Ten years ago, you wrote a book and you never expected to find out anything about the author. Now with social media, everyone wants that connection. I think our readers want to be invited into our lives and brought on the journey and be part of this whole process. ~~ Jane Green
Not Sure What to Post? Try These Ideas
Authors often ask me, “What should I post on social media?”
The answer is simple: Great content that your readers will enjoy. Social media and book marketing aren’t about you. Yes, you have books to sell and a blog you want your readers to visit. But in the end, everything you do is about the reader.
As such, the content you post will be driven by what motivates, moves, and meets the needs of your readers.
In other words, the content you post will need to be:
- And when images and videos are used, captivating
- And at times, your content can be entertaining
38 Tips on What to Post on Social Media
Here are just a few ideas on what you can start posting on social media today.
- Inspirational quotes
- Fun quotes
- Fun, personal items that your readers would enjoy reading
- Famous author quotes
- Quotes about reading, books, libraries
- Images of unusual bookshelves
- Images of beautiful libraries
- Images of unusual bookstores
- Interesting stories about famous authors, including the number of times publishers rejected their manuscripts
- Statistics or data
- Branded images
- Infographics, if you are a nonfiction author
- Tips, if you are a nonfiction author
- Recommendations of books you love (use the hashtag #FridayReads on Twitter when you do this)
- Requests for advice
- TBT: Throwback Thursday images
- Testimonials for your book
- Controversial questions
- Current events
- Images of the natural world
- Encourage people to sign up for your newsletter by offering a free ebook.
- Use the #FridayReads hashtag on Friay to share information about a book you’re currently reading or just finished.
- Share a link to your book trailer.
- Share your writing goal for the day.
- Did you start a new book? Tell your readers.
- Ask your readers to suggest names for your characters in your next book.
- Post a link a video of a reading you gave.
- Post an image of your dog or cat reading your book or lying on top of it. Encourage your readers to do the same.
- Are you launching a new book? Tell people.
- Are you recruiting members for your launch or street team? Use social media to recruit new members.
- Pop culture items
- Favorite lines from books you’ve read
- Fun news items about popular authors
Here are some additional suggestions:
If you’re writing a cookbook filled with delicious, gluten-free recipes, you can post the latest findings on celiac disease or information about how food manufacturers make it easy to follow a strict, gluten-free diet.
Did you write a novel featuring a woman entrepreneur or CEO? Find posts about the issues women in business face and quotes about strong women.
If your novel is set in France, look for information about the particular era you write about and look on Pinterest for dreamy images of France and the specific cities where your characters live. Create pinboards for each city your characters visit or live in, the clothing you imagine they would wear, and words you think would encourage them. You can even create a board of your characters’ favorite authors.
If your book is about hiking, look for information on new equipment that makes camping and backpacking easy, discuss great hiking trails, and look for images taken in wilderness areas.
If you write historical fiction, you might want to post information about current political events in the country featured in your novel and images of the clothing men and women wore during that era.
If you love to write about the 1960s, create pinboards that include retro bell-bottom pants, white boots, flowered skirts, and peasant blouses.
Do you write about vampires? Review movies that feature vampires, or explore myths about the walking dead.
Do you write poetry? Include quotes from your favorite poets when you tweet, or post on Facebook and LinkedIn. Repin image quotes from poetry or create some yourself for Pinterest.
Best Practices for Social Media Posting
It can be difficult for new authors to think of themselves as a brand but you are and your readers are watching you. Keep your messaging consistent. If you write about traveling abroad on $30/day, give tips throughout the year. If your novel takes place in Italy, pin some of your travel photos from Rome, Venice, and Milan. If you wrote a novel about a single mom, post information about single mothers, women entrepreneurs, and current women’s issues. If you wrote a cookbook, share recipes and photographs of your latest creations. Keep reading for additional ideas.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Ask questions on social media & post images, videos via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Ask questions on social media & post images, videos”]
On Twitter, the character limit is 140 but the first rule is to keep your tweets between 100 to 110 characters. Shorter tweets are more often retweeted.
Here are several sample posts. Notice how succinct these tweets are.
- Self-Publishing Basics: The Copyright Page dld.bz/cEPkJ via @JFBookman
- #Author tip: when you post do others listen? #Socialmedia management podcast. http://ow.ly/nfPVV
Here are additional examples that cover an array of genres. All you need to add to these tweets is a URL. If you are promoting a colleague, add his or her Twitter username.
- Love #Spain? Read this novel based in #Sevilla + link + name of the book
- Are you a #hiker? 7 Tips on How to Find the Best #Hiking #Boots + link
- Great story by +colleague’s username about overcoming #cancer + link
- San Francisco #Writer’s #Conference is this February +link #amwriting
- Do you love reading #IndieAuthors? Visit http://www.indieauthornetwork.com #readers #bibliophiles
You also have the option to send a quote Tweet. A Quote Tweet occurs when you are live on Twitter and click the retweet icon. Twitter then gives you the option to add a message of your own on top of the original tweet. The character limit for quote tweets is 116 characters. Don’t confused Quote Tweets with a quote image, which is text superimposed over an image.
Facebook Status Updates
Some users will post a long paragraph for an update and this can sometimes trigger engagement with fans and friends. However, it’s preferable to keep posts to about 80 to 100 characters. Text overload – the sensation that there is too much to read in the digital world – is a common occurrence. As such, your fans are more likely to read short posts.
Here are some examples of short Facebook posts:
- This week’s Monday blog is on 7 great new Twitter applications. Maybe you’ll find one that you’ll love. + link Please share!
- Here are three possible covers for my new book. Which one do you prefer? + 3 images
- I’m trying to decide on a name for my blog. Which of the following examples do you like? + Potential Titles of Blog
Of course, 80% of the time what you post won’t be about you, your book or your blog. Post images with an uplifting or thought-provoking phrase. If you want to make others smile, post something funny that readers will love. Of course, include images with your status updates and post videos too.
On Facebook, it’s important to strike a balance between the meaningful and the mundane. Meaningful posts lead Facebook users to information-rich blog posts. Mundane posts make people smile, such as a chocolate box filled with Chocolate Lab puppies, a comic about the writing life, or a personal account that is amusing. Endeavor to provide both types of information to keep your audience informed and entertained.
[clickToTweet tweet=”On Facebook, strike a balance between the meaningful and the mundane” quote=”On Facebook, strike a balance between the meaningful and the mundane”]
Involve your following by asking questions. These work especially well on Facebook. Here’s an example: Lately, my favorite guilty pleasure is Fuji apples with peanut butter. Tell me about yours.
If you wrote a travel book and just returned from Barcelona, share your best photos. If the protagonist in your novel loved to garden, capture an image of your favorite rose bush this season. Ask questions, seek engagement, return to your profiles and pages during the day to acknowledge comments, and make time to engage with your friends and fans by clicking on your Home tab and seeing what they have to say. Don’t forget to share their posts too and leave comments.
LinkedIn posts generally contain a blog title and a link, although you could include about 600+ characters of text, but again, shorter is better. You’ll want to inform your connections and keep your posts professional. Share content with your readers in mind.
Some people use Google+ as a blogging platform. You can definitely write long blocks of text here but again it’s preferable to write tighter posts. Sample posts could include a blog title, the link leading to it, and a short statement from you. Images are popular on Google+ too so be sure to intersperse your meaningful content with some example of beautiful photography. If you didn’t take the images, credit the source. Similar to LinkedIn and Facebook, share your colleague’s posts as well and don’t forget to use hashtags here.
Be sure to repin images from your blog and other parts of your website. When you do this, your blog’s URL will attach to the image and lead your followers on Pinterest back to your website. You can also upload images taken in the cities where the characters of your novel live. Start pinboards on your favorite books, libraries, bookstores, your colleagues’ books, writer quotes, and other related topics. For ideas, see my Pinterest account at http://www.pinterest.com/fcaballo.
Similar to Pinterest, Instagram is an image-based social media network. Create quote images (pictures with an overlay of an inspirational message or a line of dialogue from your novel), pictures you took while on vacation, or pictures of where you like to write or read. With Instagram, you can promote a book launch or a contest, and invite your readers further into your life.
The Power of Images on the Internet
Magazine editors understand that large blocks of text are hard on the eyes. Readers need to see white space and images in order to more easily accept the lines of black ink.
Pictures grab so much attention that once you incorporate more pictures into your blog and social media marketing, your readership and engagement will rise. Look at these statistics, cited in a post from HubSpot, a tech company. (Source: 37 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2016)
- Between April 2015 and November 2015, the amount of average daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion video views per day to 8 billion.
- Syndacast predicts 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.
Colorful photographs capture our attention on Facebook better than a lengthy paragraph. In today’s world, less is more and images increase the chance that our fans will share our posts. There are statistics to back this up. Forty percent of users respond better to images than to text messages. So if you can, take your own pictures or visit a website with copyright-free images. You can find free images on MorgueFile, Pixabay, Wikipedia Commons, and Pexels.
[clickToTweet tweet=” Find free images on MorgueFile, Pixabay, Wikipedia Commons, and Pexels” quote=” Find free images on MorgueFile, Pixabay, Wikipedia Commons, and Pexels”]
Even video ads perform well. According to Digital Book World (DBW), Facebook is hitting the ball “out of the park” with its video ads. A 2016 post on DBW’s blog noted that Facebook users watch “100 million hours of video per day.” In addition, “more than 500 million people watch Facebook video every day.” In other words, videos are so powerful that people will even watch advertising in the form of video.
Video is popular also, especially if they are 90 seconds or less in duration. In fact, Vine videos (Twitter videos) are four times more likely to be shared than text messages. Similar to Facebook, images increase engagement as do YouTube videos.
When to Post on Social Media
The next question authors often ask is, “When should I post?” Check out these general guidelines:
Schedule your messages to post on Facebook between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Use your region or country’s time zone as a guide. If your readers are from another country or several countries, post several times a day at the hours when your readers are online. You’ll know when that might be by checking the analytics for your social media, such as Facebook’s Insights.
Insights is Facebook’s free analytics program. You’ll need 35 Likes on your Facebook page to access these free analytics. Nothing beats checking your analytics to determine your best posting times. You might even try using this as a gauge for approximate times on other social media networks.
If you are new to Twitter, post three to five times daily. Once you feel more comfortable with this network, post eight times daily, Monday through Friday, and fewer times on weekends.
Space your tweets at least two to three hours apart. Generally, 1 to 3 p.m. is the best time to post, but that timeframe isn’t universal. Use an application such as SocialBro or Tweriod to determine your optimal tweeting times. Or, check your analytics. Twitter has a graph on the left side of your profile that gives you a snapshot view of when activity occurs on your profile. Check that every morning, if you can, and plan accordingly.
Post twice daily. In the mornings, post between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. either within your time zone or the time zones of your readers, Monday through Friday. In the afternoons, post between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and before 3:30 p.m. on Friday. On the weekends, post just once a day or take a break entirely. The real action on LinkedIn occurs during the week.
Eighty percent of Pinterest’s users are women who primarily post in the late afternoon but before dinner, and again after dinner and into the night.
According to Latergramme, a scheduling application for Instagram, the best times to post on Instagram is at 2 am and 5 pm EST. Of course, the ultimate test is by noticing when engagement is most likely to occur on your account.
Experiment with your content. Do your readers respond more to comical images or text-based images that are poignant? Are there certain bloggers they prefer to hear from? Look at what you post, how your readers respond with shares and comments, and use their reactions to decide what to post next.
Frances Caballo is an author and social media consultant. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online and building their platform. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Online Book Marketing Strategies for Writers