How to Use Social Media to Reach a Wider Audience
In preparing for this blog post, I reread my notes from a webinar from Jane Freidman on promoting your book. I think a lot of authors are baffled about how to reach beyond their own sphere of influence and reach untapped audiences. I'm going to list a few ways to use certain social media tools and build a platform. Now with anything, this takes time, it takes work and constant vigilance. I've seen some great progress as I've used some of these tools. This is what I do. Others may disagree. I will also rate their shelf life ie how long you can still get likes, views etc.
Facebook is still my number one go-to for platform. I've had that account the longest. I have the biggest audience still. However, when it comes to book promo, blasting my book on my Facebook feed over and over again may not create sales and in fact, may lose me a few friends. Why? Because everyone who is my friend who wanted to buy my book has already bought my book and just harping on it over and over is tedious and annoying. Does that mean that Facebook is dead and I can't use it? No!! (Probably if you are reading this, you saw it on Facebook). Shelf life is about a few days. And for social media, that's pretty good.
How to use Facebook.
*Exciting events about my life.
*My big events, like book releases, praise for your book. Not a hard sell of my book on Facebook. * * I operate a private Facebook groups of my closest friends who don't mind hearing about my success. These wonderful cherished few (I'm up to about ten consisting of my closest dearest supporters and family) are the people I give the most attention to (in theory) for their support of my efforts.
*Facebook book or author page. Then share everything from your author page to your private page for more views/likes etc.
*Facebook is constantly changing the algorithm on how to use their platform, but for now, the more people who comment on your post, the longer it stays in their feed. Ask questions and reply to keep up conversation and keep it in their feed.
*Live feeds and "story" will be prioritized in their algorithm. So if you are gutsy or have fun information to share, try the Facebook Live (from a smartphone only) or add to your story.
Instagram is my number two choice for social media. Shelf life is about a day. It's a picture-based, hashtag-heavy (searchable by hashtags) platform that can only be used from a smart phone. Sorry, I tried posting from a laptop and it just didn't work.
How to use Instagram
*Unlike Facebook, you can follow people without their permission.
*There is a feed post and a story like Facebook. However, in Instagram, everything is in chronological order of when things were posted by the people you follow.
*You can control some privacy like I have my settings where only people I allow (certain followers) can view my "story" and I post more personal stuff there (pictures of my kids etc) utilizing my feed for food, events, fun stuff and book promo.
*If you want other people to view your feed or images/videos you post, you have to be public. This is the only way to gain new followers who don't know you.
*You can categorize your posts with hashtags (#). For books some popular ones I've found are #booksofinstagram #instabooks #writerslife #writersofinstagram etc. These post are categorized with other "tagged" pictures for IG users to find and like.
*You can post up to 1 minute of video in your feed and nearly unlimited live footage in your "story".
*Stories stay for 24 hours. But your story can be saved to your profile.
*Access your story by clicking on your profile picture. This will take you to a place where you can either search your photos on your phone or you can take a picture with the IG camera.
*You can write, add stickers, add bi-modal polls and other effects with the IG camera.
*I'm still learning how to most stuff, so I'll update as I gain more knowledge.
*There is now IGTV too, which is a little orange icon next to your messages
*Oh, yes, you can also message people and message them about what you see on their stories. Or you can just make comments below the image itself.
*To stay relevant you should be posting every day to every other day. Fun stuff. Hahah!
Twitter has such a short shelf life--a few hours maybe for best results unless someone picks it up. Twitter can be good or bad. Of all the social media, Twitter is the scariest for me because if you say something stupid, it has the biggest potential of getting way out of hand, because of the ease of "retweeting" and the proliferation of what you write. However the potential to go big, I probably see the smallest results from Twitter. However Twitter is a great way to reach out to celebrities and other writers, agents and readers. I've never used it on my phone and refuse to download the app because I don't want it taking over my life. "Tweets" or posts come like a firehose if you follow enough people and it can be really distracting.
How to use Twitter
I should've labeled these, how I use X because I'm sure there is someone out there who is better at this than I am. However, this is what I do. I use a social media manager for Twitter because it moves so fast that it's hard to remember to Tweet everyday.
*A post or a "Tweet" is like 240 characters long. So you have to be brief. If you want to rant, you'll have to link to it on a different platform.
*You can post GIFs, images, links, videos and any combination of those.
*Retweeting. If you like something you can RT something by clicking a retweet button. I usually say something original in the tweet so that it's now my own post, such as "Yes, this!" or "I agree!"
*Your Twitter account gives you analytics of how many "impressions" you receive from a certain Tweet. Impressions are how many people actually saw it. Then it gives you how many reactions. Reactions can be: media views, likes, retweets, etc.
*Find followers by following people who usually follow you back.
*A social media manager like Hootsuite can help you schedule Tweets so that you're not wasting a lot of time monitoring and posting Tweets.
*Post often. The secret to Twitter is that each post only lasts a few minutes before a slew of new Tweets overtakes your post in the feed.
*Thank people for following, for retweeting, reach out and comment, like and retweet to make friends. It's supposed to be social after all.
Some people thing blogs are a little passé these days. Although I think they hit their hay day in the early 2000's I still believe having a blog presence never hurts (Unless it's distracting you from writing, which it is today!) And it has an amazing shelf life. If you create good content, people will be coming back for more and sticking around to see what else is there.
How to use a blog
*Content is king. Be helpful, be entertaining, be interesting.
*Create content that is "evergreen." In other words create posts that people can reference over and over again.
*Write about your platform. If you're a historical writer, write about history, costumes, customs etc.
*Post often. Ask people to share.
This is your most important web tool from whence everything else springs. This is your hub. This is where you do your hard sell. Try to get people to come here and partake of the well springs of your creativity. This should represent you and everything you stand for.
How to use a website
*Add a smashing bio. This bio should reflect your character. The bio should have a call to action. "Follow me!" or "Subscribe to my newsletter."
*Speaking of newsletter, you should have one. I'll talk about that more in the next category. Have a place to subscribe.
*Show an image or avatar. People like to see who is behind the novel.
*Extras. Give, give and give some more. I have playlists, recipes, extra scenes. You can add all sorts of things to keep interested readers busy, and clicking around to find more.
*Make it uncluttered and organized.
*Make it relevant. Add images that reflect what you do. Don't confuse us with pictures of something irrelevant.
*Book covers, backstories, chapter ones, freebies.
If you are still reading this far, you're in for a treat! Actually, I'm just saying that to see if you're still paying attention. I guess you are. Newsletters are one of the most important tools for the budding and established author. Newsletters connect you to readers in a personal, real way. Collect emails at signings, on your website, through friends and referrals (forwards). This is your direct market. You can hard sell these people and they'll enjoy it. And if they don't, they should take themselves off their list. You only want serious fans here.
How to use a newsletter
*Announce sales, promotions, events, releases, book covers reveals, anything you want
*Thank your readers
*Reward your readers with bits of content, timelines. Publishing is a long and tedious profession. Keep them entertained between book releases.
*I add a excerpt of my work in progress.
*I talk about what victories and progress I've made.
I still have more to share on how to get the word out there, but this is all I think I can write in one sitting and probably more than you can read in one sitting. Anybody have any questions?