Using the Social Media Pyramid to Build Your Author Platform blog post featured image woman on smartphone with social media icons

Using the Social Media Pyramid to Build Your Author Platform

Have you started to build your author platform yet? Or do you get stuck on trying to figure out which channels you should be on?

Authors are expected to have a social media presence.


Not only by their fans and readers, who want to connect and fan all over them, but also by publishers and agents who expect the author to shoulder at least some burden of the marketing.

It's expected.

It's practically required.

Using the Social Media Pyramid to Build Your Author Platform blog title overay

So where does that put you? Which social media channel do you go for? There are so many social media sites to choose from! How do you decide which ones to start and which ones to ignore? Should you be on all of them?

Setting up an online presence as you build your author platform can feel like you're staring at a formidable temple at the top of a foreboding mountain guarded by rabid griffons and protected by dark magic. It's overwhelming. And, as if that's not bad enough, having large followings on social media doesn't always translate to book sales. So you could be pumping a lot of energy and a lot of time into your Facebook page and crafting the perfect tweet and still not see much return.

And if you're a new author with your first book coming out, then what? How do you stand out against the dozens or hundreds of books coming out in your same genre in the same month? How do you get die-hard fans of one author to notice you?

This is where the Social Media Pyramid comes in.

Using the Social Media Pyramid to Build Your Author Platform blog post chart with pyramid and arrows

The Social Media Pyramid

At the bottom of your author platform are your major sales sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Every author of every genre is on these sites with author profiles and buttons and links to follow these authors. It doesn't matter if you self-published, vanity published, or traditionally published through an agent and a publisher… they're all here. Hundreds of thousands of authors and millions of books.

As you move up the pyramid, authors begin to emerge more as themselves and less as a published entity or brand. They begin interacting more with fans and followers, developing content and marketing strategies, and spending more time maintaining their presence.

Facebook Fan Pages are almost always the first social media platform authors set up — because so many people are already on Facebook. It makes sense to set up where the readers and fans are, right? Published, waiting to be published, self-published authors — authors at all stages of their career have a Facebook Fan Page. They try standing out by posting or sharing content of various types to that page, but they are still swimming in a sea of millions of other authors.

And let's not forget about Twitter. Once again, millions of authors at different stages of their careers Tweet their hellos to readers and fans (and even each other). Nonfiction authors often hang out on LinkedIn as well.

Can you see the pattern here?

The further up the pyramid you go, the fewer authors will be sharing the same space with you. Even if there are still millions of authors all over Pinterest (and there are) because of the way Pinterest works and the way different authors focus on different things, you will still find yourself in a much smaller sea than on Facebook. And because Pinterest and Instagram are generally thought of as visual tools, and writing doesn't exactly lend itself to visual aids, many authors skip over them completely.

The pattern continues all the way up your pyramid until you get to the top, which would be your personal author site or blog.

So, the further up the pyramid you climb, the more you stand out. And the bigger time commitment your fans and followers expect from you.

Just look around this site: the only other authors on this site are those whom I bring on. Guests posts, interviews, blog tours… I have allowed a select few authors to share my space for a limited time. And chances are I will do it again. But this space is mine. I don't have to worry about standing out here because it's just me here.

Is a blog required to build your author platform?

So, does this mean that you need to head out to Blogger or Wordpress and get a blog set up? I really want to say no — that's not what this means (even though I think you should). Does this mean you need to break down and sign up for a Pinterest account? Again, no.

If you don't take many pictures and aren't very good at creating graphics, will Instagram really be the best addition to your author platform?

Of course not.

Now that you know how the social media platform works, you can begin choosing which steps you want to set up on. The closer to the bottom of the pyramid you set up, the bigger the pool of authors you're swimming with. Channels like Facebook and Twitter have the largest reach because they have the most users.

But they also have the lowest organic engagement — because they have the most users competing for that all-important listing in the newsfeeds.

That's where this pyramid comes in handy. The further up the pyramid you're willing to climb, the braver you sometimes have to be (how many live streaming videos do you see on my page) and the larger a time commitment your fans expect to see from you (how many newsletters do you think take less than 2-3 minutes to write and publish?)… but the easier it is for you to stand out and the easier it is for your readers and fans to see you when you post something.

And, because of the larger commitment, the deeper the connection with your fans you'll have on those channels.

How will knowing all this help me build my author platform?

Too many times I see authors ask “what's an author platform” or “which social media channels should I add to my author platform?” And the answers they receive range anywhere from “just pick your three favorites” to “all of them.”

But do you really need to be spread across all of them? And if you pick your three favorites, will they really help you reach your audience? Now you'll be able to tell.

As you build your author platform, remember that it is all about you. In fact, you're the only required piece.

All other avenues are optional. The only real question you need to ask is how far up the pyramid are you willing to climb to stand out from the rest of the authors out there? And are you using the social channels that will help you stand out without spreading yourself too thin or having to spend too much time on your social media presence?

If you can put together an author platform, even with just an email list, you will already have a deeper connection that the person who is relying on Facebook to get sales.

Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts about social media marketing you may like:

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