but that’s not the point. The point is that Tsu is doing all they can to give as much back to their users as possible, unlike Facebook who just take, take, take.
I love Tsu and there are loads of great people already on it, including of course many indie authors.
Tsu is the perfect platform for indie authors and it promises only to get better.
It does have its fair share of spammers like any social platform, but its easy to ignore these people. Just build your own tribe and ignore the rest.
At the moment Tsu is invite only, but you can sign up through this link.
I include RebelMouse here as a kind of honorary mention. Not because it in way rivals the other social media sites I just mentioned, but because of the awesome tool it offers, which I will explain in a moment.
When RebelMouse first came on the scene, some people jumped all over it, thinking it was going to be the next big thing in social media. Most people though, have still not heard of it, even though it has been established for a few years now. I personally have never found it useful as a promotional tool, nor even as a networking platform. Some people might though. I just haven’t put the time into it to find out.
The reason I mention RebelMouse here is because they provide a great way to display your social media activity on your website. The site allows you to add feeds from all of your social media accounts so that it can display those feeds visually on a special page on your sight.
Pretty cool, huh? It means visitors to your site can see what you have been posting in your social media accounts, all on one handy page. I think it provides a nice edition to any author site.
RebelMouse is free and pretty easy to set up on your site. Once you set up your page, you simply install the RebelMouse plugin to stream your content to your site.
Follow me here and then set up your own account.
Social Media Is Just A Tool
All these sites are just tools to help build awareness around your author brand. Use them wisely and you will benefit greatly from them in the long run.
Having a good social media presence takes time, so don’t go looking for overnight results.
Do that and you stand the greatest chance of building a solid author platform that will eventually help you to sell more books, which after all is the whole point.
Some great info on this video by Guy Kawasaki who seems to have the whole social media thing of to a tee.
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