From all the talk of social media, you may think every author is active and enjoying it. But as I talk to authors one thing is clear, there are lots of them still sitting on the sidelines, lots still saying “I hate social media” and a lot of them wanting to start but feeling overwhelmed. One of the questions I routinely get from authors is, “What should I do with social media? I know I need to do something, but I don’t know where to start.”
It’s no surprise that I believe social media is a powerful tool for building and engaging with an audience–and I’m not just talking about Facebook. I encourage all authors I work with to build a presence not only on Facebook, but also Twitter and LinkedIn. Actually pick any two or three social media platforms that you would enjoy using and focus on them. There is no reason to be on every platform and spread yourself thin. It’s more important to build engagement with consistency.
Social media platforms give you an amazing way to interact directly with your readers. But, contrary to the famous line from Field of Dreams, if you build it, they may not come. So how do you attract people to your social media pages? Here are a few tips I have found successful in the past:
- Start slow and build out your page before worrying about attracting others. When you do get people to your pages, you want to make sure there is plenty of good content for them to peruse. How many times have you followed an empty social media account?
- Once you have some content built out, start following others. Think about people who are influencers in your field, fellow authors, relevant media sites, your endorsers, etc. Many times, they will follow you back.
- Cross-promote. It may sound simple, but many people forget to promote their social media pages. Be sure to include links to your social media accounts on your website and on your Amazon author page. And don’t forget any “offline” activities: include your handles on the back flap of your book jacket, and on any print pieces you might be creating. Whatever you’re doing, you should always be promoting your online presence.
- Start participating in relevant conversations. Are there things happening in the news that you feel comfortable commenting on? Use hashtags to get more people reading your posts.
- If you already have a personal Facebook page, create a second page that is strictly devoted to you as an author. Remember, the people who want to see pictures of your high school reunion and keep up on neighborhood news are not necessarily the same audience as your readers. Adapt content to appeal to each distinct group.
- Try experimenting with Facebook ads. They are relatively inexpensive and allow you to specifically target users. Say you want to target fans of Kristin Hannah who are women and live in Massachusetts. Facebook ads will let you do that. I recommend running a few different ads simultaneously. After a few days, see which ad is getting the most traffic, then focus your attention there. It’s very easy to “turn off” the ads that aren’t working. Just remember to set a campaign end date, or you’ll get charged indefinitely!
- If these tools are new to you, take a quick online course (I like the ones on www.lynda.com) or ask a friend to spend an afternoon with you showing you the best ways to use the platform.
As you engage with your readers in social media you will be building trust. Always think of the value you can provide with content, a video, a free chapter of your book, a tip list or a free guide. When your audience trusts you and equates your name with value, they will be more likely to buy from you.