Every time social media as a marketing tool for authors comes up, someone mentions that famous author who doesn’t blog, the rich author who has no online presence whatsoever. The argument is that you don’t need an online presence, blogging, social media, to become rich and famous, or succeed in whatever way you define success, as an author.
Back to Reality
Yes, it’s possible to become a best-seller, rich and famous, without ever going online.
It’s also possible to cross the ocean in a rowboat. I’ve read about it. It’s not fun.
If you truly deeply hate social media, find other ways. But if you just don’t want to do the work of blogging and interacting online, or if you’re just being contrary, you’re making it so very hard on yourself.
Speaking in absolutes is always counterproductive (oh, I see what I did there.) But as a general rule, it is best if an author has a blog and posts regularly. It is best if an author has a social media presence and engages there regularly. It is best to make use of the tools that will engage with your potential audience where they are: online.
I actually do hang out on Twitter. But not everyone does. A while back I wrote about determining which platform is the best one for you. I suggested setting up a profile on each one and then focusing on just one. So what do you do with the platforms you know you won’t be as active on or you won’t use at all? Why even have a profile if you’re not going to be active there?
People are going to look for you on all social media platforms. If someone is a big Twitter enthusiast, that’s where they are going to look for you. If you’re not there, they may not look for you elsewhere. So you want them to find you there and then from there go to where you are active online.
With all the social media platforms available, authors often ask which one is the best platform for them. My answer: it depends on where your audience is and which one you feel you’d be most comfortable spending time using. Here are four popular ones and my thoughts on each one. Then you decide which one is best for you. (I recommend you set up a profile at each one and then focus on one. More on that in a future post.)
Twitter is a Music Festival
It’s easy to set up a Twitter account and start following people you hope will follow you back. The trap to avoid is following everyone. Follow people who are relevant in some way. Perhaps they’ve tweeted about your topic or have a hashtag in their bio that indicates interest in your topic. Create lists so you can categorize those you follow – other authors, book marketers, publicists, and others.
Because you can tweet often, you drive more traffic to your website from Twitter than other social media platforms. That means your tweets need to have valuable information with a link that readers want to click to learn more.
Yes, it’s easy for your tweets to ‘get lost’ in the huge Twitterverse. However you can make good connections and start conversations that may result in taking the conversation into email. Over the years I’ve made really good connections with people in my industry in this manner, and have even gotten clients through Twitter.
Twitter is like a music festival with many different bands all playing at once on different stages of a huge venue. Thousands of people are attending. It will get noisy, even confusing at times. You might feel lost, that your message isn’t being heard. But those who want to hear what you have to say will find you and listen, just like at a huge music festival. Maybe you went to listen to one or two bands. You’ll seek them out and listen to them. Your audience will seek you out on Twitter and listen to you too – as long as you’ve set up your account and tweet in such a way that they can find you.
Facebook is a Tribe
On Facebook you want to be sure to set up an Author page. Read my previous post on 13 Ways to Utilize Your Facebook Author Page. Be sure to link to the page from your website and invite friends and readers to connect with you on this page. This is where your ‘tribe’ can come backstage with you. You won’t have as many followers on Facebook as you have connections elsewhere. That’s okay. This is where people who are already your readers will come to learn more about you and even connect with other readers.
Think of Facebook as a place where your tribe comes to hang out. They may have first connected with you on Twitter and now want more. Use Facebook to share more about who you are, what you write, links to other information your audience will find value. And of course have fun! Facebook followers tend to be people who like to have fun. :)
LinkedIn is a Professional Networking Connector
LinkedIn is a more professional setting, perfect for nonfiction authors. In addition to connecting with other professionals, you can join and participate in groups, and publish articles related to your topic. I use LinkedIn to deepen connections. I invite strategic connections to a free 15-minute phone call so we can learn more about each other.
Groups are a wonderful tool you can use to start or join in conversations and share your expertise. Writing articles also strengthens your position as an expert in your field.
Instagram is a Snapshot of Life
This social media platform is primarily about visuals – posting photos or images along with text and hashtags. You may want a separate business account for your book. Instagrammers want to know more about your life as an author. They want to see photos of your writing space, perhaps a book store you visited, your cat. Of course you can post about your book too. Just remember that the audience here is more interested in your life – not your book.
If you need some ideas for visuals to post on Instagram, check out this post.
So, which platform works best for you right now?
This may change at a later date so you want to revisit this annually.
Are you interested in a music festival and reaching a lot of people? Twitter’s your thing.
Do you want your tribe to connect more personally with you and other readers? Use Facebook
Is your goal to connect with other professionals and deepen those relationships? LinkedIn is the place.
Would you like to connect with readers interested in a more personal look into your life as an author? Dive into Instagram
I’d love to connect with you on any of those social media platforms and hear your comments on this topic. Share a comment below and links to your platforms so I can follow you.
Depending on who you ask or where you check, each year between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published. That’s more than one every minute, 24 hours a day.
If you only take away one thing from Sue’s post and today’s, this is it:
#1. If you don’t stand out, agents, publishers, and readers will choose someone who does.
When Sue posted some of her thoughts from that blog post on other social media platforms, there were always a few who quibbled about how agents don’t necessarily require this, that, and the other thing. Perhaps. However, see large note #1 above.
A second note which seems, still, to escape far too many authors:
#2: Publishers do not do marketing. Authors do marketing. If you won’t, they’ll find someone who will.
This shatters the dream of so many authors who, apparently, still hope they can simply write their book and have someone else do the hard work of earning the money for them. After all, writing a book is hard enough already; I know this well and understand the frustration of those who, having typed The End are dismayed to discover that it’s just The Beginning.
If you’re still secretly hoping someone else will make this easy for you, see large note #2 above.
A third note:
#3: Reputations are hard-earned currency. No one is going to lend you theirs without good reason.
Yesterday’s post touched on the quagmire of guest posting. The entire point of guest posting is to share reputations, to find mutual benefit.
If you have a brand new blog about entrepreneurship, having Richard Branson write a guest post is a great idea, right? Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
What earthly reason would Sir Rich have to lend you his reputation?
Bringing it down to more realistic levels, what reason does mid-level blogger Jane Doe have to lend you their reputation, giving you access to their hard-earned network of fans? By writing a guest post for you, or allowing you to write a guest post for her, Jane is endorsing you, telling all and sundry “I trust and respect Billy Bo Bob Brain and you should, too.”
Why would they do that?
Flipside: why would you do that? If you have a worthwhile blog and a total stranger, entirely unknown, wants to post on your blog, why would you share your reputation with them? Do you really want to publicly endorse the views and ethics of a total stranger?
A final takeaway:
#4: If you intend to sell your book or use it to promote your business you are not just an author, you are an entrepreneur.
You may already be marketing your business. Your book is part of your business, and you have to invest the same marketing effort and savvy as you would any other new product or service launched.
A solid social media presence is vital to getting noticed as an author and should be in place long before your book is published.