When I teach at conferences or when I’m speaking with colleagues, I’m frequently asked certain questions about social media. So I thought it would be helpful if I answered on my blog today some of the most frequently asked questions I hear.
Which social media network should I start with?
That’s an excellent question. My response is typically a question: who is your audience? What are the ages of people in your that audience?
In other words, for whom are you writing?
Some authors will respond that their books are important to everyone and that anyone and everyone could read them.
But that’s not the case. Some readers love historical fiction, and others would rather read biographies.
You may be writing young adult, new adult, or middle-grade books. For those genres, you have very specific audiences.
Here’s another answer. I think every author should use Twitter. In my experience, Twitter opens doors and can help fuel sales.
Beyond that, it depends on the book you’ve written. For younger audiences, you must also be on Tumblr. If you write romance novels, you also need to be on Facebook and Pinterest.
If you write nonfiction, you need to be on LinkedIn.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If you write nonfiction, you need to be on LinkedIn” quote=”If you write nonfiction, you need to be on LinkedIn”]
But I don’t believe that every author needs to be on every social media network. That doesn’t make sense, and it would exhaust your time.
Facebook is the Mall of America for social media. More than 1.3 billion people are on it and the last time I checked, one in every three US residents use it. So it would be a mistake not to have a Facebook profile and page.
So look at your analytics, such as Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and the analytics for Twitter and Pinterest. You can get all this information for free, and it will tell you a lot about your audience.
For more information, read this post that I wrote on this very topic: How to Target Your Readership.
I’m already on Facebook. Do I need a blog and website before I start my social media marketing?
If you are already on Facebook, you have a profile and according to Facebook’s terms of service, you cannot market commodities on your profiles.
One of the purposes of social media is to drive traffic. Where do you want to drive that traffic to? Your website and blog will have landing pages for your books that you can use to convert that visiting traffic to purchasing traffic.
So yes, I recommend that you start a website with a blog as early in the process of writing your book as you can.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Start a website with a blog as early in the process of writing your book as you can” quote=”Start a website with a blog as early in the process of writing your book as you can”]
Then you’ll be able to drive traffic to your new blog posts as well as involve your social media audience in the production of your book.
For example, I’ve seen cases where authors ask their Facebook fans and friends to help them come up with names for the characters in their next book. I always involve my Facebook fans and friends in helping me select a final book cover.
On your Facebook page, you can create milestones for the day you start writing your book, the day you send it to an editor, and the day it appears in a local bookstore.
Talk about your book while you write it to involve your audience. I’m not suggesting that you give away competitive content or let your audience know what happens in the novel.
You can involve them by telling them how many hours you spent writing on a certain day or how difficult it was to write a certain chapter. The more you involve your audience, the more invested they become in the final product.
This is actually an easy question to answer. Images. Use them wisely and as often as you can.
For example, images will increase retweets dramatically. I’ve seen it in my own use.
I know I’ve said this before, but it does bear repeating: our brains process information in visuals 60,000 times faster than text. We all love to think that people will adore every single word we write.
That isn’t always the case.
The eyes tird from large blocks of text. That’s why it’s important to have visuals on your blog to break up the text and to make your blog more visually appealing.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on photographs. There are plenty of websites out there that offer lovely images for free. And as you can see from my blog, I am now using mostly text-based images.
We can see that the Internet is increasingly becoming a visual social web. Social media networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, Medium, and Instagram are proof of that.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The Internet is increasingly becoming a visual social web” quote=”The Internet is increasingly becoming a visual social web”]
How can I get more followers?
Let me start by saying that social media is not a numbers game.
Yes, publishers can make it into a numbers game but it isn’t.
Whether you have 500 followers on Twitter or 50,000, what matters most is the level of engagement you get.
How often do your followers retweet or reply to your messages? How often do you read tweet or reply to your followers’ messages?
Engagement is the Holy Grail of social media. Whether we are on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., what you are striving for is a not how many contacts and followers you have but how engaged you are with your readers.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Engagement is the Holy Grail of social media ” quote=”Engagement is the Holy Grail of social media”]
I advocate against buying Facebook page likes or Twitter followers. It is very tempting to click on that button that promises to bring you 5000 page likes for just $45.
A client of mine did that several years ago, and you know what happened? Her engagement plummeted. Yes, she had all these followers, but they weren’t engaging with her page.
And she lost 500 within an hour.
If a publisher had looked at her Facebook page then, he or she would have known immediately and discounted the work she had done on her page previously due to that fateful decision.
Facebook recently sent this message to page owners:
“We’ve recently updated the way we measure how many people like your Page. Pages may see a decrease in likes after March 12, when we remove likes from inactive Facebook accounts.”
Yep. All those likes people purchased are about to disappear and that’s a good thing.
An editor I met at a recent conference told me that he was using an application that would automatically follow everyone of anyone who followed him.
Some of those followers are spammers, and anyone who analyzes his account will now that he automatically followed people with no regard to their interest in his message.
Yes, you can ramp up your followers quickly but at what cost? In the end, you will be following all kinds of people. Some of them won’t care about your genre, may not enjoy reading, or may be peddling messages that are inconsistent with your values.
A better way to increase your followers is to use Twitter’s advanced search feature to find your demographic.
Using that feature, you can follow 50 to 200 a day, and unfollow users with an application such as ManageFlitter.
Yes, it is time-consuming but it’s worth the time and this way you won’t be following people randomly.
If you want to learn more about this, I wrote a post on this very topic: Advanced Twitter Tips for Authors.
What are your top efficiency tools?
I love this question. It gives me an opportunity to talk about applications that I use and adore.
For scheduling my tweets and LinkedIn posts, I use SocialOomph. It’s awesome.
In addition to scheduling your messages, the program will send you an email with all of the tweets containing your username or designated hashtags. That way you can respond to people right from your inbox.
In addition, this application tracks click through rates — valuable information.
I also love using Swayy. This call app sends me an email every day with the five top stories within my niche. What I love about this application is that I can then schedule the posts that I liked to Twitter and LinkedIn without leaving the app. It saves me a ton of time. (You can also connect your Facebook page, but I haven’t done that.)
ContentGems is similar, but it sends me a longer list of newly published posts.
I also like Google Alerts. However, it doesn’t enable me to schedule my tweets within the application. But I can do that easily when I click through to the posts to determine whether or not I want to retweet it.
I use other applications as well, but these are my top tips for efficiency on the social web.
Feel free to submit questions for a future post just like this one.
Get more tips from my FREE eBook, Twitter Just for Writers!
About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+