Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
If you’re an author who currently avoids social media, don’t be embarrassed. Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. In my work helping authors promote their brands, I’ve only known a couple of writers who are naturals at social media. (Their books sell well, by the way—coincidence? I think not).
Many authors assume that promoting their book online is like tooting their own horn, and that makes them uncomfortable. But you shouldn’t sit on the social media sidelines solely on the basis of humility. If you get out there and participate in social media, you’ll tap into the powerful free marketing opportunities that will give your book worldwide exposure.
Last week, in Part 1 of this article, I discussed three ways authors can build an effective social media platform. Below you’ll find tips 4, 5, and 6.
4. Determine where to find new social media friends.
In last week’s post, I showed you how to identify the powerful themes in your writing that can inspire topics for social media that go beyond, “Buy my book, please!” But where should you go to have those discussions? You need to spend a little time looking for the places on the Internet where people share thoughts about the topics in your book.
Browse the Internet and explore the website forums, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags and YouTube channels that reflect your book’s most important themes. There are web-based groups that are deeply concerned with those very topics. Seek them out and become a part of them.
To learn more about marketing strategies, register for “4 Weeks to a Powerful Book Marketing Strategy,” a hands-on class from Digital Book World University.
If you are unsure about which social media platforms to start exploring, take a look at these trends. Different platforms are ideal for different demographic categories:
- Is your ideal reader male and/or college educated? Try LinkedIn. Nearly twice as many men (63%) as women (37%) use LinkedIn, and more LinkedIn users (37%) have bachelor’s degrees than do Facebook users (20%).
- Is your ideal reader from a racially diverse category? Twitter users are the most racially diverse among mainstream social network platforms. On the other hand, if you’re targeting teens, Twitter might not be the best place for you. Just 8% of teens say they use Twitter.
- Writing nonfiction? Put some key facts on Slideshare, or join forums in LinkedIn.
Just as important as participating in the better-known social media sites, it’s valuable to hang around a bunch of niche Internet sites that fit your ideal reader’s psyche. Search for sites using the keywords that describe the themes in your book.
Maybe in your book someone goes through a tough divorce. Find sites where people are discussing this transition. Maybe your book is a historical analysis of Civil War uniforms. Find reenactment groups or sites where people collect memorabilia. Participating in a small site full of your target readers is a much more valuable use of your time than trying to get your message heard in a crowded forum like Facebook or Twitter.
5. Schedule regular social media time.
As a self-published author, you probably have a lot of responsibilities. Job, family, friends—and your own writing—they all demand your time. Social media takes time, too. So be sure to schedule social media into your life.
The good news is social media doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Fifteen minutes per session is enough. What’s more important than quantity is consistency. Be consistent. Schedule that fifteen minutes of social media work into your week, say three times a week, and stick to it. Listen to the advice of the running-shoe people: Just do it. Regularly.
Maybe your issue is not that you don’t spend enough time on social media. Maybe your problem is that you spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You, too, need to schedule your time. Be honest with yourself about how long you’re actually involved in social media for book marketing and how long you’re procrastinating by clicking on links that are unrelated to your themes. Sure, your book marketing can overlap with personal enjoyment, especially when you’ve written a book about your hobby or a group you’re deeply associated with.
Finally, beware of burning yourself out. The Internet never sleeps, but you should.
6. Be social.
Once you’ve identified the themes and topics of your book, found some groups to participate in and made a schedule, it’s time to get talking! Don’t mention your book at right away—not until you’ve established a relationship and a certain amount of trust and integrity within the group. That means you have to be a member of the group for the long haul.
For social media to be effective, you can’t just dip in once, drop your book title and fly. Consistency is key. Social media is, at its core, social. And to be social means to establish a give-and-take, honest rapport with the members you find there. So choose your social groups wisely and become an active, loyal member. Over time, other people in the community will eventually become loyal to you—and to the books you write.
Word of mouth is the number one way readers hear about the books they buy. Social media is no different from in-person word of mouth, only people are having casual conversations via the Internet instead of across a picket fence. So get out there and chat! You’ll make some new friends and grow your author platform.
Related: See Part 1 of this article.
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