These days, it seems that everyone’s busy crafting his or her next witty Tweet, spending hours creating the perfect Pinterest board, or selecting the right filter for an Instagram post.
With so many social media platforms at your disposable, having an active online presence has never been more important for an author. A traditional website with an email sign-up page just isn’t enough when you have dozens of other potential ways to connect and engage with your readers online.
Using social media successfully requires experimentation, time, and strategy. So how can authors maximize these tools?
1. Which platform is right for you?
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat… the list goes on and on. New social media platforms are cropping up left and right at an alarming speed, so how do you select the one that’s right for you? The two most important things to consider are who you want to connect with and how you want to connect.
Are you looking to engage with a younger reader base? Your best bet might be Snapchat, where a majority of users are between the ages of 13 and 25.
Do your novels appeal to a largely female audience? Give Pinterest a shot, where 80% of users are women.
Are you especially gifted at writing 140 character messages? Try Twitter.
2. Craft a personal voice/brand
It’s impossible to meet all of your readers face-to-face, but social media helps you establish a more personal connection between you and your audience. Use this opportunity to craft and hone your public brand.
This is your chance to be personal. Play with your tone and infuse it with personality until you’ve settled on a voice that feels right. Get creative!
3. Use your platform
One of the most important things to keep in mind about social media tools is their value as communication platforms. Twitter, Facebook, and the like help you establish a direct line of contact between you and your readers so that you can share important and valuable information.
Use that megaphone! Broadcast your new release dates, let them know about your next book signing, host an online Q&A, or tell them about your next BookBub feature.
Remember: Your readers are interacting with you on social media in the hopes of getting exclusive updates, so be that source and provide them with fresh and current news.
4. Engage with your followers
Once you’ve amassed a loyal following, it’s important to engage with your fans, not bombard them with a one-sided stream of tweets or Facebook posts. As with any relationship, this is a two-way street.
Your interactions should mirror your audience’s activity: Follow your supporters back, like their photos, retweet, repost, and engage with them in the comments section.
And, most importantly, thank them. Your fans are your most valuable asset, so let them know how much you appreciate them. Offer a free preview for your next novel once you’ve reached a certain amount of followers. Send a free copy of your book to the first 10 people who like your post. Write a direct message to a particularly loyal fan. Be inventive with your thank yous.
5. Content, Content, Content
It’s easy to get stuck in a self-promotional rut, but in reality as much as 80% of your focus online should be on creating original, non-promotional posts.
This is your currency. This is where your value lies.
No matter the platform, it’s your job to present your audience with interesting and eye-catching content. But what’s going to drive someone to click on your post? To comment? To share?
Unfortunately, there is no tried and true formula. What’s popular and trending now will likely be replaced with a new viral video by dinnertime.
Because the virtual space is in a constant state of fluctuation, you have to adapt just as quickly. Experimentation is key. Add photos to your tweets. Use imaginative hashtags on Instagram. Upload a video with your next Facebook post.
But most importantly, tell a story that resonates with your audience.
6. Track your progress!
Most social media platforms have built-in analytics tools, which makes it easy to measure growth and activity. See how many followers you gain in a week, keep count of likes, and track shares. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for yourself and analyze which posts get you closer to achieving those targets. You’ll start to see trends — maybe photos drive more shares on Twitter or posing questions on Facebook increases engagement — that will help you maximize your posts’ impact in the future.
The relationship between an author and his/her readers is becoming more and more important in the new publishing landscape, for self-published and traditionally published authors alike. Whatever your social media expertise, challenge yourself to take a step forward in building your author brand this year. We’ll continue to post about this topic in the weeks to come, so please let us know what you’d like to hear more about!
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