Authors: Use New Pew Center Results to Better Reach Your Readers

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Authors Use New Pew Center Results to Better Reach Your Readers by Frances Caballo

Earlier in my career I gave writers some bad advice. (There, I admitted it.)

I advised authors to do what everyone else was telling people to do: Be everywhere. I’m sure at some point someone told you the same thing.

I changed course several years ago and when I saw the newest study from Pew Research, I felt so relieved and substantiated.

You see, the latest study from Pew Research Center’s Internet, Science & Tech Division on mobile messaging and social media use confirmed the new mantra I’ve adopted: market your books where your readers hang out online.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? And this strategy will save you time.

Do Authors Need to Be Everyone Online?

You see, I’m a huge proponent of a certain social media strategy: You don’t need to be everywhere; you need to be where your readers are.

No one has the time to be everywhere. Well, let me qualify that. If you have a personal assistant, virtual assistant and housekeeper, and possibly a home chef, you have the time to be everywhere online.

But most indie authors do everything themselves, including their book covers, marketing, and publicity.

If this sounds like you, then you don’t have time to be everywhere and do a decent job. What you need to do instead is make time to be on the primary social media networks that your readers like to use.

That is how you can best reach your readers online.

Let me give you an example. My colleague Arlene Miller, aka @TheGrammarDiva, spends most of her time on Facebook, LinkedIn, and numerous LinkedIn groups. She ignores Twitter.

Well, she released a new grammar book in the summer of 2015, and you know what? Her sales rocked! And I mean rocked. (She won’t let me release her numbers.)

Suffice it to say she exceeded the sales numbers of many traditionally published authors and is living off her book sales. How many indie authors can do that?

She’s successful because she spends time on the social media networks that bring her comments, shares, engagement, and sales. In short, she’s where her readers are.

LinkedIn is a perfect social media network for this nonfiction, indie author and all that time she puts into those LinkedIn groups has a huge payoff in book sales.

In my case, Twitter is the No. 1 source of traffic to my website. Twitter is where I meet and interact with influencers in my field.

Twitter is where I build a following that buys my books and shares my posts.

And Twitter is where I receive the most impressions, shares and replies (referred to as comments on other social media networks).

When I look at my situation from this perspective, it makes sense that I spend more time on Twitter than other social media networks.

Twitter is awesome for my career as an indie author and a social media strategist for writers.

Where do your readers hang out? Let’s look at the Pew Research Center’s newest study results to help you figure that out.

Of course, first you need to be clear on your reader demographics. Are they mostly female or male? Are they teens, Millenials, Gen X members, or Boomers? Once you have the key demographic data, just apply them to the findings below. (You can find this data by looking at your Google Analytics or Facebook Insights.)

New Research Social Media Data Will Help You Reach Your Readers

Here are some key findings:

  • The number of adults who use Pinterest and Instagram has doubled since Pew Research Center started tracking those social media platforms adoption in 2012.
  • Some 31% of online adults use Pinterest (up from 15% in 2012) while 28% use Instagram (up from 13% in 2012).
  • The number of people who use Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn daily has increased significantly since 2014. Fully 59% of Instagram users, 27% of Pinterest users and 22% of LinkedIn users visit these platforms daily.
  • Facebook remains the most popular social media site – 72% of online adults are Facebook users, amounting to 62% of all American adults. Seventy percent of users say they log on daily.
  • Young adults are particularly likely to use both Tumblr and discussion forums.

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Now let’s take a look at some demographics.


Facebook - Frances Caballo

Clearly more women than men use Facebook, and although the numbers trend to the younger demographic in terms of users, older users are the fastest growing group of users.

And anecdotally, at least on the West Coast, the younger set is moving away from Facebook and gravitating to Snapchat and Instagram.

When I taught at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference in August, I asked members in my session to describe their social media use in one to three words. The youngest person in the group – she was in her early 30’s – described her social media use as “so over Facebook.”

I think that describes a lot of people in that age demographic.


Frances Caballo

There’s no surprise here. Women reign on Pinterest, especially among the 18- to 50-year-old set.


Instagram Demographics

If you want to reach readers who are Hispanic or Black, you’ll find them on Instagram.

Presently, this application is most popular with people between the ages of 18 and 49 but that could change. Instagram is now the fastest growing popular so we’ll have to stay tuned.

A reason for every author to use Instagram is that the social web is increasingly visual. Use Instagram to show another side of your author profile and to share inspirational text images your readers will enjoy.


LinkedIn Demographics

The demographics are fairly evenly distributed among gender and age.

This is a great site for college graduates, job seekers, and professionals either wanting to share their expertise or learn more in their field. It can also be a great online venue for nonfiction authors.


Twitter Demographics
As you can see, just a quarter of Internet users also use Twitter, and there are more people of color who sign up to use this network.

An interesting factor is that Twitter attracts primarily urban users from higher income brackets.


The data is self-explanatory. Instagram is primarily popular with non-whites and young adults.

If you write Young Adult and New Adult fiction, this would be a great application for you to use especially if you can consistently come up with great visuals or text-based images.

If you’re confused about your reader demographics, go to your Facebook author page and check Insights, Facebook’s free analytics program once you read 35 page Likes. There, you’ll find gender and age demographics that will help you to apply The new Pew Center’s results to your social media marketing.

I’d love to hear the conclusions you draw.

Spend less time figuring out how to use Goodreads. Get the guide that explains it all.

The Author's Guide to Goodreads by Frances Caballo


Sell More Books with These Tips by Frances Caballo

About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at She’s written several books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads, Avoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.


Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web


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  1. I think this is great advice – I tend to spend far too much time on social media when I should be writing blog posts instead. One tool that I find really useful is Buffer. It schedules posts for you on Twitter and Facebook. I load it up with posts and it will send them out 3 times per day I can make it more or less). So I add 9 posts and I know I’m good for 3 days 🙂

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