Marketing on Social Media . . . by Not Marketing

Guest post by Jenn Gott, indie authorwhat are you baking today

I follow a lot of authors on social media.

This should come as no surprise. Anyone with an interest in reading or writing, especially if you hope to build a career in “the biz,” has undoubtedly followed their fair share of wordsmiths. And sure, some of it is for networking purposes, and some of it is because they post a lot of marketing and publishing content that I find useful.

But by far, the largest group of authors I follow is made up of those that I simply like following.

Maybe they have a cute cat they’re always posting photos of. Maybe they offer relatable, encouraging insights into their writing process. Maybe they support the same political causes I do and I like how they articulate their convictions. Maybe they’re just funny, or have a unique way of expressing the feelings we all experience while trying to get through the day.

But here’s the crucial thing: of all the authors I’ve started following just for fun, I’ve gone on to purchase books from nearly every single one of them.

It’s a weird balance when you start using social media as a writer. You have work you want to promote, but you know that you can’t just post a stream of constant “Buy my book!” tweets. You want to be authentic and connect with readers. Yet at the same time, no one is interested in what you had for breakfast, right?

Like everything in writing, there’s a delicate balance to using social media. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people are interested in the tiny details of your life — so long as you make it interesting.

Don’t just post a photo of what you’re up to; make a little joke in the caption, or ask a question to get people to interact in the comments. Also remember to mix it up! Living through a pandemic doesn’t always make for the most exciting social content, but whenever you find yourself doing something different or a little adventurous (going for a hike in a new location, or trying out a cool recipe), make an effort to record it.

Of course, “being interesting” doesn’t mean that you can’t do any kind of promo or marketing for your book. Obviously you’ll need to let your audience know when you’ve got a new book, when you’re running a sale or a giveaway, or even just when you reach an important milestone and want to celebrate it with friends and fans!

The important thing is that if you’ve built up an authentic audience, these bursts of news are going to be read by people who want to know about them. Especially if they’ve seen your progress as you’ve been prepping your book for release, the enthusiasm and support that follows will be a lot stronger and more effective than if you’d simply shouted into a disinterested void. I can’t even tell you how many authors I started following before they’d ever published, and eagerly pre-ordered their debut — so don’t dismiss the idea of building up your audience early.

What’s even better, the sort of audience you cultivate with genuine engagement is much more likely than a disengaged audience to tell other people about your books — and we all know that word of mouth is the best marketing of all!

So truly, if you’re ever feeling short on content to post to social media, just ask yourself: what would you talk about with a friend today? Because, in the end, that’s what you want each of your followers to feel like: a good friend.

Jenn Gott is an indie author and writer with Reedsy, so she basically spends all her time either writing books or helping people learn how to write books. She firmly believes there is no writing skill you cannot learn with practice and the right guidance. You’ll find her on her website and over on the Reedsy blog, where she covers topics ranging from writing craft to how to launch a book for the first time.

Handy Checklist of Ideas for Social Media Posts

Handy Checklist of Ideas for Social Media PostsDo you ever feel stuck about what to post on social media? Keep this handy checklist of ideas nearby and you’ll always have something fresh to post on social media.

  • Questions from your book. If you have a study guide or discussion questions in your book, post questions from that section.
  • Answers you’ve given. Did a reader ask a question that you answered? Share it on social media!
  • Tips from your book. Make it interesting with a visual created on Canva.com.
  • If you have a podcast, share links to recent shows and past shows. Share links to podcasts you enjoy with a short message about why it would be of value to your audience to listen to it.
  • Share your book reviews found on Amazon or Goodreads.
  • Writing tips that have helped you in writing your nonfiction book.
  • Links to other people’s social media posts that will be of value to your audience.
  • Quotes – famous quotes, from other authors you know, about writing, inspirational and motivational quotes.
  • Link to your newsletter signup that includes a free download of the first chapter of your book.
  • Photos of where you write, your kids/grandkids, pets, etc. Let your audience get to know you as a person.
  • What you’re currently reading – share the cover image and something you enjoyed in the book.
  • Your latest blog post. If you’ve written evergreen content, reshare older blog posts too.
  • Blog posts from experts in writing, publishing, book publicity, social media, etc.
  • Announcements – of a contest you’re having, your new book release, your book winning an award, a sale you’re having, and so forth.
  • Have fun and share some humorous images and / or quotes about books, reading, writing.

Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them!

The Power of Community: UPDATED New Date December 15

Sue Dec Speaker Card WideCommunity is the foundation for using social media. It is with the power of community that you cultivate meaningful relationships on your social media platforms. I’ve built a wonderful relationship with Anna Scheller who runs a weekly Twitter chat, USABizParty. It happens every Tuesday at 1 pm Eastern and I hope you’ll join us sometime.

USABizParty is hosting their inaugural telesummit on the topic “Power of Community.” Anna invited me to be one of the eight speakers. My topic: Engaging With Your Community Using Social Media. You will learn:

  • Benefits of using social media to build a community
  • The importance of engagement
  • Dos and don’ts

Join us and discover the power of community and engage with like-minded entrepreneurs. Networking opportunities and prizes await you on December 15th! Get your ticket here.

Tell Me About SEO

Everyone wants to know what they can do so that their website gets found in a web search. “Tell me about SEO,” asks a client. “Do I have to pay for my website to rank high in a Google search?”

A prospect named Joe booked a complimentary consultation appointment with me and emailed, “When I found you for our consultation appointment, was that a result of your social media prowess—or did/do you do some paid SEO? I am trying to learn whether it’s necessary to pay for SEO, or if a sound social media strategy can get the job done without paid SEO—or is it necessary to have a mix of both? Any insight appreciated.”

Of course my social media ‘prowess’ contributes to people finding me in an internet search. I use a ‘sound social media strategy’ on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to direct my audience back to my website. But I have NEVER paid for SEO.

That’s right—you don’t have to pay a lot of money for SEO. Your website will be found in a search when you do the right things. Be aware, though, that it will take time. Don’t expect that 30 days after you’ve launched your brand new site that it’s now going to come up at the top of a search—even if you’ve done everything right. It takes time for the search engines to index and rank your site. So be patient. I suggest that it takes a minimum of 90 days to see results with organic SEO efforts.

What do I mean by organic? Organic SEO at my website includes these three strategies:

  1. Keywords. What keywords would someone trying to find your website use in an online search? Make a list of those and use them often in your website copy and blog posts. A note of caution: don’t stuff your copy with the keywords just to try to rank higher. Use them where it’s appropriate and makes sense. There are tools you can find online to do keyword research. Here are two: Wordtracker and WordStream.
  2. Links. You want links back to your website. One way I do this is by posting on social media tidbits from blog posts with a link to that post—driving traffic back to my site. Another way is by writing guest posts on other people’s sites with a link in my bio back to my website. Here’s an example. You can also link to another page at your own website in one of your blog posts. For example, right here I’m inviting you to contact me for a free 15-minute social media consultant and linking to my page to learn more about it.
  3. Content. This is the best organic SEO strategy. Write fresh content on your website on a regular basis, using the keywords you’ve researched. Search engines rank sites higher when they have fresh content. Write at your blog regularly and share that content on all your social media platforms.

There is one more thing I do for SEO. I use Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. They do have a Premium version for $89/year. But I just use the free version. It helps remind me to use the right keywords for SEO purposes. The image in this post is a screenshot of the analysis results of a blog post before being optimized completely for SEO.SEO screenshot

If you’re not using WordPress and use some other site builder such as Squarespace or Wix, the strategies I use apply—keywords, links, and content. Those site builders also have Premium SEO you can pay for, but I don’t believe it’s necessary for most people.

Does organic SEO work? It has for me! I always ask people when they contact me how they found me. The last three people said they did a Google search and found me. I always ask what they typed in to the search to find me so I know which keywords are getting the best results.

It really made my day when Joe, mentioned earlier, posted this review on my Facebook page. “I would like to thank Sue Canfield for sharing her expertise of social media marketing best practices with me. What I like most about Sue is she listens to get to know your unique situation and answers questions in a logical and practical manner that is easily understandable. The fact she has done it all organically speaks for itself! Thank you Sue!”

Yes, organic SEO does work!

Using LinkedIn as a Nonfiction Author

using linkedin as an authorUsing LinkedIn as a nonfiction author is an effective way to increase exposure for your book and business. It is still considered a more professional platform than a social media platform such as Facebook. Authors need to be cautious not to use LinkedIn primarily as a tool for book sales.

LinkedIn’s platform provides nonfiction authors a place to showcase their leadership in their industry. As an example, are you a CPA who has written a book to support your business? Show your expertise by posting articles and sharing in discussions in groups around your book’s topic. At the end of your articles include a short bio, mention your book, and include link to where it can be purchased.

Your About section should include detailed information about your business and your book. Add your book to the Publications section as well. The Featured section can include links to videos and SlideShare presentations, and you can upload supporting documents such as a Tip Sheet, Speaker Sheet, or Author One Sheet.

Don’t forget to connect with people and expand your network of influence. Start with people you already know such as colleagues, clients, association members, classmates, family, friends. Then reach out to fellow group members. Since you are in the same group as these members, there is a common ground to build on.

When you add social media icons to your website so people can find you on Facebook and Twitter, remember to add an icon and link to your LinkedIn profile too.

If you’re a nonfiction author who has used LinkedIn effectively, please share your tips!