By Jori Hanna
For authors diving into the wide world of digital marketing, it’s common advice to hear, “You need to be on social media.” This advice is given widely and often lacks follow-up to help you establish your new accounts.
Get Started Effectively
To get started on social media effectively, there are a few things you need to understand about these systems. Ignoring these factors will ultimately hurt you in the long run.
First, social media is designed to connect people to other like-minded people. It is designed as a community-building tool where people can connect and interact. It is, at its core, a place to make friends and connections.
Second, social media is a doorway to access to the rest of the world and people with wildly varying opinions, beliefs, and thoughts. It is always best to approach the platforms with respect for your fellow humans in mind.
Third, social media is what you make of it. If you find that you are constantly engaged in combative behavior online, you don’t enjoy the content on your newsfeed, or you highly dislike the attitude of the people interacting with you, you have the power to change it. Follow other people. Seek out encouraging, comedic, or entertaining content. The algorithms are designed to show you more of what you engage with. If you don’t like what the algorithm is showing you, seek out something different and change your personalized algorithm.
Now, that said, approach your new social media accounts from the perspective of community building, not marketing. Consider it this way—if a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked for $20, would you give it to them? The most likely resounding answer here is “No.” But if a friend asks you for $20 because of something they’re excited about, would you give it to them? While there may still be some hesitation, the odds are now in your friend’s favor.
This is the power of community and relationship in digital marketing. Your odds increase when people can relate to you as a person, and when you engage with them as people as well.
Now, to the post types we suggest every account begins with:
- Introduce Yourself. Who are you? What do you plan to post about? What can people expect from you? What do you do? Give people a way to learn about you quickly and easily. This should be the very first post you ever make, and usually features a photo of you and an invitation to learn more about what you care about through your website. If you don’t have a website, invite them to follow the page to join you and hear more about the items you plan to talk about.
- Discuss related topics to your book. But don’t talk about your book yet. This is still a brand-new relationship between you and your followers. Talking about your book now is like a solicitor at your door trying to sell home maintenance items. You’re still talking to them, but you’re not particularly likely to buy their product. But if you’re having a nice conversation about a shared topic of interest, you’re likely to not shut the door in their face. Start that conversation.
- If you’re a Young Adult author, those topics may be based on education, similar books, or other recent YA releases in your genre.
- If you’re a crime writer, those topics may be related to current true events, other crime reads, your favorite crime shows, escape room puzzles, etc.
- If you’re a memoirist, those topics are stories from your life, if you support a cause, it’s news related to that cause, etc.
- Create a post following a trend in your niche. Most likely, there is a post trend you can follow for your area of expertise. If you don’t know what those trends are, you’re not spending enough time consuming other people’s content or engaging in their communities. The other content creators on the app you chose are the people who will engage in your community. But you have to meet them on common ground. Trends provide that common ground.
- If you’re a business owner, follow one of the Instagram Reel trends for businesses.
- If you’re a fiction writer, follow one of the Instagram Reel trends for readers.
- If you’re not on Instagram, you can still likely post a video trend. But if not, try creating a meme with a meme generator or take a photo similar to some of the other photos you see when you scroll through successful hashtags. (Note: do not look to your friends for this—do your best to see what the algorithm is pushing to the top of the feed.)
- These trends are proven to bring higher engagement and wider reach, both of which are important when you don’t yet have a following of your own.
- Share a true moment from your life. This helps your audience connect with you as a person, not just with your account for your products. This will lead to more dedicated followers as time goes on.
- Did you go on a walk in the park and see some wildlife? What did that make you think about?
- Did you have a really good cup of coffee at a café? Go deeper. What impact did the coffee have on you? Post as if someone asked you to share your thoughts while you drank that coffee. These thoughts are not particularly coffee-specific but they are often about how grateful you are for coffee on cold mornings because it gives you time to reflect on your life for a few moments.
- To be a writer is to be a reader. What have you been reading recently? If you read a lot and read fast, focus on one book at a time or do round-up posts. If you read a book a month if you’re lucky, filter in this post whenever you can. Alternatively, let people take a peek at your bookshelf. Most people like to snoop through other people’s bookshelves to find areas of commonality. This lets you talk about your most prized book possessions and lets them start a conversation about a book they read on your shelf.
- As authentically as possible, introduce your book. By this point, there is content on your account that has connected with your readers. You’re past the “stranger on the street” phase, which gives your audience a higher chance of responding positively. But here’s the trick—don’t sell. Just talk. You’re not trying to sell your book here. You’re just trying to say, “Part of my life is that I’m an author, and I’m excited to let you know I have a book coming out.” They’ll go buy the book if they want to. But don’t pressure them on your sixth post. Every nine posts from this one, post about your book. (Unless it’s launch time, then don’t wait for 9 posts. It’s expected that you’ll talk about your book more during your launch.) You’re telling your friends your good news, not creating a sales pitch for strangers. Act accordingly.
- Feature someone who positively impacted you. Tag them if they’re on the social media platform. Talk about what they’ve meant to you and how they’ve impacted you. Who knows, they might comment on your post. This is part of the power of connecting you to the world at large. It gives you VIP access to some of your idols, which is a responsibility you should not take lightly.
- Do you have hobbies? Pets? Share that part of yourself! Your audience is following you because of who you are as a person, not just because of the book you wrote. In fact, most of them won’t know about the book until you tell them about it. They’ll find you for the other content you create and then hear about the book. It’s not very often, unless you’ve published multiple books, that people will find you because of your book. So give them a reason to find you, and then give them a way to hear about your book.
By this point, you should have a slew of types of posts to choose from as you go forward. If you need help or want a plan, repeat this list as you see fit. It’s good to reintroduce yourself at least once a year if you post routinely. Rotating between numbers 2-7 is the best mix for social media. Sprinkle in posts about your non-book-related hobbies as seasoning, not your main content.
Growing your platform through social media is an extremely powerful way to increase your reach. But if you jump in with marketing before you’ve created the relationships, you’re not likely to get the results you’re looking for. These post ideas will help you build those relationships so your social media author platform can be as vibrant as possible.