Which Social Media Platforms Should Writers Use?

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Which social media platforms should authors use When writing a book, you are creating a product that will need to be marketed in order to achieve sales. Whether you are planning to self-publish (where you will be doing all the marketing yourself) or to secure a publishing deal with a publisher, you will need to market your book. Your publishers will want to see that you have a loyal following on social media (yes, writers have been turned down on publishing deals as they weren’t using any social media platforms), and in order to achieve sales, you’ll need to develop good brand awareness across traditional media (print, radio and if possible, television) and social media.

However, you may be wondering if you need to use ALL of the social media platforms as after all, where are you going to get time to write the book if you’re tweeting, instagraming and blogging.  You don’t have to use all of them but you do have to work out which platforms are best for you in terms of reaching your target market and maximising sales, plan your social media strategy and then evaluate.

Here’s three reasons why each of these social media platforms work well for authors.

Facebook for Writers

Many writers choose Facebook as the first platform to try partly because they are familiar with it from having a personal profile. It is relatively easy to set up a business page and ask friends to ‘like’ it to make a start on building your community. Many authors have said recently that they are giving up on Facebook as their reach and interaction has decreased significantly but I believe Facebook has a lot to offer authors.

1. Build Community

If you post updates that people enjoy and interact with, you’ll find you are building a community. As they comment and you reply, you can feel that you’ve actually met them in person as you get to know them well.

Your updates should be related to your product or service (no photos of cats if your book is about social media training unless the cat is actually tweeting!) and if it is what your fans expect and want, the interaction increases drastically. As my books are humourous but realistic views of farming, my funny farming posts achieve the best reach. Even a photo of my new pink wellies got good interaction as many farm women (my target market) engaged with my comments.

How writers should use facebook

As far as writers are concerned, providing updates related to your genre or topic will be of interest to your readers who enjoy your books. People also enjoy seeing insights into your life and occasional reports on your writing progress. They help to whet their appetite for the next book.

2. Targeted Advertising

Whether you are boosting a post on Facebook or running an advertisement, you can narrow your audience to the extent that you can target those in a certain geographical location, of a particular age group, male or female, and target them by their relationship status, interests and behaviour. For example, if boosting a post aimed at increasing brand awareness of my Would You Marry a Farmer? book, I would be targeting females aged 30-55, those who are engaged or in a relationship, interested in farming and reading amongst other criteria.

3. Hosting Online Launch

Whether or not you decide to hold a book launch, holding a virtual launch on Facebook means that your fans can attend from wherever they are and it really costs you very little. Decide on a date and announce it in plenty of time, creating an event so people can opt to attend and then receive reminders. Update your page every hour with previews, excerpts,videos, photos and competitions for prizes. It makes for a fun event and your fans can dip in and out as they choose.

Do stay aware of Facebook’s rules, many are common sense but if you break them, you could lose your Facebook presence.

Here’s even more reasons why writers should use Facebook.

How Writers Can Use Instagram

I’ve only recently started using Instagram in terms of promoting my forthcoming book How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife. At the moment, I’m building followers amongst my target group slowly and steadily. Most of my content is related to farming but when I posted a photograph of a book review in a recent publication, one follower commented to say she was downloading it on her kindle.

Using Hashtags

By using hashtags within your own photo captions, your target market will find you. By searching for your target market using hashtags, you can find them, follow their account, like their photos and interact. The #farmerswife hashtag is quite popular, by using it in my posts my target market will find my photos and I can search for them with the hashtag. It really makes finding your relevant readership a simple and effective process.

Hashtags - farmerswife

Sneak Peeks

Sharing short excerpts of your writing, drafts of your book cover, sneak peeks into some illustrations for your book will all work to engage your target audience. Tyler Knott includes lots of photos of typed or handwritten poems, prose or quotes and gains immense interaction.

How Writers can use Instagram

Insights Into Your Life

Read any interview with a writer and it usually includes questions regarding where they write, when they write and what inspired their latest book. Photos of your writing desk, the view from your window or the landscapes that inspire your scenes will be popular.

 

LinkedIn For Writers

You are now a business person so you really should have a LinkedIn profile. You may feel that LinkedIn is just for Business to Business sales but a percentage of those business people will read books in your genre. Your LinkedIn profile will also show up in search engine results.

Your Curriculum Vitae

Use LinkedIn to list your achievements, publications and awards – it is your online curriculum vitae after all. If a potential reader, agent or publisher is searching for you in a search engine, your LinkedIn profile should come up on the first page. If your name is quite popular, by having ‘author’ as your profession, it will make it easier for people to find you too.

Professional Profile Photograph

Somewhat surprisingly, many business people’s profile photographs on LinkedIn are far from professional. Using a photograph that has been cropped from a family wedding or a day out just doesn’t cut the mustard as far as your level of professionalism is concerned. You can emphasise your author status by including one of your books in the profile photo.

Here’s mine:

How writers should use LinkedIn

Using Groups

There are many writers and book reviewing groups on LinkedIn. Some are incredibly busy with hundreds of thousands of members, some are more select perhaps limited geographically and open only to writers in a particular country or genre. Becoming a member of a group allows you to learn from other writers, to share your own knowledge and yes, engage with other people who just might buy your book.

 Blogging for Writers

In my opinion, blogging is essential for writers. It has so many advantages and after all, as a writer, you should find it relatively easy to write your blog posts.

1. Provides A Point Of Sale

Your blog can also function as a simple website or as part of a more developed website. Blogging frequently and using highly searched keywords means that searchers should be able to find it on the first page of google. Once they read the blog post they are interested in, they may click through to your ‘buy my book’ page and either purchase there or follow the links to Amazon.

2. Test Your Market

By writing your posts in a particular style or about a book-related topics, you can build your fans but also test your market. You can gauge their reaction by evaluating the traffic received, the interaction on your posts and if the posts are shared by your blog readers.

3. Build Your Community

By blogging yourself and reading other blogs, you’ll get to know your readers and other bloggers. Writing can be a lonely occupation and by getting to know other writers, you become part of a vibrant and helpful community. Your fans will have their loyalty rewarded with updates about your book launches, competitions, insights and sneak peeks. They will become even more loyal as a result.

It is worth mentioning that journalists will find you via your blog too. As it happens, I received a phone call from the BBC today – it turned out that they were looking to interview a particular type of farmer and were hoping I could give them some names (which I did) but sometimes that phone call has turned into press coverage for my own book.

 Twitter

More and more writers are turning to Twitter as a means to promote and sell their books. It is an effective tool but not for writers who write strong call to actions tweets like ‘Buy my book. 99c today on Amazon. You will love it #books #greatreads’.  The fact is that readers do buy books when they engage with the writers on twitter – the secret is in the art of conversation.

Like all social media platforms, Twitter is about a two-way conversation, a dialogue, not a monologue. Just as you wouldn’t launch into a sales pitch when you just meet someone in person for the first time, the same goes for chatting to them online.

Using Hashtags

Do not overuse hashtags on Twitter, one or two per tweet is sufficent but an effective use of them means that it’s obvious to others that you are a writer plus other writers will engage with you. Hashtags such as #amwriting, #writingtip, #amediting, #bookmarketing, #authors and #selfpublishing are just a few examples of hashtags you could use to interact with other writers.

Lorna Sixsmith Twitter bio Using Your Bio

Twitter users without profile pictures or biographies will find it more difficult to get followers. Your bio should reveal that you are a writer and the genre or name of your books.

In Conversation

As I mentioned above, Twitter is such a convenient tool for chatting with friends, followers and fans. Readers love chatting with writers and if you are conversational, they will act on the occasional sales tweet to direct people to buy your book.

 

Pinterest for Writers

You may think that Pinterest is quite similar to Instagram. After all, both are visual platforms. However, Instagram tends to be for photographs ‘in the moment’. The photographs for Pinterest have to be very beautiful or incredibly useful in order to stand out from the crowd. The beauty of Pinterest is others can repin (share) your images (pins) and it will always contain the link to the source (ideally where they can buy your book).

Attract Your Target Audience

You can attract readers by creating boards for topics that your target audience would be interested in. Examples for a historical fiction author might include Bookshelves,Book Reviews, Book Covers (for your genre),  Reading Nooks, Jane Austen, 18th Century England, 18th Century .Paintings, Writing Quotes.

Gain Inspiration

If you are struggling to describe some settings in sufficient detail, you can search Pinterest for inspiration. If you would like to describe the beauty of New Forest ponies in their setting in Southern England, just search for those terms and you will be presented with a plethora of images to choose from to help furnish your descriptions.

Sneak Peeks

Remember what I said above about readers enjoying being able to see sneak peeks into your content or into whatever inspired you. You could also reveal your research for the book within a pinboard.

  Lorna_Pinterest_MK_Hobson

M.K Hobson has created numerous boards devoted to research images for his historical fantasy novels. I haven’t even read any of the books and I am finding the boards fascinating in terms of their research into the various locations as well as what they suggest about the characters in the books.

If you wish to keep it private while writing the book, you can create a secret board. It is easy then to tidy it up, deleting any irrelevant pins and change it to a public board upon publication of your book.

Which Platform Is Right For You?

If you are wondering which social media platform is right for you, that will depend on who your target audience is, which platforms they use and how good your visuals are. Some will require more time and focus than others. It really is a case of choosing two, becoming proficient at using them and then evaluating their success. The advantages and uses of each platform have been limited to three in this post but there are many more – which will be revealed in the online course.

Social Media and Blogging for Authors If you are hoping that social media is a passing fad and will disappear, remember that it is only thirty years since mobile phones were like bricks and printers cost thousands. The developments in the last ten years have been incredibly fast and that’s the way it will continue. People are consuming information now via their mobile or tablet – be it looking for directions to a venue, booking a restaurant or researching a holiday. The same goes for buying books. Having a QR code or your website address on your marketing material means that potential readers can purchase your book very quickly via their smartphone if they wish to do so. Clare O’Beara has found that having her website address printed on bookmarks has resulted in immediate online sales while chatting to people – they take out their smartphone and make the purchase there and then.

Learn More about Social Media for Authors

If you would like to learn more about using social media for selling your books, our 3 week eLearning Learn How To Sell More Books Using Social Media would be perfect for you. The course is delivered by email, you will receive a lesson each weekday and individual feedback is provided once ‘homework’ is submitted. The course will show you how to use Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Email Newsletters to increase those sales. It also includes a lesson on how to gain free press coverage for your book. If you’d like to also learn how to use Instagram and Pinterest, that will be delivered in a subsequent one week course.

Competition

If you’d like a chance of winning a place on the Social Media course for Authors, leave a comment below saying which social media platform you would like to learn about most. Winner will be drawn at random – do have some fun and leave me a haiku or a limerick if you’re feeling creative though! The course starts on 8th June and the winner will be decided next Friday morning 5th June.

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Posted in Blogs, Facebook, Instagram Tips, Marketing, Pinterest, Self Publishing, Social Media Platforms, Twitter
  • Sally

    This is a great introductory article, Lorna. I was wondering why someone would use Pinterest and Instagram or choose one over the other – so thanks for clearing that up! I have often interacted with an author on social media (usually Twitter or their blog) and, having liked what they say, bought their book. I have never bought a book from a sales pitch – and have even crossed ones off my TBR list when someone has gone overboard on the selling.

    What I like to see is the author’s personality come through – so if I like them, I give their book a go to see if I like it. Having said that, if they post too much about their baby or getting drunk or squashing bugs, then I cross them off the list and move on. It’s a fine line, isn’t it? Let your personality shine through … but maybe not too much in case the reader doesn’t like it! But maybe it’s a case of losing a few and gaining a lot. This is possibly where someone with a niche market has the upper hand as your audience is more targeted.

    I have also found books and writers through seeing them comment on other people’s blogs – so I’d say they also need to have good interaction on their chosen social media platforms.

    I think your course is going to be great for authors who are still finding their feet with social media … and there are a few “old hands” I could suggest do a bit of a refresher!

    PS What does QR code mean?

    • http://www.writeontrack.ie/ Lorna Sixsmith

      Thanks Sally, I’m amused to hear you cross books off your TBR list if their tweets irk you – certainly a lesson there for authors. I agree re commenting on blogs too – I’ve often found new blogs and new books that way too.
      Yes, there’s quite a few difference between Pinterest and Instagram, in terms of advantages, how to use it and the results, will be covering more on the course too.
      A QR code is a number of tiny black and white squares within a square, usually about one inch by one inch in size and it can be read by a QR reader on a smartphone, it then brings the user to the relevant landing page on a website. Therefore each QR code is slightly different.

      • Sally

        Ah, I had a feeling that is what a QR code is, but I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to phones. I keep thinking a smartphone would be a good move, but I’m not sure I can justify the extra expense, so Luddite I will probably remain!

        • http://www.writeontrack.ie/ Lorna Sixsmith

          Having a smartphone changed my life!
          I use twitter etc much more on it than on the tablet- some people use the tablet a lot more.

  • Clare O’Beara

    Great article Lorna!
    I like to use Goodreads to connect with my readers. This is a great place to make friends with other authors too, since the site is only about books.
    QR code stands for Quick Response code; it is another form of barcode.

    • http://www.writeontrack.ie/ Lorna Sixsmith

      Thanks Clare, agreed, it’s a great place to hobnob with authors and get your brand out there.
      Barcode – that was the word I was looking for last night when replying to Sally!

  • Denise

    Such an in depth article. If there is one thing I have learned so far, there is no ‘one’ magic formula for anyone. Although I have no intention to write a book (well not yet anyways…small steps) , I am very interested in how writting blog articles & copy for social media can link to selling products. Its interesting what Sally said about never buying a product from a sales pitch, Sally buys when she has made a connection with the author. So how does one write a blog/copy with a view to selling without loosing members of your community/tribe. Very difficult to strike a balance.

    • http://www.writeontrack.ie/ Lorna Sixsmith

      Some authors’ tweets can be very hard sales though, Denise, I can understand why Sally is turned away by them.
      The key to writing blog posts about products, for example, is to write about the benefits for the customer rather than making it all about the product itself. If you have your target customer in mind, it’s much easier. For example, one of your knitted scarves may have benefits of being warm, stylish, colourful and perfect for anyone who is allergic to wool as it is created from bamboo cotton etc so writing a post where you describe the scarf as such, perfect for an autumnal or winter walk, will put me in the mood for buying more so than a list of features. Then the call to action at the end with the handy link for where I can buy might work or at least, if I don’t buy then, it will stick in my mind. I hope that makes sense :)

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