It seems like everywhere you go online, there is another author, social media expert, or marketing guru telling you what not to do on social media. I just did several searches using Google trying to find exactly what's out there for "social media marketing for authors" and "social marketing best practices" and several searches in between. And you know what kept popping up? What not to do. "Top mistakes authors are making on social media."
Don't spam your followers with buy links. Don't buy your likes or followers. Don't ignore your following.
Well, that's all well and good. And most of it is really good advice. And it's important to know what not to do when it comes to things like marketing. But wouldn't you also like to know what you should be doing on social media? That's exactly what I'm here to tell you.
Set up your social channels one at a time.
The first time someone told me to set up an online presence, I exploded onto the Internet. I was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Meaning I went out and set up all these channels with no idea how to use them or what to post to them. So after a while, what I ended up with was a bunch of social channels that were either inactive or boring duplicates of my active ones. Nothing useful at all.
Certainly nothing that was going to help me build a name for myself. And I got overwhelmed with everything I had to do just to get these channels to do anything. How much time did I actually have to sit on social media? And then all these new channels started coming out, too.
This is what makes authors' heads implode.
The best way to get set up is to start with a few channels on your list and get them going one channel at a time. Want to get established on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest? Great. Start with Facebook: get your author page set up, put together a content strategy, and carry it out. Once Facebook becomes routine, then branch out to Twitter and finally Pinterest.
This will mean fewer adjustments to your time commitments at once, as well as a smaller learning curve. And, because you're already established at one channel when you set up another channel, you'll be better able to set up a content strategy for that channel.
Which also overlaps with the next tip...
Use your channels differently.
Not all of your Facebook followers are going to follow you on Twitter. And not all of your Twitter followers are going to hop over to Instagram to follow you. So you might think that it's not a big deal if you post the same content across every channel.
Well, it is a big deal. So don't do that.
People who use Facebook and Twitter tend to use them in different ways and for different things. Same if those same users also get Instagram and Pinterest. Understanding the differences between these social media channels is important in your overall strategy. Posts that work for one channel may not work for another.
When in doubt, have a look at the social media pyramid as you build your author platform and see what new channel you want to brand out toward. The higher up the pyramid you go, the more you're able to stand out away from a sea of authors and writers.
Choose your social media channels wisely.
You may be reading tons of articles out there talking about the next big social media channel that has authors and marketers drooling. When Snapchat came out, dozens of articles popped up all over the web explaining how to capitalize on this new up-and-coming social channel for marketing.
Well, guess what. Being one of the first to jump into a new channel can be extremely beneficial to you and your platform. But only if the channel takes off. Snapchat is a perfect channel for comparison because it is still relatively new.
As of September, 2016, Snapchat boasted 301 million Monthly Active Users (MAU). And while that may be catching up to the 317 million Monthly Active Users Twitter currently boasts, it's still not even close to the 1.79 billion Monthly Active Users reported in November of 2016 by Facebook. If you're already well-established in other social media channels and want to be one of the first authors to hop onto an emerging channel, please feel free to do just that. But be discerning. Do your research and see what the benefits are of this new channel. What can you offer to your audience on this channel that you can't already offer on one of your other channels? How can you bring your followers over with you?
This might seem like common sense, but people get onto social media to talk to you -- and no one likes feeling like they're talking to a wall. That means you have to talk back. Hold a real conversation. If they ask you how your day was, answer them. I truly believe that relationships on social media work best when they're modeled after how we would treat our friends in real life. And I can pretty much guarantee you that if you came over to my house and told a joke, I would respond. I would ask after your family and sympathize with you after you had a bad day.
Social media is a conversation, not a bullhorn. Use it to engage with your followers rather than shouting at them, and you'll see a huge difference in the activity on your page.
Invite your followers to follow you off social media.
Followers on your social media channels do you no good if they don't know where to connect with you outside of there. Hopefully you have a core channel set up online where you can invite your followers to spend more time with you.
Let's face it, when something is important, we don't like to leave anything to chance. Except for our social media. Why is that? Even with thousands of followers on Facebook, if you make an announcement that your new book is released and ready to be purchased, word may not spread as far as you're hoping. Not only can Facebook's algorithms mess up delivery of your announcement, but timing and overall schedules may also interfere with your message.
But, if you've brought your followers over to another channel, say a blog or a website, the chances of your message being delivered goes up a hundred-fold.
Social media is a tricky beast, filled with changing rules and algorithms just waiting for you to trip up. Just the idea of social media marketing alone has scared off countless authors. But it doesn't have to be scary. And you don't need to know any tricks -- just plain old common sense and good manners will get you most of the way there. Connect with your followers, give them what they want, and hold a conversation and you'll soon find that there's nothing to this whole social media thing.