Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
If you’re an author who is struggling by trying to be all things to all people on every social media channel, then I’ve got some good news: you really only need to be engaging on one social media site to set up an effective marketing presence.
There are four steps to the process of selling more books with less social media, and we’ve already covered parts one and two in this series:
In this third step, we’re going to learn how to set up what I call “outpost channels,” or places where you have a presence but you don’t engage. An outpost channel is an aid for discovery and allows you to be found in a channel’s search engine, but redirects potential fans to the one place where you are interacting with readers.
Outposts are not set-it-and-forget-it channels, however. They become redirecting billboards, especially if they give you the ability to put up a cover photo, pin a message, or use your bio for active links.
When it comes to deciding which channels to set up as outposts, there are five measures to look at.
1. Your target audience fits the channel’s demographics. Don’t waste time setting up an outpost where your readers might be. Make sure they are there in enough numbers to make it worthwhile. Check out the Pew Internet 2016 Update to find that information.
2. Ideally, the channel should support a cover photo option that functions as a billboard when readers land on your page.
3. Ideally, the channel should support live links in posts and profiles. Being able to redirect people easily by clicking a link is key. Readers shouldn’t have to hunt for the link.
4. Choose channels that support advertising options at multiple price points. One reason for setting up an account on some channels is to be able to advertise. Currently, there are only a couple channels that have good advertising options at multiple price points: Facebook and Instagram. Twitter’s options are aimed more at big brands (as are Pinterest’s at this point), so larger budgets are required for success.
5. Choose channels that have good discoverability options with strong search engines. Make sure fans can find you by your real name and not just by your account name.
How to Set Up Your Outposts
Your outpost channels are just as important to your platform as your primary channel is, but they take much less work to maintain. Set up and maintained properly, they will funnel interested readers to your primary channel, your email list sign-up, a website landing page for a book launch, or an online event. They are strategic channels for discovery and an important part of getting potential new readers into your sales funnel.
Outpost channels do take some time to set up, and there is some maintenance. This isn’t a recipe for quitting social media, though. It’s a recipe for optimizing the time you currently spend trying to be everywhere and shifting that time back to writing. One primary social media channel should be good for 99 percent of fiction authors and most nonfiction authors.
What Your Outpost Channel Should Include:
1. A bio picture (smiling head and shoulders) that is the same everywhere online. Visual branding needs to be consistent. That way people will always recognize you right away. Eyes gravitate to the smiling profile.
2. Current bio information that includes live links to your primary channel, your latest book, your website, or your email sign-up. I encourage people to change their bio links as their promotions change. But your default mode when you are not running a campaign should be to direct people to your primary social media channel of engagement.
3. A welcome message such as a pinned post (if available), or mini-blog post that has a link to your current campaign or a redirect invite to connect on another channel. Make it human and make it friendly. Change it when you have a book launch or other short-term campaign running. I recommend the campaigns on your outpost channels reflect whatever short-term campaign is running on your website or Facebook page.
4. A cover photo that can function as a billboard that emphasizes your current campaign or redirect to your primary channel. I recommend using a small text message or arrow drawing attention to your holding message in your bio or pinned post as an easy way for people to find the message.
5. If longer bio space is provided, I recommend putting redirect links to your Amazon Central author page and website as well. You never know what people are searching for when they land on your page.
What Your Outpost Channel Should Not Include:
1. Links to other outpost channels. Don’t send them to a social media channel where you won’t be interacting.
2. Don’t put social media icons of your outpost channels on your website, blog, email signature, or anywhere for that matter. Again, don’t send them where you are not.
There are always exceptions, so let’s look at a couple.
1. What if you are currently only on Facebook? Is it necessary to set up more social media channels as outposts? No. If you only have a Facebook business page, leave it at that until you have more time to branch out. That might be never. Fight the urge to give in to FOMO (fear of missing out).
2. What it you have a large, engaged following on a channel that isn’t a good fit for a primary channel like Twitter or Instagram? Should you just quit engaging there? Not unless you are tired of engaging there or you are seeing no return for your time. Many people on channels like Twitter and Instagram are struggling to maintain engagement and only post once or twice a week. Those are the people who may want to transform that channel into an outpost.
Setting up social media outpost channels can help new readers discover you and your books. It’s a good answer for those authors who are struggling to build audiences on several social media channels but feel overwhelmed.
You don’t have to engage on every social media channel, just the right social media channel.
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